Travel to outer space, explore vistas and valleys, and conquer nightmarish fiends in our latest collection of iOS games that play out best on the iPad's bigger screen: Here are our top picks for iPad games from the last year or two.
1. XCOM: Enemy Within
XCOM: Enemy Within, an expansion to the original tactical strategy game, made improvements upon the slightly-buggy base game and introduced new abilities and weapons for all your alien-fighting needs. The game's turn-based battle system manages to provide all the stress and excitement of a nail-biting space opera while also allowing you to take a breather and organize your forces.
No, simulating the rote routines of an immigrations officer may not sound dramatic or exciting — but Papers Please knows how to twist your heartstrings. The game relies more on emotional difficulty than mechanical complexity; deciding which refugees to accept and which to turn away becomes a depressing challenge.
Think you have what it takes to sit in Captain Kirk's chair? Put that fantasy to the test in this spaceship-commanding strategy game; organize your crew's responsibilities, keep an eye on engine maintenance structures, and navigate an escape route from enemy ships in real time.
If Faster Than Light felt a little too lonely, Spaceteam's multiplayer could be the perfect party game for you and yours. Invite some friends to bring their iPads over and download this free teamwork test: Work together to defend your ship, make repairs, and survive to fight another day.
Playing horror games from the comfort of one's computer chair can offer a certain amount of comfort and emotional distance. But you haven't captured true delight and terror until you've played a horror game on an iPad while curled up underneath your covers. Five Nights at Freddy's is one of the best, offering stay-up-all-night jump scares courtesy of a collection of haunted animatronics.
This endless runner — well, endless snowboarder —features such astounding visual detail that it deserves an iPad for maximum admiration. Like all games of this type, Alto's Adventure includes a few tricky bits, so read our tips and tricks to attain full mastery of your backflipping board.
The official iPad version of the board game Ticket To Ride offers all the compelling complexity of the original game, without any concern over losing plastic train pieces, counting colors incorrectly, or keeping track of cards. Now you can focus on building a fine set of railroads (and undoing your competitors' plans) without having to fret about counting up your pieces at the end of the game. The iPad takes care of the numerical legwork, and it even clears the board for you. How nice!
Double Fine's point-and-click adventure about two teens who live in disparate but intersecting worlds blends humor with poignant social commentary. The puzzles are a little easier than old school adventures like Grim Fandango, thank goodness, and the game will still provide a challenge for folks who aren't familiar with how point-and-click games tend to operate. The story works as a great introduction to point-and-click mechanics while also weaving a subversive tale that undoes gaming's all-too-common damsel in distress plot.
The cast of characters in Thomas Was Alone may not look like much: The protagonist of the game is a rectangle. The other folks he meets are also various geometric shapes, each with different abilities and personalities. The game seems like little more than a simple platformer at first, but it unfolds into a narrative-driven experience about the social dynamics and circumstances of these quirky quadrilaterals.
Terraria takes clear inspiration from Minecraft, providing the player with a pickaxe and a procedurally-generated world to explore at the outset. However, Terraria does it all in 2D, which means that the full game can be played on an iPad (in contrast to the "Pocket Edition" of Minecraft for iOS). This game focuses more on the joy of exploration and discovery, rather than crafting or creating; if you want to wander a mysterious world packed with digital wonders, dip a toe in to Terraria.