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05 January, 2014

The 50 Best iOS Indie Games of 2013

Update: There are tonnes of great games below you should definitely check out, but you should know we just released our Top 50 Best Indie iOS Games of 2014 So Far list as well.

Original Story: When we look back at 2013 in years to come, it will surely be remembered as the year indie gaming on the iPad truly came of age. A year when the line between big console and PC titles, and iPad games, was hard to distinguish. Where the biggest names in game development left big publishers to form indie studios, and work on indie games that flooded the App Store with quality. Whether it was free or paid, a horror or a racer, funny or thoughtful, a game for guys or a game for girls, 2013 was never short of something awesome to play. Grab It has put together our best of 2013; have you played them all?

Note: For more recent iOS indie games from 2014, checkout out Top 10 Free iOS Games of Each Month (June, May, April, March, February and January) or our Top 10 Premium iOS Games of Each Month (May, April, March, February and January).

Note+: This article is best enjoyed on your iPad so you can easily grab any game you like. Be sure to sign up to our newsletter for daily indie iOS game goodness.

Have You Collected All The Grab It Episodes? We're an app dedicated to helping you discover the best indie iPad game through detailed analysis, exclusive insights, soundtracks, videos and more. You've never experienced anything like it.
    - Episode 1 - With The Making of République
    - Episode 2 - With The Making of Oceanhorn
    - Episode 3 - With The Making of Monument Valley
    - Episode 4 - With The Making of Last Inua
    - Episode 5 - With The Making of World of Tanks Blitz
    - Episode 6 - With the Making of Magic 2015 - Duels of the Planeswalkers
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Game: 868-Hack
Developer: Michael Brough
Like its name, 868-Hack isn’t a particularly welcoming experience. Its visuals are rudimentary and the gameplay opens up slowly as you start, survive for as long as possible, learn a new trick or two, die and start again. As a hacking program, you’re in the mainframe trying to grab as much data as possible before your inoculated by the patrolling virus software, and the way you’re baited into risking more and more by entering randomly generated rooms with increasingly larger numbers of hostiles is a bit genius. As you inch further up the high score charts, your knowledge on how to manipulate the available tools grows and addiction quickly follows. – Chris Stead
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Game: Anomaly 2
Developer: 11 Bit Studios
There are good sequels and there are great sequels. Anomaly 2 does what a great sequel should do. It not only retains the things that made the original game great, but it improves on them, and then adds even more. A science-fiction tower offence game, Anomaly 2 is a game for lovers of strategic depth. It boasts a huge arsenal of mech-types, weapons and powers that can all be combined in various defensive and offensive strategies. It gives the game multiple layers to learn and explore. It’s presented with eye-catching visuals, an engaging story and online multiplayer, ensuring Anomaly 2’s place among the best on iOS. – Garry Balogh
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Game: Asphalt 8: Airborne
Developer: Gameloft
The Asphalt series has been kicking around for years now, but what was once the laughing stock of console gamers back in the early smartphone days has evolved into some of the best fun the genre has to offer, anywhere. Unlike Real Racing 3 – the serious racing fan’s game that also released this year to a mixed reaction – Asphalt 8: Airborne literally takes to the air, with ramps that launch you skywards. This joins a bigger focus on stunts, with flips, spins, rolls, big crashes and more igniting the action into true arcade territory. 47 licensed vehicles, nine location and full multiplayer support ensure that there is plenty to do laps over. – Chris Stead
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Game: Backflip Madness
Developer: Gamesoul Studio
While most of the games on this list wowed us with their console-like depth and artistic flourishes, Backflip Madness stands out for just being straight-up dumb fun. You control a gymnast and you must attempt a backflip. It’s that simple. However, the odd visual style and ragdoll physics dust it with a humorous charm that’ll make you try it more than once – then you’re hooked. When you start shooting for higher and higher scores by backflipping off taller and taller objects, things quickly become truly hilarious. For making us laugh like few iOS games in history, this oddly addictive time-killer makes our list. – Chris Stead
