Your shiny new iPhone 12 is finally here. You can do lots of things on it from reading articles to capturing stunning photos to ultimately sharing them on Instagram. One particular purpose for your new iPhone 12 that is increasingly growing in popularity is gaming. Because, why not?
The previous generation of iPhones sure had a similar appeal, but the feature set was severely inconsistent across the lineup. The iPhone 11, which is the lower-end model, has an outdated IPS LCD display while the iPhone 11 Pro has an OLED display.
This year, every iPhone 12 has an OLED display.
OLED displays are magnificent. They present an excellent contrast between white and black, produce vibrant colors, and offer a blazing fast response rate; all while consuming fewer resources. I’ve written an in-depth article recently that tries to explain OLED displays in more detail and you should check it out.
That being said, how can you enjoy the full potential of the OLED display on your brand new iPhone 12?
Here are the best iPhone games for free that also happen to be the best looking games that you can play on your iPhone. Some of these games feature immersive gameplay that feels nothing short of inspiring. The best thing about these games is that they run smoothly, thanks to the A14 chipset in the iPhone 12.
All of the games listed here are free. However, note that some demand in-app purchases either to remove ads or unlock levels.
Ever played The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild on Nintendo Switch? It was the game of the year in 2017. Genshin Impact feels just like it. It’s a free-to-play game developed by a Chinese studio that creatively attempts to grasp your conscience and transports you to a completely different world. Strangely enough, it seems like a mix of anime and an RPG, but it’s unique in its own way; as is BOTW.
With multiple characters to choose from and adrenaline-pumping gameplay replete with strategic decision-making and intense cutscenes, Genshin Impact is clearly my favorite iOS game.
Although the graphics aren’t striking, intentionally so, the beautiful amalgamation of colors and intelligent choice of movements make playing it all the more exciting on the iPhone 12’s OLED display. I can’t get enough of it.
As for the gameplay, your character is separated from its sibling thanks to a sudden clash with a God and is stripped of its powers. In order to regain its powers, you are left to wander in an open world full of doltish monsters called Hilichurls and Anemo statues. You’ve got to work your way up playing different Acts, which involve the story, and Commissions, which are random and repetitive tasks that help to increase your rank as you face difficult monsters. Moreover, even though it’s an action RPG, it’s strangely calming.
The way to judge a game isn’t by its graphics or quality. A stunning game is one that hooks you into its story, makes you feel like you’re one with the character, and blurs the line between reality and the gameplay itself. Genshin Impact is one of those games. And all you need to do is pick up your iPhone and jump into a distinct world.
Feist is a long-forgotten indie iOS game that debuted almost a decade ago. It’s one of the most aesthetic games you would find for the iPhone. Some say it reminds them of Badlands, which is relatively quite popular and was considered the best game once. Both Feist and Badlands have a lot in common.
The characters are silhouettes that move horizontally in a column while dodging weird atrocities and die too soon. Apart from Feist’s onerous gameplay, one particularly interesting similarity between it and Badlands is the excellent design replete with deep contrast, which happens to look spectacularly well on OLED displays just like on your iPhone 12.
The gameplay in Feist is a bit difficult, though. The control buttons are tiny and it takes some while getting used to them. In Feist, everything’s out there to kill you while you are tasked with either dodging creatures or killing them. If you’re someone who is up for the thrilling challenge that is this game, you should definitely get it. One problem. It costs $3.99 after the free level to unlock the entire game.
Not everyone is a fan of intense scenarios within games. That motivates me to present to you Cat Bird! It’s a pixelated cat that also glides. And even though it has this retro look, the game’s colors are vibrant that pop out while playing on the iPhone 12.
The gameplay is similar to that of the all-time popular Super Mario Bros, in that the cat bird warps in and out of vortices while dodging creatures that hold the potential to kill, all while you’re tasked with navigating the cat bird through a maze. You’d think making the cat glide would be easy, but it never is. Not in the game, and certainly not in real life. The cat (in the game, obviously) keeps missing platforms and drowning in what seems to be pixelated milk.
If you find yourself slamming your brand new ~$1000 phone on the ground because of Cat Bird!, I won’t be surprised. It’s the kind of game you download while you’re waiting in line or you’ve simply got some time to kill. Plus, you are going to love how primeval yet modern it looks.
Furthermore, the game hosts ads that you can pay to get rid of. Other than that, it’s free.
Asphalt 9 is an adrenaline-pumping game that you need to play at least once, if not always. It features splendid graphics and intense racing scenes. The racing dynamics aren’t particularly realistic, but you’ll enjoy it nevertheless.
