Best iPad Games: Top Picks for 2019

Earlier in 2019, Apple decided to discontinue the Apple iPad pro after the release of the new more slender iPad Air. While the excitement over tablets has cooled off, they’re still the best way to read comic books and play mobile games; at least in my opinion. 

Even though, mobile gamers are mocked and ridiculed; mobile games matter too. For nearly every free-to-play that’s available on console and PC, there’s a version for Android and iOS too. If you’re lucky enough to own a 10.5-inch iPad with Apple’s proprietary Retina display and A12 Bionic chip, then you have an awesome portable gaming machine in your hands. But what are the best iPad games? 

In this guide, we seek to answer that question for you. Whether you’re into action, adventure, sports or puzzles, this guide should have a little something for everyone.  

Best IPad Puzzle Games

The popularity of Puzzle games can be attributed to their pickup-and-play-ability. You don’t need to understand a convoluted story-line in order to play it effectively. All you need to focus on are the game mechanics. The following list includes a mixture of all types of puzzle games. Puzzle games as a genre have their own subcategories. In this list, we tried to feature something for everyone. Whether you like story-driven puzzle games or mechanical puzzles, every feature on this list is a great brain sharpening stone.    

#1 Monument Valley 2

  • Developer: ustwo Games Ltd
  • Compatibility: iOS 9.0+ 
  • Size: 514.2 MB
  • Release Date: June 5, 2017
  • Price: $4.99
Monument Valley 2

The original Monument Valley was a testament to what an independent studio could do. From getting BAFTA awards to winning the 2015 Game Developer’s Choice, the first game’s accolades should be enough to motivate you to play it. The 2017 sequel is no different. It won the best mobile game at the 2017 game awards and best puzzle game at the 2018 Webby awards. 

The goal of the game is to move a mother and daughter through a set of isometric mazes. The game’s mazes and structures are interactive. Not only do you have to maneuver mother and daughter through the game’s obstacles but you have to interact with the environment to complete the levels and chapters successfully. It’s charming, well-thought-out and addictive. 

#2 Prune 

  • Developer: Joel McDonald LLC
  • Compatibility: iOS 8.0+ 
  • Size: 120.2 MB
  • Release Date: July 23, 2015
  • Price: $3.99
Prune

If you enjoy well-crafted artsy games that are in the same vein as games like Monument Valley, but with more straightforward gameplay, then you’ll definitely enjoy Prune. By no stretch of the imagination am I a gardener. Everything I try to grow in reality dies. Some would say that I have a black thumb. 

That’s actually why I like Prune so much. It’s a puzzle game that requires the player to guide the growth of their tree by trimming it and pruning it so it can escape obstacles and danger on its way to find sunlight. It’s one of the most Zen puzzle games I’ve had to pleasure of playing. It’s really no wonder why it won so many awards, including the 2015 Apple Ipad Game of the Year. While it’s available for both Android and iOS devices, it plays especially well on iPads.     

#3 The Room Three

  • Developer: Fireproof Studios Limited
  • Compatibility: iOS 7.0+ 
  • Size: 930.8 MB 
  • Release Date: November 4, 2015
  • Price: $3.99
The Room Three

No, this is not the second sequel to Tommy Wiseau’s cult classic. My first encounter with The Room was on Android. It came as part of the March 2013 Humble Bundle. Even back then, I thought the developer’s attention to detail was astounding. However, I felt that it was a game that would be better served on a larger screen. 

The Room Three, just like its predecessors, is an escape the room puzzle game. The player is required to solve a plethora of box-related puzzle games in order to escape. The mysterious setting, dark atmosphere and story make The Room Three one of the most immersive and unnerving puzzle game experiences available for the iPad.             

#4 SpellTower 

  • Developer: Zach Gage
  • Compatibility: iOS 7.0+ 
  • Size: 145.5 MB
  • Release Date: November 17, 2011
  • Price: $2.99
SpellTower

SpellTower, which is featured on our list of the best word game apps, will test your reflexes, cognitive skills, and patience. The game’s tower mode requires you to create words from a mash of letters as your screen fills up gradually. The object of the game is to completely clear your screen as much as possible using a set of diagonal and straight strokes. There are bonuses and special tiles. For instance, if you create long words that consist of five or more letters, any adjacent tiles will also be cleared.

