Top 10 best detective games for iPad and iPhone (iOS)
Original list by Harry Slater, Updated by PocketGamer staff on June 23, 2022.
Everyone likes a good mystery, right? We thought we'd put our detective hats on and track down some of the best crime-solving capers on the App Store.
Some of them are funny, some of them are gory, and some of them involve solving crimes from beyond the grave. All of them are, at the very least, quite good, though. Becoming a detective and solving crimes is something that I am sure many of us would love to experience - and in detective games for iOS or other platforms, you don't even need a qualification.
So, grab your magnifying glass and deerstalker, for we are about to go on a rip-roaring adventure through a portable universe of deduction, crime-solving, and pointing your finger at the murderer in a grand sweeping gesture.
Cognition: Episode One
Psychic detectives, supernatural shenanigans, awful serial killers with a penchant for the dramatic, and grimy blood-splattered crime scenes are the hallmarks of this point-and-click adventure series. In this game, you can become Erica Reed, an FBI agent who has the power to see into the past - a great power when it comes to solving crimes. Especially as the clues, in this case, are specifically meant for someone with that power.
There aren't many jokes here, sure, but it's chock-full of puzzles to solve, powers to unlock, and clues to follow. One of the true gems of detective games on iOS.
The Last Express
It's a bit more Agatha Christie than Conan Doyle - what with a murder on a train and an Edwardian setting - but this mystery from Prince of Persia creator Jordan Mechner is a tightly paced, constantly changing adventure full of intriguing characters and tricky clues. There are over thirty characters on this train, communicating in their own languages to each other, as you explore around and play. This means you will need to keep an eye out and be aware of everything.
It looks great, too. And while the controls are a bit wonky on the iPad, there's still a thrill to be found in solving the crime and stopping the bad guys.
Ace Attorney: Phoenix Wright Trilogy HD
A Capcom classic. This time around, things are slightly more grounded in reality. Slightly.
You're an attorney who's working through a series of strange crimes, proving whodunnit by shouting 'objection' all the time and interrogating witnesses. Though you are not a detective, per se, you are still representing cases, understanding clues, and finding the best way to defend your client. Also, it's a detective game for iOS that is just too fun to not include.
It's really fun, bonkers, and is brilliant more often than not.
Basically, if your game has the word 'detective' in it, it's going to end up here.
This time, you're a gumshoe trying to solve a ridiculous murder in a swamp. You point and tap through a series of puzzles and bizarre encounters with the eccentric locals. Detective Grimoire is brilliantly written, full of weird characters, and filled with clever puzzles. If you like your crime-solving to be full of giggles, this is the game for you.
Detective Games: Criminal Case
In the future, mysteries and crimes are still a thing. In Detective Games: Criminal Case, you will need to be solving crimes, figuring out who the killer is, and using your technological advances to keep ahead of those who are up to no good. You will need to capture criminals, investigate crimes, and fight against the clock as these killers can escape.
This game also has different modes, allowing you to play a variety of detective games on your iPhone.
The Shivah: Kosher Edition
Much like Shoestring (a.k.a. the greatest TV programme ever made), The Shivah is about a part-time sleuth looking to get to the bottom of a mystery. The local Jewish rabbi, who was lacking funds and membership to keep his synagogue open, recently received a bunch of money from an estranged member of his congregation. At first, it may seem like a blessing but might end up as more of a curse.
This may be a short game, but it's full of intrigue and some brilliant ideas. Well worth a look.
Detective Jackie - Mystic Case
Detective Jackie is looking to solve the murder of a young girl, but this case isn't as straight forward as one would have guessed. This case is a little strange, with some myths turning out to possibly be true. You will need to solve the case while dealing with mythological paintings, finding strange secrets, and uncovering many answers that might just lead to more questions.
This game has you trying to understand and decide what's real and what is just make-believe.
Layton Brothers: Mystery Room
A grisly iOS turn from the son of the top-hatted puzzle-solving professor. This is a game of crime-solving and logic that'll leave even the most determined detectives scratching their heads from time to time. There are crime scenes to poke through, interviews to conduct, interrogations to handle, and plenty of murderers to uncover.
You will even spend time finding contradictions in case files, understanding what is really going on, and questioning witnesses to find out what they are keeping a secret. Towards the end of your case, you can face the culprit and argue with them, trying to make sure that the truth is told.
Mystery Manor is a hidden object, detective game, where you need to unlock new areas by finding objects that will help you solve mysteries. There are a bunch of different artifacts and interesting creatures that you can find, as well as secrets, puzzles and mini-games to add to the gameplay.
Though this detective game for iOS isn't as serious as some of the others, it's a fun time.
Detective Story: Jack's Case
Mixing hidden object games and narrative mystery games, Detective Story: Jack's Case has you following a case where a strange package has arrived in the office of your detective agency. This wasn't the only strange occurrence, as you then got a phone call, from a stranger called Jack, who has given you one hour to save someone's life. From there, you need to investigate the crime, solve quests, find hidden objects, and get through some tough quests.
There are a lot of different characters to interact with, interesting clues, and mini-games!
Sadly, this one concludes our list of best detective games for iOS. We hope you've found something that's going to spark the detective instinct and the quick wit of Sherlock Holmes within you! If you've wondered on here and you have Android instead, we have an even bigger list of Android detective games.