Halloween Buyers Guide

Image courtesy of halloweenclipart.com

The approach of Halloween has been making us wax nostalgic for all the spooky iOS games we’ve covered so far in 2011. And then we realized that we’ve covered a lot of spooky games — so many that it’s worth writing up an article to remind our readers about them, just in case you’re haunting the App Store in search of a game that fits the season! Here’s our ranking of over twenty spine-tingling iOS games we’ve reviewed throughout the year. Note that we’re saving The Dark Meadow for Halloween, but you can check out a 15-minute gameplay video if you’re looking for more references there in the meantime.

Our ranking here is primarily based on review score and original non-sale price, because a higher-priced game has to do more to impress us than a lower-priced one. This is hardly a perfect system since it’s pretty clear many developers sell themselves short in terms of price tier for competition’s sake, and we’ve done some less-than-scientific shuffling to honor that. Nevertheless, if your favorite game is lower on the ranking in this article than you think it should be, or you know of a cool Halloween-ish game not listed, give it a deserving shout-out in the comments section!  

#1. Deathsmiles
Genres: Side-scroller, Shoot ’em Up
[xrr rating=4.5/5]

This “Gothic Horror Shooter” ported from the Xbox 360 to iOS instantly captured Tim Harvey’s heart, packing in so much quality that it justified the price range, and its top position in our Halloween Buyer’s Guide! From Tim’s review: “Though not without some kinks due to its fit on an iPhone’s screen and the way that level design punishes those with large hands, Deathsmiles is another triple-A effort from CAVE that will have you feverishly replaying its two game modes many times over if you’re interested in bolstering your position on its Game Center leaderboards.  A must-have title for arcade-action fans and a no-brainer for lovers of side-scrolling shoot’em ups, even at its premium price.”

#2. Dead Space
Genres: Action Adventure, Third Person Shooter, Survival Horror
[xrr rating=5/5]

iFanzine Editor Ruan Shiels sums it up nicely: “Dead Space’s fusing Triple-A production values with genuinely unnerving atmospherics and stylish, R-rated violence results in a staggeringly brilliant title that stays faithful to the series’ roots while bringing iOS gaming to a whole new level. A masterpiece, a must-have and without a doubt this reviewer’s new favorite game. EA have raised the bar, now let’s hope more big-name developers and publishers follow suit!” Read the full review here.

#3. Mission Europa
Action RPG, First Person Shooter
[xrr rating=4/5]

The creepiness in this content-packed, sci-fi genre mashup subtly begins with the opening imagery of astronauts posed like Egyptian sarcophagi while in stasis. And then the creepiness gets a whole lot less subtle from that point on! From Sean’s review: “Clearly a winner for Action RPG and First Person Shooter fans who are feeling adventurous enough to try a good genre mashup. It’s got more meat on the bones than you can shake a pulse rifle at, so the bang for the consumer’s buck is of astronomical proportions here; just keep in mind one playthrough could last a good month unless you’re able to bury yourself as deep as whatever awaits at the bottom of Europa’s mines.” So if you buy this one on Halloween, just be sure to tell your next of kin that you’ll see them again on Thanksgiving.

#4. Zombie Minesweeper
Zombies (duh), Minesweeper (duh), Logic Puzzle, Action Adventure, Shoot ’em Up
[xrr rating=4.5/5]

Was this not the most ingenious game idea ever? From Sean’s review: “A hybrid of light action and Minesweeper-style puzzles that reaches the intensity needed to appeal to just about anyone — casual and hardcore gamer alike. If you’re in the mood for something that’s fun and eclectic without taking itself too seriously, consider Zombie Minesweeper one of the more compelling fish in the sea of App Store offerings.”

#5. Devil May Cry 4 refrain
Action Adventure
[xrr rating=3.5/5]

When Sean initially heard about this one, the first words out of his mouth were something like, “ZOMG! How did Capcom get all of Devil May Cry 4 onto an iPod?” The answer, of course, was that they didn’t quite mean to do that in the first place, hence the “refrain” tacked onto the title. Still a very enjoyable game at its high price range, though! From the review: “The porting process undeniably stripped Devil May Cry 4 refrain of the presentational charm it needs to compete directly with the most impressive games made exclusively for iOS, but Capcom’s dedication to providing an interface that’s up to the task proves that complex action games can be pulled off handily on a touchscreen. Highly recommended for Action game vets on the lookout for deep battle systems, reliable and moddable controls, and lots of replay value. If you fit that description you shouldn’t be disappointed.”