Are you hamstrung by a limited data plan? Does your commute take you underground? Either way, you have your reasons for being offline sometimes, but that doesn’t mean you have to be bored while stuck without internet.
Your iPhone and/or iPad are powerful gaming devices, and you don’t even need access to the internet to enjoy using them. This is thanks to the iOS games you can play offline, and these are the best offline games for iOS.
1. Alto’s Adventure
Alto’s Adventure is the infinite runner that’ll help you get your skiing fix. Take control of Alto and ski down the slopes of the Andes, picking up coins and avoiding obstacles in the process. Use touch controls to make Alto jump or grind, and rack up points by performing tricks. The entire game plays offline, so enjoy your Andean adventure from your subway car.
Download: Alto’s Adventure ($4.99)
2. Alto’s Odyssey
The sequel to Alto’s Adventure, Alto’s Odyssey, keeps everything you liked about the original and adds a little more. New characters, new locations, new music and a few new mechanics make this game feel more like an expansion than a true sequel. Still, if you love Adventure, you’ll love Odyssey too.
Download: Alto’s Odyssey ($4.99)
3. Monument Valley
Have you ever seen one of those impossible paintings by M.C. Escher and wanted to explore them? That’s the entire premise of Monument Valley.
You play as Ro, a little girl wandering through colorful buildings and solving intricate puzzles. Your primarily tool is your ability to change the perspective of the screen, which unlocks new paths.
The beautiful visuals and mysterious setting make this game one of the most thrilling and immersive experiences you can have on your phone, and you can play it entirely offline. You might never need to use the internet again.
Download: Monument Valley ($3.99, in-app purchases available)
4. Monument Valley 2
In the sequel to Monument Valley, you play as Ro’s daughter, navigating the world on a quest to find her. The concept is essentially the same, but the visuals are much more striking, the puzzle-solving much more subtle and nuanced. The beauty of the graphics really shines on a bigger screen, which makes these installments two of the best offline iPad games.
Download: Monument Valley 2 ($4.99)
You’re a gooey black ball that just wants to not die. BADLAND is a challenging puzzle game that sends your character through a world of dangerous traps and hazards.
Use touch controls to keep your ball afloat, while you watch out for the spinning blades, pointy spikes, and other dangers that will shred it to bits. Various pickups in the world can turn you bigger, smaller, multiply you, and more.
The challenging gameplay will suck you in. The creepy music and beautiful gothic visuals will keep you coming back. There is a local multiplayer component, but all gameplay can be experienced offline.
Download: BADLAND ($0.99)
6. BADLAND 2
BADLAND 2 adds some new mechanics, in particular to move your character both left and right, which takes off some of the pressure. The essence of the game remains, however. There is a light online multiplayer mode, but like its predecessor this game really shines offline, on your iPhone, alone with headphones and immersed in the experience.
Download: BADLAND 2 ($0.99)
This inventive puzzle game is like a mix of Tetris and Sudoku. The rules are simple. You have a 7×7 grid, filled with balls that are either all white or have numbers on them, one through seven.
Whenever a numbered ball is in a column or a row with the same number of balls as it features, it clears. If it clears next to a white ball, the white ball cracks, then breaks to reveal a numbered ball.
The goal, like Tetris, is to not lose by having the balls go over the top, and to rack up points while doing it. It’s simple, but endlessly challenging fun. Everything but the leaderboards can be experienced offline.
Download: Drop7 (Free)
8. Mini Metro
Another puzzle game with a beautiful interface, Mini Metro lets you build your own mass transit system. Using maps of real world cities, you can draw your own lines connecting different stations.
You have a limited amount of lines and trains and an ever-increasing number of stations, so you have to place things wisely. If people end up waiting too long at any one station, you lose.
The maps and the layout are simple and beautiful, with an aesthetic that is similar to the minimalist transit maps found in major cities.
Download: Mini Metro ($3.99)
9. Civilization VI
Civilization VI, the latest installment of the epic world strategy game, is finally available on iOS. Civilization VI is the latest installment of the longtime franchise where you, as the leader of your people, try to rule the world throughout history.
Using real world leaders, place names, and historical monuments, Civ is a turn-based game that takes hours but is easy to play in quick chunks of time. This makes it perfect for iOS.
Although you can engage in local and online multiplayer, an offline AI campaign is more than enough fun for a long subway or plane ride.
If Civilization VI doesn’t appeal, there are other ways to play Civilization on your phone.
Download: Civilization VI (Free, in-app purchases available)
10. Stardew Valley
Another port from PC to iOS, Stardew Valley lets you get away from it all and run your own farm in a small town.
Beautiful 8-bit graphics, simple, non-competitive gameplay and strangely compelling dungeon crawling make this game one of the best ways to spend a long subway ride. When city life is getting you down, escape to Pelican Town where all you have to do is harvest the pumpkins on time.
Download: Stardew Valley ($7.99)
11. New York Times Crossword
The New York Times Crossword, edited by Will Shortz, is the gold standard of daily puzzles. Get access to the latest one every day, as well as the entire archive of past crosswords with the New York Times Crossword app.
In addition to the puzzles themselves, the app has a number of other features. Keep track of your streaks on the Stats page, go through the Archive to do puzzles from the past, or buy packs of special crosswords.
You can either subscribe to the New York Times Digital Subscription, or get a Crossword subscription separately. If you don’t subscribe, you’ll only have access to the daily Mini crossword, which is a treat in and of itself but nowhere near as fun as a full puzzle.
While internet access is needed to download new crosswords, an unlimited number of them can be kept offline for playing later.
Download: New York Times Crossword (Free, in-app purchases available)
12. Ticket to Ride
The award winning board game now fits in your pocket.
Ticket to Ride makes you and your friends railroad barons, competing to be the first ones to link up the country by train. The graphics stay true to the original board game, down to the virtual train cards you draw and put in your hand.
You can play in Pass-And-Play mode, which lets you take your turn and pass it to your friends in front of you, but it is also the perfect game to play in solo mode. Each game takes fifteen to twenty minutes, perfect for passing the time on a real-life train trip.
Download: Ticket to Ride ($4.99, in-app purchases available)
What Are Your Favorite Offline iPhone Games?
While we’ve covered some of the best games you can enjoy offline on iOS, these are just a small selection of the iOS games worth playing.
If you want to game offline on your iPhone but still have fun with your friends, we recommend these fun iPhone party games to play in person.
And if you’re looking for more ways to save data, use these tips to reduce your mobile data usage.