Five iPhone Games You Probably Haven't Tried, But Should

| 4 min read
#games #phone-games

5 More Phone Games

As I’ve mentioned a few times, The Washington Post has put together quite a shockingly excellent video game reporting outfit. They consistently write interesting pieces that often tackle the heart of core issues like matchmaking, and their game recommendations find gems that often don’t come up in bigger lists.

10 Great Games to Play on iPhone is an example of that. Outside of maybe one exception (I’m looking at you Mario), I wholeheartedly endorse this list of games you should check out. I’ve even written about a couple likeCard of Darkness and Dicey Dungeons, two of my top-10 all time games.

Like the article, I’m going to select a variety for purchase or through either Apple Arcade or Netflix’s new gaming subscription service. While there are no free games here, I’m comfortable that you can spend $5 and be satisfied. Either through a month of Apple Arcade, reusing into your (or a friend’s) Netflix subscription*, or by picking up one of the paid games for $5, you’ll feel like it was money well spent.

* I don’t think you should buy a Netflix subscription for any of these games. $15 a month is a lot to ask for games, unless you’re going all in on a game pass subscription, or something.

1. Poinpy

It’s hard to describe Poinpy. Well, it’s hard to put it into words in a way that makes any sense at all.

You play as a green creature that’s jumping off walls trying to collect fruit for your friend the cat. You’re trying to collect the correct combination of fruit. If you land and your fruit is correct, you get to continue. If you don’t, you’ll get burnt and lose a life. And… that’s the game… kind of?

The game is a cross between an infinite runner and a platformer. You jump ever upward, collecting fruit. And when you land, you either have the right recipe or you die. The goal is to collect enough fruit to make it to the final boss battle.

Poinpy’s designer, Ojiro Fumoto, also created Downwell in 2015. At the time, it was a paid app with a punishing difficulty curve. I never made it past the second level. But it became a cult classic and a hallmark of what was possible with phone based game design. Poinpy feels like it learned from the mistakes of Downwell to create a brighter, more inviting game that has a high skill ceiling but is more available to people who aren’t ready to invest 10-20 hours into it.

Poinpy makes incredible use of the restrictions (and benefits of the phone). Its portrait mode design has the player jumping up and down, using the flinging mechanic excellently to have players create wild combos as they reach for ever greater heights. And I haven't even gotten into the incredible combos, avoiding (and jumping on) enemies, and the various worlds you hop through.


Poinpy is on my shortlist for game of the year.

2. Ordia

Just like Poinpy, Ordia is all about leaping your way up a tunnel. Unlike Poinpy, it’s not a rogue like, so there are distinct levels (often that you can complete in a minute or less) with checkpoints and save states. The art style is immaculate, and there’s enough side quests (timed and “hard mode”) that it kept me coming back even after I had dropped it for a while.


While Ordia is a real-time game (i.e., not turn based), it’s not frenetic the way that Poinpy is. You can take a breath and collect your thoughts as you jump from point to point. There are a few intense moments separated by easier patches. The clever pacing is what makes this game feel so fun to keep coming back to.

3. Railbound

Railbound is by the same designers who brought you inBento and Golf Peaks. Railbound has that same charming art style with brain bending puzzles that I found so charming in Golf Peaks.


Each puzzle takes about 1-3 minutes long, and the comic book style art is fun to look at while you do some gentle puzzle solving. Railbound puzzles fit into that delightful space where they’re not quite easy enough that you can brute force them, but not quite hard enough that you have to spend a lot of brain power trying to figure them out.

4. Please Touch the Artwork

Similar to Railbound, Please Touch the Art is a puzzle game about sequencing events in the correct order. Unlike Railbound, however, it’s about building your own little Mondrian (and other abstract) pieces of art. Most puzzle games are collections in a menu that you quietly work through. Please Touch the Artwork has a really charming conversational narrative style that’s reminiscent of Thomas Was Alone with a “narrator” that directs you to a puzzle to tackle. And, the puzzles themselves are more about brute forcing the right combination of options, rather than trying to understand a core concept.


Some games really are vibe checks more than they are about the puzzle of it all, and this is a game that represents the top of that genre on the phone.

5. Transformers: Tactical Arena

I hate Clash Royale. It’s filled to the brim with shady free to play mechanics, and the underlying game isn’t fun enough to keep coming back. I find most multiplayer iOS games to be tired retreads. So, I was surprised when Transformers: Tactical Arena wasn’t just addictive, it’s charming and fun.


I’ve written about this one previously, and I’m surprised I like it so much. Unlike the Star Wars game of a similar concept, also on Apple Arcade, I connected with Tactical Arena. For me, the big difference is how much variability in play that having “two-sided cards” (cards you can play either as a car or a robot) gives the game. It adds a lot of decision-making to the game, and each game I’ve played has felt like it goes down to the wire. It’s definitely a bit more of a stress inducing game, but I appreciate that (because it’s part of Apple Arcade), there aren’t any freemium mechanics to get in the way of my enjoyment of the game.