The best iPhone games to play in December 2022: Marvel Snap and more

While gaming phones are picking up steam, there’s often no better gaming phone to buy than the latest iPhone. With more than a million iPhone apps available in the App Store, the gaming options on the iPhone are nearly limitless. But finding the best iPhone games isn’t always easy. Not every app in Apple’s massive game library is worth the money — or your time, for that matter.

Luckily for you, we’ve taken on the burden of sorting through the heaving sea of game apps to bring you some of the best iPhone games. So, whether you’re looking for a casual match-three game, a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG), or a battle royale, take a look at our list of the best games you’ll find on your iOS device. They’ll even work on an iPad (but don’t let anyone know we told you).

Most of these games should work on any iPhone running iOS 16, which includes phones all the way down to the iPhone 8, but they are also likely to work on any iPhone running iOS 15 (which includes iPhones down to the venerable iPhone 6S). Subscribers to Apple’s library of games — which we think contains enough gems to justify the price of membership — should check out our picks of the best Apple Arcade games. For more ideas, check out the best Android games — many of them are available for the iPhone as well. And if you want to switch off that screen, the best board games could offer a welcome alternative.

CarX Street

Racing in CarX Street.

Racing games are one of the best showcases of a phone’s graphical abilities, but it’s not all about the good looks. CarX Street puts you in the shoes of a street racer in a dynamic open world. Take up races, beat your rivals, and become the best driver in the city. There’s an intricate car upgrade system, and you can tune your car for certain races, tune up the specs, and change the style and design too. It works best with the iPhone X or newer due to the memory demands.


My Singing Monsters

A whole lot of monsters in My Singing Monsters.

If we asked you, “What do monsters do?” you probably wouldn’t reply, “Sing, of course!” Regardless, that’s what your monsters in My Singing Monsters do. Collect and breed up to 250 monsters on your island, and hear your song change and grow over time. Add decorations to customize your island, and you can play with friends around the world and partake in worldwide events all year around. It’s free-to-play but does have microtransactions.


Stick Fight: Shadow Warrior

beating hordes of enemies in Stick Fight: Shadow Warrior.

Live that kung fu film dream and fight off hordes of enemies with your martial arts skills in Stick Fight: Shadow Warrior. Endless waves of foes will spawn, and it’s up to you to survive for as long as you can. Take on boss samurais to unlock rewards, and take on more difficult levels. As you fight, you also unlock cool new cosmetics and items, so your stick fighting can look even cooler. A fun casual fighting game that’s ideal for bored fingers.


Marvel Snap

Marvel seems to be really enjoying releasing mobile games these days, as Marvel Snap is only the latest of a number we’ve had thrown at us recently. Still, it’s really good and well worth your attention. Essentially a card battling game, Marvel Snap is fast-paced, and battles rarely lost longer than a few minutes. Gameplay is simple: Each of your cards has a strength number, and your job is to place them into any one of three lanes facing your opponent. If your number is higher, you win! But watch out, more than a few cards have special powers that can swing lanes in an instant, so you need to make sure you’re playing the right cards at the right moments. It’s free to play, but you can pay to get access to in-game currency and new cards.


Among Us!

Among Us! on mobile.

It’s a classic, and it’s back on our list. Among Us! is one of the best hidden killer, mafia-style games around, and it’s brilliantly suited to being played on mobile. Work together with four to 15 players to get your ship ready for launch — but there’s a twist! A number of players are secretly Imposters who want to murder everyone else on the team. Your job, if you’re not an Imposter, is to fix your ship while also figuring out who the Imposters are. Seeing them enter vents, doing things they shouldn’t, or just murdering people are clues you should be looking out for — but keep in mind you’ll need to convince everyone else you’re not lying …


Airport Simulator: First Class

Building an airport in Airport Simulator.

Apparently we’re a little addicted to plane games at the moment, but this time you’re not flying one, you’re giving them somewhere to land. Airport Simulator: First Class puts you in charge of an airport. Build it up, sign up airlines to your amazing new airport, and make sure everything is in place for all of your customers. There’s a lot to juggle here, but if you love management games then there’s a lot to love here. It’s free-to-play, but there are the usual in-game boosts for real money, so avoid this if you don’t like those.


