You’ll have nightmares for days after playing Somethin’ Else’s spookily excellent audio-only survival horror game, Papa Sangre II. This sequel to the innovative 2010 original returns you to the land of the dead in a hunt for trapped memories — this time guided by the voice of Game of Thrones star Sean Bean, who brings a delightful British charm to the proceedings. Papa Sangre II builds well on the successes of its predecessor, but it demands too much from you at times and ultimately sinks into frustrating, tiresome repetition.
One of the true rewards of playing a monster-training game is the ability to create your own cool-looking creature and customize it to your liking. Monster Adventures not only lets you decide what such a beast looks like, but its mash-up of role-playing and roguelike genre elements makes each play session an exciting and slightly addictive foray into its vibrant world. Monster Adventures starts you off with a basic creature, and it’s your job to train it and enter it into tournaments to bring pride to your village.
Crafting homemade costumes and prepping for nocturnal adventures to forage for sweets is a favorite youthful tradition every fall, and Double Fine's charming Halloween-themed role-playing game is well timed to get us all in the spooky spirit. Costume Quest expertly captures the sense of imagination and wonder that made trick-or-treating with friends back in the day such a blast. But far more than a grand fetch quest full of tooth-rotting bliss and crazy getups, this cartoonish romp throws giant robots, goblin warriors, and supernatural shenanigans in to sweeten the pot.
Originality and weirdness often blend well in the indie sphere, spawning games that spark the imagination and sometimes spur you to scratch your head in equal measure. Incredipede is one such offering. Ferrying your ever-morphing creature through challenging obstacles and hilltops made of meat is indeed peculiar business in this unique puzzle platformer. Wonder occasionally mingles with frustration, however, given the trial-and-error nature of the game's more grueling stages.
Launching alongside a couple of other juggernaut releases – the iPhone 5s and iOS 7 – Infinity Blade III concludes the trilogy in expectedly slick fashion. The single-player quest trumps its predecessor as the best-looking iOS game to date, with fantastic detail throughout the environments and an array of wide, swooping camera shots to create the sense of an epic scale on even a small iPhone screen. And while the combat remains reliably enjoyable, the grinding nature of the series' campaign approach makes this third entry feel a bit more tiresome amidst the overall triumph.
Open-ended, world-building sandbox games are spawning at an increasingly rapid pace on iOS of late, with each offering a slightly different twist on Minecraft's addictive mix of exploration, scavenging, building, and crafting. While Terraria builds off of the Minecraft vibe in some interesting and adventurous ways, Junk Jack X copies it a bit too blatantly. Lack of originality aside, that's not entirely a bad thing. Translating many of the familiar-looking gameplay and visual elements to 2D works fairly well, offering moments of fun for patient players with collection obsessions.
Must. Dig. Deeper. With its cool retro 2D aesthetic and exhaustive range of open-ended adventuring pursuits to follow, Terraria is a habit-forming romp through massive 16-bit-inspired worlds filled with secrets to explore, crazy stuff to build, and an absurd level of components to collect and build with. Minecraft fans, take note: This is a similarly addictive and creative experience, albeit one viewed through the lens of the Super Nintendo era of gaming. Far from a straight port from the previous PC and console releases, this portable version of the indie hit packs (almost) all of the wonder and depth of the original, alongside a few really excellent tweaks that make playing on iOS a real treat.
Like a cross between the critically acclaimed PlayStation 2 hit Shadow of the Colossus and Forbidden Forest for the Commodore 64, A Ride Into the Mountains asks you to hop on your pixelated horse and shoot odd floating monsters with arrows until a distant relic regains its luster. This shooting mechanic is core to the experience, involving an Angry Birds-like slide gesture whereby you pull back and drag to aim and fire — with a bigger gesture needed for longer shots. Most enemies must be hit in a particular spot, too; otherwise arrows are ineffective. It's basic, but tough to master under duress from enemies and their projectiles.
For many, video games are an opportunity to live out a fantasy. And in the case of Bloodmasque, it's possible to actually watch yourself take on the role of a vampire hunter (via a photo-snapping feature), hacking and slashing your way through a macabre version of 19th-century Paris. But after the initial amusement of seeing your own head atop a game character wears off, Bloodmasque struggles to keep things interesting
We're past the halfway point for the year, and 2013 has already proven to be an incredible time for new iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch games. Whether you tend towards quick-hit affairs or engrossing, strategic time sinks (or a little of both), there's been an absolute wealth of great options to choose from in a huge array of genres. Why wait until January rolls around to look back on such greatness? We've compiled our picks for the 25 best iOS games of the year to date, all of which are surefire options for on-the-go entertainment.