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Game: Badland
Developer: Frogmind Games
Cut from the same cloth as silhouette platformers like Limbo and Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet, Badlands is a stunning reminder that a simple art style done well can outshine the shiniest of next-gen visuals. With over 80 levels to explore in this atmospheric and engaging sidescroller, and no in-app-purchases in sight, Badlands offers fantastic value at approximately $4.50. Its memorable and highly stylised visuals and joined by engrossing physics based puzzles and a rich and dynamic soundtrack. It’s no wonder Badlands was the iPad App Store’s official Game of the Year for 2013. – Jesse Miles
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Game: Blackbar
Developer: Neven Mrgan
The question of when a game isn’t a game is too deep for this small space, but Blackbar remains a must “play” experience that altered the world view of a lot of iPad owners in 2013. Players are tasked with deciphering the communications between two female friends after they have been censored by The Department, the controlling government that overseers the neighbourhood they grew up in. Your task is to fill in the missing words behind the black bars, which sometimes requires common sense, but often involves logic puzzles and hunting for clues left previously in the conversation. As you unravel the story, you connect with these two women, but also enter a memorable discussion about the role and effect of government censorship on its citizens. There’s not much “playing” here, but perhaps in the modern language of video games, it’s the experience rather than the means of interaction that matters. – Chris Stead
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Game: Boson X
Developer: Mu & Heyo
Fans of endless runners looking for a deeper challenge will revel in Boson X’s steep learning curve and “just one more go” nature. The game bizarrely casts you as a tiny scientist running around inside the Hadron Collider where you must jump and spin at breakneck speed in the hopes of discovering new particles (that open up new levels). It’s a tough game that requires quick thinking and quicker reflexes to keep up with your character’s ever increasing speed. You will fail a lot in Boson X, but there’s no better feeling than that brief glimpse of glory when you successfully hurtle towards scientific progress. – Jesse Miles
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Game: Colossatron
Developer: Halfbrick Games
From Aussie developers Halfbrick, creators of Jetpack Joyrick and Fruit Ninja, comes Colossatron: Massive World Threat. Through a combination of cartoony animations and top-down city-destroying mayhem, this game tells the story of an alien invader who wreaks havoc on human civilisation. The difference here is that you play as the alien! You only have limited influence on the action, putting your attention into building a massive robotic snake-like creature that targets and then destroys as many buildings, tanks, planes and boss-type enemies as possible before inevitably being taken down. This is yet another great game from this highly respected developer, which offers unexpected depth for a game you can quickly pick up and play on a bus or in a waiting room. – Chad Habel
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Game: Dead Trigger 2
Developer: Madfinger Games
The original Dead Trigger was an iOS tour-de-force that helped establish the platform as a serious gaming space. The sequel improves on the original in every way and raises the bar again for intense action on mobile platforms. With a huge swathe of content, from locations to weapons to enemy types, Dead Trigger 2 is one of the best “pick up and play” arcade-shooters on the App Store. It’s a free install (that then offers in-app-purchases) so if you’re a fan of shooting wave after wave of mindless zombies, you’ve got nothing to lose except a lot of your free time. – Jesse Miles
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Game: Device 6
Developer: Simogo
Device 6 combines gameplay and narrative so seamlessly that it provides a truly unique and intriguing experience. If you’re looking for something a little different this Christmas then Device 6 might just be the game for you. Feeling like a James Bond novel come to life, you must help Anna escape from a mysterious castle by reading, swiping and tapping your way to the truth. Device 6 serves up a curious mystery rich with stylised visuals and complex brainteasers, and it’s going to take your entire puzzle solving arsenal of brain cells, as well as the ability to destroy the fourth wall, to make it through to the end. – Jesse Miles
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Game: The Drowning
Developer: Scattered Entertainment
