Of all of the gaming platforms available, none have more readily embraced the Free-to-Play model more so than mobile. Smart phones and tablets have made it more convenient than ever to satiate a gaming fix on the go and in smaller doses. Licensing and developing for mobile devices is by far the least expensive, and as a result, mobile marketplaces easily see the most new games per year of any major gaming platform. Unfortunately, with so many new titles coming out all the time, there are also a lot of bad games that can clog up the search engines when you’re trying to find something new to play.
This can be especially frustrating if you are under a limited data plan and are wasting your precious Mega Bites downloading and uninstalling games that turn out to be crap or throw ads and paywalls in your face. This is very common with Free-to-Play games, but it is not indicative of every title. There are quality games out there that require no financial commitment that have the ability to command your attention. Here are the Top 6 Free iOS games released so far in 2015.
1.) Planet Quest
Average Metacritic Score: 91
Planet Quest is a simple and addictive rhythm game. You play as an Alien hovering over a small planetoid firing lasers at various life forms that spawn to the beats of the music. As the planetoid rotates, it’s up to the player to match the laser fire to the beat of the appearing life forms. The game features a soundtrack that’s easily gets stuck in your head and the game is at its finest if played with a set of solid head phones.
2.) Magic Touch: Wizard for Hire
Average Metacritic Score: 87
Magic Touch: Wizard for Hire is a tough game to categorize other than a “Frantic Line-Drawer”. Drawing lines may not sound exciting, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. The object of the game is to draw matching line prompts underneath falling enemies holding balloons as they appear before they hit the ground. Things can get very chaotic in a hurry and the line prompts can become more and more intricate, particularly with the bigger enemies. It’s also worth mentioning that if you make one mistake, it’s game over. I’ve found that this game is better if you play on a tablet as the added screen space makes the more intricate lines easier to pull off.
3.) Silly Sausage in Meat Land
Average Metacritic Score: 86
Made by the same team as Magic Touch: Wizard for Hire, Silly Sausage in Meat Land is much more phone friendly than its wizarding cousin. The object of the game is to navigate an infinitely stretchable dog through a maze of traps while strategically choosing where and when to let the rest of your dog’s body to catch up with you. This is especially important because the game features a lot of moving traps, so poor timing in resting the dog can just as easily result in a game over as running into a trap head on.
The game also utilizes its ads and payment structure in a very intelligent way that most Free-To-Play games could stand to take note of. The game features optional checkpoints in between mazes, that correlate with the “cool down effect” most games have between challenges. This allows the player to play the game in very bite sized chunks if they wish, while allowing the developers to make a profit. It is entirely within the player’s hands whether or not they want to use checkpoints, and more or less it ends up being a good idea so that they don’t have to replay sections. Fortunately, the ads are very short, so it’s not long before the player gets back into the action.
4.) Staying Together
Average Metacritic Score: 83
Staying Together is a very challenging cerebral 2-D puzzle platformer. You control two characters simultaneously with three virtual button inputs. One button makes the characters walk towards each other, another makes them walk away, while the third allows the characters to jump at the same time. The object of the game is to get the two characters, who generally begin on opposing sides of the level to the end goal at the same time. There are various traps on either side that can instantly kill one of your characters. And if one dies, it’s game over. Maneuvering the characters is a challenge itself, and you have to have a good idea of how to manipulate the space in between them in order to succeed.
5.) Blokshot Revolution
Average Metacritic Score: 82
Blokshot Revolution is described as a shooter, but it’s really more of an “Endless Futuristic Hurler”. The basic gameplay revolves around flinging neon balls of light at falling cubes with an emphasis on creating combos. Combos in turn net bigger point totals and if you are skilled enough to get consecutive combos, you will quickly find that high score making its way into the leader boards. Getting your accuracy down is a bit tough at the beginning, but if you keep with it, nailing combos and unlocking unique shot types makes the game more and more engaging.
6.) Heavenstrike Rivals – A Monster Tactical TCG!
Average Metacritic Score: 79
Heavenstrike Rivals is a stylish turn-based, tactical role playing game from Final Fantasy developer Square Enix. The crux of the gameplay surrounds the implementation and line manipulation of a large library of units with unique abilities and characteristics that the player deploys on a grid battlefield. The goal of each battle is to get through enemy units and defeat the opposing commander. After each battle, your units will level up and become more powerful. With the amount of movement and resource management during a battle, there is a limitless number of tactics that can be used to achieve victory.
There are also running leagues of competitive multiplayer that you can take part in to earn unique currency and rewards. The game unfortunately carries some of the typical Free-to-Play mechanical tropes like Real-Time energy replenishment, and three or four different types of in-game currency that can be accelerated or replenished with real world money.