When Apple Arcade launches in September, the subscription service debuts with an incredible number of games – in fact, so many that it can be difficult to find the best things to play. Over the coming weeks and months, a steady stream of new games hit the platform, making search even harder. Apple Arcade is now home to more than 100 games and although the top end is packed with great titles, the quality varies quite a bit. And this is even more true as the service becomes more crowded.
The sheer number of games, compared to the relatively quiet way Apple releases them, means that you have a good chance of missing out on some of the better titles to reach for service. (A holiday season filled with lengthy blockbusters like Death Stranding and the new Pokémon didn't help either.) If you're a subscriber, here are five relatively new games you should definitely check out ̵
Guildlings is a lot of things. It's a young adult story wrapped in a fantastic adventure that combines elements of RPGs and adventure games. Most importantly, it's incredibly charming. It starts simple enough. Your character becomes a troubled wrist that communicates via a magic smartphone; then first use your newly discovered powers to help your sister escape house arrest and then hire a guild of like-minded people. It's kind of like a traditional fantasy RPG, viewed through the lens of a modern smartphone and a self-service culture. The dialogue comes in the form of group texts and in order to solve many of the puzzles, your party members must be in a good mood. (There is even a great scene with horrendous service conditions.) All of this is very enjoyable and fun, and best of all, the game – which is billed as a first chapter – only lasts about six hours, making it easy to squeeze a gaming session during the weekend.
Takeshi and Hiroshi
Takeshi and Hiroshi is the kind of game that looks perfect for Apple Arcade. It's short and simple, these are attributes that don't get much attention on the App Store these days. But it's also incredible heart and smart, unlike anything else I've ever played. The title alludes to two brothers; Takeshi is a beginner game designer, while his younger brother Hiroshi is a big fan who also deals with a disease that regularly hospitalizes him. To keep his brother in good spirits, Takeshi designed the ultimate RPG. In fact, the game you play is related to the design of this game. Between the charming stop-motion vignettes, you will tune the game while Hiroshi plays, balancing things so that the battles are not too difficult but also remain exciting enough to interest him. The way story and gameplay are intertwined is brilliant, it really gets you into the sweet story of these two kids.
Somehow you usually know what to expect from a game developed by Amanita Design. The Czech studio behind the likes of Machinarium and Chuchel is known for whimsical, charming adventure games that use art and animation to tell strange and wonderful stories. Fans ticks all these boxes. But it's also a very experimental game that explores what you can do within the classic point and click game. Instead of a traditional user interface, you have a handful of cards, each representing characters, elements, or actions. This gives the game a sense of playfulness as you can experiment by placing cards and seeing what happens, eliminating much of the frustration inherent in the genre.
If you combine the quiet mysteries of Myst with the impossible architecture of Monument Valley you will get something that looks like Manifold Garden . The first-person adventure game is initially disorienting. You are exploring a strange, sharp world filled with seemingly endless structures, and you need to figure out how to make your way. The basic twist is that you can essentially reverse gravity; walk to a wall, press a button, and now that wall becomes a floor. This forces you to look at things differently, finding new angles and perspectives to solve puzzles. It can be confusing at times and I once spent 30 minutes walking up an endless staircase. But when you finally come across the logic of the game, it's incredibly satisfying.
Party Pac-Man Party Royale
Sooner or later the battle of the royal comes to us all. The genre that stands for Last Man, popularized by Fortnite has already broken into iconic franchises like Tetris and Civilization with varying degrees of success. Now it's part of Pac-Man – and it actually works. Party Royale is quite small in scale. Four pac-humans compete, fighting to eat points and stay alive for the longest time. (You can play with your friends online or against bots.) You will need to avoid ghosts, as in the traditional Pac-Man Pac-Man but there is a new twist: when you eat a powerful pellet, you can eat both ghosts and your competitors. It gets hectic, especially when the weather accidentally accelerates or the maze warps. It's like the original, only more deadly and chaotic.