The combination of powerful specs and large, high-resolution touch screens make tablets great for gaming. As a result, there’s a variety of excellent titles that take full advantage of Android and iOS slates. From puzzles to card games, first person shooters to intricate war games and everything in between, here are some of our favorite tablet games.
Vainglory (Android, iOS) (Free)
A MOBA game in the vein of Dota 2 or League of Legends, Vainglory takes the same, team-based gameplay experience to touch screen devices with nary a compromise in complexity and required skill. Players take their pick from a roster of heroes and engage in three-on-three battles in an attempt to destroy the Vain, which sits at the core of the enemy base. Vainglory might not be the first attempt at a mobile MOBA, but it does a great job with its slick graphics and touch screen-friendly controls.
Clash Royale (Android, iOS) (Free)
Supercell’s Clash Royal features an interesting mix of tower defense and lane pushing gameplay, all within tight 3-minute rounds. Players must carefully balance offense and defense, and with the quick play rounds, a single mistake can swing an entire match. That said, the game is free to play, so expect some grindyness as you slog through matches in order to earn reward chests (which you must also wait to unlock), unless you shell out cash for premium currency.
The Room 3 (Android, iOS) ($4.99)
The Room 3 builds on the success of previous installments, providing gamers with a series of challenging puzzles and satisfyingly tactile controls. Players must unravel a series of increasingly complex puzzles as they seek to unearth the secrets of The Null and the mysterious Craftsman. The game’s hallmark is its use of touch screen controls, with swipes, taps, and gestures intuitively manipulating puzzle elements, giving the game a very natural, immersive feel. New additions to the series include a ‘hub’ area called Grey Holm with a series of ongoing puzzles, as well as a branching ending that depends on how well you solve the game’s mysteries.
Prune is a relaxing, minimalist puzzle game that draws heavily from the Japanese art of bonsai. Players need to carefully cultivate a growing plant, deftly pruning stray branches and taking advantage of the environment and obstacles. If everything works out well, your plant gets enough light, and you’re rewarded with an elegant bonsai tree with fresh blossoms swaying in the wind. The game’s stark, minimalist aesthetic is joy to behold, and the game has a screen capture function built in, allowing you to save particularly elegant or strange blooms to your camera roll.
In a similar vein, touchscreen puzzle Tengami has players diving into an puzzle adventure inspired by Japanese folklore and the art of origami or paper folding. Taking the form of a pop-up book, Tengami has players exploring a folded paper world, complete with sliding elements, fold-out sections, and other cunning pop-up elements that are incorporated into the various puzzles that you must navigate through. It’s an audiovisual joy for the senses, and its only real flaw is that it’s not an incredibly long experience.
Lara Croft GO (Android, iOS) ($1.99)
Lara Croft GO reimagines the classic action platformer Tomb Raider as a turn-based puzzle board game. Guide Lara Croft through ancient ruins in search of forgotten treasures and to unravel the mystery behind the Queen of Venom. Numerous animations and audio effects provide a pulp adventure feel, all while retaining the GO series’ challenging puzzle gameplay.
Table Tennis Touch (Android, iOS) ($0.99)
Table Tennis Touch takes the high-intensity game of pingpong and translates it adroitly into a mobile-friendly form. Players take control of the paddles with swipes, engaging in high-speed rallies against a variety of opponents. Players can engage in a Career mode, have at it in Quick Play games or unlock a variety of challenging minigames in Arcade mode. Table Tennis Touch looks and plays great, and with a multiplayer mode in the works, it’s only going to get better.
Alto’s Adventure (Android, iOS) ($3.99)
A relaxing infinite runner in the vein of Canabalt, Velocity, and Ski Free, Alto’s Adventure has you chasing down escaped llamas by snowboarding through the mountainside. Along the way, you have to avoid perils like rocks, fires, and chasms, while picking up coins and scoring points for tricks. While it’s standard infinite runner fare, the game’s clean, simple design and low stress presentation that makes it so endearing and almost oxymoronic: a relaxing action game.
Her Story (iPad) ($4.99)
Are you a fan of crime and investigative pieces such as Serial and Making a Murderer? Well, here’s an interesting 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.
Implosion: Never Lose Hope (Android, iOS)($9.99)
Fight for humanity’s future in Rayark’s sci-fi hack-and-slasher Implosion: Never Lose Hope. Piloting an agile Warmech, players do battle against the alien XADA, engaging in intense melee combat and gunplay. Implosion’s slick graphics, responsive controls and adrenaline-pumping combat are all wonderfully satisfying, evoking the spirit of console brawlers in a remarkably nimble mobile title.
Door Kickers (Android, iPad)($4.99)
Door Kickers puts you in command of a crack SWAT team engaged in a variety of tactical interventions, ranging from drug busts to hostage situations. Players can meticulously plan out their team’s tactics with an intuitive control scheme of drawing paths on your iPad’s touch screen, and then execute it all in real time. As the situation develops, players can adjust their team’s movements on the fly by pausing and laying down new orders. A wide variety of maps, scenarios and campaigns provide a rich series of gameplay challenges. Randomized elements and a mission editor add tons of replayability to this excellent tactical planning game.
