Why are mobile puzzle games addicting to the mind?


Apple Arcade does everything differently. For Macs from macOS 10.15 Catalina, for iPhones from iOS 13, for Apple TV from tvOS 13 and above all for iPads from iPadOS 13. For five euros a month you have unlimited access to around 100 titles, new ones are added every week. The iPad is no less than the ideal device for games, as it combines the best of many worlds. There is the large screen compared to the iPhone and the high mobility that the TV and iMac do not offer. Touch operation is the method of choice for many games, but the iPad can also handle game controllers. And if you are looking for the ideal device to get started with Apple's gaming world, you will probably find it in the tablet as well. The iPad 7, which was only introduced in September, offers itself with its almost unsurpassed price-performance ratio.

As a mobile console, the Apple tablet is almost unbeatable, the metal graphics layer has helped bring more sophisticated graphics to iOS devices. Bonus: Thanks to the support of the Apple Pencil, all current iPads are not only suitable for consuming games and media, but also for creative work.

But no matter what you do with the iPad as a full-time job, thanks to the long battery life and the large screen, it is ideally suited for great gaming in between. At home on the sofa, on the train or in the waiting room there is always a suitable game app, even outside of the arcade offer. Many titles are designed to only play for a few minutes and then to put the iPad away again, only to pick it up again a short time later. The games must also be adapted to these requirements and especially to the touchscreen controls.

In the following picture gallery we have listed the games that keep grabbing us and that we can hardly get enough of. Warning, risk of addiction!

  1. Table tennis touch
    Table Tennis Touch by Yakuto conjures up the right table tennis atmosphere on our iPad display. In addition to simple serves above the table tennis table, there are also those that are professionally thrown up behind the table and only then hit in a targeted manner. In the free mode (fast game) you play against opponents of different degrees of difficulty, with the better ones you are of course very quickly behind, and the mini-games can also be trained (arcade). In the career mode, on the other hand, you learn to develop your skill level in club, national and finally international meetings, sometimes with challenging mini-games, through which you collect the reputation (points) you need for the next levels. The boost mode is helpful, as it allows our racket to act better and faster for a limited time than if the rubber had been changed. If this supply of boosts is used up, you can buy new ones in the app with hard euros or optionally watch shorter game trailers - which is only limited fun. Without it, you can only progress in the higher league with a lot of effort and training. In theory, you can even act as a multiplayer, but to do this you have to find opponents in your own home network. Unfortunately, this does not work over the Internet. Table Tennis Touch is certainly not one hundred percent realistic in its game mechanics, but its possibilities such as smashing, spin, "real" serve and other things are quite close - above all, it is a lot of fun, whether in singles, in tournaments or with mini-games.
  2. Inside
    Inside by Playdead is a side scroller from left to right, similar to its predecessor Limbo. There is a bit more color in Inside, but you are confronted with an extremely gloomy, post-apocalyptic scenario and have to solve puzzles of varying degrees of difficulty. You have to beware of guards, watch dogs or drones in order not to be killed in an extremely brutal way. This is animated quite drastically, especially since our character is a boy. Despite some annoyances with the operation, especially with time-critical tasks, Inside is a relatively short but extremely intense dystopian game that should not be missed on the iPad. The ending leaves the player quite perplexed, but maybe that just calls for a sequel that we would like to see with a little tweaking of the touch controls. The beginning of the game is free, but then you have to pay a sumptuous eight euros. Nevertheless, these are worthwhile if you catch fire after the first few minutes.