Tower mode isn’t the only available mode to gamers. There’s also a puzzle mode which works on the same basic principle as tower mode but adds another row for each set of letters you’ve cleared. Rush mode is like puzzle mode except it adds more tiles every few seconds and the game ends once the tiles reach the top of your screen. There’s also a multiplayer battle mode, where each word you complete sends another set of tiles to your opponent's screen. The objective is to fill your opponent’s screen before s/he fills yours. It’s a game whose magic resides in its simple and straightforward mechanics.         

#5 Woody Block Puzzle 

  • Developer: Free Block Puzzle Games Inc.
  • Compatibility: iOS 8.0+ 
  • Size: 64.8 MB
  • Release Date: February 5, 2018
  • Price: Free
Woody Block Puzzle

You’ll notice that the previous entries on this list are all paid apps. If you’re looking for a great free puzzle game for your IPad, you should give Woody Block Puzzle a try. The gameplay is a bit like reverse Tetris. You get a jumble of blocks on your screen. Your job is to connect block rows using the given woodblocks at the bottom of your screen. Each time you complete a row, it disappears. The game ends once you’ve cleared the entire screen. 

The game is free for iOS devices, however, it does come with in-app purchases. In terms of awards and accolades, it may not be as decorated as the other games in this list, but it has a 4.9-star rating in the Apple app store and it’s also ranked in second place for app store puzzle games.            

Honorable Mentions

Best iPad Role Play Games

If you feel the need to commit yourself to a long-form story or quest, the best way to do this is by getting into a good RPG. While a large percentage of mobile gamers are casual gamers, there are still plenty of games out there for more hard-core gamers to sink their teeth into. Here are five of the best RPGs for your iPad. 

#1 Oceanhorn 

  • Developer: FDG Mobile Games GbR
  • Compatibility: iOS 8.0+ 
  • Size: 401.1 MB
  • Release Date: November 8, 2013
  • Price: $7.99
Oceanhorn

A good RPG should offer the gamer temporary but complete escape. It should offer a reprieve from the drudgery of our daily lives. Oceanhorn gives you a story, characters, and a world worth soaking yourself into. 

If you’ve always longed for a Zelda game that you didn’t need a Nintendo system to play; well, this is the closest thing to it. From the environments to the character designs, it’s a mini-Wind Waker. You get to explore dungeons, solve puzzles and overcome various monsters and beasts on your way to finding your father and defeating the living fortress that is Oceanhorn. The game is perfect for showcasing and pushing your iPad’s graphical capabilities. 

#2 Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic 

  • Developer: Aspyr Media (iDP)
  • Compatibility: iOS 9.3+ 
  • Size: 2.5 GB
  • Release Date: May 17, 2013
  • Price: $9.99
Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic

The original Knights of the Old Republic was released all the way back in 2003. Not a lot of games can match its sustained popularity. This could also be accredited to Disney’s decision to resurrect and re-continue the film franchise. 

Who can blame them? Star Wars has always attracted a large following. It’s the rich mythos, the political drama and dense fictional history which draws-in fans so much. Not to mention the lightsaber duels and laser shootouts. You’ll get to experience and explore all of this when you play the KotOR on your iPad. At the start, you get to choose between three character classes including soldier, scout, and scoundrel. Later on, as you progress in the game, you’ll be able to choose from three Jedi subclasses (guardian, sentinel, and consular). The game also has a decent skill tree system. You get new Jedi feats and force powers with every level-up. It’s aged well for a game that was released back in the early noughties. While it’s available on other platforms including Android phones, this game is best played on a tablet like the iPad.         

#3 Wayward Souls 

  • Developer: Rocketcat LLC
  • Compatibility: iOS 8.0+ 
  • Size: 48.7 MB
  • Release Date: April 24, 2014
  • Price: $6.99  
Wayward Souls

If you’re looking for an old-school roguelike dungeon crawler with challenging gameplay, then you should definitely check Wayward Souls out. It’s very reminiscent of games like Ghouls and Ghosts mixed with Zelda: A Link to the Past’s POV and gameplay.

