Final Fantasy XV: Pocket Edition (iOS)
February's iOS games
February might be the shortest month of the year, but it had no shortage whatsoever of huge, exciting iOS game releases. Long-awaited games like snowboarding (well, sandboarding) sequel Alto’s Odyssey and epic role-player Final Fantasy XV: Pocket Edition were the biggest releases of this past month, but they’re hardly alone on this list.
Other games like the heartbreaking Florence, hilarious Run Gun Sports, and super-charming Bring You Home might not have quite the same stature as those aforementioned games, but they’re all well worth a look. Read on to find out more about our picks for the 10 most notable iOS game releases this month, and don’t miss January’s list if you’re seeking other options.
Alto's Odyssey ($5)
Even three years after its debut, Alto’s Adventure remains one of our go-to games on iOS and Apple TV—but now the long-awaited Alto’s Odyssey is here to take its place. Like the original, Alto’s Odyssey is a side-scrolling snowboarding game with dazzling sights and a really chill atmosphere, but now the journey takes you to a different kind of destination.
In fact, you’re sandboarding this time around, coasting around some epic dunes as you backflip, grind on bunting lines, and take in some seriously majestic backdrops. It’s not a hugely different experience, but with new elements like wall-riding and hot air balloons, Alto’s Odyssey keeps the familiar whimsy and allure well intact.
Final Fantasy XV: Pocket Edition (Free)
Many of the older Final Fantasy games have been ported to iPhone and iPad, but this is something entirely different. Final Fantasy XV: Pocket Edition is a complete reworking of the most recent console role-playing adventure, streamlining the quest into a slightly more manageable mobile affair along with a swap to cartoonish graphics.
We dug a bit deeper into Pocket Edition this month, but our main takeaways were very positive. It has the same compelling story and characters as the $60 console game (including the voice acting), but there’s less meandering along the way. Final Fantasy XV: Pocket Edition’s first chapter is free, with the other nine sold separately or in a discounted bundle within.
Mobile games are rarely this heartbreaking, but Florence isn’t your average mobile game. It’s an incredibly charming tale of the rise and eventual demise of a relationship, as twenty-something Florence Yeoh meets and falls for a man named Krish. We’d call it “short but sweet,” but it’s only sweet at first. Later on, it aches as the excitement of new love gives way to routine, frustration, and acrimony.
Florence feels more like an interactive graphic novel than a particularly active game: you’ll build dialogue bubbles to carry on a conversation, match numbers to push through Florence’s work day, or move items to and from a shelf, for example. There elements are minimal, but they help pull you a little bit deeper into the lovely animation and dreamy soundtrack… right up until the gut-punch of an ending.
A Hollow Doorway (Free)
Looking for something that’s both mesmerizing and totally free? If so, then be sure to check out A Hollow Doorway. The premise is super-straightforward: you’ll rotate a rectangle left or right to fit into the other rectangles falling into view, and have to continue shifting in either direction to avoid a collision.
That’s simple enough, right? It would be, but challenging twists quickly keep things from getting stale. Before long, the approaching doorways come at angles, take on different shapes, or have color-coded walls—and the game gets a lot faster, too. It feels like a slightly more approachable Super Hexagon, although it’s hardly easy at first... and the back end looks like absolute chaos.
Run Gun Sports (Free)
If the Winter Olympics have reignited your competitive fire, then you might want to give Run Gun Sports a look. This is a very different kind of sports game, however. It’s focused on track and field events like leaping hurdles and the high jump, only here, the athlete all have guns for legs… and you’ll shoot to blast yourself through each competition.
Yes, it’s a delightfully weird one indeed. You’ll blast up off the ground, spin through the air, and then use well-timed gun-leg blasts to propel yourself over hurdles or between horizontal bars, for example. There’s a funky freemium element around reloading certain weapons, but even so, the wacky concept and amusing twists make Run Gun Sports a very entertaining diversion.
Pako 2 ($2)
The original Pako was a touchscreen delight, testing your maneuvering skills as you evaded police cruisers while stuck in a tight parking lot or on a busy highway. Pako 2 keeps the spirit of that compact game, but expands its horizons pretty significantly: now you’re cruising around a large open world, still with cop cars hot on your tail.
And that’s not the only change: as you escort criminals to various stops on the map, they’ll automatically blast the other cars to bits with a steady rain of gunfire. The results are frantic and intense, and each run feels unique thanks to the unpredictable behavior of the police pursuers. It could use some optimization, however: our iPhone X got physically hot and the screen dimmed within five minutes of play.
Meteorfall: Journey ($3)
If Reigns got you keen on single-player card games, then here’s something with a similar mechanic but very different results. Meteorfall: Journey also has you swipe cards left or right, Tinder-style, to interact with the game—but instead of living the (brief) life of a ruler, this role-playing game sends you up against monsters as an adventurer seeking to save the world.
Meteorfall has a strongly Adventure Time-esque look to it, but the approach to combat and deck-building feels unique here. You can grind out battles against the myriad beasts by building the most effective deck, or shrug off conflict and potentially be less experienced for the later, harder skirmishes. In any case, you’ll probably die fairly quickly, but each new attempt builds up your hero and deck over time.
Bring You Home ($3)
Alike Studio’s Love You to Bits is one of the most charming adventure games we’ve played in recent years, delivering a gorgeous, whimsical tale of lost love that’s loaded with pop culture references and homages. The team’s new Bring You Home keeps the great hand-drawn look and diverse level designs, but opts for a different kind of gameplay approach.
Here, you’ll attempt to direct alien hero Polo across each level by swapping the terrain he travels across. You’ll rotate different chunks of the level in an almost Framed-like manner, all in the hopes of creating a safe route to the end. It’s totally a trial-and-error affair and not terribly difficult, but Bring You Home’s playful tone and dazzling presentation still shine through.
Dandara looks and in some ways plays like a classic Metroid or Castlevania adventure, but it doesn’t move quite like anything you’ve played before. That’s because instead of freely guiding the titular heroine by foot, you’ll leap from landing spot to landing spot with simple flicks of the virtual stick, bounding between platforms and hanging off of walls and the ceiling.
It reminds us a bit of the intense HoPiKo, but Dandara doesn’t focus on rapid-fire challenges. Instead, you’ll explore a vast collection of caverns as you evade and attack foes, solve puzzles, seek out ability upgrades, and uncover new areas. The $15 price tag is on par with the console and computer releases, but makes the iOS version much pricier than most mobile affairs. Still, if you love picking apart these “Metroidvania” games, Dandara is certainly a compelling one.
Dunk Line (Free)
Ketchapp specializes in dead-simple games that you’ll want to play again and again, and that’s definitely true with Dunk Line. Like the great Bouncy Hoops, it’s all about trying to sink a ball into a basketball hoop—only instead of “flapping” the ball like in that game, Dunk Line has you quickly drawing pathways to guide the ball into the net.
Sounds easy enough, right? The ball flies into the air, you doodle a little ramp, and then the ball goes in. It’s simple at first, but then Dunk Line ditches the backboard, rapidly bounces the ball between the walls, or tosses in a bomb alongside the ball. You probably won’t last long with each attempt, but Dunk Line’s arcade-like premise is difficult to resist.