Top 11 best iPhone and iPad (iOS) exclusive games
Updated on March 21, 2023 - added 1 new game. Original article by Jon Mundy, updated by Artur Novichenko.
Throughout the history of video games, there have been countless system wars: Commodore 64 vs Sinclair Spectrum, SNES vs Mega Drive, and PS4 vs Xbox One to name three.
Do you know what the deciding factor in these system wars tends to be? The games. Specifically, the games that you can only get on one particular system.
That's why Apple's iOS continues to be the best mobile gaming platform on the market (sorry Android), and also why it's one of the best gaming platforms around. The recent provision of Apple Arcade has only driven that defining point home.
There are loads of brilliant games out there that can only be played on an iPhone or iPad. Here are some of our favourite examples from recent times, including some from Apple Arcade, as well as one or two notable inclusions from way back in the day.
Cornfox and Bros' lush adventure sequel takes the simple top-down action-RPG of the original and opens the adventure out into full 3D. The result is Oceanhorn 2, which is just about the closest thing you'll get to playing Zelda: Breath of the Wild on a phone or tablet. It will be coming to other platforms, but right now you can only play it on iOS through Apple Arcade.
FTL: Faster Than Light
FTL might be the favourite game for most gamers worldwide, not just fans of mobile titles. It has unforgiving roguelike gameplay, and you'll have a lot of resets before you manage to beat it for the first time. However, the fun doesn't stop there, as you'll unlock more ships and different crews that will let you play a completely different run, and for example, board enemy ships instead of blasting them apart with lasers and rockets. For the time being FTL is an iOS exclusive.
Here is how you can fix a damaged stasis pod, in case you need it!
We're not sure that this Apple Arcade gem will be getting non-iOS users envious - who needs another match-3 RPG in their lives, right? - but it deserves to. Capybara has seamlessly blended in a tactile hack-and-slash mechanic, making this handsome puzzler really stand out from the crowd.
An oldy but still a goody. Tiny Wings is an iOS hit from the early(ish) days of smartphone gaming, and you can still see its influence in many casual games released today. Ever played a game that requires you to build up momentum for a character by pressing the screen on downward slopes and releasing to jump near the top of the incline? That mechanic was pinched from Andreas Illiger's hilly masterpiece.
Consoles are typically the stronghold of the 2D platformer, but Death Hall is an iOS exclusive - and a brilliant one at that. It sees your limbless characyer hopping and skipping through a hellish landscape, avoiding a chasing demon and striving for pixel-perfect precision. It's punishingly tough stuff, but rewarding all the same.
Painty Mob is just pure joy. Another Apple Arcade treat, it sees you wandering around psychedelic arenas splattering an increasingly angry crowd with paint. If your eyes ever recorver from the initial audiovisual assault, you'll start to spot patterns, collectibles, and tactical permutations that drag you bag for more. And more. And more.
Simogo produces the kind of slick, innovative iOS exclusives that leave iPhone users feeling giddy - and perhaps a little guilty - that they get to have them all to themselves. Device 6 is a prime example. This interactive story could only work on a mobile phone, laying its text out like an interactive map and having you twist your phone around to make sense of it all. It's wonderful stuff, and it remains iOS-only.
A slightly different one here, because Ridiculous Fishing used to be on Android before it was pulled for technical reasons we won't get into. Vlambeer's game is a true mobile great though, and one that deserves to be played to this day. Drop your line, dodge past the low-value fish, then pull up your haul before tapping to blast them out of the air.
Pigeon Wings Strike
Yeah, you've played enough endless runners for a lifetime. We hear you. But there's always room for one more when it plays as well as Pigeon Wings Strike. This fast-paced side-scroller stirs in elements of racing games and shmups to create something a little bit special. And you can only pay in on an iPhone or iPad.
Dark and creepy but addictive and atmospheric puzzle platformer Inside, developed by the authors of the amazing adventure Limbo, is definitely worth playing. Playdead's project has an incredibly unique art style. The world of this game wants to kill you and tear you apart. This is a dark puzzle platformer about a little nameless boy. However, the plot of the game is not directly explained, which gives you a freedom to interpret the story in your way.
Disney Melee Mania
Disney Melee Mania is a dynamic multiplayer game where you have to fight against other players in 3v3 matches. If you are looking for a game to have some fun when you have a few free minutes, Disney Melee Mania is your best pick since matches here last approximately 5 minutes. You will meet many memorable characters from Disney cartoons in Melee Mania. Currently, there are 17 characters, each with unique abilities.