Since the introduction of the Apple iPad in 2010, the tablet has proven its place in the overall computing landscape, with its gorgeous display lending itself well to the consumption of all types of digital content. And while other tablet manufacturers haven’t found nearly as much success, the iPad continues to thrive with each new iteration of the device.
Some of that success can be attributed to the quality of the apps available for users to download from the Apple Store. Because unlike their Android counterparts, which more often than not were built for phones and simply stretched to fill the tablet form factor, the apps built for the iPad were made to take advantage of its extra real estate. The same goes for the games, the very best of which have been able to take advantage of the device to offer immersive mobile experiences. Here are some of the very best ones available today.
Updated May 25, 2022, by Michael Abayomi: We’ve updated this list to include two additional entries. The first is a story-driven adventure game set in a world populated by anthropomorphic characters, while the other is the latest game by acclaimed Journey developer, thatgamecompany.
16 Night In The Woods
At first glance, Night in the Woods might look like a children’s game with its cutesy, minimalistic visuals. But anyone who has taken the time to experience its coming-of-age tale would know that it is actually geared towards a much older audience.
It is a story-driven adventure game that explores some very mature issues like depression, through the lens of its memorable cast of anthropomorphic characters. It was originally released on PC and consoles in 2017, but the iOS version plays just as well on an iPad.
15 Sky: Children Of The Light
Billed as an open-world social adventure game, Sky: Children of the Light is the latest game by thatgamecompany. Unlike their previous releases which were published by Sony and launched exclusively on the PS3, this one made its debut on iOS devices.
The game has players exploring a beautiful fantasy world where they can encounter other players, as well as unlock special abilities that enable them to cover all of its seven realms. It is heavily built around a flying mechanic that should feel right at home to players of Journey.
14 Hitman Go
When Hitman Go was first revealed, the first question on everyone’s lips was how exactly did the new team at Square Enix Montreal plan to translate the open-ended stealth gameplay of the main series into a turn-based puzzle game. Turns out it had just the right idea.
The game is presented as a board game, with players controlling Agent 47 through several grid-based levels populated with various enemies. And that simplified gameplay mixed with its unique art style (where characters were represented as miniature figures) was enough to win over casual players and long-time fans alike, making the game a standout title on the iPad and other mobile devices.
Long before it would take the world by storm with the brilliant Hades, indie developer Supergiant Games had thrown its hat into the game development ring with Bastion. Released in 2011, the action RPG would lay the foundation for much of the work it would end up doing on subsequent games including Transistor and Pyre.
What makes Bastion special though is its outstanding presentation, which includes fully-voiced narration and a beautiful hand-painted art style. This is why it still remains one of the best-looking games on iPad, talking from a purely aesthetic standpoint.
Fantasian is an RPG produced and written by Hironobu Sakaguchi of Final Fantasy fame. The music was likewise composed by fellow Final Fantasy alum, Nobuo Uematsu.
The first part of the game was dropped into the Apple Arcade library in April 2021, where it was met with much acclaim for its unique art style. The second part followed in August.
11 Pokemon Unite
The Pokemon Company is definitely not afraid to experiment with mobile releases, following the immense success they had gotten with Pokemon Go since its 2016 debut.
And with Pokemon Unite, they’ve made the foray into the realm of MOBAs. The free-to-play title allows players to assemble their team of Pokemon and use them to battle other players in its battle arenas.
10 Among Us
Originally released in 2018, Among Us didn’t hit the peak of its popularity until during the height of lockdowns in 2020 when casual gamers were stuck at home and in dire need of something else to play aside from Animal Crossing: New Horizons.
And one of the platforms where the game proved most accessible to that particular demographic was the Apple iPad, with the mobile versions of the game being available to play free of charge.
Minecraft has been around for almost as long as the Apple iPad itself, and in all that time, it continues to attract more and more players to its incredibly blocky and pixelated sandbox.
It made its debut on the Apple Store in 2011 when it was initially known as the Pocket Edition of the game, a stripped-down version that still offered most of what the core PC experience was renowned for.
8th Sayonara Wild Hearts
What do you get when you cross a visual album with a video game? You get Sayonara Wild Hearts, a fully interactive rhythm game that is just as psychedelic as it is short and sweet.
In the game, players take control of a woman struggling to navigate the obstacles of the strangely beautiful world she finds herself in. But what really sets the game apart from others is its pop-inspired soundtrack and Queen Latifah’s narration.
7 Monument Valley
Monument Valley is an indie puzzle game deserving of a place in any iPad games collection. Released in 2014, the game had gone on to win the Apple Design Award, where it was named the best iPad game of the year.
The game received another boost in its popularity the following year after it was prominently featured in an episode of the Netflix show, House of Cards. A sequel was also released in 2017 and it was also met with praise for its visuals and game design.
6 Oceanhorn 2: Knights Of The Lost Realm
Speaking of sequels, The Legend of Zelda-inspired adventure game, Oceanhorn, had received a sequel in 2019, debuting exclusively for the Apple Arcade, before later receiving a Nintendo Switch port in 2020.
With an art style that was clearly influenced by Breath of the Wild, and gameplay that was more in line with traditional Zelda games, the sequel has served as a best of both worlds for The Legend of Zelda fans since its release.
5 Plants vs Zombies
The original Plants vs. Zombies was released on PC and Mac all the way back in 2009, but it had received ports for both iPhone and iPad the following year, taking advantage of the latter’s bigger screen to offer players an unrivaled on-the-go experience.
And while the series might have evolved into a full-blown third-person shooter over the years, the original game’s tower defense gameplay and overall charm will always have a special place in many gamers’ hearts.
4 Stardew Valley
Farming simulators have always proven popular with casual gamers, with games like Farmville once dominating mobile and social app charts alike. But when Stardew Valley was originally released in 2016, even its designer, Eric Barone, could not have fathomed just how popular this particular game would get.
It has since gone on to sell more than 20 million copies, as well as received ports to just about every gaming device out there. And the iPad version continues to remain high on the Apple Store gaming charts.
3 Superbrothers: Sword And Sworcery EP
The iPad has had a number of killer apps since its introduction, but on the gaming side of its App Store, one of the very first was Superbrothers: Sword and Sworcery EP.
Released in 2011, the game had served as a showcase for the tablet’s graphical capabilities, offering a beautiful pixel-art presentation at a time when such games were not as ubiquitous as they are today.
Often considered one of the greatest video games of all time, Journey had won over both critics and gamers alike back in 2012 when it was originally released on the PS3, with its beautiful visuals and soaring soundtrack.
Flash forward to today and those visuals and soundtrack are just as captivating as they were back then. The game had received ports for both PC and iOS in 2019, marking one of the first PlayStation exclusives to do so.
And while we are still on the topic of the greatest video games of all time, Inside is easily one of the best games that can be played on an Apple iPad today. Something about its eerily beautiful world translates so well to the tablet that one might think it had been developed with the device in mind.
From its muted color tones to its clean edges and minimalistic design and presentation, the game remains a showcase for that particular art style, much like Limbo before it. But what elevates it to the very top is how those elements work together to create one of the most immersive gaming experiences in recent memory.
NEXT: The Most Graphically Demanding iPad Games
Video game release dates 2022