Stumble Guys

A game of Stumble Guys.

Stumble Guys may seem a little familiar if you’re a fan of battle royale party games, but that doesn’t detract from how much fun it is. Stumble Guys is an online multiplayer party game where you go up against 31 other players in a bid to be the last person standing in a series of fun games. Knock your rivals off the stage and reach the end first to win. It’s a lot of fun, with lots of different levels to tackle. It’s especially fun if you get a bunch of friends together to play — and then knock them all out and take the win yourself.


Cell to Singularity: Evolution

The idle game genre is an interesting one and something that’s largely exclusive to the smartphone. Cell to Singularity: Evolution starts with the humble amino acid in a simulation, ruled over and overseen by yourself. Tap the screen to increase your resources, or just leave your phone alone for a while and let them build up by themselves. Use the points gained to upgrade those acids into DNA, single cells, multiple-celled organisms, and beyond. There’s a simple pleasure to watching the numbers increase, and eventually, you’ll be able to unlock the dinosaur and galaxy simulations as well. Restart each simulation to access upgrades and, well, keep making numbers bigger. If you don’t get it, you’ll be confused about why these games are so popular, but if you’re a fan, you’ll love this.



Casting a spell in Hearthstone.

It’s the biggest and (arguably) the best digital collectible card game on mobile, so if you love playing competitive card games, then Hearthstone is a must-download. The premise is simple — play minions and cast spells to control the gameboard, and eventually, punch your opponent in the face until they lose. But there’s a depth to this simple premise, and you can spend hours finely tweaking your decks to adapt to the latest meta. It’s free to play, and you can buy card packs using the in-game currency and earn powerful cards through the in-game rewards track. However, you’re going to be encouraged to spend money to get more cards quickly, so gird your wallet if you’re diving in head-first.


The Lord of the Rings: War

Character selection in Lord of the Rings: War.

The Rings of Power has reignited our love for everything Tolkien, so why not play a game set in the same universe? The Lord of the Rings: War is set in Tolkien’s beloved fantasy creation and puts you in the shoes of a faction of Middle-earth. Fight against the other factions for the One Ring, recruit new commanders, and even forge your very own ring of power. A large amount of Middle-earth is available to adventure through as you build your team and create an enormous army. It’s free to play, but it does have microtransactions.


Games of Thrones: Conquest

Game of Thrones is back in the public eye with the release of House of the Dragon, and if you can’t get enough of everyone’s favorite quasi-medieval series, then you should try out Game of Thrones: Conquest. If you’ve played any city builders before, then the format will be familiar to you — gather resources, fortify your army, and create buildings. As you might expect, given the lore, you’re given a dragon to raise and protect, and you’ll be able to use it with your armies to expand your influence and create great alliances. You can also gather hero cards and assign them to your council to get bonuses.


Dragon Ball Z Dokkan Battle

Dragon Ball Z holds a special place in many people’s hearts, and there’s no shortage of games set in Akira Toriyama’s manga-turned-anime. Dokkan Battle is a slightly different twist on the franchise’s formula, and while the high-octane, chi-fueled battles remain, they’re through the medium of matching colored orbs. Tap the right orb to send your energy up to your enemy and hit them with super-strong special moves. It’s difficult to explain but easy to pick up and worth a quick download if you’re interested in the legendary series.


Rovio Classics: AB ($1)

Ignore the terrible name — this is Angry Birds. Yes, the original version, with no in-app purchases and nothing to distract from the sheer joy of destruction. Take apart the precarious fortresses of those greedy pigs with nothing but the noggins of your furious avian friends and, if needed, the Mighty Eagle as a backup. You’ve probably played this before and saw the original you loved disappear behind troves of microtransactions and “upgrades.” Pay your dollar, go back to the original, and just enjoy the simple fun of Angry Birds.


Northgard ($9)

Attacking a large monster in Northgard.

We’re big lovers of large beardy people in pointy helmets around here, and Northgard is just the game we’ve been waiting for. Northgard is a survival game, but instead of controlling a single, beleaguered explorer, you control a group of Vikings looking for new lands. Manage your scarce resources and Vikings carefully, as you’ll need to balance both in order to survive this harsh land of undead warriors and dire wolves. There’s a multiplayer mode and a single-player storyline, and you’ll need to master the different skills of the six clans in order to conquer both. While it’s on the expensive side for an iOS game, there’s no doubt that Northgard offers hours of fun.


