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Top 25 best action games for iPhone and iPad (iOS)

Top 25 best action games for iPhone and iPad (iOS)

These iPhone action games will help you shoot for the stars

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Updated November 19, 2021: New entries and download links added


You can stick 'action' before any other genre, and it'll instantly make it seem more fun.

If a friend tells you they're playing an RPG, you'll instantly think of extended quests, interminable conversations, and patience-testing battle systems. If they tell you they're playing an action RPG, your thoughts will turn to thrilling slashy combat, a steadily growing arsenal, and rip-roaring adventure. Or, y'know, a Zelda game.

More broadly, action games tend to involve a certain kind of pacey violence, whether that be shooting, punching, or slashing. All that really matters for a game to make this list is that there's lots of kinetic stuff happening on screen at once.

A good action game will be the perfect tonic when you've had a really crappy day, and you just want to blow off some steam and mow down some goons.

Rather like love, you know an action game when you see it. Here are 25 of the suckers, all playable on your iOS device. Don't mention it.

Original list by Jon Mundy, updated by Pocket Gamer Staff.
Click Here To View The List »

1
Dead Cells

Developer: Motion Twin
Publisher: Motion Twin
Available on: iOS + Android + Switch
Genre: Action, Adventure
Find out more about Dead Cells
Dead Cells

Dead Cells is a roguelite platformer that doesn't let its clever procedurally generated algorithms get in the way of what it does best - quicksilver combat. Whether you're hammering baddies with a giant sword or pinning them with a powerful multi-shot bow, it never feels less than deliciously tactile.

Before you dive into this action platformer, you should read our Dead Cells review. And once you do start playing, you shouldn't miss our beginner tips - they'll definitely see you out of some dire situations.

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2
Steredenn

Publisher: Pixelnest Studio
Available on: iOS
Genre: Arcade, Shooter
Find out more about Steredenn
Steredenn

Steredenn might look like an old school bullet hell shmup, but it's so much more than that. Roguelike elements and a highly customisable weapon system make this far more interesting than your average blaster. We absolutely loved it (like we mentioned in our Steredenn review), but if you're eager to see for yourself, it's a game worth trying.

You have gorgeous graphics, an intense play style and a space action for iOS that will take you decades into the retro future. Sounds intriguing? That's because it is!

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3
Downwell

Developer: Moppin
Available on: iOS + Android + Steam
Genre: Action, Platform
Find out more about Downwell
Downwell

In Downwell, your guns are located in your character's boots as you embark on an endless drop. This means that as well as taking out baddies, it acts as a means of locomotion. It's a genius game that we've praised in our Downwell review too! If you haven't had a chance to check it yet, make sure you do so ASAP.

This is probably one of the all-time best action games for iPhone, and with each passing year the game feels better and better. Is it because of the increasing appeal to retro and pixelated games? Maybe - one thing's for sure, and that's the fact that Downwell is a must-have. You can read our Downwell tips too!

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4
Guns of Boom

Publisher: Game Insight
Available on: iOS + Android
Genre: Shooter
Find out more about Guns of Boom
Guns of Boom

If you want to shoot other players, there's no better mobile game right now than Guns of Boom - maybe some other hyper-realistic shooters, but this one also looks fun (therefore it takes the gold from us). It simplifies the FPS format just enough without compromising on strategy or depth.

We have a comprehensive Guns of Boom review, so if you're eager to learn how it is, make sure to check it out. We also gathered some essential tips for Guns of Boom, so make sure to read them once you start playing.

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5
Hyper Light Drifter

Developer: Heart Machine
Available on: iOS + PS Vita + Ouya + Switch
Genre: Action, Adventure
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Hyper Light Drifter

Imagine a top-down action RPG like the classic Zelda games, but with the emphasis very much on the 'action' part of the equation. That's Hyper Light Drifter, which features hyper-kinetic sword fighting and pinpoint gunplay in a breathtakingly beautiful fantasy-sci-fi world.

Did you know we have a Hyper Light Drifter review too? If our game introduction hasn't convinced you to try it out yet, this most certainly will. It's an absolutely stunning game that is worth playing whenever you want some beautiful slashing action.