The Drowning is a unique and beautifully presented game that pushes the conventions of standard touchscreen first-person-shooters. Set in a post-apocalyptic future where climate change has turned humanity into monstrous creatures (Al Gore told you it would happen) The Drowning’s enemies aren’t its unique selling point, it’s the way you bring them down. With one finger on either side of the screen, your cross-hair becomes the relative central point between contacts, giving you a precise aiming method without your fat fingers getting in the way. It can take some getting used to (and don’t worry, a settings pane will whisk you back to a more “traditional” setup if you so desire), but The Drowning provides a more engaging and tactical interface than your basic tap to shoot setup. – Jesse Miles
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Game: Duet
Developer: Kumobius
In the same way that developer Kumobius struck a nostalgic chord with fans of the retro scene with its previous games Time Surfer and Bean's Quest, Duet shapes up as a throwback to the days when finishing a game was a matter of if not when. With airtight controls and gameplay that’s tuned to perfection, Duet provides the perfect balance between challenge and pure gaming satisfaction. Touch either side of the screen to twist your vessels and avoid everything in your path. Remember: even that which begins simple can end complex. – Grant Fois
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Game: Echo Prime
Developer:Robot Entertainment
Viewed from a top-down isometric angle, Echo Prime is a fun blast-em-up science-fiction romp. Stage based with boss battles, Robot Entertainment has provided players with a good combination of action and RPG elements. Memorising attack combos and dodging in and out of the enemy’s range, whilst earning experience to upgrade your weaponry is all wrapped up in a very tasty visual package. Tapping to where you’d like to move, and tapping on enemies to attack, is Diablo-like in nature, replacing the mouse and keyboard middle man with your fingers. Echo Prime is solid, if superficial fun. Enjoy! – Garry Balogh
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Game: Empire: The Deck Building Strategy Game
Developer: Crazy Monkey Studios
Empire is not your typical card game. It fits into the 4x strategy genre, which is not a pornographic reference but instead refers to the key pillars of explore, expand, exploit and exterminate. A similar experience would be Sid Meier’s Civilization Revolution. Despite the name, you never really manage an Empire. You’re always fighting against inevitable failure, with minimal resources, tough enemies and decaying cities. As far as deck building strategy games go, Empire is brutal. Empire will challenge your expectation that the player is always marching towards inevitable victory. But this is where the game’s beauty lies. The depth of tactical and strategic decisions needed to achieve ultimate victory only sweetens the final satisfaction. – Stephen Mitchell
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Game: EPOCH.2
Developer: Uppercut Games
Controlling the robot EPOCH in this post-apocalyptic adventure is an example of the touchscreen used as an opportunity to innovate, rather than hinder. Using a series of swipes and gestures the player moves from cover to cover, choosing who to shoot, when to dodge and how to move on, as well as which weapons and countermeasures to use. The end result is an intense sci-fi third-person shooter with spectacular visuals and a solid storyline to engage in. – Garry Balogh
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Game: Fighting Fantasy: The Forest of Doom
Developer: Tin Man Games
Australian developer Tin Man Games is starting to etch a really successful niche for itself in bringing the classic gamebooks of yesteryear to the interactive realm. The Forest of Doom was the third book in the Fighting Fantasy series released back in 1983, and it makes an excellent transition to the digital space. In large part that is thanks to the source material still painting such a vivid and memorable world to cast your imagination towards, but in updating the original art, adding features like an auto-map and a Free Read mode, it opens up the experience even further. If you happen to be an admirer of the original novel, some insights from its creator Ian Livingstone heap on extra fan service. – Chris Stead
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Game: Formula Legend
Developer: BeerMogul Games
BeerMogul Games has given the millions of F1 petrol heads out there a reason to celebrate with its racing management simulation Formula Legend. You'll manage your driver through individual races and whole seasons, and compete in fun minigames to gain time boosts. Formula Legend has already seen a lot of post-release love from the developer, adding content such as dynamic weather and team/driver swapping, and hopefully this already solid simulation will continue to grow in presentation and deepen with complexity as the team add even more features. – Garry Balogh
