A gajillion games were available for your iPad this year, and we’ve played at least a smillion of them. In fact, we’ve played so many games that we shorted out the part of our brains that can identify real numbers from gibberish.
If you’ve glanced ahead without reading (for shame!), you may have noticed that a few of this year’s best games are missing from this list. DON’T FREAK OUT. We’ve decided to break our 2014 selections into two lists: The 10 Best iPad Games and The 10 Best iPhone Games — and there are no duplicate entries.
If your favorite game is missing, be sure to check out our 10 Best iPhone Games of 2014. There’s a good chance you’ll find it there. And if not, at least you’ll find 10 more great games you can play on your iPad!
10. Monsters Ate My Birthday Cake
In our review, Jillian described Monsters Ate My Birthday Cake as “Sokoban meets The Lost Vikings,” and she couldn’t have been more right.
This is a game about pushing and pulling boxes, but it’s also about working as a team. It’s about varying abilities. And above all else, it’s about being so deliciously adorable THAT YOU COULD JUST EAT IT UP. That’s probably why there’s birthday cake involved.
And they said it couldn’t be done! Despite huge success on desktops, MOBA’s have had a rough time on mobile. Many have completely written off the idea of a mobile MOBA at this point. If you’re in that club, it’s time to download Vainglory and eat your words.
Accessible to newcomers yet deep enough to keep veterans intrigued, Vainglory perfectly straddles the line between what makes MOBAs work and what makes mobile work. If you enjoy team-based combat, you’ll have a hard time finding a better way to spend 30 minutes on your iPad.
8. Kingdom Rush Origins
Tower defense fans look at the Kingdom Rush series as the touchstone of good TD design, and they’re right to. The third entry in the series manages to reach the high watermark set by its predecessors, and while it doesn’t do much to break from tradition, its well-designed levels elevate Kingdom Rush Origins to the series’ best game yet.
Mix in a few new touches like hero skills and a seemingly endless assortment of pop culture references, and you have Gamezebo’s favorite tower defense game of 2014.
7. Tales from the Borderlands
While their catalog covers a fairly wide range of narrative games nowadays, Telltale is always at their best when doing comedy. Tales from the Borderlands returns to that tradition, offering a fast, fun, light story that kept us hooked from beginning to end.
It’s a great find for fans of the Borderlands universe, and even first-timers to the franchise should be able to enjoy everything this one has to offer.
6. Broken Age
It’s been a long time since Tim Schafer made a point-and-click adventure game — but that doesn’t mean you didn’t want him to make one. In fact, you proved it, putting your money where your mouth was and blowing up Kickstarter in the process.
What was once known as ‘Double Fine Adventure’ is now Broken Age. Its first act released in 2014 and it was fantastic. Schafer’s trademark sense of humor was here, and while the puzzles were a bit on the easy side, the twin stories he told about youths in very different worlds has left us desperate for Act 2.
5. Papers, Please
One of the best PC games of 2013, Papers Please was in close contention for our 2013 Game of the Year. And now it’s back again! This time we have the iPad release to thank and, like the next game on our list, Papers Please just feels so much more natural on a touch screen.
Players take the role of a customs officer at a Soviet-style checkpoint in 1982. Every day the rules change just enough to keep you on your toes, as you check documents and stamp passports in an attempt to keep your family fed and warm.
4. FTL: Faster Than Light
If you’ve ever wanted to micromanage the crew of a starship as it goes hurtling through vastness of space, FTL is a game you’ve likely been in love with since its PC release in 2012. Firing torpedoes, putting out fires, raising shields and opening doors – it’s all in a days work for Captain You. And in 2014 you were given the chance to continue your journey on the iPad.
Sporting all of the content that was added in the ‘Advanced Edition’ update, the touchscreen controls made FTL on the iPad a significantly more enjoyable experience.
3. The Banner Saga
Strategy gamers were given a gift from the gods this year, and those gods were Norse. The Banner Saga tells an epic story of men and Varls, and an impending doom that threatens them all.
Equal parts Don Bluth-inspired animation, Choose Your Own Adventure, and Final Fantasy Tactics, the developers at Stoic Studio did more than weave an impressive debut: they created a world that rivals that of Tolkien. It’s cold and harsh and unforgiving, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.
2. Skylanders Trap Team
It’s not often that Gamezebo talks about technical achievement when evaluating a game, but it can’t be avoided with Skylanders Trap Team. This is the first time that a full-fledged, AAA game has launched simultaneously on home consoles and tablets. And what’s more, nothing is lost in the translation.
Of course it has the price tag to match ($74.99 MSRP), and you’ll want to purchase additional toys to get the best experience, but you’ll be getting your money’s worth. The Skylanders games have earned a solid reputation as kid-friendly fun, and from the main campaign to the arenas to the action-heavy spin on tower defense in Kaos Doom Challenge, there’s plenty to keep you entertained for days on end.
Hearthstone takes everything that’s great about card games like Magic: The Gathering, distills it down to something more accessible, yet balances the cards so well that even the most seasoned of players are constantly tuning their decks and strategies. It’s turned into a professional sport for some, a daily obsession for most, and – at least in my case – the sort of game you’ll be throwing fistfuls of money at to get new cards (even though it’s just as enjoyable without spending a dime).
As is always the case with lists of this nature, the top three picks are in a constant fight for the #1 spot behind the scenes. But taking into consideration the universal appeal, near-universal love, and the small bank loan I’ve taken out in search of better cards, Hearthstone has earned its place at the top. Congratulations on becoming Gamezebo’s iPad Game of the Year, Hearthstone.