Written by

Chris Gonzales


Gilles Lambert

Over at our sister site The Sweet Setup, we’ve updated our list of great iOS games to include a handful of new games, the removal of a few others, and the moving-around of other items throughout.

While you can certainly read that article and find everything you need to know, we figured this Tools & Toys guide could serve as a standalone resource for what’s new and awesome in the world of iOS games.

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Transistor »

From the makers of Bastion comes Transistor, a sci-fi themed action/RPG with lush graphics and an awesome soundtrack.

You play as Red, a lounge singer whose voice has been stolen. She wields a talking sword named Transistor — who is more of an actual character within the story than the narrator in Bastion was — and together they fight against a hostile takeover of the city Cloudbank. Battles can take place in real time, or you can pause the action to set up a series of moves that then unfold all at once.

While the iOS port can be played using the touchscreen controls, the game was first designed with a handheld controller in mind, so you might want to pick up something like the Mad Catz C.T.R.L.i mobile gamepad for best results.

Final Fantasy VII »

Fans of the original FFVII on the first PlayStation jumped for joy when it was announced the game would be ported to iOS. Everything we loved about the original is there, albeit with a couple of weird design choices in the form of in-menu toggles to disable random battles and/or max out your characters and money.

Despite these weird cheats being available, the game is just as enjoyable as we remembered. There’s obviously some deep nostalgia happening here, but it’s Final Fantasy VII in your pocket for crying out loud.

Alto’s Adventure »

Alto’s Adventure is an endless snowboarding game with incredible lighting, sound, and an ever-changing backdrop. It’s incredibly easy to learn, yet provides endless hours of fun. It’s the perfect “in the waiting room at the dentist” type of game.

Each level has various goals to complete. Even if you fail to complete all of them on a single run, you don’t have to repeat them again. As the lighting changes, the difficulty changes as well — it’s drastically easier to see the rocks during the day scenes, but we’ll admit, the gorgeous night scenes are worth the decreased visibility.

Race the Sun »

In Race the Sun you pilot a futuristic glider at high speeds through an obstacle-filled landscape. It’s basically Cube Runner on steroids. As you play through the game — which is an exhilarating thrill ride on its own — you can complete missions and unlock new stuff like power-ups and environments.

Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions »

The classic Xbox dual-stick arcade game, now with trippy 3D playfields.

Whereas previous entries in the franchise have taken place on a 2D rectangular grid, Dimensions places you on a variety of 3D map shapes — spheres, rhombuses (rhombi?), etc. Aside from that, the basic gameplay is pretty much the same as ever. Fly around with the left stick, shoot directionally with the right. Avoid getting hit as long as possible, rack up points. Use bombs when things get bad. You know the deal.

The Room Three »

The Room Three picks up where the series’ previous games — The Room and The Room Two — left off. That is, there are more puzzles than ever to solve, with new ways to solve them, and a lot more story to unfold along the way.

For anyone unfamiliar, this is how we’ve described The Room series in the past:

The Room is a “physical puzzler, wrapped in a mystery game, inside a 3D tactile world” that is both entertaining and enchanting. With thoughtful design and interaction that is reminiscent of playing Myst, The Room has a splendid aura about it, combining that old-world nostalgia of wood and gears and clockwork with juxtaposed futuristic feel of trinkets and tricks that unlock clues to a mystery. The Room was featured in Apple’s best games of 2012 awards list, and The Room Two was in Apple’s 2013 list.

What we’ve found while playing The Room Three is that, while its enlarged world and enhanced gameplay can sometimes present minor annoyances control-wise, the game is so intriguing and rewarding to progress through that we don’t mind them at all.

Lara Croft GO »

This one is interesting. It’s a turn-based puzzler/platformer where you control Lara Croft of the Tomb Raider game series. You move her around each level via swipe controls, one tile at a time (much like a board game), and solve puzzles along the way. The graphics are rich and immersive, and we’ve had a surprising amount of fun playing the game.

Prune ($4)

Prune ($4)

Prune »

Prune is a game about…well, tree pruning. Don’t let that boring-sounding premise fool you, though — it’s a very unique, engaging experience, and unlike anything we’ve ever played.

You plant a seed in the ground, choose the direction of its growth, and the tree starts growing. From there, you must cut certain branches away to let other parts of the tree grow larger. The goal is to have the branches reach a given level’s field of sunlight so that a certain number of flowers can grow along the branches and fill your quota.

Along the way, you must deal with obstacles such as wind, eclipses, and suns that will either accelerate or corrupt your tree’s growth. There’s something zen-like about the whole experience, despite the quick thinking required to pass each level.

Don’t Starve: Pocket Edition »

In Don’t Starve, the objective is exactly what the game title says. You play as a scientist named Wilson who, after being swallowed up by a machine of his own making, is transported to a strange wilderness where he must eat before nightfall while trying to remain sane. It’s a strange concept, which is only backed up by the game’s uncanny creatures and weird occurrences. It’s probably the most Tim Burton-esque game we’ve ever come across.