Hearthstone (Android, iOS) (Free)
Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft is that rarest of species: a fun, free and fair digital collectible card game. Players take on the role of the great heroes (and villains) of the Warcraft universe such as Thrall, Jaina Proudmoor or Gul’dan, engaging in epic duels and summoning allies and minions into the fray. Hearthstone features simple, easy-to-learn rules and cross-platform play between PC and mobile players. Players earn gold that can be spent on booster packs or the Arena mode, a special “sealed draft” format that rewards canny deck building and smart play. With recent expansions such as the Curse of Naxxramas and Goblins vs. Gnomes, Blizzard seems dedicated to keeping the game fresh.
80 Days (Android, iOS) ($4.99)
Inkle Studios’s latest piece of interactive fiction is the remarkable 80 Days, a steampunk adventure based on Jules Verne’s classic “Around The World in 80 Days.” As the loyal valet Passepartout, you accompany your master Phileas Fogg in his globe-trotting journey through an alternate Earth filled with automata, Artificers and airships. Players must race through the world’s great cities, discovering new routes and stumbling across mysteries while exploring each city through a “choose your path” interface. Discover the fastest routes, balance your finances, pack the right inventory in your limited luggage space and maybe, you just might win Fogg’s epic wager and circumnavigate the world in 80 Days.
Framed is a noir puzzle game with a unique gameplay mechanic inspired by comic book panels. As you watch the motion-comic tale of your protagonist, you can rearrange each page’s comic panels in a way that allows the player character to successfully make his way through each page’s various puzzles. It’s a simple, elegant idea that makes for easy gameplay, and combines well with the title’s comic book art and soundtrack.
Papers Please (iOS) ($7.99)
Papers Please is not a happy game, but it is certainly an eye-opening one. As a border control agent in the fictional country of Arstotzka, players are tasked with manning a border checkpoint and processing the documents of workers, immigrants and refugees according to arcane rules that seem to change without rhyme or reason. Each decision can range from mundane to life-or-death. Is this man’s passport a fake? Should I let this refugee with a horrifying sob story through, even though my pay might get docked and I might not enough money to pay for my son’s medicine? Simultaneously harrowing and humane, Papers Please is a unique gaming experience that makes a fantastic transition to mobile.
Card Crawl (Android, iOS) (Free / $2.99)
Card Crawl is a fast-playing solitaire card game that’s all about risk and reward. As an adventurer crawling through a dungeon, you must make it out of a dungeon alive carrying as much loot as you can while fighting your way through a mob of monsters. Each round, you’re dealt a spread of four cards, which can be gold, equipment like swords, shields and potions, or monster cards which deal damage to you unless you use equipment to take them out. Simple rules, challenging play, and neat art make it a great pastime, with each game playable in 2 to 5 minutes — ideal when killing time in a line or when commuting
The Walking Dead: Season Two (Android, iOS) (Free)
Telltale Games continues the story of its hit adventure game in The Walking Dead: Season Two, based on Robert Kirkman’s zombie apocalypse graphic novels. Players take the role of Clementine from Season One, as she is cast adrift in a world overrun by the shambling undead. Hard choices await you as you try to stay alive in a shattered world and the real monsters around you: other survivors. Purchasing the game nets you the first episode, with other chapters available as in-app purchases. With the recent release of Episode 5: “No Going Back,” Season Two can finally be enjoyed from start to finish.
The Banner Saga (Android, iOS) ($9.99)
Stoic Studio’s Viking-inspired epic The Banner Saga has made its way to mobile devices, delivering gorgeous art, fierce tactical battles and an intense RPG story. Lead a rag-tag band of farmers, townsfolk, warriors and mighty Varls as you flee against a marauding army of the monstrous Dredge. Along the way, explore a beautifully illustrated world of rolling hills, ancient monuments and ruined battlefields, all while managing your caravan’s supplies and making choices that can change the fate of your journey, and perhaps even the world.
The mobile port of Firaxis’ XCOM: Enemy Unknown was already excellent, and it gets better with standalone expansion Enemy Within. This new installment adds new wrinkles to XCOM’s blend of tactical firefights, R&D and crisis management in the form of new training options for your troops, such as the cybernetic MEC Troopers and genetically manipulated fighters. The game also offers up a new enemy to fight in the form of the traitorous EXALT, a human faction attempting to exploit alien technology for its own nefarious ends.
Monument Valley (Android, iOS) ($3.99)
A game that draws inspiration from optical illusions and M.C. Escher prints, Monument Valley is a stylish puzzler in which players guide the princess Ida through a series of surreal monuments and structures. Gameplay consists of players using touch controls to rotate the screen or manipulate the environment to escort Ida through a safe path, with tons of seemingly impossible optical illusions waiting to be navigated.