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Best iOS games 2020

Best iOS Action Games

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Best iOS Action Game: Ordia ($3.99)

Great games don't need to be complicated. Ordia, an upward-climbing action game, requires little more than a downward flick of your finger. You finger causes a new life-form to climb out of the primordial ooze, leaping from point to point while avoiding enemies and obstacles. Thirty different levels offer colorful graphics across three worlds. And different game modes like time trials and a ramped-up difficulty setting keep things fresh. Orida is a welcome callback to some of the simple-yet-challenging apps that first made us fall in love with iOS gaming a decade ago.

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Alto's Odyssey ($4.99)

Alto is back in a follow-up to the terrific Alto's Adventure, and the new version is every bit as good as the original. In Alto's Odyssey, you're guiding Alto through another series of beautiful landscapes, with dunes and desert vistas replacing snow. Gameplay is the same, as you're pulling off tricks and jumps to avoid hazards while collecting coins, but Alto's Odyssey changes things up by adding environmental elements like tornadoes, balloons and cliff edges to add a new challenge to the original's elegant simplicity. Its combination of elegant design and fun gameplay gives it a well earned place among Apple’s 2018 Design Awards.

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Grimvalor ($6.99)

Plunge into the depths of the fallen kingdom of Vallaris and discover the fate of its ruler in Grimvalor, an iOS Metroidvania-style action platformer. You swipe, strike and dodge your way through the blighted lands, as you tackle hordes of enemies and intense boss battles. Players can use both on-screen virtual buttons or MFi game controllers as they hack and slash through the landscape, levelling up and collecting new gear. Along the way, you also can explore some really nice Metal-accelerated 3D landscapes.

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Lichtspeer ($3.99)

Wield your trusty Lichtspeer and take up arms against penguin vikings, hipster ice giants, and other neon nordic monstrosities, all for the amusement of the capricious Lichtgod in this mobile port of the indie action hit. Players will explore an “ancient germanic future” of gonzo magitech weirdness, as you beat back wave after wave of monsters with the Lichtspeer and an arsenal of other superpowers.

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(Image credit: Rhythm Violence)

Thumper: Pocket Edition ($4.99)

“Rhythm Violence” is an apt description for Thumper: Pocket Edition, a pulse-pounding action game that sends you careening down a track, picking up gems, dodging enemy attacks, and triggering your special abilities as you battle the environment and powerful level bosses. It’s a full on assault on your senses, with pulsing lights, thumping music, and the ever-present threat of destruction. Definitely not the game to play to relax, but it’s a great choice for gamers looking for an adrenaline fix.

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Brawl Stars (Free)

Supercell takes on the twin-stick shooter with Brawl Stars, a top-down competitive hero shooter that has you taking on other players in fierce multiplayer brawls. The app features a number of game modes, from simple deathmatch-style modes to team-based treasure hunts, as you work to secure gems that spawn in the middle of the map. Along the way, you can unlock a variety of brawler heroes, each with their own weapons and super moves.

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Fortnite (Free)

Fortnite trades the chicken dinners and graphical grit of PUBG for a zanier, cartoon aesthetic and a free-to-play system that threatens its rival’s battle royale dominance. Fortnite adds a neat crafting and terrain construction element to the battle royale formula as 100 players duke it out across the map for dominance. As a result, you’re both building and destroying at the same time, scrounging the battlefield for raw materials while swiftly throwing up impromptu bunkers and trading fire with other players.

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Necrodancer Amplified ($4.99)

The award-winning Crypt of the Necrodancer returns with Necrodancer Amplified, which contains the original mobile port of the game as well as the new Amplified prequel content. As a result, you can play the shapeshifting Nocturna and explore the history of the crypt. An action rogue-like powered by the rhythm of the game's soundtrack (or your own music collection) players will have to think fast on their feet as they explore the crypt and battle it out with the many monsters and bosses while keeping their coin multiplier going for maximum rewards.

