Best of 2011!
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AshTurn-based "Japanese" style RPGs have a sort of love-em-or-hate-em reputation with gamers, but if you're a fan you'll definitely want to check out this indie title, especially if you're looking for something remarkably well-written. Ash follows a pair of mercenaries who stumble across something ancient and deadly in a mine below an unassuming country town, and wind up on a quest that will unearth their own secrets and potentially save the world in the process. Despite some repetitive grinding to the combat, Ash shines in its witty dialogue and memorable characters, and a recent update even added original art on top of extra fixes. If RPGs are your thing, you'd be silly not to check out this fantastic iOS exclusive.

Deadly Dungeons RPGRole playing games on mobile platforms have traditionally been hit and miss. Deadly Dungeons is a hit, and it accomplishes that by sticking to the genre's retro roots, focusing on still screen first person gameplay, and layering old school charm on top of every pixel. Exploration and item management take center stage in this grim fantasy world, and even though you won't find anything groundbreaking in Deadly Dungeons, you'll be marvelously happy it doesn't try to break the mold. Intuitive interface, lots of items to fuss around with, simple combat and an all-around great mobile RPG experience. The free Deadly Dungeons RPG Demo is also available.

Dream:scapeFor touch screen systems, playing 3D games is still a strange experience.A flat plastic panel with no tactile feedback isn't exactly the best way to move a character in a three dimensional world, but this hasn't stopped developers from trying. Dream:scape is one such effort, and even though it isn't a perfect game, it takes some huge strides into the realm of atmospheric exploration games on the iPhone and iPad platforms. Built using the Unreal engine, you control a character who can move freely about a country setting, exploring his past. Trigger certain events to continue the tale, and you'll need items at certain points in order to proceed. Overall, it isn't a very action-filled experience, but the prospect of exploring an atmospheric world on your iOS device is still intriguing. The free Dream:scape Lite is also available.

Dungeon DefendersAnother impressively-built game that looks like it belongs on a big gaming-centric platform. Dungeon Defenders is an action RPG with a strong leaning towards tower defense. Choose one of the four hero classes and battle enemies by building towers, setting traps, and marching onto the scene yourself, fisticuffs at the ready. You'll find a full battery of loot, upgrades, equipment, and customization for your character, and best of all, online co-op multiplayer is supported, allowing you to fight with your friends anywhere in the world! Big features from a small game, showing you just how serious some development studios are about creating interesting content for the Android Marketplace. Unfortunately, this game also requires a hefty pre-play download (600MB), so make sure you're at home with wi-fi at the ready.

Infernus: Verse 1Who are you? Where are you? You're in some sort of old, dirty jail cell. That much is certain. But... everything else is pretty unclear. Trapped in a dark cage, you must explore a 3D world in this first installment in the Android series. Similar to Mystique. Chapter 1: Foetus, Infernus aims to recreate that room escape feeling on the mobile platform, putting the entirety of the controls in your pinch/swipe-capable hands. It's short, to be sure, but Infernus: Verse 2 has already hit and extends the experience quite a bit. The gameplay is a little rough around the edges, but the concept is solid and the visuals are top-notch.

King of Dragon PassOne part strategy, one part text-driven choose your own story adventure, King of Dragon Pass is exactly the game you want on your mobile device. Ported to iOS from the original PC/Mac release of 1999, this storytelling experience is rich in its own history and affords you a vast amount of control over what happens within. Wage war, explore the land, trade with your neighbors, manage your tribe, and read pages upon pages of text explicating the world you're actively participating in. It's great to see a title like this brought back for a new wave of gamers to play, and it works quite well on the iPhone platform.

Mage GauntletMage Gauntlet, from Hook Champ and Super QuickHook creator Rocketcat Games, is the modern 16-bit action role playing game you've been waiting for. Everything about it is retro, from the level design to the pixel art, only instead of having to dust off your SNES, you just fire up your iOS device. In a decidedly awesome twist, this RPG doesn't take hours of playing before you can get into it, opening it up for shorter mobile sessions and casual gamers alike!

MinoMonstersNeatly summarized as "Pokemon for the iPhone", MinoMonsters is a highly habit-forming game of pitting monster against monster, leveling up your creatures, and gathering more and more cute monsters for your army. The game functions like a bare-bones RPG as you move around a grid-like overworld searching for treasure and encountering randomly-generated enemies along the way. Do battle by tapping on enemies and picking up items that fly out as a result of your moves. Very engaging, much more so than a traditional turn-based experience, and the visuals are a perfect fit for this style of game.

