The 12 Best Offline iPhone Games of 2021

Games for when you don't have internet access

Whether on a plane or in a waiting room with limited cell phone reception, there are times when you need to pass the time without an internet connection. These are the best offline iPhone games of 2021.

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Best Exploration Game: Alto's Odyssey

screenshot from Alto's Odyssey
What We Like
  • The imagery in this game is amazing.

  • Unlock characters as you continue the game.

  • The game has a "zen mode" which is conducive to promoting relaxation.

  • This game is friendly for all ages of children.

What We Don't Like
  • While there are some nice lighting effects, the visibility in the game can be reduced.

  • Limited action choices can hinder the collection of achievements.

Alto's Odyssey ($2.99) has already won many accolades since its release, including the Apple Design Award for 2018. Alto and his friends enjoy sandboarding. Players can explore a variety of locations, all beautifully illustrated. 

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Best Kids Offline iPhone Game: Toon Blast

Image of Toon Blast in progress one side has multiple pink balloons, the other has stacked blocks with rubber duckies
What We Like
  • The game is cute and visually appealing to children.

  • While the game is aimed at kids, it is challenging enough for adults to enjoy.

  • When you do have an internet connection, you can sync the game between phone and tablet.

What We Don't Like
  • The game syncs through Facebook; that may give parents pause before handing it to kids on a tablet.

  • Some of the levels are hard to the point where you must take advantage of in-app purchases to pass the level.

Toon Blast (Free) is a fun block puzzle game that you can play on or offline, where you tap on a group of blocks to clear them from your screen with various goals and multiple levels. The game is free with the option for in-app purchases.

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Best Numbers Puzzle Game: 2 For 2

Image of several numbers with a line connecting numbers
What We Like
  • The combination of puzzle solving and strategy makes the game more addictive than it would seem at first glance.

  • The game is easy enough to pick up when you have some time you need to kill.

What We Don't Like
  • This isn't the prettiest game in the iTunes store.

  • The ads can get pretty obnoxious after a while.

For those who enjoy puzzle and strategy games, 2 For 2 provides a free highly-addictive gaming option. You need to connect as many dots as you can that have the same numbers before you run out of moves. 

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Best Sports Game: R.B.I. Baseball 18

Screenshot of R.B.I. Baseball 18 with baseball player standing in front of game play happening on a computerized baseball diamond
What We Like
  • The player models feel very realistic, and animations are player-specific.

  • The ballparks have been improved in the game and look great.

  • You can select from over 100 baseball legends for your team.

  • The cost of the game is inclusive, you don't have to make any in-app purchases to get full functionality from the game.

What We Don't Like
  • The statistics aren't as realistic as one might hope.

  • Some of the plays the CPU makes aren't very realistic.

  • Base running can be frustrating.

It's a swing and a hit. R.B.I. Baseball 18 ($4.99) can be played on your iPhone or iPad without connectivity. The game has a new franchise mode that allows you to completely control your team.

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Best Business Management Game: Happy Mall Story

Screenshot of Happy Mall Story with anime girl standing in front of an animated restaurant scene
What We Like
  • The animations for this game are really cute.

  • The game is easy to learn how to play, making it appropriate for kids.

  • The game has enough nuances to make it interesting for adults.

What We Don't Like
  • Be sure to turn off in-app purchases if you're allowing children to play the game so that they don't inadvertently make purchases when they are connected to the internet.

  • Getting the game going can involve a lot of waiting.

Happy Mall Story (free) puts users in charge of a simulated mall. This game can be played offline or on, and players can upgrade their mall as they play. You can play this fun iPhone game offline any time without having to use data.

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Best Drawing Game: 2

Screenshot depicting geometrical shapes on a gray field
What We Like
  • The interface is easy to use.

  • The graphics are aesthetically pleasing.

  • The game is pleasantly challenging.

  • The drawing controls have improved since the original version of

What We Don't Like
  • The game can be somewhat glitchy, causing users to lose land.

  • The ads can get pretty irritating with their frequency. 2 (free) is a fun game that can be played offline. Conquer territory by drawing boundaries. When played offline, your opponents in the game are AI generated. 