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Game: Freedom Fall
Developer: Stirfire Games
A retro-styled game with a twist or two, Freedom Fall trades the usual left-right movement of Mario for a top-to-bottom progression. You play as Marsh, locked in a tower by a diabolical princess(!), and you must escape by avoiding a variety of blades, flames, water and gas traps. Gravity is both your ally and your enemy: it draws you away from imprisonment and through various rewards, but also headlong into a bloody or crispy fate. With sharp humour and an endearing, anime-styled art design, this unique offering turns gaming assumptions on their head with a little heart and a lot of smarts. – Chad Habel
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Game: Frozen Synapse
Developer: Mode 7 Games
After making waves on PC, turn-based strategy game Frozen Synapse made its way to iOS in 2013 and has retained all of its tense cat and mouse gameplay. You and your opponent – preferably human, although the AI offers an admirably unpredictable challenge in the solo campaign, too – lay down your instructions for your troops, which detail how the next five-seconds of combat will unfold. You then press the go button and hope to hell you’ve second-guessed your opponent and provided the right instructions for a strategic victory. It can get challenging, but you can’t fake the tension Frozen Synapse provides as each turn rolls out. – Chris Stead
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Game: Home - A Unique Horror Adventure
Developer: Benjamin Rivers
As its subtitle blankly states, this is quite a unique horror adventure. On the surface it's your typical spooky stuff, haunted houses and murder mysteries, but there's something about Home that sets it apart from others in the genre. The story plays out according to your actions, so each play through will be slightly different as you make choices that ultimately affect how things will end. All this horror, suspense and choice based game-lay comes in a vintage style pixelated wrapper, and has the look and feel of a nineties text-based adventure. A must play for horror fans. – Jesse Miles
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Game: Horn
Developer:Phosphor Game Studio
When it comes to deep and engrossing adventure games on iOS, it’s hard to look past Horn. With its richly detailed graphics and gameplay designed especially for touchscreen devices, Horn is an easy recommendation for anyone who hasn’t stumbled across it already. With its quirky, offbeat humour and great sense of action and adventure, Horn should be an essential part of any iOS gamer’s collection. – Jesse Miles
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Game: Icycle: On Thin Ice
Developer: Damp Gnat
Icycle: On Thin Ice is an iOS masterpiece and like all great works of art it’s a mixture of timing, tone and delivery, something developer Damp Gnat has executed perfectly. Help Dennis find love in an icy world that’s not as frozen as it first seems. Ride through collapsing cities and fairgrounds, hop over dormant battlefields and explosive wedding cakes, float down dark ravines, through hostile shopping centres and over a skyline of legs, all while poor Dennis is teased and taunted to the fringe of despair. – Grant Fois
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Game: Impossible Road
Developer: Pixels on Toast
Some games just get in your head and won’t let you go – games like Impossible Road. Just a quick glance at the trailer below will reveal how the rhythmic music and arresting visuals can hold your attention like a raver in a laser’s lights. By tapping on either side of the screen, you need to roll down an extremely challenging and infinitely long randomly generated road, handling its twists and bumps without falling off into the ether. If you do fall off, however, you can try and guide the ball to another section of the track that may have twisted down deeper below you – although that is far more challenging than it may sound. This is not an easy game, but it’s one of the year’s best one-more-turners as you seek a place of relevance in the leaderboards. – Chris Stead
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Game: Indigo Lake
Developer:3 Cubes Research
2013 saw the release of one of the scariest iOS games of all time in Indigo Lake. Taking nods from classic Japanese horrors such as The Ring and Silent Hill, it haunts you with its foreboding soundtrack, jumpy scares, fog-drenched atmosphere and freakish ghost girls with long dark hair. Technically a first-person shooter, it avoids the touchscreen control pitfalls of the genre by taking the heat off action, offering instead slower paced adventuring, with exploration and puzzle-solving appearing in the moments when you’re not filling your pants. 3 Cubes has done well, and while you’ll come for the atmosphere, you’ll stay because of the controls. – Chris Stead