  3. Homo machina
    The human being as a machine, that was the motto of the Jewish doctor and pioneer of the infographic Dr. Fritz Kahn (1888 - 1968), which was playfully implemented in Homo Machina by Arte. The game is wonderfully nostalgic, as it was drawn in the 1920s, and offers puzzles in several chapters in which we have to find out mechanisms and processes so that perception, haptics, digestion and movements work and more, including flirting and dancing. The solutions to the bizarre puzzles are often not obvious. But you can get it done with patience and trial-and-error. From a medical point of view, you will probably learn very little about the human body in this game - but it is extremely entertaining and perhaps motivates to take a look at a medicine book to see how things "really" work in your own body. The game is available in the App Store at a price of 3.49 euros, the download is just under 600 MB in size, assuming at least iOS 10.0.
  4. Alto's Odyssey
    As the successor to Alto’s Adventure, Alto’s Odyssey from indie developer Snowman is presented. This is based on the same principle as before - the board travels at an ever faster pace over hills, chasms and dangerous obstacles in the middle of the path, this time instead of ice through sandy desert, dunes and gorges. In addition, beautifully made weather changes from clear sun to rainstorms underlaid with lightning and impressive starry skies are a delight. There are also many exciting new challenges, including hot air balloons that you can hop on, temple ruins and tornadoes, waterways and waterfalls, and huge walls at the edge of the route that you can use skillfully to get really high, the famous backflips to perform at dizzying heights and other things more. The graphics have been visibly pepped up and are now even more beautiful, while being simple enough not to distract. Because even if you only have to operate with one finger, as before, the obstacles such as boulders or chasms often enough come out of nowhere. There are also different characters in the course of the game and additional gadgets such as the wing suit or the special springboard for the high walls, if you have collected enough points or coins. No question about it - Alto’s Odyssey is also highly addictive, you want to get through this and, if possible, the next level with new missions as quickly as possible in order to still master new challenges. A few more pictures can be found in our small gallery. Alto’s Odyssey is available from iOS 10.0 for 4.49 euros. Alto’s Odyssey in the App Store https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/altos-odyssey/id1182456409?mt=8
  5. The Room: Old Sins
    The sudden disappearance of an ambitious engineer and his society wife leads to the hunt for a precious artifact. The trail leads to the attic of your house and to the discovery of an old, strange doll's house ... This is what the game description from developer Fireproof Games says. But to be honest, this background is almost irrelevant compared to the fantastic game events on the iPad's display. As before, one has to deal with extremely strange but original equipment, around the aforementioned "doll's house" must be given access to various, very lovingly and detailed rooms, such as the kitchen or the curiosity room, and finally the respective artefacts and find the null element. Operation using simple gestures such as double tapping and zooming is intuitive as usual, and a clear inventory is also included. A secret eyepiece, with which you can penetrate objects and solve additional 3-D puzzles, is again on board, as well as short scenes with real actors and a few eerie interludes (to the picture gallery). The puzzles are of course noticeably more complicated than their predecessors, but the integrated tips help in an emergency, which can be optionally connected and usually lead to the goal if you get stuck. If you play through the lavishly designed adventure with a dense atmosphere, you will spend many exciting and challenging hours on your iPad. A must for fans of the predecessor and friends of the well-kept computer puzzle game in general. The game from iOS 10.0 or later requires 1.1 GB of storage space and costs 5.49 euros in the App Store.
  6. Alto's Adventure
    The developers of Snowman promise endless snowboarding pleasure in their snow racing game "Alto's Adventure". At some insane speed and high above the piste, you race towards the next level, perform tricky somersaults and combos, avoid nasty obstacles or ride on lines stretched high over the snow. Over time, thanks to the points you have collected, you will receive additional aids such as a wing suit or you can use characters with different properties. The route is a bit monotonous overall, it only changes a little, even within the level, when you have to start all over again. The weather effects are very nice, sometimes light, sometimes dark, sometimes sun, sometimes snow or rain. We would have imagined the background music to be a bit more varied, but it's okay. The game is indeed as the developer describes it: easy to learn, but sometimes difficult to master. But also due to the very intuitive control - you only tap for jumps or backflips - the game is extremely addictive, according to the motto: there's still one round ... "Alto's Adventure" is available for 2.29 euros from iOS 9.0 and also for Apple TV in the App Store.