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Best Designed Game: Old Man's Journey

Screenshot of sailboat with man on it and blue whale jumping out of the ocean
What We Like
  • The landscapes in this game are truly breathtaking.

  • The puzzles are handcrafted, and they do not have the pressure of time complicating things.

  • The game's soundtrack is equally appealing.

  • The game provides some respite from the everyday world.

What We Don't Like
  • The game can be slow at times.

  • The game doesn't work well on older devices.

Old Man's Journey ($4.99) is a puzzle game that centers on the emotional journey of life. This game has beautiful imagery, won the Apple Design Award and won a French game award - the Emotional Game Award. 

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Best Arcade-Style iPhone Game: Subway Surfers

Image depicts individual on top of a subway train with animated coins in front of her.
What We Like
  • The game is really easy to play. Not only do you get tips on how to move, but the gameplay is intuitive to users.

  • Because this game has regular updates, you don't get bored with it. There's always something new to do, whether it's a new daily challenge or a seasonal update to the game.

  • The game is free.

What We Don't Like
  • While the game is free, the in-app purchases are almost necessary for upgrades that improve the playability of the game.

Subway Surfers is an arcade-style iPhone game that's a lot of fun. While it's been around for a while, there are many recent updates that make it a lasting favorite. Updates can make or break a game, and the updates for Subway Surfers definitely help to make the game last.  

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Best Off-The-Wall Game: Swamp Attack

Screenshot from Swamp Attack with guy sitting on the porch of a dilapidated house surrounded by crocodiles and a swamp.
What We Like
  • Change between weapons easily by tapping the screen.

  • There are over 390 levels to move through, meaning you'll be kept busy for some time.

  • Use over 30 different tools to defend your home against 45 different monsters.

  • The game is free.

What We Don't Like
  • The in-app purchases can get pretty expensive, and not using them can make the game more difficult.

  • It takes a while for life span to recharge once it runs out.

Swamp Attack is probably one of the most off-the-wall yet fun games for the iPhone. The point of the game is to defend your home and swamp from the creatures that are out there - crocodiles, zombies, aliens, and monsters - with a variety of weapons - including flamethrowers. 

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Best Picture Puzzle Game: 4 Pics 1 Word

Screenshot of 4 Pics 1 Word depicting four images with water and tiles spelling out "water."
What We Like
  • The game is regularly updated with new puzzles so it doesn't get stale.

  • The game doesn't require registration.

  • The game can build concentration skills and one's ability to focus on details and make connections between objects.

What We Don't Like
  • The pop-up ads can be pretty obnoxious, but if they are bothering you, you can pay $1.99 for the ad-free version.

4 Pics 1 Word  is a fun free picture puzzle game that's appropriate for all ages. Players view four images and try to guess the one word that unites the images. While it's not the most challenging game available, it's addictive, and can be used as a vocabulary builder for younger players. 

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Best Simple Yet Challenging Game: Flow Free

Screenshot of Free Flow game end with brightly colored geometrical shapes in the background
What We Like
  • This addictive game is perfect for waiting rooms or those moments before a board meeting when you want to recharge your brain.

  • Labels are available for those who are color impaired.

  • Developers regularly release updates that change the game up slightly, so players don't run out of variety.

What We Don't Like
  • The in-game pop-ups are disruptive, and you can't exit out of the ad until you've watched the entire thing.

Flow Free is a very simple but addictive free puzzle game. Don't let it's user-interface fool you: as you go up in levels in the game, they can get quite challenging. 

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Best Hidden Objects Game: Criminal Case

Screenshot of scene from Criminal Case depicting a mess in a yard with a tricycle in the street
What We Like
  • The game has a high addiction level; you want to keep playing to see what happens next.

  • There are plenty of scenes to play and investigate.

  • If you're playing the game to pass time, this game makes that time pass quickly.

  • Free

What We Don't Like
  • Once you run out of energy, it can take a while for it to recharge.

  • In-app purchases are a bit in-your-face, and it can be difficult and time-consuming to advance without using them.

Hidden object games are a lot of fun and can be quite addictive. Criminal Case is one such game. In the game, you join the police department to solve murder cases by searching a variety of scenes. 

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