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Best iOS games 2020

Best iOS Adventure Games

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(Image credit: That Game Company)

Sky: Children of the Light (Free)

It's easy to see why Sky: Children of the Light was tabbed by Apple as its favorite iPhone game for 2019. The social adventure game blends beautiful artwork with explorable worlds in a game that keeps players coming back for more. The stars have gone missing in this universe, and it's your job to find them and restore them to the sky, but you're not all on your own. Instead, you team up with other players to explore seven different realms and solve mysteries that will ultimately help you fulfill your goal. Sky: Children of the Light allows you to play in story mode, or you can just fly around the different vistas, exploring with your friends. And game maker That Game Company promises more stories are coming.

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Best iOS Adventure Game: Oxenfree (Free)

Oxenfree channels the best of ‘80s teenage horror flicks, as you join Alex and her new stepbrother Jonas, together with a few friends as they take an overnight trip to an abandoned military island. Alex and company will have to navigate a paranormal mystery, strange voices in the radio, and the minefield of teenage friendships in this charming pixel-art adventure featuring a branching storyline.

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Gone Home ($4.99)

It's 1995, and you're back home after a year abroad but nobody is home to welcome you — that’s how Gone Home begins. An immersive and groundbreaking exploration game when it first came out for computers in 2013, Annapurna Interactive brings Gone Home to iOS devices, inviting you to explore the private lives of the Greenbriars by examining the things left behind in their home. It's a quiet game that eschews puzzles or other gamey elements for a more exploratory feel, though gamers looking for a crunchier experience should probably look elsewhere.

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Whispers of a Machine ($4.99)

A simple countryside murder mystery hides a bigger technological conspiracy in Whispers of a Machine, the latest point-and-click adventure from the developers of Kathy Rain and The Samaritan Paradox. As cybernetically enhanced detective Vera, it’s up to you to unearth the truth, with your nanotech enhancements responding to the approaches you take during your inquiry. Depending on whether you choose to be consistently empathetic, assertive, or analytical in your investigation, you’re presented with different choices. And with more than 4,000 fully voiced lines of dialogue and a compelling mystery, Whispers of a Machine is a solid few hours of engaging fun for gamers looking for a retro adventure for their smartphone.

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(Image credit: The Voxel Agents)

The Gardens Betweeen ($4.99)

Explore an otherworldly dream space with best friends Arina and Frendt in The Gardens Between, a time-bending puzzle adventure. You’ll join the pair as they explore strange islands, tasked with bearing a magical light to the top. Along the way, you’ll need to traverse obstacles and puzzles by bending the flow of time forward and back in order to unlock new routes or avoid obstacles. Creative lateral thinking will reward you well in this short, sweet coming-of-age tale.

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Life Is Strange (Free)

Dontnod’s Life Is Strange makes the jump to mobile platforms, bringing the time-traveling adventures of best friends Max Caulfield and Chloe Price to your iPhone. Explore the town of Arcadia Bay with Max and Chloe and get to the heart of the disappearance of fellow student Rachel Amber, all while trying to come to grips with Max’s strange time traveling abilities. The mobile port captures the same magic of branching narratives and clever use of time travel, while also adding some cute touches like the ability to compare your choices with your friends over social media, experiment with a photo mode, and play with themed iMessage stickers.

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Inside (Free)

Equal parts beautiful, haunting, and quietly mysterious, Playdead's horror puzzle platformer game Inside has players stepping into the shoes of a boy fleeing through a shadowy dystopia of mind-controlled zombies. A spiritual successor to Playdead's Limbo, Inside builds on that game’s minimalist design to create a short, unsettling and also disturbingly beautiful experience. It isn't for the faint of heart, but it's well worth the price of admission if you own a newer iPhone.

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Florence ($2.99)

Less a point-and-click adventure and more an audiovisual narrative delight, Florence is a short and sweet story chronicling the entire arc of the relationship between Florence and Krish through sound, pictures, and yes, minigames. Don’t think of this as a dating game, but rather a game about a great date and how it feels like to fall in and out of love. It’s not a particularly long experience, but it is a well thought out and heartfelt one that received well-deserved recognition with an Apple Design Award.

