The top 10 best Apple arcade games begins with this gorgeously rustic adventure game that carries with it all the old-school trappings of the genre in the best way. Giving players an overworld to explore at their own pace and in their own order, the game is really about bartering the items you have for what others have. Characters charmingly mumble through trades and you’ll often have to use elaborate methods to finally possess what other characters are seeking, but as those pieces are coming together, they create a consistently rewarding string of “aha!” moments. For anyone who loves the adventure games of yesteryear that demand obtuse use of inventory items, Pilgrims is a blast from the past.
9. Jenny LeClue
Make way for CSI: Cuteness. Don't be fooled by the adorable illustrated style of this adventure game, it's packed with mystery and mechanics that are worth the price of Apple Arcade admission all on their own. Miss LeClue is a young girl with a taste for investigating, and that means a mix of searching crime scenes, interviewing suspects and witnesses - using Sherlock Holmes style observations to tease out information - and making deductions. The cosy world of the game is packed with interesting characters, like conspiracy theorist CJ, and there's a knowing humour to the whole thing that will remind you of great adventure games of yore like The Curse of Monkey Island.
8. Pac-Man Party Royale
It was only a matter of time until battle royale came to Pac-Man, right? Okay, maybe the connective thread isn’t so obvious, but you may be surprised to hear just how well it works. Each round of Pac-Man Party Royale (PCPR) begins on the same kind of level any fan of the series would be used to. The game becomes an endurance race to see who can stay alive the longest. When you’re eliminated by the game’s ghosts, you join their ranks, while surviving pac-people can chase elusive abilities which grant them some clutch powers. Likely by design, it feels a lot like those moments in PUBG or Fortnite when you narrowly beat your opponent to the best weapon in the room. As a match goes on, the glitch (storm) slowly closes in, forcing conflict just like the genre greats. It’s a mash-up we never knew we wanted.
A post-apocalyptic road trip from Finji, the studio behind influential endless runner Canabalt and publisher of Night in the Woods. Overland is a turn-based strategy game at its core, where your task is to ensure the survival of a small group of travellers against an array of otherworldly threats. Overland gives you a fair amount of space to define the parameters of your own adventure, leaving you free to decide how to proceed through each and every disastrous scenario that you stumble into. Leveraging your need to search for supplies and navigate routes to safety, with the desire to save other stranded survivors, Overland is a smartly structured strategy game that you'll find yourself coming back to time and time again.
It's easy enough to forget, but before Capybara Games helped change the landscape of mobile adventure games with Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP in 2011, the studio was known for developing puzzle games. In many ways, then, Grindstone - a smartly conceived and expertly executed game of sword slashing puzzle battles - sees Capy returning to its roots. It's bright, colourful, and difficult to walk away from, which is exactly what you want from a game such as this. Grindstone also comes complete with an intuitive crafting system, a delightful progression structure, and over 150 levels designed to test your capacity for unleashing monster-hit combos and crashing through increasingly challenging stages. Grindstone is designed for commutes, but it'll have your attention whenever you find yourself with a little downtime.
I have to admit that every time I’d see “RPG” in a mobile game, I was skeptical. That’s because I had never found one that feels deep enough to keep me engaged. That was until I found Yaga. This folklorish 2D tale combines beautiful art, intelligent controls, and a fully voiced, branching story to make one of the platform’s best examples of a role-playing game I’ve ever seen. It doesn’t take itself too seriously with its humorous tone, but when it comes to gameplay, it actually feels robust. That’s so rare in this space that it’s immediately obvious Yaga is different. It’s special. For those most skeptical of whether mobile gaming can scratch a console/PC itch, try Yaga first.
I'm going to hit you with the elevator pitch and you should know in an instant whether this is for you or not: Mutazione is a mutant soap opera where small-town gossip meets the supernatural, a super chill game about raising plants and embarking on spiritual journeys after the end of the world. Mutazione is a weird adventure game that's quite unlike anything else in the Apple Arcade library. Its style is its own, a lush, hand-illustrated world full of interesting folks that you'll be desperate to get to know. Plant gardens to create relaxing musical soundscapes, and, when you're ready, embark on a story full of twists and turns. Mutazione is serene, in its own little way.
3. Neo Cab
Not that we’re handing out any uber-specific awards in this lineup, but if we were, Neo Cab would win the poignancy award. It tells the story of a rideshare driver in the near-future where automation has nearly taken over the industry once and for all, which is the publicly stated goal of companies like Lyft and Uber today, mind you. As you ride around the neon-lit town, you learn about each passenger, and you learn even more about yourself. The game demands we confront questions about who we will be in the jobless future we’re barreling toward, and it demands we not forget to look out for one another not just when that day comes, but today too. And yes, “uber-specific” was totally an intended pun.
2. What The Golf?
In a list of 25 games, there’s got to be at least one that we can hardly explain, right? Meet What The Golf? This is that game. If you don’t like golf, don’t worry. It’s just barely a golf game. Really it’s a puzzler that demands you get an object to a goal. Yes, early on that means a golf ball into a hole, but that familiarity quickly vanishes and is replaced by some of the most outlandish and unpredictable level design you’ll see all year, if not all generation. It’s also packed with homages to other games, like Super Mario, Flappy Bird, and so many more. We wouldn’t want to spoil all the fun, so just trust us. Golf fan or not, give it a try.
1. Sayonara Wild Hearts
Simogo made a name for itself as one of the most ambitious and inventive mobile developers, thanks to its work on titles like Year Walk, Device 6, and SPL-T. Unsurprisingly, the studio is back and better than ever; Sayonara Wild Hearts is an interactive music video, a vibrant cacophony of high-octane races and dance-battle action. It's overtly stylish in its design and subtly stunning in its execution of a drama – of breaking your heart at a 100mph. This is a game that is, frankly, out of this world. Sayonara is the sort of game that you'll be able to get through across both ends of your commute, but come back to replay day-after-day. The self-described "pop album video game" isn’t just the best Apple Arcade game. It’s one of the best games of the year. Period.
There's plenty more games coming to the service in the coming months. Why not check out this list of the Apple Arcade games confirmed so far.