Run-based games are nothing new, but they’re in a bit of a heyday thanks to big releases like Dead Cells and Into the Breach on Switch. Run-based games are really great for mobile, because they provide a lot of depth and satisfying gameplay in a relatively bite-sized package that’s purposely designed for you to play over and over and over again.
Although you might not be able to play Dead Cells or Into the Breach on your phone or tablet (yet), there are still a bunch of great run-based games on iOS to play. Check out our picks for the best run-based games below:
Invisible, Inc. - download for iOS
Invisible, Inc. is a turn-based strategy game where you control a small team of hackers as they infiltrate evil megacorps to take them down from the inside. Beating Invisible, Inc. may only take a few hours, but once you’ve cleared the game once, the rest of it really opens up.
Trying to take on the same kinds of missions with different teams of characters and using different difficulty settings is all part of the fun. As you keep completing runs, you’ll also unlock new characters and hacking powers to make sure that each of your runs gives you something new to do each time you start a new game.
Neon Chrome - download for iOS
This cyberpunk shooter revolves entirely around making your character stronger each time you die. This “loop-based” gameplay is what qualifies Neon Chrome as a run-based game.
With a tight set of controls (not to mention flawless MFi controller support) and deep set of skills, upgrades, and weapons for you to unlock, it’s always fun to dive back into Neon Chrome, even after you’ve cleared the main game. What’s more is the game also has a DLC called Arena that adds even more replayability to what’s already a great run-based game.
Dungeon of the Endless - download for iOS
Part tower defense, part rpg, and part survival game, Dungeon of the Endless is perhaps one of the most unusual run-based games out there. Don’t let that dissuade you though. There’s a ton to love about this game, not the least of which is its procedurally-generated dungeon-crawling action, which promises to give you new experience each time you play.
It’s also worth noting that Dungeon of the Endless is just a really polished package. The game’s pixel art, music, writing, and overall style just make it a game you want to return to again and again, even after you’ve unlocked all of its characters and modes.
Death Road to Canada - download for iOS
As a game modeled somewhat after what is arguably the most popular run-based game, The Oregon Trail, Rocketcat’s Death Road to Canada is easily among the best games in this genre on the App Store.
In this game, you start with a humble group of survivors in the fallout of the zombie apocalypse, and it’s your mission to get from Florida to Canada (where zombies apparently so much of a problem). Along the way, you need to make stops for supplies, fight off bandits, recruit new squadmates, and more, and it’s a heck of a good time, thanks mostly to how many different ways things can go wrong for you. Pick this game up if you have some nostalgia for The Oregon Trail or want a bit of a more light-hearted run-based experience.
FTL - download for iOS
Long-heralded as the ultimate mobile game for its nearly endless replayability, FTL is the most obvious choice to make this list. It’s for good reason, too. Playing as the commander of a space vessel as it barrels through space on the run from enemy forces is an appealing concept, and the folks over at Subset Games really figured out how to make that concept work.
It may be more punishing than other run-based games, but considering FTL is designed for you to play it repeatedly, dying doesn’t feel like such a huge punishment. If you want something close to the design sensibilities of Into the Breach, this is your best bet.
Kingdom: New Lands - download for iOS
Speaking of punishing titles, Kingdom: New Lands is the run-based game to pick up if you’re a seasoned player looking for a formidable challenge. In it, you play as a king who must build up a town and fortifications before you and your people get overrun by otherworldly demons. Everything in the game moves in real time, so much of this game revolves around learning how to optimize your time in preparation for each attack.
Kingdom is a really tough game and it’s got a pretty steep learning curve, but if you’re up to the task of learning its ins and outs, it can also be one of the most satisfying run-based games out there.