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Four Last Things ($3.99)

Combining the looks of a Renaissance masterpiece and absurdist humor reminiscent of Monty Python, Four Last Things sends you on a nonsensical quest for forgiveness. You wander a world filled with landscapes and scenes taken straight out of masterpiece paintings and engage in silly escapades as you attempt to commit all of the Seven Deadly Sins so that the local priests will deign to absolve you. If you’re a fan of absurd comedy, this is a great addition to your mobile game collection.

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Thimbleweed Park ($9.99)

Ron Gilbert and Gary Winnick (of Maniac Mansion and Monkey Island fame) offer up this delightfully retro point-and-click adventure set in the strange town of Thimbleweed Park. A neo-noir mystery with a strange cast of characters, a weird setting, and classic puzzle gameplay, Thimbleweed Park is a love letter to adventure games of yore, combining callbacks to the 1980s and a genuine sense of fun. The result is a game that pays homage to the past while still being accessible to modern players.

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Technobabylon ($4.99)

Adventure game publisher Wadjet Eye’s latest iOS release is the Technobabylon, a cyberpunk tale of genetic engineering and murderous mindjackers in a city ruled by the omnipresent AI called Central. Players explore the world through the eyes of veteran cop Charlie Regis, his partner the hotshot rookie Max Lao, and agoraphobic net addict Latha Sesame. It’s delightfully pulpy cyberpunk that deftly combines high-concept sci-fi and parallel cyberspace and meatspace action, along with some neat character writing making for a fun mobile adventure.

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Her Story ($3.99)

Are you a fan of true crime shows such as Serial and Making a Murderer? Here's a similarly themed game for you budding Sherlocks out there. Sam Barlow's Her Story has you doing the detective work and piecing together a mystery surrounding a woman being interviewed about her missing husband. Armed only with a mothballed computer and an antique police database, you must search through the files for short video clips of the woman's seven police interviews to unravel the whole story. To say more would spoil the experience.

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Grim Fandango Remastered ($4.99)

Step into the shoes of Manny Calavera, travel agent to the dead in the remastered version of the classic adventure game Grim Fandango. First released in 1998, Grim Fandango melds Mexican folklore, film noir sensitivities, and a healthy dose of humor to create a fun and memorable adventure game. Double Fine’s remastered version features improved graphics, an orchestral score, and a wealth of extras like developer commentary and concept art. About the only thing that hasn’t translated well is the obscure 90s adventure game puzzle design, which can be counterintuitive to modern gamers.

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Broken Age ($4.99)

Double Fine's adventure Broken Age, the game that helped start gaming's crowdfunding revolution, goes mobile with the release of Act 1 on the App Store. The first act of Broken Age tells the story of two teens, each struggling against traditions that bind them. Deep in the bowels of a starship, Shay Volta is trying to escape the clutches of a stiflingly maternal AI, while Vella Tartine has been chosen to be sacrificed to a mysterious monster in order to save her village. Gorgeously rendered 2D graphics, a neat soundtrack and a genuinely well-built adventure make Broken Age Act 1 a keeper, and we're sure many gamers eagerly await the release of Act 2.

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Day of the Tentacle: Remastered ($4.99)

Turn back the clock and experience a point-and-click classic with Double Fine Production’s remastered edition of Day of the Tentacle. This sequel to the original Maniac Mansion, Day of the Tentacle has players guiding a lovable bunch of misfits through a comedic time travel odyssey as they work together to keep a purple mutant tentacle from taking over the world. The new edition features remastered graphics and sound effects (as well as the option to play through in the original low-res mode). You also get commentary from some of the game’s original creators such as Tim Schafer and Dave Grossman.

Why we love Adventure Games

Looking for an alternative to repetitive time-killers like Angry Birds or Candy Crush? Take a welcome detour with a truly engaging and interesting adventure game. This genre's focus on exploration, puzzles and story makes it a natural fit for mobile, leading to a rich variety of titles. You'll also find plenty of personality in these titles, some focusing on horror, some on time travel and some on murder mysteries. From old-school point-and-click ports to more modern fare with jaw-dropping graphics, here 15 of the best mobile adventure games for iOS devices.

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.