While most RPGs aim for a long story format, the game is designed to be played in short bursts. The dungeons in the game are generated randomly which along with its large selection of playable characters adds to the game’s replay-ability. So with each playthrough, you’ll encounter new challenges, get new rewards and unlock new story elements. The game also has a pretty decent soundtrack. If you appreciate challenging games like Dark Souls, then this is up your alley. But steer clear from it if you know that you’re easily frustrated. It might have you flinging your iPad out the window.            

#4 Stardew Valley

  • Developer: Chucklefish Limited
  • Compatibility: iOS 10.0+ 
  • Size: 363.9 MB
  • Release Date: Dec 6, 2018
  • Price: $7.99
Stardew Valley

I’ve always had aspirations of moving to the countryside and owning my very own farm. But I’ve never been a fan of early mornings, hard work or the smell of manure. Thankfully, there are farming RPG simulators like Stardew Valley which allow me to live my dream virtually. 

The best thing about Stardew Valley is that it’s open-ended. You have the freedom to live your characters life as you see fit. And there are so many options to choose from while playing the game. At its core, it’s not even about the farm, it’s more about your character. It’s about keeping them happy and healthy (and wealthy too). That’s why the game features social activities and relationships that could even end up in your character’s marriage. If your life sucks and you want to experience a better one, give a Stardew Valley a try. Not only is it one of the best iOS and iPad games, but it’s also featured on our list of the very best Android games.    

#5 Episode – Choose Your Story 

  • Developer: Episode Interactive, LLC
  • Compatibility: iOS 8.0+ 
  • Size: 144.5 MB
  • Release Date: February 6, 2014
  • Price: Free
Episodes - Choose Your Story

While most of us play games to escape drama, some of us are attracted to it. So here’s a game for people who enjoy soap operas and sappy romantic flicks. Episode is a game that not only allows you to watch the drama unfold but you get to participate in it and be in the center of it.    

Episode allows you to create a character and place him/her in one of over 100,000 stories. The gameplay is simple enough. You just choose a selection of life decisions for your character when prompted to do so and watch as your character flourishes or gets crushed under life’s studded heels. If your life isn’t eventful enough or you just want to feel better about it, Episodes is a great way to do it. It’s perfect for the casual iPad gamer and it proves that games don’t have to be hyper-violent or have complex gaming mechanics to work. 

Honorable Mentions 

Best iPad Fighting Games 

Games like Streetfighter and Mortal Kombat were some of the reasons I fell in love with gaming. I sunk entire afternoons as well as my allowance into the local arcade, often leaving my homework undone and my mother disappointed. It was the characters, the colors, the stories, the soundtrack and combos that kept me coming back. iPhones are great but if you want to fully experience the joy of fighting games, you’re going to need a wider screen. This section is dedicated to the top five best fighting games for your iPad.     

#1 Skullgirls 

  • Developer: Autumn Games, LLC
  • Compatibility: iOS 9.0+ 
  • Size: 219.6 MB
  • Release Date: April 10, 2012
  • Price: Free
Skullgirls

Three things should motivate you to download Skullgirls on your iPad; it’s free, it has a near-perfect rating on the iOS store and it’s ranked as the number one fighting game for iOS devices. Skullgirls art style is very similar to games like Streetfighter and Marvel vs Capcom. The hand-drawn characters and frames look stunning. 

You get five modes; story mode, prize fights, daily events, rift battles, and training. The game also has RPG elements where you can upgrade your favorite characters and unlock new skills. The fights are fast-paced and by an awesome soundtrack. The frames and graphics are smooth. The developers are constantly updating the game with new modes and characters. For instance, the squiggly origin story mode was added on the 7th of August 2019. That’s impressive dedication to a game that’s nearly over seven years old. It looks great and it plays great. It’s one of the very best iOS games for iPad.  