Pygmies-HogletThis unusual, captivating, and acceptably-flawed game is quirky beyond all belief, but somehow it pulls everything together and manages to be loads and loads of fun. You control a baby porcupine who is sad because he has no friends, so he sets out to find spiny things to be pals with. Move around the map in short increments, heading towards the dots that appear at random. When you find one, you'll encounter an enemy, a friend, Santa Claus, or maybe just an item waiting to be found. You even earn experience points you can assign to certain statistics, all of which help during the game's unique combat sequences. Hoglet is not a perfect game, but its charm is so strong, you won't be able to resist playing it over and over again.

Spectral SoulsWow. Wow wow wow wow. This game should not exist on your mobile phone. Really, it belongs on a dedicated portable gaming device (or Android-based tablet!), judging from its depth, visual style, and impressive list of features. Spectral Souls is a full-fledged tactical RPG with hundreds of hours of gameplay, cut scenes, dozens of characters, and a whole lot more. The story takes place in Neverland, a world filled with humans and demons struggling against each other for countless decades. But when the battles reach the small town of Petun, something interesting occurs, kicking off the Seven Year War that would change Neverland forever. Two warnings before you grab this one. First, it's expensive, weighing in at around 15 USD. Second, after downloading the game, you have to download an additional 1GB of data, so make sure you're near a stable wi-fi source before starting that up. Apart from the steep price of entry, this release is pure gaming gold.

SquidsA completely charming strategy/arcade/RPG game that has the power to hook you from the very first level. At first, all you have to do is pull on each squid's tentacles to send him or her flying in the opposite direction. Crash into things to find treasure, hunt for power-ups, explore ancient temples, battle evil crustaceans and fish, and complete objectives that change depending on the world. Then, take all of your earnings and buy upgrades and items in the shop. Position all of this on top of an interesting story and fantastic underwater artwork and you've got the makings of your next iPhone addiction.

Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EPSuperbrothers: Sword & Sworcery is, in one sentence, a gorgeous piece of playable, explorable art with a phenomenal soundtrack and overall design that begs to be experienced. We'll call it a point-and-click adventure (a touch and touch again adventure?), but really Sword & Sworcery is all about satisfying your curiosity in a visually striking world and doing one-on-one battles with a few discontented beings. It's a game so stepped in atmosphere and setting you'll feel like it's as epic as The Lord of the Rings, all compactified into your mobile device.

The Dark MeadowYou find yourself on the floor of a dilapidated hospital, apparently situated in the middle of a meadow filled with the drone of cicadas. Monsters roam the halls, and the only other human occupant babbles about a witch who's trapped you both there, but as you piece together the truth from papers and journals, you'll begin to wonder who you can really trust... if you can even trust yourself. An action-heavy adventure title from Phosphor Games for your iOS made with the Unreal Engine, boasting great writing, beautiful visuals, and a lot of mystery.

The Secret of Chateau de MoreauAs intriguing stories go, The Secret of Chateau de Moreau certainly scores high on the Intrigue-o-Meter. The game plays like a visual novel crossed with Phoenix Wright, with a few compelling differences. You play as Antoine, stepson of Count Moreau who has just died under mysterious circumstances. You must investigate the crime while you solve puzzles to prove your own innocence. A few mis-steps and you have to start the chapter over again, which puts a damper on the story progression, but it does encourage you to pay rapt attention and absorb every little detail, of which this game features many! It's an active, text-heavy drama mystery with plenty of gaming elements to keep you engaged. Definitely one to check out if you're a fan of mysteries or the written word. A free version, The Secret of Chateau de Moreau Lite, is also available.

Touch DetectiveA few years ago, a cute-looking point and click mystery game was released for the Nintendo DS by the name of Touch Detective. Now, that very same title has been ported to iOS, bringing the same cartoonish gothic art style to the mobile scene. And it's made the transition without a hitch! Control detective Mackenzie as she solves mysteries in her small (but strange) home town. A reviewer once noted the game's visual style was like "a Tim Burton version of a Jhonen Vasquez comic", which is a nigh-perfect comparison for the stellar artwork in this game. Includes new content as well as chapters unlockable via in-game purchases.

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