Skip the IAPs with these outstanding iPad action games
Freemium iPad games aren't for everybody. Gems, timers, performance boosters and all sorts of other in-app purchases can dampen the fun. That's certainly the popular opinion we get when we talk about freemium, so we've rounded up our favorite action games in the App Store that do away with all of that. These provide full, fast, white-knuckled experiences up-front without nickel-and-diming you later.
We're focusing on reflex-driven games, which includes a few shooters, but you'll find a great mix here. Be sure to let us know in the comments what you think of our top ten iPad action games without IAPs, and leave a few of your own suggestions.
Dumb Ways to Die
In Dumb Ways to Die, players have to successfully get through a gauntlet of simple mini-games for as long as possible, though they progressively grow more difficult. These can range from shooing piranhas away from your crotch, swatting bugs, and holding onto balloons so you don't dive onto the tracks. You get three failures before it's game over. The art style is fantastically morbid; cute little characters are constantly getting maimed in new and exciting ways. As you play, you unlock more of the victims for your collection. The best part about this game is that it's actually a public service warning by the Melbourne transit association to make sure people don't do stupid things near the tracks. Well-played, Australia. Well-played. There are a few ads to put up with between games, but at least the game's free.
Dumb Ways to Die is a fantastic, dark (but cute) test of reflexes.
In Impossible Road, there are no power-ups, no in-app purchases, and barely any colors or shapes. All you have to do is keep a ball on a downward-spiraling track for as long as possible using left and right tap controls. If you fall off, you've got a moment to land on the track further down, but if you free-fall for too long, you've got to start all over. Players are scored based on how many checkpoints they pass through or skip by falling off the edge and recovering. The high contrast art style and minimalist music keep tension high for the fleeting seconds you manage to stay on the track.
If you have any unresolved childhood issues with Rainbow Road from Mario Kart or have an innate fear of heights to revel in, Impossible Road is a good place to start.
Wave Wave is an insanely difficult abstract one-touch runner game. Players guide a line through a gauntlet of triangular obstructions by tapping and holding the screen to climb, and releasing to dive. Constant flickering and warping effects pose a significant challenge and the intense 8-bit soundtrack won't do much to sooth your nerves. Despite its obvious influence from Super Hexagon, Wave Wave stands very much on its own thanks to a more fleshed-out progression structure, varied disorientation effects, and a two-player mode.
If Super Hexagon isn't quite challenging enough for you anymore, Wave Wave will kick things up a notch.
Super Hexagon is an absurdly difficult action game where players have to navigate through a geometric maze that's continually spinning and collapsing in on itself. Simply put: get hit by a wall and you lose. The pulsing rhythm and constant spinning of the play area are a huge challenge, and an outstanding soundtrack will keep you on the edge of your seat. There are three stages plus alternate, insanely hard versions of each level after hitting certain goal times.
Super Hexagon is a fantastic game for gluttons of punishment.
Unpossible is a fast as hell racing game where players have to steer around a stark tube and avoid incoming obstacles as long as possible. The fluid gameplay and sharp Tron style to the game's visuals are both immediately impressive. The challenge ramps up to Super Hexagon levels very quickly. You can also try your hand at new daily challenges, or take it easy in zen mode.
Unpossible is a gut-wrenching ride that will have you constantly coming back for more.
The premise of Alone is simple: drag up and down on a the screen to pilot an escape pod through a deadly range of galactic debris. You get two levels of shields that can soak up a bit of punishment. Go for as long as possible in order to unlock higher difficulty levels, and earn bragging rights on the Game Center leaderboards. A fantastic soundtrack offers just the right mixture of sci-fi energy and fast-paced grit.
Alone is a modern, fast, and razor-sharp endless runner you won't soon forget.
Modern Combat 5 boasts bar-setting graphics, rich multiplayer, familiar first-person shooter experience and achievement progression, a dazzling array of weapon customization, and top-notch voice acting. You'll find hardware controller support here too, for those really looking to emulate the console experience. That's great and all, but there is one distinct difference in Modern Combat 5 which could easily stand as the sole selling point: there are zero in-app purchases, which is typically a hallmark of Gameloft titles.
Modern Combat 5 is without a doubt the best first-person shooter available on mobile.
Inferno 2 is a white-knuckled dual-stick shooting game with high-octane neon graphics. There are tons of upgrades and customizations to enjoy, over 80 levels with three difficulty types, and lots of different enemies to blow to smithereens. MFi hardware controllers are supported and there are a bunch of achievements for those that are super serious about their shooters.
Adrenaline junkies should jump right into Inferno 2.
In Dropchord, players create a line that cuts through a circle by placing two fingers on the outside of it, denoting either endpoint. Players have to move their fingers around in order to push the line through goal points that appear for a limited amount of time, while avoiding cleverly-laid obstacles. Throw in a thumping soundtrack and some altogether electric visuals, and you've got a challenging, unique, high-energy game.
Eliss Infinity is a simple retro action game where players need to drag colored planets into target zones before the screen gets too cramped with new ones appearing. Every planet can be stacked on with like-colored ones to make it bigger, or split apart to become smaller, which is necessary to fit within the different target areas that pop up randomly. If different-colored planets are touching one another, it will take a bite out of your health, and of course if you lose too much health, it's game over. There's a campaign with a 25 levels, and an extremely challenging infinity mode.
Though the gameplay is simple, the frantic pace and minimal wireframe graphics of Eliss Infinity are a great hook.
Your favorite iPad action games without in-app purchases?
Finding great games that don't try to upsell you is hard enough, nevermind ones that sit squarely in the action game category. Give a shout in the comments with your favorite action games on iPad without the microtransactions.