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6
Black Paradox

Available on: iOS
Genre: Action
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Black Paradox

Don't let the retro graphics and 2D shmup mechanics fool you - Black Paradox is a decidedly modern experience, complete with roguelike elements and stacks of weapon types. It's a game that is as beautiful as it is exciting to dive into. Just read our Black Paradox review if you don't want to take our word for it!

Once you start this colourful space journey, you should read our money-making guide and progression guide - it'll teach you how to deal tons of damage and blast your way through the stages!

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7
Space Marshals 3

Publisher: Pixelbite Games
Available on: iOS + Android
Genre: Action
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Space Marshals 3

Space Marshals 3 is a far more considered and varied twin-stick shooter than you might be accustomed to. But at its core is a brilliantly weighty drag-and-aim shooting system that lifts combat to another level. You never expect this game to be as exciting as it actually is, and once you start it it'll give you a very clear idea of what to expect from it.

We added it to our best iOS action games list because it's full of action (obviously!) but also because it looks like a top-down PUBG Mobile or something similar. Overall, it's a great addition to your action games for iPhone and you should be proud to be called a Space Marshal!

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8
Atomine

Publisher: Broken Arms Games Pty Ltd
Available on: iOS
Find out more about Atomine
Atomine

If you like twin-stick shooters, they don't come any more stylish than Atomine, with its glitchy cyberpunk graphics and slick arcade gameplay. This game is exceptionally appealing to those who seek a clean-looking blocky, futuristic, semi-minimalist game (yeah, that's a mouthful!) and we couldn't argue that the action aspect is bad either.

It's an exciting game that will get your blood pumpin' and lasers shootin', but that's just our take. You can read more about how it actually plays out in our Atomine review, since it's a game we once called "the best game of the month".

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9
Immortal Rogue

Available on: iOS + Android
Genre: Action
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Immortal Rogue

A truly awesome roguelike hack and slasher that you can play single-handed, but that doesn't lack in strategy or depth. Immortal Rogue is an action game with brains as well as brawn, and we've expanded on that in our Immortal Rogue review.

Once you start playing this bloody hack n slasher you should also check our Immortal Rogue tips to get upgrades fast, as well as some of our essential combat tips.

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10
Pigeon Wings Strike

Publisher: Ignacio Schiefelbein
Available on: iOS
Genre: Endless running
Find out more about Pigeon Wings Strike
Pigeon Wings Strike

Pigeon Wings Strike is an endless runner with shmup and racing elements liberally woven through. It's a pure shot of the action, straight to the eyeballs. While these little birds might not immediately scream action! you can most certainly expect Pigeon Wings Strike to do exactly that.

We've written down a Pigeon Wings Strike review to give you a glimpse into this winged universe, but one thing's for sure - you will have a laugh and enjoy yourself more than you think while playing this.

We know for certain we did, and if you are a fan of endless runners and shooters alike, you're guaranteed to have a good time.

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11
BackFire

Available on: iOS + Android
Find out more about BackFire
BackFire

A fascinating twist on the arcade shooter that celebrates the noble rearguard action, as you seek to evade your opponents whilst simultaneously blasting away at them. The game not only looks great but also feels right when playing. The controls aren't complicated, but rather simple and smooth, and the graphics... well, the graphics are simply stunning.

We couldn't say the same about the difficulty, since in our BACKFIRE review we mentioned that levels get a tad too hard (to say the very least). But if you're in for a challenge, you should give it a try!

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12
Beat Hazard 2

Publisher: Cold Beam Games Ltd
Available on: iOS + Android
Genre: Action, Shooter
Find out more about Beat Hazard 2
Beat Hazard 2

Beat Hazard 2 is a bullet hell shmup - and a darned pretty one at that - with one almighty twist. Its levels and bosses bop along to the beat of your own tunes. This rhythm-action influence makes for one of the most distinctive shooters on the App Store.

We have a pretty good idea on whether or not we like it (the answer is simple - you see the game on this list, so yeah, we love it!), but we also asked our friends over at App Army to share their opinion on the game. So if you're curious whether or not it's a viable choice of action game for you, you should read their opinions.

