Apple Arcade has seen tremendous growth over the last few months, to the point that it's become the marquee mobile gaming subscription service the same way Xbox Game Pass has taken over that space for consoles. Everyone wants to be the "Netflix of games" and with this latest list of the best Apple Arcade games, it's clear Apple is getting there for players on-the-go. This month's new additions include things like a trippy adventure about hitchhiking and a game that will delight Animal Crossing fans. Here are our picks for the best Apple Arcade games to play right now.
Apple Arcade Game of the Month - Hitchhiker
It's the middle of the night when, against all your best-laid plans, you awaken in the pitch-black room. There are no clocks visible, your phone is charging out of reach, and you have the faintest memories of strange dreams tickling your mind. You try to reach for them to retain the stories you were telling yourself, but they're quickly evaporating amid your sudden consciousness. What time is it? What day is it? Why do I feel so weird?
That experience of waking mid-sleep schedule is one we've all felt, and that weirdness of a fleeting dream rolling off your hippocampus and into oblivion often comes for the ride. It's not a scene directly depicted in Hitchhiker, our latest Apple Arcade Game of the Month, but it's a mood felt throughout the surreal story. In just a few hours, Hitchhiker takes players from one passenger's seat to the next, meeting strange people, having conversations that sometimes hardly track as logical at all, and unraveling a central mystery about your own self, and it's the body chills this game creates from this ethereal, dreamlike adventure that make it such a lasting experience.
In Hitchhiker, players sit in cars of strangers and interact with their surroundings. You can choose what to say in conversations, you can fidget with their dashboard bobbleheads, or eat apparently psychedelic raisins, but most of all, you can try to unravel exactly why you're experiencing any of the weirdness in the first place. That weirdness trickles in almost sneakily, but it does it quickly too, so it's not long before you're asking "what's going on here?"
The drivers have a way of speaking to you as though they're omniscient, perhaps even godly, like when one early encounter involves the driver telling me how I'll look back on the ride with him and shows me, in some sort of weird out-of-body real-time replay, what those memories will look like in my head. It always feels like you're trapped with them. Of course, in literal gameplay terms, you truly can't get out of the car, but the game does an exceptional job of making you feel cornered, confounded, but still determined to keep on the path ahead.
Later, as the car is spiraling around a barn and a flock of birds spins in unison, one can only ask once more: "no really, what is going on?" Hitchhiker starts, continues, and ends weird, and like arthouse film or - yes, I'm gonna name-drop him - David Lynch, it doesn't seem all that interested in players picking up what it's putting down. Or rather, it's comfortable if we hit the credits still with confusion-based stress marks on our foreheads. It's a game that feels like it has a clear vision of what it wants to do, even if that intent is to tell a murky tale. It's not like your Sayonara Wild Hearts, or your Dear Readers, or anything else that's ever come through Apple Arcade.
It's like a dream turned into a game, which is a concept that may exist already, but I haven't seen it yet. It's less magical realism, where the extraordinary simply exists and people deal with it because they're used to it, and more surrealism, where, as the player, one can hardly trust what they're seeing. If you find yourself fascinated by dream logic, or always looking for the next "art game" - a stand-in for "wow, that was different" - Hitchhiker is well worth your time. Put some headphones on, play it in the dark when you're alone. It's not that it's scary, though it's unsettling at times, but it's just so atmospheric. It's a great reminder that these small screens in our pockets are capable of outsized, moody experiments that are hard to find on any platform.
Turn to the next page to find our rundown of the best Apple Arcade games...