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Game: Infinity Blade III
Developer: Chair Entertainment
In many ways it was the Infinity Blade series that ushered in the era of the triple-A iOS gaming experience, and Chair Entertainment has been quick to point out that this third chapter will be the last. What a way to sign-off then. The impressive 3D visuals, deep world lore and touch-friendly combat is backed up by a truly huge amount of content, with plenty to explore, stacks of quests to undertake and all kinds of equipment and item options to rotate through your inventory. The whole series is worth checking out to be honest, as the mythology it presents expands rewardingly across all three chapters. What will Chair do next? – Chris Stead
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Game: Ittle Dew
Developer: Ludosity
If Ittle Dew brings to mind fond memories of The Legend of Zelda, then your nostalgia bone would feel right to be tickled. Ludosity has unashamedly taken many of the great elements of the Zelda games and forged them into a “spin off” experience. But, as the saying goes, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Unlike Zelda, Ittle Dew doesn’t rely too heavily on its story. Rather, the focus is on dungeon crawling and puzzle solving. Some of the puzzles actually provide quite a challenge, even to the point of frustration. Ittle Dew doesn’t take itself too seriously, poking fun at itself and the adventure game genre on the way. The humour is spot on, and will leave you genuinely laughing out loud easily washing away any sense of irritation. – Stephen Mitchell
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Game: Limbo
Developer: Playdead
Limbo wowed players of all stripes when it burst upon the Xbox scene, and in 2013 this creepy art-driven adventure game became available on iOS as well. The title is perfect: you play as a nameless silhouetted boy who awakes in a dingy, black-and-white purgatory covered in ominous mist. With very little guidance or instruction you are left to explore the horizontal platforms of the world with simple run, jump, climb and grab controls in order to solve puzzles and try to escape. Deadly threats come in huge, monstrous forms as well as more familiar humanoid ones, and the atmosphere of tension and dread will stay with you long after this game is over. – Chad Habel
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Game: Minigore 2: Zombies
Developer: Mountain Sheep
The original Minigore burst onto a very young App Store in 2009, which seems like a lifetime ago. It was a roaring success as one of the first big dual-stick shooters for the platform, and Mountain Sheep have been threatening a sequel for a very long time. When 2013 first rolled out of its New Year’s Eve hangover, shooter fans had their wishes granted with Minigore 2: Zombies out and ready to rock. The wait was definitely worth it, with more arenas to fight in, a seemingly endless supply of weapons and characters to unlock, and actual missions to complete. So much to do, so little time! – Garry Balogh
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Game: Neon Shadow
Developer: Crescent Moon Studios
Neon Shadow is a first person shooter set in a distant, and technicolour, future. You take control of advanced weaponry as you protect the Earth from evil invading mechatronic soldiers who threaten to extinguish our very way of… well, you know the drill. Tap, swipe and fire your way through hoards of brightly coloured cyber-punk robots in both single and multiplayer offerings. The action is intensely fast-paced and harkens back to the "shoot first, ask questions never" routine of classic shooters like Quake and Unreal Tournament. The frenetic neo-electro soundtrack comes courtesy of a band called "Abducted by Sharks", so you know it's good. – Jesse Miles
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Game: Nimble Quest
Developer: NimbleBit
Combining the mechanic from old-school mobile game snake, with colourful retro graphics and RPG elements, Nimble Quest is a charming "just one more go" style of game. The directional swipe controls, designed specifically for the touchscreen, are tight and precise, allowing for the last minute dodging and weaving around enemies that the game demands. The many unlockable characters all have different weapon types and it’s a joy to collect and upgrade them all. Developer NimbleBit are best known for their time-management games, but this arcade departure makes we wish they would venture into this territory again, and soon. – Garry Balogh
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Game: Oceanhorn
Developer: Cornfox and Bros.