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13
Trigger Heroes

Publisher: Lucky Kat Studios
Available on: iOS
Find out more about Trigger Heroes
Trigger Heroes

A brilliantly streamlined take on the twin-stick shooter which has you focusing on your movement rather than aiming. Roguelike elements help keep things feeling fresh. We have a Trigger Heroes review, but if you're eager to read more about this top-down shooter, we've got you.

In short, all you need to know is that you're in charge of a character and your goal is to slash through waves of incoming enemies one after another in order to get new weapons and advance. Sounds simple, and it actually is - as long as you want a fairly straightforward action iOS game, this is the best there is.

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14
Blazing Star

Developer: SNK Playmore
Publisher: SNK Playmore
Available on: iOS + Android
Genre: Arcade, Retro, Shooter
Find out more about Blazing Star
Blazing Star

This classic SNK Playmore shoot-'em-up plays wonderfully on mobile, bringing a taste of the late-'90s arcade to your pocket. It's one of those arcade games that looks old, feels old, (actually) is old, but never gets boring. You can play it now in 2021 and 10 years from now and it'll still be as exciting as ever.

If you haven't tried it out yet, we strongly suggest you do. Did you know we have a Blazing Star review? Don't forget to check it out if you're eager to see how we played this arcade shooter on our iPhone.

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15
Tesla vs Lovecraft

Developer: 10tons
Publisher: 10tons
Available on: iOS + Android
Genre: Shooter
Find out more about Tesla vs Lovecraft
Tesla vs Lovecraft

This twin-stick shooter packs an appealingly flamboyant steampunk style, satisfyingly squelchy gunplay, and relentless action. It's a winner in our book, and if you're curious to read about our experience playing it, you should read our Tesla vs Lovecraft review.

We recommend this game if you are looking for an action shooter that combines mech-battles with shooting action and Cthulhu-blasting. How awesome does that sound, anyway?

Oh, if you haven't got a clue how this game plays yet, you can check our hands-on video! It's basically us playing this wonder of a game. You wouldn't want to miss it!

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16
Super Fowlst 2

Publisher: Thomas K Young
Available on: iOS + Android
Genre: Action
Find out more about Super Fowlst 2
Super Fowlst 2

A thrillingly pure and empowering action game that sees you tapping the screen to hop your little 2D chicken around each arena-like level, avoiding attacks and bopping baddies. While this game is not as action-packed as others on this list, it's still a pretty intense one, all things considered.

We have a list of Super Fowlst 2 tips to help you out so when in doubt, don't forget to check them out!

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17
The Pathless

Publisher: Annapurna Interactive
Available on: iOS + Apple Arcade
Genre: Action, Adventure, Fighting
Find out more about The Pathless
The Pathless

This Apple Arcade game might look like a big budget adventure game at first glance, but it's all bound together by fast-paced action sequences that see you pinging multiple enemies with your bow and arrow. The Pathless is a truly beautiful game, and we have three reasons for you to try it. Have you checked them yet?

When you decide to play the game, we've also got a guide ready to help you on your pathless journey.

No worries though - if you thought this game is only about fancy names and graphics, you'd be glad to hear it's more than that. That's exactly what makes it such a great iOS action game, even in 2021.

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18
Gumslinger

Developer: Itatake
Publisher: Itatake
Available on: iOS + Android
Genre: Action, Multiplayer
Find out more about Gumslinger
Gumslinger

You are an anthropomorphic jelly bean. You must raise your gun and blast another anthropomorphic jelly bean in the face. Now repeat the process. Gumslinger takes a basic duelling premise and raises it to near perfection with daft sound effects, tight physics and gorgeously springy visuals.

If you're as much about satisfying-looking games and sleek visuals, chances are you'll enjoy Gumslinger as much as we did. It's one of those underrated action iOS games that never gets old.

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19
Otherworld Legends

Available on: iOS
Genre: Action, RPG
Find out more about Otherworld Legends
Otherworld Legends

A really-quite-brilliant hardcore 2D shooter that evokes the memory of classic arcade machines, with pacy gameplay and chunky graphics. You've got beautiful pixelated graphics and unforgiving action every step you take. You can summon warriors from different times/zones/areas, and that's only part of the fun.

