Best iPad games in 2021
I’m a fan of a larger screen when gaming, so when I’m not on a console or PC, I like to play games on my iPad. More mobile games are taking on console-like qualities, especially with new hardware updates like Apple’s A14 Bionic chip, which majorly improves graphics speed. The latest model, the iPad Pro, sports Apple’s M1 chip, which is also used in MacBooks and the new iMac, allowing for smoother game performance.
Don’t fear for your wallet just yet. While newer iPad models can have a hefty price tag, there are multiple models that will still meet your gaming needs. If you’re bargain hunting, check out CNET’s back-to-school sales lists.
Whether you just got a new iPad or you’ve had one for years, we’ve got a list of some of the best games for you to check out on your tablet. Regardless of whether you’re looking for an educational game, a card game, an adventure game, or something else, there’s an iPad game out there for you. Some, but not all, iPad games are available as part of Apple’s gaming subscription service, Apple Arcade. Others are available to download free or for a price to your iOS device in the App Store. We update this list periodically.
Gone Home will suck you in from the very start. You play as Katie Greenbriar, home from a year long trip in Europe. When you arrive home (in the middle of a thunderstorm no less), your family has seemingly vanished. Explore all the nooks and crannies of the sprawling house. Collect clues and unravel what happened to your family while you were gone.
The tension created in the game through sheer mystery is almost more frightening than if there were jump scares. As a diehard mystery game fan, I found Gone Home immersive, engrossing and emotional. While playing, I found myself turning on all the lights to stave off the unnerving feeling of being in this deserted house. I felt sadness and frustration as I opened doors and found no one behind them, but the emotional payoff was so bittersweet and satisfying.
It’s a bit cumbersome sometimes to play it on iPad and could benefit from adding controller support in the future. Definitely still worth a play though.
Online multiplayer game Among Us went viral during the pandemic and reported nearly half a billion users towards the end of 2020. It’s even inspired a few knock-offs, like Goose Goose Duck.
In Among Us, you can play online with strangers or friends, in groups of four to 10 people. In the game, you and other players spawn as crew members on a spaceship. You must keep the ship in operation as you return to Earth, but one of the players is a shape-shifting alien attempting to kill off the crew before you reach home. The twist? The alien, or the imposter, looks just like everyone else.
If you’re the imposter, your goal is to be sneaky — sabotage the ship, frame others and kill the crew. If you’re a regular crew member, you’re trying to fix the ship and figure out who the imposter is with the rest of your teammates. Crew members can vote on who they think the imposter is and that person can be eliminated — even if they’re not the true imposter.
When The Pathless hit Apple Arcade, I couldn’t put it down. In the game, you play as the last Hunter, a veiled young woman with archery skills tasked with traveling to a mysterious, cursed island inhabited by corrupt spirits. Alongside an eagle companion (yes, you can pet the eagle) you must defeat the evil to bring back the light. This task is just as big as it sounds.
You can go from boss fight to boss fight for a speed run, but taking the time to explore each world, gather collectibles and find secrets will experience the full breadth of the game’s narrative.
There’s a nice consistency to the game without crossing the line into tedious repetition. The controls take a bit of time to get used to, but finding a rhythm is key to seamlessly running, jumping and firing arrows. Also, if the touch controls aren’t your thing, The Pathless supports a controller.
Stardew Valley is a pretty well-known mobile game. In the country-life RPG. In the game, you inherit your grandfather’s farm and are tasked with running the place — fix up your house, plant seeds, and clear out weeds. Explore Pelican Town and meet new friends. Townspeople will sometimes have items to share, like a fishing pole, or side quests to go on. There’s a handy menu system that helps you keep track of your inventory, funds, skills, relationships, and how your farm is doing.
It’s a cute game that mixes the nostalgia of early Nintendo games with the comfort gameplay people sought from Animal Crossings during the pandemic.
Oceanhorn 2: Knights of the Lost Realm
Oceanhorn 2: Knights of the Lost Realm is a gorgeous open-world action fantasy RPG similar to Zelda or Kingdom Hearts. Oceanhorn 2 tells the story of a young knight on a quest with his friends, Trin, the granddaughter of Arcadia’s leader Archimedes, and Gen, a robot armed with a Samurai weapon. All three are controllable as you journey across Gaia to defend Arcadia against Warlock Mesmeroth’s Dark Army.
Oceanhorn 2 is packed with collectibles, puzzles, boss fights, as well as a stunning world to just explore. The game is a prequel to Monster of the Uncharted Sea, but playing the original isn’t a must. You can also check out Oceanhorn: Chronos Dungeon on Apple Arcade as well.
When Oceanhorn 2 arrived on Apple Arcade, it felt the most like a console game out of the subscription service’s lineup. The game supports a controller as well, if you don’t want to navigate the touch controls.