Owing to crisp scenes within the game, Asphalt 9 looks amazing on an iPhone 12. At some point playing the game, you feel so immersed that your mind kind of forgets you’re playing it on a handheld device and not on a console.
When it comes to gameplay, however, it is extremely unrealistic. You are hardly given control of the steering and acceleration is automatic. All you can do is make sure the cars are upgraded and watch the dashing graphics in play in front of your eyes. This game feels more like a showcase of what the iPhone is capable of producing and less like, well, a game.
But hey, if you are someone who wants to try out a racing game, this is where you must start.
Sky is an enchanting and soothing title full of grandiose surroundings that you need to fly through. IGN, in its review of Sky says that “Everything about this exploration-focused game, from the evocative visual style and soaring musical score to the intimate moments of subtle interaction with other nameless, speechless players, is pure bliss.”
The game is exploratory, meaning there aren’t any violent activities. Perhaps the best thing about this game is its soundtrack. The character glides past clouds in what seems to be a world full of unbelievable graphics while soothing music is playing in the background.
If you own a pair of noise-canceling earphones like the AirPods Pro and an iPhone 12, you are going to adore this game. This game could genuinely be your out during a stressful day of Zoom meetings.
Seashine is an attractive endless swimmer game. Its dark contrast gives it an eerie feel, especially while playing on the iPhone 12’s OLED display. It’s also surprisingly soothing, thanks to enchanting sound effects.
The gameplay itself is quite simple. You need to swipe on the screen to guide your jellyfish through a dark abyss that lacks light and is replete with predators. Your task is to maintain the light and save it from going dark. The way to do that is to collect fish and swim past crystals.
As you continue to swim and collect light, your only goal is to best yourself by beating your previous score and climbing the leaderboard ranks. It’s an amazing experience that doesn’t demand your complete attention.
Golf games have always followed the traditional style—pointing and shooting linearly. Hardly any games let you shoot a golf ball and bend it like Beckham. Golf Skies does. And it’s amazingly entertaining.
In this wait-in-a-line game, you have to shoot a golf ball. But instead of shooting it in a swift virtual projectile swing, you need to shoot and then guide the ball through multiple spheres until it reaches the flag post.
What makes it truly interesting is the tiny details. For instance, the globes have a slight gravitational pull, meaning if you swing the ball, it gets affected by the globes’ gravity and in some instances, it even starts revolving until finally losing velocity. It’s quite settling to watch the ball you shoot revolve.
Despite the oddly satisfying motion of the ball, it’s relatively challenging to get it even near a flag post. But that’s part of the appeal of the game, and you’re gonna love it. You can only play it in portrait orientation but the overall design is a delight to the eyes and it certainly is one of the best lesser-known aesthetic iOS games.
Maze: Path of Light is an ecstatic maze puzzler that will get you scratching your head but also subsequently calming you down with a charming soundtrack. You won’t have seen a more colorful maze.
It’s originally a paid game, but you can grab it for free as of this writing.
The gameplay consists of a ray of light that you need to guide through the maze until it reaches what appears to be a portal. This isn’t a regular maza puzzler. It offers four different shapes of mazes that you can solve through the span of hundreds of levels and over 3000 unique mazes.
The interface itself is quite colorful and elegantly designed which makes it all the more appealing to play.
Multiplayer games have been the staple of gamers in 2020. With the pandemic creating a social distance between people, multiplayer games offer a new way to connect. 1sland is one such game. But it’s uniquely different on two grounds.
First, its gameplay. You are given a boat that you can use to chart waters until you can find an island. The game follows a global leaderboard and whoever finds an island first ranks up the leaderboard.
Second, its appearance. The game contains pastel-like colors for every element. This makes it quite soothing as if you’re sailing through the sea yourself. Everything’s cartoonish, but the combination of suspenseful gameplay and colorful design makes it one of the most interesting games of all time.
If you’re fended off by super-intense airport traffic control simulation games, Fly THIS! might change your perception. It’s just as intense as other games, but that fact is overshadowed by the poppy colors, cute airplanes, and funny landing and takeoff animations.
It’s not realistic by any measure, but you’re gonna nevertheless enjoy it. So much so, that it’s almost addictive. I spent an entire evening completing different levels that range in difficulty. There are several islands or areas that you need to finish off to unlock other islands or areas.
Each island has its own unique gameplay element. For instance, one island features tornadoes that swirl your flight off its path mid-air. A mix of different kinds of islands make this game quite interesting.
Not only that, you can upgrade your flights by earning coins through the levels you play. There are tons of airplane models including the infamous Concorde and each airplane has its own pros and cons. For instance, a certain airplane model within the game can only carry 3 passengers, but can fly with a speed of 4 units.