Albion Online

MMORPGs are nothing new, but what about an MMORPG that can be played on a PC, Mac, Android, or iOS device? With the same account and the same characters? Add a completely player-driven economy, a class-less system where your class is dictated by your outfit, and an endgame that lets guilds compete for vast swathes of Albion in enormous open-world battles and you’ve got a game that is very interesting indeed. If nothing else, it’s worth experimenting with. Albion Online is free-to-play, but as you might have guessed, it has paid elements and a premium subscription for the truly hooked.


Sid Meier’s Civilization VI (free to start/$5 for full game)

Civilization VI on iOS.

A PC gaming staple, Sid Meier’s Civilization VI is now an exceptionally good iOS game as well. While it’s easier to enjoy on a larger screen, like on an iPad, it still works extremely well on an iPhone. The game puts you in charge of an emerging historical civilization, and you must make the big decisions that decide whether your people spread and flourish, or struggle and diminish. Start in the stone age, and develop your technology, taking your civilization through thousands of years, until you’re capable of putting people on Mars. It’s free for the first 60 turns, but costs $5 to upgrade to the full game.


Zombie Gunship Survival

Surviving the zombie apocalypse is a genre we’ve encountered many times before, but we doubt you’ve ever faced it from the gunning position of an AC-130 gunship. Zombie Gunship Survival is the perfect antidote if you’re sick of slowly building up your resources and hitting zombies with sticks. Instead, jump straight into your gunship and blow them all to kingdom come. Build up your airbase to defend against zombie attacks, and personally lead your troops in tactical operations against the dead. Some reviews complain about microtransactions, but others mention it’s a fairly light touch compared to other games. Worth the download for something new.


Sim Companies

Three screens from Sim Companies showing how you can run your company.

Reckon you could run a great business, if only you were given the chance? Give it a go in Sim Companies. Specialize your company in a number of different ways, and test your capitalist skills against other players as you battle to become the top dog. Your success will come down to how well you can watch the virtual economy and watch out for trends you can take advantage of. It’s free-to-play, but there are microtransactions.


Infinite Flight Simulator

The humble flight sim is one of PC gaming’s finest traditions, and it’s now arrived on your iOS (or iPadOS) device. There’s almost too much to do here to list, and pretty much everything you expect from a flight sim you’ll get here. Sure, it’s a bit overwhelming at first, but flying a plane isn’t easy, and neither is Infinite Flight Simulator. You can also fly in multiplayer or play as a flight controller, though you’ll need to pay for a Pro subscription for that at the cost of $10 a month. Still, flying a basic plane is free, and it offers everything you need to know whether this is your jam or not.


Diablo Immortal

Diablo Immortal battles on Android.

The game infamously revealed with the words “do you guys not have phones?” has finally launched, and despite the outcry, it’s actually pretty good. Diablo Immortal is here, and if you’re a fan of the Diablo games or anything similar, then you’re sure to love it. The genius here is that this isn’t some cheap mobile imitation — this is a fully-fledged Diablo game in all its glory, and that makes a serious difference. Alright, it’s rammed to the gills with microtransactions, but if you want to sample the game everyone is talking about, then you’ll just have to hold your nose.


Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga (free to start/$7 for full game)

Ganeplay from Lego Star Wars TCS.

Star Wars is a huge franchise at the moment, thanks to Kenobi, so why not enjoy a great Star Wars game? Star Wars: TCS is a port of the 2007 Lego Star Wars game of the same name and has content from Star Wars I to Star Wars VI, so don’t expect anything from the sequel trilogy in this. But regardless of that, you get to play through the six mainline movies, starting in the Trade Federation negotiations and fighting your way through to the second Death Star above Endor. There are over 120 characters to play, and you’ll need to use other characters’ strengths to get all the secrets in every level. It’s free to start playing, with Episode I unlocked for free. Subsequent episodes will cost money, though you can buy the full game for $7.