Drawing inspiration from classic adventure games like Secret of Mana and the Legend of Zelda series, Oceanhorn gives you a vast ocean dotted with puzzle-laden islands to explore. The adventure is long, the visuals are beautiful and the action is challenging. Oceanhorn can easily be considered amongst the very best iOS games out there and goes to show just how big an adventure you can have on a simple small screen. – Jesse Miles
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Game: Papa Sangre II
Developer: Somethin’ Else
Genuine terror comes from the unknown, and this is how Papa Sangre II gets you. Using headphones, the game's binaural sound technology connects to your iPad's gyroscope, and using this technology you'll be guided through a chilling and dark adventure by narrator Sean Bean. Tapping on the four quarters of your screen to "walk" in a certain direction after facing that way, and using your two “hands” to carry out simple tasks, there are no visuals, only sound. Collecting the memories of the dead, and surviving horrors made worse by the fact that you never see them, this is one of the most immersive experiences available on iOS. For the full experience, play this with the lights turned off. – Garry Balogh
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Game: Plants vs Zombies 2: It’s About Time
Developer: PopCap
Popcap should be congratulated. Parents everywhere are celebrating the fact that their kids now view gardening as an enjoyable experience. These skills will be useful in the inevitable zombie apocalypse. Plants vs. Zombies 2 is the stellar sequel to the 2009 hit that largely follows the same formula – choose your plants and prevent your brains from being eaten. However, PopCap has done enough to keep the series fresh and appealing, especially for Crazy Dave. A variety of environments, new plants and new zombie types are extremely welcome. Under the charming polish also lies a fairly deep and challenging experience. If you enjoyed the first game, you’ll definitely want to check this one out, especially because it’s free. – Stephen Mitchell
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Game: République
Developer: Camouflaj
When Camouflaj founder Ryan Payton quit his role on Halo 4 to chase his vision of a triple-A console-like game for iOS, many were baffled. When it emerged that said game was going to provide complex stealth gameplay in a completely realised 3D world, many thought he had bitten off more than he could chew. But République is a stunning success. From the detailed facial animations, through to the moody score, Camouflaj has crafted a truly immersive and deeply detailed world. While the stellar AI and well thought-out interface facilitate a stealth experience you wouldn’t have thought possible on a touchscreen in a fashion anyone can enjoy. The story is striking, too, which is good news as this episodic experience will extend into 2014. But don’t wait till then to get started. – Chris Stead
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Game: Ridiculous Fishing: A Tale of Redemption
Developer: Vlambeer
Many critics gave Ridiculous Fishing a “game of the year” nod and rightfully so. The story is heartwarming, and the gameplay is an absolute riot. You play as Billy the fisherman, discovering his motivations and the origins behind his beloved fishing hat. This is done using the most responsive tilt controls since Doodle Jump released five years ago, as you guide your line into the deep and back up again, collecting exotic fish. Once back to the surface, there's nothing to do but blow the fish away with your weapon of choice. Makes perfect sense, right? The more fish you catch and shoot, the more money you'll earn to spend on ridiculous upgrades: lures, lines, hats and weapons. The fun lies in how well executed it all is. Vlambeer have created a truly charming package, and they’ve hinted at a huge update in the works. More game of the year? Yes please! – Garry Balogh
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Game: The Room Two
Developer: Fireproof Games
The much-anticipated sequel to The Room - Apple’s Game of the Year 2012 and recipient of a BAFTA award – delivered on all the hype. You follow a trail of cryptic letters from an enigmatic scientist known only as "AS" into a compelling world of mystery and exploration. If this is your first foray into The Room, you’ll quickly learn that nothing is ever what it seems. You may think that you have all the pieces to the puzzle, but that really doesn’t matter when the picture you’re trying to put together is always changing. A game that’ll leave a mark on you. – Grant Fois
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Game: Rymdkapsel
Developer: Grapefrukt
You really need to give Rymdkapsel a good go, and not just because it is awesome. It’s slow going at first, and you’ll have to show a bit of patience before you unearth what makes it so memorable. You’re tasked with managing a vessel floating in space, for a purpose only revealed late in the game. You have a few crew members that you need to set to tasks, namely adding to the ship by constructing new areas using Tetris shaped rooms, and then using the resources of each room intelligently to survive and further grow your vessel. You’ll be periodically attacked by waves of alien vessels that expand in number, requiring your resource management, room creation and crew hiring to ramp up. The touch interface works a treat and the minimalist nature of the entire experience works to the game’s favour. Weird name, sure, but a fun game. – Chris Stead
