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Fill your new iPhone with some of the App Store's best 'buy once, play forever' indie games

With the holiday season here, you might find yourself with a little more free time than you're allotted during the rest of the year. AppleInsider has collected a list of some of the independent developer's games that we like that the App Store has to offer, in order to give you some unique gaming experiences on your iPhone and iPad.




It doesn't have to be all "Halo," "Call of Duty," or "Angry Birds," after all.

"Monument Valley"

"Monument Valley" is hands down one of the prettiest games that you'll come across for iOS. The game is a perspective-puzzle game that tells a story about a young princess named Ida, who is on a quest for forgiveness. As she travels through the kingdom, you help her unravel her mysterious past.

The player guides Ida through a series of different puzzles, stepping on switches and walking through doors to get her from one puzzle to the next. Most of these puzzles require the player to take a good hard look at them, as they all have an M.C. Escher, perspective-bending trick to them.




If you're looking for something relaxing and enjoyable to play, this is probably the game that you're going to want to grab. This is an entry level game that players of all ages and skill levels can enjoy, and our only critique is that serious puzzle players may find the game a bit short.

"Monument Valley" is available for both the iPad and the iPhone and costs $3.99.

"Reigns"

"Reigns" is a game that you absolutely must try if you like quick-play games with a fun twist. Reigns is a single-player "card game" in which you play the role of a king. As king, you've got to try to avoid running your kingdom directly into the ground.

Players will have to balance four stats, the wants of the church, the needs of the citizens, the power of the army, and the amount of money within the kingdom itself. Allowing any of these to become too weak or two powerful, and it's surely the end of the beloved —or despised —king.




How does a player control these stats? Every turn, someone from the kingdom will ask you a question with two choices, and more often than not, how you answer the question will raise some stats and lower others.

You may be asked to send out raiding parties, which can grow your army's power, or to build new churches that can spread influence across the land, or even simple things like building libraries for the children of your kingdom's citizens. Each of these influence stats in one way or another.

The ultimate goal is to live out a long, happy life as king. If you die in a coup, it's back to the beginning to start all over again. We honestly cannot recommend this one enough.

Reigns is available for both the iPad and the iPhone and currently costs $0.99.

"Mini Metro"

If you're into strategy and micromanagement games, check out Mini Metro. In Mini Metro, the objective of the game is to keep the city's subway station moving as smoothly as possible, because a city is only as good as it's infrastructure.

Players will have to draw tracks between stations to keep an ever-increasing number of people moving through your city. If your stations become too overcrowded, it's game over and you'll have to start again.




The first few plays can be a little confusing, but as you continue to play "Mini Metro," you'll find that you start to understand ideal track placement without having to think about it.

The cities in "Mini Metro" are based off of real world locations, but the growth of each city is randomized. This means that each game is unique and adds some serious replay factor.

As you play the game, you'll be rewarded with little upgrades at the end of each week that allow you to customize and improve your city, including underwater tunnels, new trains, and extra track lines. We found ourselves enjoying "Mini Metro" quite a bit and think that most strategy game lovers will also enjoy it.

"Mini Metro" is available for both the iPhone and the iPad and is currently on sale for $0.99.

"Doug Dug"

We didn't forget about arcade game lovers! Borrowing a bit from 80's classic "Dig Dug," "Doug Dug" is a game about a dwarf on the hunt for treasure. He's ambitious. At times, he's actually a bit too ambitious, actually. The goal of the game is to try to get the most amount of treasure before Doug's untimely, and inevitable, demise.

The game is played by tapping and holding the direction you want Doug to dig. You can find ore, treasure, and gems throughout the dungeon. However, you can also find enemies like moles, bats, mummies, ogres, and even bombs.




If all that wasn't bad enough, Doug will also have to avoid having the mine collapse in on him. All of these factors combine to create an engaging single-player arcade game that feels like it came straight out of the 1980s, and if you like that sort of retro-fun, you won't be disappointed by "Doug Dug" at all.

"Doug Dug" is available for the iPhone and costs $0.99.

"Super Lemonade Factory"

"Super Lemonade Factory" is single-player co-op platformer that centers around Andre and his wife Liselot. Andre's father has promised to give Andre and Liselot the lemonade factory on one condition: they explore every last inch of it. "Super Lemonade Factory" is a clever game and actually includes quite a bit of commentary on factory life, blue collar workers, and the economy in general.

The gameplay isn't terribly hard, but there's a bit of challenge. Each of the characters provide unique roles to the game. Andre can smash crates to open paths, Liselot can double jump to reach higher ledges, and the two of them will have to work together in order to exit the levels.




The difficulty comes from the necessity of quickly switching between characters to avoid enemies or perform difficult jumps. It's a good entry into the single-player co-op platformer genre, and we suggest fans of the console version of "Super Mario Bros." give this one a try.

"Super Lemonade Factory" is available for the iPhone and the iPad and is currently free.