iOS

Fresh powder and frisky pups await in the charming Dog Sled Saga

These days, keeping up with games can be a full-time job. So how do you separate the signal from the noise, the wheat from the chaff, the Temple Runs from the Temple Jumps? Allow us to help by regularly selecting a game You Should Play.

Video games make it possible for us to experience things that we never could—or would—do in real life. Now, commanding a dog sled is one of those things. Frankly, it’s not something that I’ve ever aspired to do, and the whole enterprise seems exhausting, immensely challenging, and unavoidably cold. But wrap it up in an adorable iPhone game and I’m there with my fuzzy pixel boots on. 

Dog Sled Saga is the game in question, and it’s the first one I can recall that has ever tried to recreate the centuries-old ritual of sled dog racing. It’s not all that realistic of a simulation of the sport, however, instead splitting its approach between two types of play: the arcade-style races themselves, which find you tossing out snacks to keep your pups lively and energetic, all while avoiding mishaps. And then the rest of it is a management sim that has you oversee your team while managing the business that grows around your success.

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iOS

Embrace the wintry mystery of iOS puzzle game Road Not Taken

These days, keeping up with games can be a full-time job. So how do you separate the signal from the noise, the wheat from the chaff, the Temple Runs from the Temple Jumps? Allow us to help by regularly selecting a game You Should Play.

If you’re looking for mystery, adventure, and creative but surprisingly tough puzzles, you’ll find it in Spry Fox’s Road Not Taken. This premium roguelike puzzler is easy to pick up but has a steep learning curve— each new puzzle element is frustrating and intriguing at the same time.

You play a mysterious hooded figure who stumbles upon a village in the middle of a snowstorm (by taking a Frost-inspired Road Not Taken, naturally). Each year, the villagers send their children into the nearby forest to pick berries…and each year all of those children inevitably get lost. Your job is to venture into the woods, find the children, and reunite them with their parents by solving a variety of turn-based puzzles.

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iOS

The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth is a provocative and heart-pumping dungeon-shooter

These days, keeping up with games can be a full-time job. So how do you separate the signal from the noise, the wheat from the chaff, the Temple Runs from the Temple Jumps? Allow us to help by regularly selecting a game You Should Play.

Video games have evolved and matured dramatically—particularly over the last decade—opening up new kinds of experiences that deliver far more personal and risqué stories than we could’ve imagined years back. It’s a marvel that something as raw and excruciatingly beautiful as That Dragon, Cancer can coexist on the App Store with a game as polished and purely fun as Super Mario Run, but here we are. 

Unfortunately, Apple doesn’t always see the value in games that make bold statements, delve into social issues, or have the potential to court controversy. Games that fall into any of those categories have been routinely blocked from the App Store, including immigrant-smuggling game Smuggle Truck—which was hilariously rebuilt and published as Snuggle Truck instead—and last year’s Liyla and the Shadows of War.

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iOS

Fight your way through flying space debris in Hyperburner

These days, keeping up with games can be a full-time job. So how do you separate the signal from the noise, the wheat from the chaff, the Temple Runs from the Temple Jumps? Allow us to help by regularly selecting a game You Should Play. 

Space-flying fanatics take note: Hyperburner lets you take a trip to a galaxy far, far away, where you can dip, dive, and barrel-roll your way through futuristic space highways.

The first thing you’ll notice about Hyperburner is that it’s beautiful and unique—this isn’t some cobbled-together endless runner full of procedurally-generated geometric obstacles. The game features smooth, high-resolution graphics and six visually stunning (and distinct) zones. Each zone has its own unique atmosphere and obstacles—one zone is orange and cloudy and full of rocks and asteroids, while another is yellow-red and features hovercraft space-buses that zip toward you. You’ll need to use strategy and reflexes to complete all the levels, because many obstacles don’t have a clear-cut path that leads you through them.

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iOS

SteamWorld Heist's tactical action might steal all of your free time

These days, keeping up with games can be a full-time job. So how do you separate the signal from the noise, the wheat from the chaff, the Temple Runs from the Temple Jumps? Allow us to help by regularly selecting a game You Should Play. 

While your iPhone might seem most ideal for quick-hit games, it’s also a pretty great vessel for richer and lengthier experiences like those seen on consoles. Classics like the old Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest games are available on the App Store, as is Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, while newer games like XCOM: Enemy Within, Severed, and The Banner Saga can all provide extended play sessions—and are well worth the time. 

And now you can add SteamWorld Heist to that pile. Starting life on the Nintendo 3DS before hitting Mac, PC, consoles, and most recently iOS, SteamWorld Heist is a meaty game squeezed into an approachable package. It’s a turn-based strategy and combat affair that’s similar in a lot of ways to XCOM, however the 2D, side-scrolling design simplifies the action and interface, and makes it seem like a perfect fit for an iPhone—or iPad, for that matter.

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iOS

Burly Men at Sea spins an easygoing, yet entrancing tale

These days, keeping up with games can be a full-time job. So how do you separate the signal from the noise, the wheat from the chaff, the Temple Runs from the Temple Jumps? Allow us to help by regularly selecting a game You Should Play.

Classic point-and-click adventure games have evolved over the years and recently saw a revival with Telltale’s successful episodic series. Based on licensed properties ranging from The Walking Dead to Minecraft and Game of Thrones, the games take the form of an interactive version of the classic choose-your-own-adventure books, letting you make decisions that gradually lead to different conclusions. No matter the story, however, you can expect something bold and exciting, and filled with action.

Burly Men at Sea takes a much calmer approach. It’s a visual and story-driven affair still, but as the intro screens suggest, it’s “a quiet adventure” from developer Brain&Brain. That tone shines through in the storybook-like presentation, the beautiful tunes, and the clever written dialogue from the bulky fishermen and the various people and creatures they encounter along the way.

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iOS

Swipe right to rule: Reigns is a Tinder-style choose your own adventure

These days, keeping up with games can be a full-time job. So how do you separate the signal from the noise, the wheat from the chaff, the Temple Runs from the Temple Jumps? Allow us to help by regularly selecting a game You Should Play.

Most resource-management kingdom-ruling games start you out slow—a tilled field here, a small factory there. A handful of villagers and ample time to build a wall before you’re attacked by invaders from the north.

But not Reigns. Reigns isn’t your typical resource-management game—not at all—but you will be required to manage resources (to some extent). Reigns is a mix of genres: Resource management, choose-your-own-adventure, decision-making, and… Tinder?

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