Apple Arcade is a blessing for fans of mobile games, but also a curse: with so much great stuff to choose from, where do you even start?
Some people will no doubt download absolutely everything and then randomly pick things to check out until something clicks (hi, it me). That’s a perfectly reasonable approach to take, but some of us have tighter constraints on our time.
Lucky for you, I play lots and lots of games, and I’ve spent the past week tooling around with every Apple Arcade game I had time for. I still haven’t touched every single one – it’s a lot to go through! – but I’ve played enough to get a good feel for what’s on offer and single out some favorites.
If you look at the games list and are immediately afflicted with analysis paralysis, read on for a rundown of my own Apple Arcade favorites so far based on the different tastes I think each one appeals to.
I’ve still got so many more games to go through, but I’d like to think there’s a little something for everyone represented here.
Spek, from RAC7, is an immediate standout. Its minimalistic look belies the frequently challenging puzzle game that lies beneath. It’s a touchscreen game where the goal is to collect a set pulsing squares in each level by playing with perspective. Spek is a chill and immediately intuitive experience – this is a game where you learn by doing – that feels simultaneously fresh and familiar.
Also check out: Dear Reader (for word nerds), Patterned (for art lovers)
Most mobile game enthusiasts are familiar with Candy Crush and games like it: match adjacent like-colored gems/blocks/whatever scattered across the playing field to make them disappear and bring more gems/blocks/whatever tumbling into view. Think of Grindstone as a bloody take on Candy Crush.
You’re a blue-skinned barbarian with only one goal: get to the top of the level. You can only get there, though, by carving your way through hordes of different-colored monsters. You do that by using your finger to trace out a (cartoonishly) bloody path of carnage, with different rules like gems and angry monsters forcing you to tweak your strategy as you play.
Also check out: Card of Darkness (more of a card game)
Simogo is the studio behind some of mobile’s greatest hits to date, including Year Walk and Device 6. But the latest, Sayonara Wild Hearts, is like nothing that came before.
It’s a trippy, neon-lit arcade game that’s as much about the music and visuals as it is about the play. “As the heart of a young woman breaks, the balance of the universe is disturbed,” Simogo’s description reads. There are motorcycle gangs, swordplay, dance battles, and running wolves all coming together in an exciting, eye-catching game that doubles as an extended music video.
Also check out: Explottens (if you’re more into cats than music)
There’s been buzz around Overland for years now. The latest game from Finji, the studio founded by Canabalt creator Adam Saltsman, is a post-apocalyptic, turn-based survival game with an eye-catching visual aesthetic and endless replayability. The game unfolds around a cross-country road trip that sees you stopping frequently along the way to gather supplies while fending off monsters.
There’s a broader explanation for what’s happening in Overland‘s world, but the real story in each playthrough is the one you write for yourself. Many aspects of the game are randomized, including the survival gear you scavenge and the personalities of people who could potentially join in on your journey. I’ve only scratched my way through a few hours and I now can’t wait to wrap up work so I can play some more.
Also check out: Oceanhorn 2 (if you like Zelda), Shinsekai Into the Depths (if you have a controller)
What the Golf makes no sense whatsoever, but in a way that’s effortlessly charming, funny, and obsessively playable. It’s a a collection of off-the-wall and vaguely golf-themed (very vaguely) minigames that are more weird than they are golf.
How weird? One challenge asks you to score a hole in one… by knocking a carved out golf hole into a much larger pit that’s been carved in the shape of the number “1.” Another challenge has you maneuvering a desk chair around obstacles in a race against a sheep; first one to the golf green wins. (That sheep is a jerk, btw.)
Also check out: Cricket Through the Ages (if you like Monty Python and have a second player), Sneaky Sasquatch (if you want something more involved, but still bizarre AF)