Barbarian Merge

Born into a world where angels and demons wage eternal war, the titular barbarian must explore the Sanctuary to find a way to prevent the demons from returning to the mortal realm. A relatively straightforward RPG in some ways, Barbarian Merge puts a fun twist on the genre where inventory management is concerned. Instead of just chucking away old swords, axes, and helmets, you instead merge multiple copies together to make more powerful versions. It’s a fun twist on a loot-centered game and one that removes what can often be a tiresome chore. After all, what makes managing loot better than that loot turning into better loot?


Square Valley ($2)

Square Valley puts you in the shoes of the Spirit of Valley, whose purpose is to take a square of land and make it habitable for incoming villagers. You’ll need to place houses for them to live in, animals to farm, rivers for water, and trees for wood. The trick is that each portion of the land can only take certain tiles, so you’ll need to balance what you place where. It’s a fun and engaging concept, and one that should tickle puzzle lovers for hours.


Medieval II: Total War ($15)

The battle management system in Medieval II: Total War.

Older gamers will remember when games like Medieval II: Total War was new and technically demanding — and now, you can play it on your iPhone or iPad. It costs a princely sum of $15 to buy, but there’s a full PC game here, and one that’s been converted rather well. Play as one of 17 playable factions, and fight, scheme, and trade your way to building your empire. Like Rome: Total War, the battle gameplay takes a little getting used to, but once you’ve got the hang of it, it’s just as easy to use as on the PC.


PUBG Mobile

Riding a bicycle in PUBG Mobile.

You might think of PUBG Mobile as being a buttoned-up, brown version of Fortnite‘s colorful explosion, but that’s not the case. The fourth anniversary of PUBG Mobile‘s launch has brought with it a number of new features. There’s a new vibrantly colorful theme, colorful bicycles, and the new aerial battlefield mode that’s utterly bonkers and unlike anything else you’ve seen in a battle royale game. Other than that, you can still find the classic gameplay you love, along with 10-minute matches, and a massive new range of aesthetic items to collect and wear.


ARK: Survival Evolved

ARK: Survival Evolved gameplay. The player character holds a tool.

What’s better than a survival game on your iPhone or iPad? A survival game on your iPhone or iPad with dinosaurs! ARK: Survival Evolved is now something of a classic of the survival genre, and it’s easy to see why it’s still around when so many other games have dropped off the radar. You’ll start the game by, well, surviving — but once you have that solid base in place, you can start to set your sights a little higher. Create a home all your own, and train, tame, and even ride over 80 different dinosaurs.


Fill the Fridge!

There are few games so easily described by their title but Fill the Fridge! is exactly what it sounds like. Fill your fridge with delicious goodies that are currently not in your fridge. Weirdly, dragging your finger along to place goods becomes quite compulsive and fun, and, if you’re anything like us, you’ll find yourself playing for far longer than you’d originally intended. It starts out simply, but levels soon become fiendishly difficult and require some quite precise button presses to accomplish.


Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links

Sitting alongside Pokémon as the childhood game of choice for many people, Yu-Gi-Oh can now be enjoyed on your iPhone or iPad. Duel Links has a strong tutorial in order to teach you the rules, so don’t worry if you’ve never played before, or are a little rusty. There are microtransactions, but they’re not required to progress, and you can get a lot of free cards from playing the in-game events. A good choice if you’re curious about playing a collectible card game, are an existing Yu-Gi-Oh player, or simply want to indulge in some nostalgia.


Mario Kart Tour

Who doesn’t love Mario and his happy band of friends and foes? Mario Kart Tour is the mobile version of the madly popular and decade-spanning Mario Kart series. It’s a simple formula — choose a character and race against other characters, whether A.I.-controlled or player-controlled, and aim to take first place. Win races, collect stars, and unlock new characters, karts, and badges. It’s free to play but has optional paid elements.


Happy Clinic

Looking down at your hospital in Happy Clinic.

This one isn’t for anyone looking to relax. Running a hospital is a stressful business, and no one knows this more than the nurse you play in Happy Clinic. Manage your time to keep the hospital running and improve it, helping out the doctors, preparing medicine, and sending patients to the correct departments. But there’s even more here than just that, including an engaging and dramatic storyline centered around the nurse’s past.


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