Now that you’re done completely losing your mind in excitement over the shiny new iPhone someone gave you for the holidays, you’re probably wondering which games to download first so that you’ll have something to do after dinner once everyone else either passes out or watches football.
Well, we’re always happy to help with your festive conundrum, so here are 15 games you can get from the App Store right now to get your mobile-gaming career started right.
And while many of the games on this list are “free,” most of these do offer in-app purchases for gear, cosmetic items, and more.
The Room Pocket (Free first level; $1 to unlock the rest)
The Room is one of the best-looking mobile games you’ll ever see. It’s a puzzler that tasks you with unlocking a series of boxes. You do this by examining them from every angle to find keys, open secret panels, and generally just wiggle stuff around with incredibly responsive touch controls.
It also has a strange metaplot straight out of the world of weird-fiction author H.P. Lovecraft. Apparently, the puzzle boxes exist in a bizarre unworld that humanity was never meant to encounter or something. But the main part is that these puzzles are really good.
Codename Cygnus $1 per episode
This one isn’t a game so much as an interactive radio play where you choose your path through a 1960s-style espionage story. Every once in a while, the app gives you a choice as to how to proceed. Do you make like Daniel Craig’s James Bond and knock that guard out? Or do you choose stealth and sneak by like boring old Roger Moore’s James Bond? When you’re done, you get to see a profile of sorts to tell you what kind of superspy you’d make.
People looking for a deep gameplay experience in which their choices matter and affect future events should look elsewhere to meet those needs, but Cygnus still provides a fun story and just enough interactivity to earn it a spot on this list.
Jetpack Joyride (Free)
Here’s the easiest sell on the list — Jetpack Joyride is probably the best supported free game in the App Store. It’s an endless runner from the creators of Fruit Ninja, and its simple, one-touch controls and steady supply of missions give you plenty to do. The steady supply of updates with new vehicles and playstyles will make sure you’re still playing it months from now.
It’s so fun that you won’t even care that it isn’t superrelevant anymore, what with all of the giant robots and water scooters and stuff.
This beautiful puzzle adventure takes its inspiration from origami and pop-up books. And if its looks aren’t impressive enough, here’s a fun fact: If you were so inclined, you could make everything in this game yourself with real paper. I’m not sure if you’d want to do that, but it’s nice to know the option exists.
The game itself is low-key and relaxing with pretty, calm music to go along with the sedate visuals. Pop in some headphones, and it’ll provide some relief if you need a little break from all that family time.
The Hunting (Free for Part 1, $2 each for Parts 2 and 3)
We recently interviewed the director of this interactive zombie film with takes place across three chapters. It’s downright terrifying in parts, and it’ll have you second-guessing every choice you make as you wind your way across the undead-filled countryside in search of your similarly besieged girlfriend.
Highlights include an especially terrifying bike ride and a creepy little girl you know you shouldn’t follow but probably will.