The X factor
There’s nothing more frustrating than firing up your luxurious new smartphone, tapping one of your favorite apps or games from your last device, and finding that it just doesn’t look right. In the case of the iPhone X, apps not updated for the new extra-tall, notch-adorned OLED display have black bars bookending the experience on the top and bottom.
It’s fine, but you don’t want fine with the iPhone X—you want the best, right? Games that fill the full frame of the iPhone X really pop without all of that extraneous bezel, too. With that in mind, here are 10 of the top games you can play on Apple’s new phone, and every last one of them has been optimized for that dazzling screen. Some are newer releases and others are old favorites, but they’ll all look fantastic on your brand new handset.
Monument Valley 2 ($5)
If you haven’t gotten around to playing Monument Valley 2, now is definitely the time to do so. Ustwo’s sequel looks gorgeous on any screen you can find it on, but that’s especially true with the iPhone X, as the vivid colors dazzle on the 5.8-inch OLED display and the extra screen real estate gives you an even better view of the mind-boggling environmental puzzles.
Much like the original game, Monument Valley 2 is all about trying to solve your way out of these odd structures and levels, which don’t always conform to real-world rules. But that’s a large part of the draw, as you experiment with moving around platforms and dials to find a way out. Of course, you should play Monument Valley first—even if it’s not yet iPhone X-optimized.
Super Mario Run (Free)
Nintendo might still be fairly new to this whole mobile thing, but Super Mario Run has thankfully shown that the legendary gaming company is hip to the idea of keeping its iOS games updated with fresh content. Chief amongst those updates is the addition of iPhone X full screen compatibility, with the vibrant game expanded to fit the taller frame.
But that’s not all. Last year’s holiday gift also recently got a nice burst of added content, with a new world of courses added to the World Tour (if you’ve completed the rest), plus a new Remix 10 mode that sends you blasting through a series of teeny-tiny stages. It’s still $10 to unlock the full game after the free taste, but we think it’s worth it for classic Mario made mobile.
Impossible Road ($3)
Even after four years of release, Impossible Road is one of those games we keep coming back to time and again. It’s a perfectly distilled arcade-style challenge that finds you guiding a rolling ball down a twisting and turning rollercoaster-like course. You’ll need to avoid swiftly falling off into the void… but if you can guide yourself back onto a later part of the track within a few seconds, you can massively boost your score. That’s a feature, not a bug.
With the default white-and-blue theme, the notch is unavoidable—although the ultra-minimal aesthetic remains striking. But the alternate black-and-orange looks perfect on the iPhone X screen (although tough to capture in screenshot form), and the game has seen a couple other UI tweaks in this update.
Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp (Free)
Nintendo is now three-for-three in bringing its beloved console and handheld franchises to the App Store, as the brand new Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp shows (Fire Emblem Heroes is the other, FYI). If you haven’t encountered the series on Nintendo’s own systems, it’s essentially a low-key life simulator, albeit one filled with cute animals and addictive activities.
This new mobile rendition puts you in charge of your own campsite and roving camper, both of which you’ll decorate by filling them with items… which you’ll obtain by completing tasks around the island. It’s a calm, compelling little game that you can play in little chunks throughout the day. And the bright, cartoonish style is incredibly charming to boot. Animal Crossing has never looked better.
Alto's Adventure ($1)
We’re so glad to see Alto’s Adventure pumped up and looking extra-beautiful on the iPhone X’s screen. This is a game we loved on previous iPhones and iPads, as well as on Apple TV, and it’s one that deserves as much screen as you can devote to it: Snowman’s side-scrolling, super-chill snowboarding game is really that gorgeous.
You’ll glide down a mountain for as long as you can, evading pursuing elders, grinding on bunting lines, and rescuing runaway llamas, all while a cheery jingle loops in the background. While you ride, time passes fabulously, as the lighting and weather conditions shift and the layered backgrounds showcase all of that beauty on your large, handheld screen.
Modern Combat Versus (Free)
The iPhone X might not be a dedicated game console, but a game like Modern Combat Versus might fool you with its glossy, TV-ready 3D graphics. Gameloft’s series has always been cutting-edge visually, even dating back several years to the earliest editions, and this latest version takes things a step further with crisp environments and player models, plus loads of detail in the mix.
As the title suggests, Modern Combat Versus is all about multiplayer action, as you pop online for frantic 4-on-4 live battles that challenge you to maintain control of a point on the map. It’s a freemium game, so there’s a grind here for unlocking additional gear and agents… or you can spend cash to speed things up. But you can still have plenty of quick fun for free.
Chameleon Run ($2)
Here’s another side-scrolling favorite that’s been around a little while, but it’s much, much different in tone from something like Alto’s Adventure. Chameleon Run is crazy-tough, sending you leaping across far-flung platforms in the hopes of making it to the end goal in each stage. And if you mistime a jump or land on the wrong platform, you’re toast. Game over, man.
How you avoid the latter issue is by tapping the screen to change color, going from yellow to pink or vice versa. You can only land on platforms of the same color as your lizard body, so you’ll need to rapidly swap to make it through most of these challenges. It’s a really slick-looking game in motion, and even more so on the iPhone X’s great screen.
The Witness ($10)
Undoubtedly one of the best-looking games you can put on your iPhone X, The Witness drops you onto a lush island full of puzzles to solve. How many puzzles? More than 500, actually, which start simply enough with line puzzles on signs posted throughout the world, but soon become quite a bit more challenging and engrossing.
Between the puzzles, you’ll unlock a gorgeous environment filled with vividly-colored plant life, spectacular architecture, and a quiet sense of mystery all about the island. Given its massive stack of challenges, you might be tempted to play The Witness for weeks and weeks (or more), so it’s a good thing the game looks so fabulous in full-screen on the iPhone X.
Old Man's Journey ($5)
We recommended Old Man’s Journey a few months back thanks to its gorgeous hand-drawn look, emotional story beats, and evocative soundtrack, and we’d like to offer that grand thumbs-up once more now that the game is properly optimized for the iPhone X.
Truth be told, there isn’t that much “game” to Old Man’s Journey: it’s a like a storybook adventure with just enough interactivity to hook you in. As the titular elder beset by unfortunate news, you’ll travel the countryside and fiddle with some breezy puzzles as you trek to fulfil your sudden quest—and take breaks every so often to reminisce about the good times and bad decisions of his past. It’s sweet, and so very beautiful on Apple’s latest handset.
On a list with a couple of legit Nintendo games, here’s one that looks and plays like another one of the company’s classics, even if it actually isn’t one. Oceanhorn does an impeccable impression of The Legend of Zelda, delivering an epic (yet mobile-friendly) adventure on both land and sea.
You’ll explore dungeons, solve puzzles, battle enemies, and try to find out the real story behind the titular sea beast, and while Oceanhorn may not be a real Zelda game, it captures the essence quite well in a portable package. And while this game has been out for a few years now, it has been gradually enhanced and refined over the years, and it still looks really slick on the iPhone X.