iPhones and iPads boast such a wide selection of games, it can be quite overwhelming for any new device owner. Thankfully, there are plenty of great free games ready for you to download right now. Take a look at this list of 15 of the very best the App Store has to offer. This list includes games that are completely free, not just trials of paid games. Some may include microtransactions, but the games themselves are free to download.
1. Silly Sausage in Meat Land
This colourful, zany iOS game plays like a surreal twist on Snake. In it, players use touch controls to guide a stretchy dog through twisty, obstacle-laden levels that start off simple enough but soon become fiendishly challenging.
Part puzzle game, part platformer, Silly Sausage in Meat Land is advertisement-supported in its free iteration.
2. Marvel Contest of Champions
This super-slick fighting game lets you build teams full of heroes and villains from the pages of Marvel comic books. Almost every character from the Marvel Cinematic Universe is playable, from Guardians of the Galaxy‘s Star Lord to Into the Spider-Verse‘s Spider-Gwen, and the fights take place in dynamic, recognisable locations.
If you’re not so hot on your Marvel lore, however, that’s no problem – Contest of Champions‘ superb graphics and finely tuned gameplay are special enough for anyone to enjoy.
3. Crossy Road
Classic arcade game Frogger gets a 21st-century spin in Crossy Road. Giving players the option to control one of a number of human or animal characters, the game is built around one simple objective: cross the road without getting flattened by traffic. Rewards include additional characters, which can be purchased with coins that are earned by playing the game regularly.
4. Shadowgun Legends
One of the best mobile shooters ever made, Shadowgun Legends offers phenomenal graphics and fast, exciting gameplay. The game’s story campaign is set over four distinct planets, and is comprised of more than 200 missions – this is an ambitious, expansive RPG that would feel right at home on a console.
Boss battles, co-op levels and multiplayer PvP combat are just some of the additional features Shadowgun brings to the table.
5. Fallout Shelter
In Fallout Shelter, you start with a few rooms and lowly inhabitants in an underground vault, and gradually expand your property to a sprawling underground complex, replete with generator rooms, gyms, and labs. A simulation game with a seriously compelling twist, Fallout Shelter is The Sims meets 10 Cloverfield Lane – the mashup you never knew you needed in your life.
6. New Star Manager
A sports management game in the vein of the popular Football Manager series, New Star Manager places you in charge of an ailing club and leaves it to you to turn around their fortunes. This means you have free reign over nearly every aspect of the team, from the sponsor down to the kit.
As a free game, New Star Manager is unable to licence many of football’s most recognisable brand names, but that scarcely matters – whether it’s winning over a volatile star, or sweet-talking the local press, there are always plenty of details to keep you immersed.
7. Pigeon Wings Strike
This charming, brightly enjoyable game is billed as “the fastest shooter ever deployed on a mobile device”, and it’s easy to see why. Praised for its story, soundtrack, tilt control scheme and technical difficulty, the arcade-style action game lets you play as a cartoon pigeon who pilots a fighter plane to take down the evil Duke Dexter. There’s also a local multiplayer mode, which makes it the perfect game to play while hanging out with friends.
8. Guns of Boom
A stylish first-person shooter with Fortnite-esque cartoon graphics, Guns of Boom is nothing less than a mobile sensation. The team-based multiplayer game already has more than 55m downloads under its belt and counting. With each game lasting just five minutes, it gives you a perfect microdose of mayhem that’s easy to squeeze into your day.
9. Stranger Things: The Game
The phenomenon surrounding the Netflix sci-fi series Stranger Things drew heavily from a collective cultural nostalgia. It is fitting, then, that the Stranger Things game adaptation feels like such a curious throwback. With pixilated versions of the show’s characters and locations, the acclaimed game added simple platforming, RPG and puzzle elements to the story, creating a strange, if not quite groundbreaking, mixture.
A subsequent sequel, Stranger Things 3: The Game was also released, to tie into the series’ third season, but didn’t quite capture the original’s magic.
PewPew delivers exactly the sort of fun, casual shooting experience its name suggests. A bit like if the classic arcade game Asteroids was spun through a neon-coloured blender, this retro-inspired shoot ‘em up wastes no time in sending enemies flying at you fast, from every direction.
The stylish chaos of the game is delightful, and there’s enough of a difficulty curve to keep you coming back for more – even if the sheer bedlam on screen can seem overwhelming at first.
11. Simpsons Tapped Out
The holy grail of Simpsons video games may still be Hit and Run, but Tapped Out is definitely one of the better spin-offs in the show’s long, chequered history. Tapped Out lets you build your very own version of the iconic town of Springfield. If you’re not a Simpsons obsessive, the game might wear thin after a while. For those still in love with the show, it’s a virtual treasure trove of references, Easter eggs, and recycled gags.
12. Real Racing 3
Hailed as a technical masterpiece with graphics several laps ahead of the competition, Electronic Arts’ Real Racing 3 is at the very cutting edge of mobile racing games. Several different multiplayer modes – including cross-platform eight-player races and races against other player’s pre-recorded ghosts – provide the perfect platform to show off the game’s extensive collection of painstakingly rendered real-life cars and racecourses.
13. Pac-Man 256
A glitch in map 256 of the classic arcade game Pac-Man inspired this addictive release, which taps into the fun of the original while giving it a new edge. Bandai Namco’s game lets you control Pac-Man while he tunnels through an endless isometric maze, fleeing four ghosts (Inky, Blinky, Pinky and Clyde).
The maze quickly becomes devilishly difficult to navigate, and failure is always just around the corner – literally. The objective is simply to outrun the ghosts for as long as possible.
14. Plants vs Zombies 2
In Plants vs Zombies 2, one of the most popular tower defence games ever made, players must deftly strategise to keep hordes of zombies from arriving on their garden porch, with a variety of plant-inspired tools at their disposal. A winning fusion of knowing foresight and in-the-moment havoc, Plants vs Zombies 2 is expected to get a sequel in the near future.
15. Chess – Play & Learn
There’s nothing flashy about Chess.com’s app. There are certainly flashier chess games out there. Rivals include Chessplode, a game where every won piece violently knocks a row off the board, and Play Magnus, an app that lets you play against a simulated version of world champion Magnus Carlsson at different stages of his life.
But Chess.com‘s app is perfectly functional, and boasts a player base of more than 16 million people, making it easy to find a match for your own approximate skill level. The free version of the app contains plenty of materials to help novice players improve. For real chess enthusiasts, there is just as much to do. Sometimes the simple pleasures are also the best.