  7. Thimbleweed Park
    The pixel adventure about the two FBI investigators Rey and Reyes impresses with its retro look and content. In this classic point-and-click adventure, in 1987, we find ourselves in the stuffy little town of Thimbleweed Park with some very bizarre guys, and we are investigating a corpse in the local river. The game is controlled deliberately, as in the earliest days of computer games. Although people run across the screen with a tap, there are otherwise commands to be tapped such as: ”Open. Take. Look Speech ”and more. The puzzles, which can be selected from two levels of difficulty, are sometimes quite demanding, the paths are sometimes a bit long. Nevertheless, Thimbleweed Park guarantees many hours of fun on the iPad. In return, the price of 11 euros seems just reasonable to us. From iOS 9 you are there. Our detailed game description can be found here.
  8. The House of Da Vinci
    In the game we encounter some of the drawings and real constructions by Leonardo da Vinci, others are only derived from them or are fictitious. The background to our efforts as adventurers in the time of Leonardo is that the master has disappeared after a revolutionary invention and we follow riddles and clues in order to track down and save him again. We use the touch display to move through the rooms, devices and mechanisms that are touched and operated just as intuitively, occasionally we read texts by Leonardo that he left for us with further tips. An inventory for important items often offers combination options. Most of the time you are looking for some kind of key or object that you need to activate other chests, cupboards or mysterious mechanisms. Once one room has been completely resolved, the next one. This is done with impressive tracking shots. A special feature of the game is the “Oculi infinitum”, a kind of lens that we can slide and use in two directions: At the top it shows hidden instructions on how to move and set up switches, similar to The Room. When pushed down, we look into the past in order to also bring switches or objects into the correct position. This brings additional fun and excitement to the adventure. The puzzles are easy at first, but the level of difficulty increases significantly. An integrated help system provides information if required. Overall, The House of Da Vinci is not too much of a challenge for adventure fans. But one thing is clear: if you love games like The Room, you will also like The House of Da Vinci. From a graphic point of view, you will hardly find a better adventure game on the iPad at the moment. You can read our detailed review of the game here. The House of Da Vinci runs from iOS 8.3 and costs 5.49 euros.
  9. Mr Future Ninja
    In a total of 19 levels, the exciting task is to free your own clan from the hands of a malicious cooperation. They reside in a futuristic skyscraper and want to clone their own ninjas in order to sell them as mindless slaves via a service called Mr Future Ninja. Before that, they want to carry out experiments on the kidnapped clan members. So it is high time to work and fight your way through the partly gloomy, partly brightly colored floors and levels. Robots of all kinds stand in our way and naturally want to destroy us. So we have to use our own strength, such as shooting power, to temporarily paralyze opponents or to remotely control buttons and switches, or to open passages, for example. You can also jump over chasms or secretly put robots to sleep from behind. Sneaking past the dangers and enemies in a stealth fashion is often an excellent idea too. Everything is very pretty and appealingly animated and staged by the developer Appsolute Games. While you operate your virtual joystick at the bottom left of the screen to run and for the directions of movement, the respective powers of the three ninjas in the course of the game are used at the bottom right of the display. The quick change and the exact movement are not always easy, this requires some practice. If you can handle it, you have an entertaining and sometimes challenging game on the iPad or iPhone, which of course costs EUR 3.49 from iOS 8.0. The download is about 300 MB.