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Game: The Silent Age
Developer: House on Fire
If you’re a fan of classic point-and-click adventure games then The Silent Age will be right up your alley. You play as the almighty everyman Joe who makes a living working as a janitor. Everything about his life is mundane and predictable, except that’s all about to change. One morning while tending the floors, a mysterious dying man who seems to appear out of nowhere suddenly confronts Joe. As the man draws his last breath, he hands Joe a portable time travel device and warns him that a terrible event is about to occur. It isn’t long before Joe activates the device and is confronted by the truth. The mysterious man was right: 40 years into the future mankind has become extinct. Stuck between a desolate future and a present where he is largely ignored, it is now up to our accidental hero to find out what has happened and how to prevent it in order to save mankind. – Grant Fois
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Game: The Shadow Sun
Developer: Ossian Studios
A few years ago, Ossian Studios embarked on an ambitious project: create a made for touchscreen RPG that was a fully-featured standalone experience, rather than a clone of a well-known console or PC franchise. They have certainly succeeded. The Shadow Sun boasts a game-world rich in lore, loot, sidequests, spells and weapons. With a console-like 10 to 15-hours of solid RPG goodness that will keep you coming back for more and more. Wonderful. – Garry Balogh
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Game: Shadowrun Returns
Developer: Harebrained Schemes
The original Shadowrun is a darling of the Super Nintendo golden era of the 1990s and fans have long clamoured for a true sequel. Successfully funded on Kickstarter, Shadowrun Returns is guaranteed to please new and old fans alike. An interesting story underpins the game, which follows your quest to track down the killer of a close friend. Similar to tactical strategy games like XCOM: Enemy Unknown, players engage in exploration and turn-based combat. Fans of old school tabletop RPG games will feel right at home. With beautiful visuals, an engaging story and meaningful combat, this is one game not to overlook. – Stephen Mitchell
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Game: Space Chicks
Developer: SpaceNoize
In space, you might not be able to hear anyone scream, but Space Chicks’ hero can spot a damsel in distress from at least a light year away. This is a super-fun 2D platformer/runner hybrid, and is one of those iOS games that just feels very finished and polished. There are no rough edges in this hugely fun adventure and with loads of weapons, power-ups and costumes to collect, this game will have a long lifespan. Bright cartoon colours and a great sense of humour round it out to make this a great game to bring the Christmas cheer. – Garry Balogh
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Game: Tiny Death Star
Developer: NimbleBit & Disney
Tiny Death Star builds on the popular sim management experience introduced by NimbleBit in Tiny Tower. Disney doesn’t radically change that formula. Players must assist the Emperor to realise his boyhood dream of becoming the most evil man in that galaxy far, far away. This is done by adding levels to the Death Star, such as residential, recreation and food facilities. And yes, you also get to build Imperial levels, like interrogation chambers. Although Tiny Death Star doesn’t offer a particularly deep sim management experience, this is more than made up by its rich fan service. This should be a no brainer for Star Wars fans. – Stephen Mitchell
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Game: TownCraft
Developer: Flat Earth Games
Taking large cues from the insanely popular Minecraft and Nintendo’s brilliant Animal Crossing series, TownCraft drops you into the middle of a giant landscape with only your creativity and a basic objective to guide you. As your confidence grows and hours unexpectedly fly by, you’ll work on upgrading your town from small wooden huts to a thriving town filled with various shops that will in turn attract more visitors. Similarly, you’ll also need to start rounding up various seedlings that will have you throwing on your straw hat to indulge in some old-fashioned farming. It might look simple, but expect to lose days to TownCraft’s charm and ambition. – Adam Guetti
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Game: Touchgrind Skate 2
Developer: Illusion Labs
Touchgrind Skate 2 is a combination of realistic skate physics and arcade-y touch antics. Use multi-touch commands to kick-flip, ollie and grind your way to the top of the online leaderboards, or skate freely in the Jam Session mode and tear up one of the three different skate parks. Touchgrind Skate 2 prides itself on being simple to learn and difficult to master, so for fans of the Tony Hawk series of games - or anyone wishing they had the co-ordination, tenacity and fearlessness (this writer included) to actually skate - Illusion Labs’ original mobile offering can’t be missed. – Jesse Miles
