The best free iPhone games of 2019

Our favorite free iPhone logic tests, path-finding challenges, bridge builders, and turn-based puzzlers.

(Image credit: Future)

XOB

XOB describes itself as a kinetic puzzle game with a psychedelic poetic aesthetic. It’s certainly nailed the psychedelic part – its visuals are an arresting mix of low-fi TV fuzz, color-cycling, and chunky shapes.

Fortunately, the game’s not merely visually arresting – the puzzling bit has a lot going for it, too. The aim is to grab a bunch of collectables before reaching a goal. To do so, you drag to tilt the entire landscape. Land on a ceiling, and everything flips. Pathfinding therefore requires precision and thought.

The game exudes confidence from every pore. Also, it has one of the most user-friendly ad models in existence. You’ll never see more than 24, and you can watch them all in one go, if you like, for a subsequently permanently ad-free experience. Nice.

Invaders 2048

Invaders 2048 is, as its name might suggest, a mash-up of arcade classic Space Invaders, and tile-sliding mobile phenomenon 2048. Usually, we wouldn’t be recommending a 2048 game, given that it’s a massive rip-off of the far superior Threes!, but Invaders 2048 does plenty to differentiate itself.

As ever, you merge tiles by sliding matching pairs together, doubling their face values. Above, alien craft lurk menacingly. At any point, you can unleash your numbers as missiles, depleting your foes’ energy reserves. 

Invaders 2048 is rounds-based, and so the challenges and pace are shaken up as you play. And because levels are short, it’s a super little title to dip into for a few minutes, rather than requiring hours of your life, as Threes! quite often does.

Friday the 13th: Killer Puzzle

Friday the 13th: Killer Puzzle is more or less classic sliding puzzler Sokoban infused with South Park-style humor, and dressed in the garb of a famous horror series.

As horror icon Jason Voorhees, you slide around each tiny scene to capture campers, cops, inmates, and more besides. On grabbing them, you’re greeted to a splattering of cartoon gore, while the levitating decapitated undead head of your mother offers sagely advice.

This could so easily have been a gimmicky release, but Friday the 13th: Killer Puzzle gets everything right. The puzzles are smartly designed, forcing you to find labyrinthine paths to targets; there’s a sense of progression as you unlock new worlds; and the dark sense of humor at the heart of the game gives it a real sense of character.

A Way to Slay

A Way to Slay is a game of epic sword fights reimagined as time-attack turn-based puzzling. You begin each round surrounded by enemies eager to separate your head from your shoulders. A quick double-tap on any of them and you strike with a killing blow – but then your opponents get their chance to move, and if you’re too near one of them, your innards end up sprayed across the sparse landscape.

Assuming you don’t mind quite a lot of ‘red’ as you go about solving its challenges, A Way to Slay proves itself to be a novel take on turn-based puzzling. And even though your view’s more limited on an iPhone than an iPad, you can use gestures to pan and zoom the screen like you’re directing your very own stabby Hollywood epic.

King Rabbit

King Rabbit has some unorthodox enemies. Having kidnapped his rabbit subjects, said foes have dotted them about grid-based worlds they’ve filled with meticulously designed traps.

Mostly, this one is a think-ahead puzzler, with loads of Sokoban-style box sliding. But instead of being purely turn-based fare, King Rabbit adds tense swipe-based arcade sections, with you running from scary creatures armed with rabbit-filleting weaponry.

Really, this isn’t anything you won’t have seen before, but King Rabbit rules through its execution. Visually, everything’s very smart, from the clear, colorful backgrounds to the wonderfully animated hero (and the little jig he does on rescuing a chum). But the puzzles are the real heroes, offering a perfect balance of immediacy and brain-scratching.

Moveless Chess

There’s a bit of cheating going on in Moveless Chess. Although your opponent plays a standard game, you’re some kind of wizard and apparently don’t want the hassle of moving pieces.

Instead, you’ve limited action points, which are used to transform pieces you already have on the board. (So, for example, with three points, you can cunningly change a pawn into a knight.) The aim remains a game-winning checkmate, and, presumably, avoiding the ire of your non-magic opponent.

It’s chess as a puzzler, then, and with a twist that’ll even make veterans of the game stop and think about how to proceed at any given moment.

After all, when you get deep into the game’s challenges, you might find wizarding powers don’t always make for a swift win when you can’t move your pieces.

Cubway

Cubway is an abstract logic test that challenges you to reach the goal in dozens of scenes. Your little red square simply has to get past objects that block its path and respond to its presence in different ways.

This would all be a lot easier if you could move freely, but you’re limited to moving forward or backward. Solutions therefore involve precisely when to move – and in what direction. Often, you perform a kind of dance, moving a little way on, stopping for a moment, moving back a bit, an then continuing. It’s a fresh, inventive take on logic tests, and the aesthetics provide a real sense of atmosphere and artistry.

Mekorama

Mekorama finds a little robot ambling about mechanical dioramas, trying to reach a goal. It’s a tactile game, where you spin the tiny world with a finger, tap to direct the android, and sometimes urge it on by using a lift, or flinging it across the screen with a pulley system.

It’s a ponderous game but that suits the aesthetic. There’s polish and consideration in every moment that deserves to be breathed in. Also, it’s a very generous game, from how it always provides several levels to tackle, to the built-in construction kit when you’ve finished all the built-in challenges and fancy creating some of your own. If you enjoy your time in Mekorama, do fling the creator some (entirely optional) IAP.