Whether you use your iPad as a portable workhorse or as a creative tool, you won’t get the most out of your tablet until you start playing on it.
With a beautiful widescreen and a huge selection of games available from the App Store, there’s never a shortage of new titles to try on your iPad. These games look best on the iPad because they shine on the Liquid Retina display, they make creative use of the device’s mobility, or simply because they’re downright great games.
Think back to the early days of the iPad, when a quick game of temple run or slice kiwis fruit ninja was it enough to forget the dramas of life? Let’s get back to it, my friends, with some of the best games to play on your iPad and iPad Pro.
Make room on your iPad because this iconic game is both impossible to ignore and extremely space intensive. But it’s well worth the 20GB of storage required for Genshin Impact as the cult open-world RPG will likely become your favorite iPad game. You’ll almost never run out of new things to explore in Genshin Impact, like the rowdy carousel of manga-style characters or the beautiful world filled with inventive enemies. The best part? The game is completely free and players report that you don’t have to spend anything to enjoy the best of the game.
If you want to relax and grow food while juggling the normal anxieties of normal life — dating, carrying out your late grandfather’s wishes, running a farm, making sure you pet your chickens every day — Stardew Valley is the game for you. The touch controls work great on iPad, with the added bonus of a bigger screen so you can peek at all the cute details of this iconic indie game.
It’s like Mafia, but online. What’s not to like? Among us made us feel like we were among anyone but ourselves at the height of the pandemic. It maintained its popularity over the ensuing months due to its fast-paced social environment that kind of makes you feel like you’re playing a game with all the big kids in the neighborhood after dark.
We’re probably supposed to put something on your kids who love their Minecraft creations more than they like you, but we won’t do that, because you already know that. But the question is, have you tried Minecraft? This game isn’t just loved by toddlers – it’s actually an incredibly advanced open-world survival game that you can literally explore forever. The colors are practically designed to be enjoyed on a big, beautiful screen, and you’ll enjoy using your iPad’s touch controls if you don’t have a PC to play with. Alternatively, connecting a Bluetooth mouse and keyboard to your iPad can make your Minecraft experience even better.
It’s basically a crime to gamble Alto’s Odyssey on a screen smaller than your iPad screen, even if you’re working with an iPad Mini. This endless downhill platformer has been at the top of all mobile game charts since its release in 2018, and it’s probably the best-looking game on the App Store today. With a soothing color palette and a host of engaging levels that excite and relax you, you won’t want to put your iPad down once you start skiing in Alto’s Odyssey.
If turn-based strategy games are your bag, VI civil is perhaps the best you’ll find on iPad. This game is free to play, but it won’t belong until you drop real money so you can play beyond the first 60 spins. Keep your civilization alive and thriving for as long as possible while withstanding the trials of a growing society – deities bent on making life on Earth harder, for example.
Even though Monument Valley was released in 2014, it still stands the test of time even eight years later. This isometric puzzle platformer is confusing, addictive, and filled with visuals that will make you so glad you splurged on that Liquid Retina display. I can’t promise this one will be relaxing as the levels get harder and more visually confusing, but I can promise it’ll be the first thing you open on your iPad every time for at least a few weeks after your purchase this.
The gardens between
Similar to Monument Valley, The gardens between uses isometry to create puzzles that will illuminate parts of your brain you haven’t used in ages. This nostalgic puzzle game tells the story of two childhood friends who become separated when one moves away. It plays on a child’s backyard imagination and conception of time to stretch basic memories into intriguing puzzles that can only be solved when you let time roll on. Yes, it will make you cry.
If you want to learn something while playing a unique and fascinating game with adorable animation, check out Dot’s house. This game uses real-life experiences of Black Americans who were (and still are) disenfranchised because of housing discrimination to tell the harrowing story of a time-traveling activist. As Dot uncovers the difficult decisions her family has made to ensure adequate housing over the decades, she is exposed to the (reality-based) way her parents and grandparents were exploited by landlords, developers and gentrifiers.
Speaking of time travel, Without beef is one of the best time travel games today and it really shines on the iPad. Touch controls are best for this game since you move around the platformer by clicking where you want to go. I loved playing Oxenfree, which follows a grieving teenage girl as she visits her late brother’s favorite spooky island with a group of friends, on my Nintendo Switch, but the touch controls would have made the experience even better. Plus, you can keep diving through time again and again until you’ve experienced all the results of this heartbreaking game.
Donut County is satisfying, endlessly addictive, and supremely cute. What more could you ask for from an iPad game? With extra space to appreciate all the details of this puzzle game, the iPad takes donut county from the cute download to the fascinating feat of programming. Drag your hole into the ground to absorb objects around you, making your hole bigger and more destructive with each object you pick up.
Dive into Dreadrock Dungeons, a nostalgic dungeon crawler that takes place under a snowy mountain filled with enemies and puzzles. This 16-bit game evokes the old Zelda games, both in aesthetics and in the masterful difficulty of the puzzles. With 100 relatively short levels to beat, Dungeons of Dreadrock is perfect for playing on your iPad.
Zoë Hannah is a freelance journalist specializing in video games, mental health and e-commerce. You can find his reviews, essays, and stories in publications like WIRED, IGN, Insider, and more. When she’s not writing, you can find her curled up with a scary video game or an immersive novel. Find her on Twitter @zoehhannah or browse her clips on zoehhannah.com.
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