In Otherworld Legends you'll eventually come to discover a long-buried secret behind this realm. If that's not enough to get your blood pumpin' for some action, adventure and monster-slashing, I don't know what is.

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20
The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth (iOS)

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A port of one of the most beloved indie games of recent years, The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth is a twin-stick shooter that's so packed full of randomised elements that no two runs are the same. You've got the mandatory horror and gross-looking elements, as per usual, but that's not where the fun stops.

You also have our Binding of Isaac: Rebirth review, which honestly speaking hasn't exactly impressed us, but is still a pretty viable game if you're looking for a classic action shooter.

Download The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth
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21
Super Hydorah

Publisher: Abylight
Available on: iOS
Find out more about Super Hydorah
Super Hydorah

Here's a shooter for all the R-Type fans out there. It expertly emulates those classic side-scrolling shmups, but adds a sprinkling of fresh ideas. Super Hydorah is a game that you won't often see nowadays as a fresh release, but it's still pretty fun and exciting. You should read our Super Hydorah review though.

There we talk more in-depth about this classic side-scroller iOS shooter, so if you're in for some retro action, you will most certainly enjoy it. Otherwise, if you want something more contemporary, you can check out some of the other titles.

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22
Punishing: Gray Raven

Available on: iOS + Android
Genre: Action, RPG
Find out more about Punishing: Gray Raven
Punishing: Gray Raven

If you want a stunning anime hack 'n' slash action RPG, you have Punishing: Gray Raven, and you have the rest...

This game is pretty much in a league of its own, being such a beautiful and complex game from all perspectives. It has a deep narrative to keep you immersed in the game's universe, and it has action-packed battles that are unforgiving and won't give you time to reload.

It's pretty much do or die, but packed nicely into a beautiful world, with beautiful characters and a beautiful story. And if that did not convince you, then you should read our Punishing: Gray Raven review. We also have a list of PGR codes, so if you want to claim the latest rewards don't forget to check it out!

Download Punishing: Gray Raven
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23
Pascal's Wager

Developer: TipsWorks
Publisher: Giant Games
Available on: iOS + Android
Genre: 3D, Action, Adventure, RPG
Find out more about Pascal's Wager
Pascal's Wager

Essentially Dark Souls for your mobile, Pascal's Wager is a third-person action RPG of rare heft. For weighty bladed combat, you can't get much better on mobile. You have absolutely amazing graphics, immersive role-playing action, and challenges every step of the way. What more could one ask for?

If that is not enough to convince you to give this Souls-like game a try, then you should read these 3 reasons to play Pascal's Wager. Once you start, we also have a helpful guide for you to aid you on your journey, so if you think you've got what it takes to give it a try, by all means, dive right in!

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24
Neon Chrome

Publisher: 10tons
Available on: iOS + Android + PS Vita + Switch
Genre: Action, Shooter
Find out more about Neon Chrome
Neon Chrome

Neon Chrome feels like a proper, fully fleshed-out console shooter right here in the palm of your hands. It's a twin-stick shooter with a moody story, heaps of weapons, formidable bosses, and a rollicking sci-fi story. We love every part of this game - the slightly strategic approach and the explosive top-down action alike. It's just an overall exciting game to dive into even years after its release.

Did you know we have a Neon Chrome review? If you want even more good ol' retro action for your mobile, this is as good as it gets!

Download Neon Chrome
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25
Pokémon Unite

Available on: iOS + Android + Switch
Genre: MOBA
Find out more about Pokémon Unite
Pokémon Unite

Our best action games for iOS list will finish up with the majestic mention of Pokemon Unite. This release is one of the latest in the Pokemon series, and it's also one of the best in our opinion. You essentially have a MOBA, similar to League of Legends: Wild Rift and Mobile Legends: Bang Bang, but with Pokemon... who wouldn't want to experience that? It's fun, it's intense, and you get to play as some of your favourite characters!

If you ever wanted to zap someone to death as Pikachu or blast someone in the face with Blastoise, now is your chance. We even have a Pokemon Unite tier list to help you pick the best Pokemon based on their role!

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