We round up our favourite iOS action, adventure, puzzle and indie games that you’ve probably never heard of, and you’ve almost certainly never played on your iPhone or iPad.
Over the years we’ve played hundreds of mobile games, many of which never made it big despite boasting addictive gameplay and gorgeous presentation. They’re still sat on the App Store, buried away and unloved, and if you bring them up in conversation, chances are you’ll be met with quizzical looks. Here’s our pick of the very best iPhone and iPad games that you’ve probably never heard of, but you should definitely play, in 2016.
We honestly can’t understand why Satellina, a fantastically addictive puzzle slash reaction game for iOS, is sat on the App Store with zero customer reviews almost a year after its birth. Gameplay is gloriously simple (pop all of the bubbles in order – green then yellow then red – in order to beat a level) but also achingly moreish, and you’ll need precision timing to complete some of the more fiendish challenges. Then you’ll head right back to the start and try and beat your best scores, over and over.
Check out our full Satellina review
Fans of off-the-wall adventure games like the old LucasArts titles should get a serious kick out of Hollywood Monsters. This point n’ click tale imagines a world where the monsters in horror movies are played by actual real-life creatures, and ties in a compelling and funny mystery that lasts several hours. The touch controls are excellent and presentation is top notch throughout.
Read next: Best iOS adventure games
Scurvy Scallywags may have plenty of positive reviews on the App Store, but we’re yet to find any other iPhone or iPad owners who’ve actually played it. This addictive cross between match-3 and RPG genres has you building up your pirate ship and taking down hordes of nasties, with some awesome power-ups to help you survive each encounter.
Wadjet Eye is probably the most exciting developer of adventure games right now, producing nothing but compelling, original retro-style point n’ click titles that boast brilliant stories and fantastically deep characters. The entire Blackwell series is out now on the App Store, charting protagonist Rose’s discovery that she can communicate with the dead, and her subsequent mission to ease the suffering of New York City’s deceased. You really need to play them in order to get the most out of them, especially the stunning climax.
Check out our Blackwell series review
Gary Chalk’s Gun Dogs
If you have any love for choose-your-own adventure games like Sorcery! then you should definitely pick up Gary Chalk’s Gun Dogs and the other Tin Man Games titles. Presentation is excellent, combat is engrossing and there are different difficulty modes, so you can either enjoy the gore-filled tale or face a serious challenge.
Kickerinho is one of those ‘just one more go’ games that’s perfect for five minute bursts, but can also take over your entire evening. Try and keep the football in the air, using a variety of foot, head and balance tricks. Mix it up for a bigger score and try and grab the slow-mo power up. Check out our Kickerinho guide for top tips on maxing out your score.
Lost Treasures of Infocom
If you’re old enough to remember playing the original Zork, then the Lost Treasures of Infocom collection will bring you out in nostalgic hives. Boasting 27 text adventures in all, this set doesn’t just lazily port the old adventures to iOS. Rather, you get a loving recreation complete with box arts and all of the bonus materials such as fake newspapers. You can even unlock clue books and maps, so you don’t need to worry about getting stuck or sketching out the entire game world by hand.
Zork I is free to play and you can unlock the rest of the adventures for £7.99, giving you dozens of hours of gameplay in all.
A Dark Room
A Dark Room is a very difficult game to summarise without spoiling the mystery, but there’s a very good reason it featured in our ‘iOS games that f*ck with your head’ feature. This bleak exploration game explains nothing and expects you to pick up its nuances alone, which only adds to the sinister atmosphere.
Read next: Best iOS horror games
Despite even being featured in one of Apple’s keynotes, Lili is one of those games that no one ever seems to have heard of. This excellent Zelda-esque adventure/action game has you dealing with pesky spirits who have taken over the island of Geos, inhabited by a rather eclectic bunch of characters. The gorgeous graphics, fun puzzles, intuitive controls and dense gameplay make Lili an essential mobile game.
Chances are you’ve probably at least heard of Year Walk, a creepy-as-that-dodgy-uncle-of-yours iOS game that boasts a harrowing story and sinister visuals. Chances are you’ve heard of Device 6 too, one of our all-time favourite iPad games, replicates the experience of reading a spy thriller novel after smoking a whole bunch of crack.
However, you’ve probably never heard of SPL-T, another iOS game from the same people responsible for Year Walk and Device 6. This minimalist black and white puzzler is well worth checking out, despite the bare bones graphics and basic 8-bit audio. What it lacks in presentation, it more than makes up for with fiendish gameplay.
Check out our full SPL-T review
This classic PC horror adventure has just been ported to iOS, and it’s just as marvellously demented as ever. Escape from a twisted asylum while discovering who you are and what caused you to end up there.
Got your own personal picks for underrated iPhone and iPad games? Let us know in the comments below.