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(Image credit: Kyle Barrett)

Immortal Rogue ($4.99)

Arise, immortal vampire, and feed upon the world's living, with your choices shaping the course of history in the hack and slash rogue-like Immortal Rogue. Every century, your vampire will awaken and wander the world, making choices about who and what to hunt in each age while possibly unlocking new allies and enemies to battle. At the same time, you’ll also come across a bewildering arsenal of weapons and vampiric abilities. After each level, your vampire goes back to sleep and time advances, with history progressing based on your kills and choices; that, in turn, affects the next level's enemies, weapons, and other unlocks.

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Death Road to Canada ($14.99)

Take a road trip to the last zombie-free nation on earth in Death Road to Canada, a rogue-like action RPG by way of Oregon Trail. You’ll lead a motley crew of survivors through the zombie apocalypse, carefully husbanding gear, weapons, food, and other supplies when you’re not slipping past the zombie hordes using stealth and high-powered firearms. On your journey, you’ll meet an assorted cast of characters, each of whom have random traits that impact events and choices later on. That, plus Death Road to Canada’s procedurally generated systems ensure a unique experience when you replay the game.

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PUBG Mobile (Free)

Give full credit to Tencent for delivering a very solid port of Player Unknown Battlegrounds to the iPhone. PUBG Mobile may shrink down the action of this battle royal game to an iPhone-sized screen, but it hasn't compromised on graphics. The action scrolls smoothly as you race around either a 6x6 or 8x8-kilometer battlefield, looking for 99 other opponents to get the drop on. Customizable, mobile-oriented controls and gameplay tweaks such as auto-pickups of ammo and gear make nods toward smartphone playability. Tencent has continued to add new battlefields, and the latest update adds new features like the ability to revive dead teammates and commandeer helicopters.

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Super Mario Run (Free)

Mario's mobile debut remains an endless running delight. Super Mario Run is a delightfully colorful game with precise controls that give it the feel of a true Mario experience. Nintendo also offers a lot of replayability in Super Mario Run, with hidden coins on each of the 24 courses and hidden characters you can unlock. The standard World Tour mode is complemented by the multiplayer Toad Rally and Kingdom Builder, in which you can decorate your very own Mushroom Kingdom. You can play the first few levels for free; a $9.99 purchase unlocks everything else. A new updates adds more playable characters while letting you sample more of Super Mario Run's delights for free.

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Injustice 2 (Free)

Mobile fighting game fans can once again dive into DC Comic's grimdark timeline with the mobile version of Injustice 2. The story continues from the first game, with Batman and his allies attempting to rebuild after Superman's regime, while a new threat arrives to strike at Earth's divided heroes. The latest Injustice mobile game has you engaging in 3v3 team battles, with a new Gear system to provide in game buffs and cosmetic customizations.

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Marvel: Contest of Champions (Free)

Marvel: Contest of Champions allows you to unleash your inner comic geek and collect and battle your favorite Marvel Comics superheroes and villains in a simplified touch-screen brawler. Swipe and tap controls make for a responsive 1-v-1 fighting game battler, with players needing to keep a good rhythm and a combination of basic attacks and super moves to win. Players can engage in a lengthy campaign mode or engage in multiplayer battles against others, with your play time limited by a stamina system. Users can unlock heroes by completing in-game quests, winning matches or in-app purchases.

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(Image credit: Madfinger Games)

Shadowgun Legends (Free)

Mobile shooter franchise Shadowgun returns with a persistent world, loot-shooter spin in Shadowgun Legends. The latest Shadowgun title cribs from the same gaming DNA as MMO shooters like Destiny and The Division, offering an extensive campaign and co-op boss raids, as well as social hub areas and PVP combat to mix things up. Featuring a vast array of weapons and gear as well as a freeform skill system, Shadowgun Legends is definitely worth a shot for mobile shooter fans.

Why we love Action Games

When it's time to blow stuff up or get really bloody, you want an action game. These are the games that keep your reflexes sharp as you take on the evils of this world and the next. When engulfed in one of these apps, you can be a superhero, a sniper or even a battle-hardened robot. But for an action game to be considered really great, you should feel transported by console-quality graphics and seamless controls. Here are our top picks. 

John Corpuz
John Corpuz flip-flopped between computer science and creative writing courses in school. As a contributor to Tom's Guide he's found a happy middle ground writing about apps, mobile gaming and other geekery.