  10. Framed 2
    Framed 1 and 2 In an interactive comic game you help an agent to move through lighter or more complex picture frames (panels) in the correct order so that they can escape dangers such as police officers, dogs or other obstacles. The level of difficulty is quite different, especially in the second part, there are also rotatable panels that have to be moved depending on the time so that the solution works. The comic style is artistically excellent, in the second part there are also smaller cutscenes that tell a short story. But that is ultimately only a minor matter - in principle, Framed is an innovative game idea. How quickly you get through with it depends on how quickly you recognize the solution. We didn't find it quite as simple as it is sometimes described. It is definitely fun, although you wish, for example, that you could play the set sequences of images for testing faster than at the specified standard tempo. And the apps from developer Loveshack are not that cheap either - the original iOS game costs 4.50 euros, while Framed 2 is only available for 5.49 euros over the digital counter. But both also run on the Apple TV. The prerequisite is iOS 7.0 or higher for part one, the successor requires at least iOS 9.0. Definitely worth a recommendation for tinkerers. Framed on the App Store
  11. Monument Valley 2
    The second edition of the iOS game also offers graphically impressive, but perspective-physically often impossible spatial constructions that are otherwise only known from the world of the artist M. C. Escher. In Monument Valley 2 you sometimes control two characters, a mother and / or the child on a journey of self-discovery. Part 2 is also beautifully designed again. It is mysterious in colorful to dark sections, but the puzzles are overall easier than in the previous one. When trying to offer a profound story, the developer doesn't always have the best hand for our taste - some of the advice given in writing in the game seems too intentional and has an esoteric touch (example: "Separate paths can be part of the same journey" and other things more in this kind …). The rather short net playing time was around two hours for us. Overall, Monument Valley 2 is a very relaxing, beautiful game to look at, the shallow story of which you immediately forgot. Apart from that, part 2 of the indie adventure from Ustwo Games is also a must for game tinkerers on iPhone and iPad - from iOS 9 and for 5.49 euros
  12. The Inner World
    The Inner World is a hand-drawn 2D adventure game by Studio Fizbin that runs flawlessly on the iPad and offers numerous dialogues and sometimes tricky puzzles.In the strange world of Asposia we are on the road as court musician Robert to save the wind wells, to appease the wind gods and to face all kinds of adventures and challenges with the mysterious thief Laura. Because of its diversity, it is not always easy to maintain an overview. An internal help system does not let the player down. Attention: So far, The Inner World has not been updated for future iOS versions in 64-bit mode. From September 2017, such apps are in danger of not being able to start anymore. So, play while you can. Unfortunately, this also affects other apps from our database such as Love & Hate HD or Score. After all, and as a consolation, The Inner World Part 2 is already in development and should also appear this year for iOS devices based on the more modern Unity engine. The current version of the game requires over two GB of free space on the iPad, is also available in German and requires at least iOS 6.0. The price for this is 3 euros.
  13. Agent Alice
    Agent Alice from the Berlin developer Wooga, which can be downloaded free of charge from the App Store, belongs to the hidden object category. This plays nicely retro in the sixties and presents one cliché after the other. But that is precisely what is wonderful about it! The hand-painted backgrounds and the almost stencil-like figures go perfectly with the simple crime cases with a mystery touch. Smaller puzzles and short video cutscenes create an additional atmosphere, but most of the time you spend the time on different hidden objects in numerous locations, for example in the hospital, in a prison in the cell or on the guard, at various crime scenes outside or inside. Some objects are really very difficult to find, but there is an optional notification system. It is great that when you visit a hidden object again, objects change there and you then have to start looking again from scratch. New cases are published weekly. And again and again it is important to collect reference points, virtual money and energy in order to unlock the next case, hidden objects or dialogues. If you play very quickly and need help or don't want to wait, you can also purchase additional play money as well as energy and reference points via in-app purchase. This is of course not cheap, it starts at just under two euros with the starter package. So far we haven't needed it ourselves, but if in doubt, we just had patience and waited until new search tips etc. were added automatically - even as a daily “reward” when you start the app. Conclusion: Agent Alice is particularly suitable for playing in between and is a lot of fun. In addition, it can be switched into many languages, so that it can actually be used for playful learning or deepening of everyday objects or unusual objects in English, Spanish, Italian, etc., provided that you have a basic knowledge of the respective language.
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