Fly THIS! is a must have if you’ve just got a new iPhone 12.
Tiny Robots Recharged comes from the developer of the Faraway series. If you don’t know what Faraway is, it’s a series of stunning puzzle games where you are tasked with finding clues to solve immersive puzzles.
Tiny Robots Recharge is yet another puzzle from developer Snapbreak that uses 3D elements to entice players to get hooked. And I can vouch that it’s quite good at that. The puzzles involve picking up random elements from the 3D environment and using them to interact with other elements in that environment. Your ultimate goal is to unlock a door that’ll take you to the next level.
However, it’s not as easy as it sounds or appears judging from the first few levels. There’s an additional element that makes the puzzle more challenging: robots with quickly-ending batteries. Accompanying a puzzle is a robot that runs on a battery, which is technically indicative of the time you’ve got to solve the puzzle.
However, each level contains three extra batteries hidden at different locations. This will keep you going, but when the levels geet challenging, the extra batteries help very little.
The collective 3D and simplistic element of Tiny Robots Recharged not only makes up for challenging gameplay but also a fantastic sight to behold. You should definitely check it out.
Hanging out with friends is one of the most cherishable moments of our lives. I’ve played on-device multiplayer games for the large part of my life with friends. For those wondering, on-device multiplayer games are different from traditional multiplayer games.
Traditional multiplayer games rely on an internet connection to connect to other online players and play with them virtually. On-device multiplayer games let two players share the same device to play a game. 2 Player Games: the Challenge is one such game.
It’s an app that encompasses a bevy of mini-games that you and your friends can enjoy. These are essentially 2-player games but if you’re a group, you can conduct tournaments, which makes it even more fun to play.
What differentiates the Challenge from other on-device multiplayer games is the extensive library of mini-games. It’s not much, but when compared to other on-device multiplayer, it’s a gold mine— a whopping 34 games.
There’s also a more popular title called Finger Fights, but that only offers 18 games. However, there’s yet another thing that’s unique about the Challenge. It’s the way the games are designed. The games are designed singularly full of washed out colors and none of the 34 games are different from each other in terms of appearance.
My favorite games within the Challenge include Ping Pong, Spin War, Tic Tac Toe, Sumo, Pinball, Tanks, Chess, Ship Battle, Light Fingers, Guard and Thief, and more.
The only complaint I have with the Challenge is that the controls are slightly more sensitive than I’d like them to be. Unfortunately, there’s no option within the game settings to manage that. So, if the developer ever reads this, please add control sensitivity options.
Get 2 Player Games: the Challenge from the App Store
Shadow Fight 3 is a pretty popular one-on-one RPG fighting game. It transforms the experience of old RPG fighting games with retro graphics into a modern, graphics-intensive gameplay. Additionally, Shadow Fight 3 also boasts the best fighting physics. The movement of the characters and the swinging of weapons feels almost realistic.
The game follows a simple storyline spread over various levels. You start off fighting against instructors and move on to oppose bosses. Each boss you defeat progresses the game further until you defeat the ultimate boss.
Defeating bosses in Shadow Fight 3 is quite difficult and victory is not solely dependent upon your screen-tapping expertise. You also need to upgrade your character by purchasing new weapons, body armor, and more.
The game’s controls are simple and become second nature after you finish off a couple of your opponents.
What’s amazing is once you’ve defeated all the bosses, it isn’t the end of the game. It also features a multiplayer mode that lets you play with your friends and other players from around the world online.
The first race of the F1 2020 season kicked off on July 5th in Austria and it’s scheduled to end on 13 December 2020. If you’ve been enjoying the real races so far, you’ll definitely enjoy the official game of F1 2020 on your iPhone.
F1 Mobile Racing is a byproduct of F1 2020 The Official Video Game for consoles and PCs. Given that, it doesn’t feature graphics as good as those dedicated gaming machines, but they are just perfect for playing on your iPhone.
The game features loud engine sounds, realistic physics, steering wheel graphics and much more. One thing I noticed that I particularly liked about this game is the fact that whenever my F1 car steered away from the track and onto the curb, my iPhone’s taptic engine sent little vibrations in succession that made it feel more realistic.
F1 Mobile Racing isn’t only about racing, it’s about honing your F1 car to certain levels of perfection as to compete with other players, both local and online. It’s a genuinely amazing experience that you need to check out.
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We’ll be updating this article to add more games in the forthcoming weeks. Stay tuned. And let us know about any of your favorite games that you’d like included in this list in the comments section below.