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Game: Trouserheart
Developer: DiceWork Games
It’s every king’s worst nightmare: waking up from a kingly slumber to discover his pants have been stolen. To avoid such an insufferable indignity, King Trouserheart let’s nothing stand in the way of retrieving his precious daks, cheerfully slashing his way through the scores of enemies populating his kingdom. Trouserheart is a light-hearted hack-and-slash adventure. Simple is the name of the game, with minimal mechanics and a streamlined interface. DiceWork Games doesn’t try to punch above its weight, crafting an incredibly fun and accessible game. For those looking for a challenge, there’s also a hardcore permadeath mode worth checking out. – Stephen Mitchell
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Game: Type:Rider
Developer: Cosmografik
If someone told me 12 months ago that one of the stand out games of 2013 would be a 2D sidescrolling platformer that taught the history of Typography, I would have asked them what they were smoking. But Cosmografik has turned this idea into an artful, atmospheric and inspired experience. The platforming mechanics work beautifully, and introduce some very original and out of the box ideas. There are times when Type:Rider’s sound and art design just make you want to stop and admire it, and I genuinely can't wait to see what this developer does next. – Garry Balogh
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Game: The Walking Dead: Season 2
Developer: Telltale Games
Telltale’s first take on The Walking Dead was something of a revelation. Scooping Game of the Year awards around the globe, and against the big boppers like Halo and Uncharted too, its focus on choice-driven narrative and relationship management over twitch gameplay proved an unlikely success. The difficult second season begins with an episode all about set-up, with players taking on the role of the little girl Clementine they spent so much of the first season tensely protecting. This perspective shift may disappoint some, but as part one of a five part series, it introduces some great new characters and paints the picture of troubled times and difficult choices ahead. So while it may not be the knock out number one of this year, it’s still a journey you’d do well to begin. – Chris Stead
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Game: The Wolf Among Us
Developer: Telltale Games
Based on the Fables comic series, The Wolf Among Us is Telltale Games’ return to the adventure genre after the award-winning Walking Dead Season One. You play as Sheriff Bigby Wolf (the big bad wolf in human form), who must look over Fabletown, a New York suburb housing classic fairytale characters that have taken refuge and hide in plain sight. With a bloody murder kicking things off, it’s your job to reveal the killer via Telltale’s genre-defining game design. The intriguingly dark story, heavily improved combat mechanics and a large smattering of extremely tough moral choices that will determine the journey you take and the ending you’re left with, make this a winner. – Adam Guetti
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Game: XCOM: Enemy Unknown
Developer: Firaxis
Armchair generals and iOS owners rejoice! The brilliant tactical strategy game XCOM: Enemy Unknown has made its way to iPhone and iPad. Despite being a port of its bigger brothers on PC and console, little has been sacrificed in the transition. Players are tasked with the unenviable job of protecting the earth from invading aliens. This plays out through turn-based combat and investing in research projects between missions. What makes this game stand out is that your decisions matter. One wrong move and that solider you were so carefully cultivating dies in a big gooey mess. XCOM: Enemy Unknown is one of the best tactical strategy games of all time. – Stephen Mitchell
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Game: Year Walk
Developer: Simogo
The very special Year Walk is a truly exceptional and unique iOS puzzle adventure, set against the backdrop of a haunting 19th century Sweden. Based loosely on the Swedish tradition of year walking (there’s a companion app that you can download that provides the answers to all your burning Swedish folklore questions) you’ll have to pay careful attention to your surroundings in order to solve developer Simogo’s surreal New Year’s Eve mystery. An absolute iOS must-have and it also mark’s Simogo’s second appearance on this list – impressive! – Jesse Miles
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Honourable Mentions:
- Abyss: Wraiths of Eden
      - Castle of Illusion starring Mickey Mouse
      - Cut the Rope 2
      - Deus Ex: The Fall
      - Final Fantasy IV: The After Years
      - Fiz: The Brewery Management Game
      - Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
      - Hero of Many
      - Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
      - Icebreaker: A Viking Voyage
      - Jump Jack X
      - Rayman Fiesta Run
      - Time Surfer
      - Tiny Thief

Have You Collected All The Grab It Episodes?
    - Episode 1 - With The Making of République
    - Episode 2 - With The Making of Oceanhorn
    - Episode 3 - With The Making of Monument Valley
    - Episode 4 - With The Making of Last Inua

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