#2 Shadow Fight 3

  • Developer: Nekki Limited
  • Compatibility: iOS 9.0+ 
  • Size: 196.7 MB 
  • Release Date: March  23, 2018
  • Price: Free
Shadow Fight 3

Shadow Fight 3 is for gamers who like to have heavy RPG elements in their fighting games. Shadow Fight 3 was not created by the same developer that created its predecessor. Although the core gameplay mechanics are largely the same, there is a noticeable difference in the aesthetic as well as the story.

Shadow Fight 3 trades in Shadow Fight 2’s 2D shadow design for 3D life-like characters. It looks a lot more like later versions of Mortal Kombat, although it does still include a shadow mode that can be toggled on and off. The game also emphasizes the RPG elements a lot more than its predecessor did. Players can now choose a character and customize them. The game has a story mode as well as plenty of side quests to keep you diving back in. It’s free-to-play but like most mobile F2P games, it does have in-game purchases. 

#3 Marvel: Contest of Champions 

  • Developer: Kabam Inc.
  • Compatibility: iOS 9.0+ 
  • Size: 218.7 MB 
  • Release Date: December  10, 2014
  • Price: Free
Marvel Contest of Champions

It takes a game like Marvel: Contest of Champions to show you just how far mobile games have come (at least graphically). If you’ve ever wanted an Injustice-like game for the Marvel Universe, then this is the closest thing to it. The game’s plot is very similar to the original 1982 comic book’s story. The player takes on the role of the Summoner who is tasked with building a team of Marvel characters (both villains and heroes) by the Collector.

Players start off with two one-star characters. You unlock more characters with the more fights your team wins. Each character is also upgradeable. Whether you’re a fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe or the comics, this game is worth downloading and spending a few hours on. Like many of the games on this list, it’s a multi-platform game but it’s best enjoyed on your iPad’s retina screen. 

#4 Mortal Kombat 

  • Developer: Warner Bros. Entertainment
  • Compatibility: iOS 10.0+ 
  • Size: 1.1 GB
  • Release Date: June 29, 2016 
  • Price: Free
MKX Kotal Kahn vs Kenshi

If you’re going to play a fighting game on the iPad, why not play one of the forefathers of the modern fighting game. Prior to Mortal Kombat 11’s console and PC releases, it was known as Mortal Kombat X. But since it now features new characters from the latest installment of Mortal Kombat as well as a few gameplay tweaks, it wouldn’t make sense to keep the Mortal Kombat X name.

The game’s main mode follows a 3V3 fight format where you can switch between three different characters. Success depends on your team’s ability to gel as well as your understanding of each character’s strengths and weaknesses. There are over 130 characters to collect and choose from. MK will push your iPad’s graphics and processing capabilities. It’s free but it will require at least 2 GB of space.

#5 Street Fighter IV Champion Edition 

  • Developer: Capcom
  • Compatibility: iOS 6.0+ 
  • Size: 2.2 GB
  • Release Date: July 6, 2017 
  • Price: $4.99
Street Fighter IV Champion Edition

Another game that’s considered as one of the granddaddies of modern fighting games is Street Fighter. The only reason it’s fifth on this list is because of its massive space requirements and its price tag. But if you can look beyond that, the mobile version of Street Fighter IV is still one of the most enjoyable fighting games for your iPad. And sometimes it may be better to pay an app’s admission fee, then you won’t be pestered by intrusive in-game advertising.

 You get to choose between 32 of Street Fighters most iconic characters. It even features an online mode, where you can compete against players from all over the globe. If you prefer to play alone, it also has a standard single-player arcade mode. This game fits your iPad like Ryu’s glove fits his hands. No other mobile device does the game as much justice as the iPad does. 

Honorable Mentions

  

Conclusion

I hope this guide makes your daily commute, lunch break or wait in line a whole lot easier. iPads are expensive. If you find that yours is gathering dust in your closet then maybe it’s time to add a game or two to your app list. Expensive gadgets like the iPad should be used more, not less. In this guide, we explored some of the best iPad games of 2019 to make sure that you’re getting the most out of it. Or you can sell it, jump ship and get yourself a really good Android smartphone. Whatever you choose, I hope that you’ve at least enjoyed reading through this guide. Thank you for reading.