Apple revealed the 2018 Apple Design Award winners at WWDC on Monday, June 4th. As always, these are some stylish and artsy games that show off iOS quite well, but include a lot of familiar faces. First up is Alto’s Odyssey ($0.99), the stylish endless runner from Snowman, took home one of the Apple Design Awards. As it should, it’s pretty much right in the Apple wheelhouse of being a mobile-friendly game that syncs perfectly across devices, and is absolutely gorgeous. The only surprise is that somehow Alto’s Adventure didn’t win an award previously, because it totally felt like the experience of physically playing an Apple Design Award. I’m glad Apple addressed this shortcoming.
Florence ($2.99), the interactive adventure that is the debut title from Ken Wong’s Mountains studio. Wong was the lead designer on Monument Valley ($3.99), itself an Apple Design Award winner in 2014. That’s two for Ken Wong, well done. Florence is one of those “is it actually a game" type games, but it’s quite the story.
Oddmar ($4.99) takes home the glowing cube for itself, which is great because that game was a ton of fun, and had incredible production values. Games so rarely look like this on mobile any more, and Apple would’ve been foolish to not award this game. Some of the staff that worked on Oddmar also worked on Leo’s Fortune ($4.99), which also won an Apple Design Award back in 2014.
Kunabi Brother also takes home their second Apple Design Award (after their 2014 award for Blek ($3.99)) with FROST ($4.99) winning here in 2018. An artsy puzzler, you have to interact with swarms and flocks of particle creatures to solve puzzles across dozens of levels. It’s a bit of an abstract game, but oh does it look gorgeous.
The final winner is Playdead, for INSIDE (Free). This is another dark platforming journey from the developers of Limbo ($3.99), complete with a soundtrack recorded with the help of a human skull, no joke.
The thing that’s curious about all these awards is that there is only one true first-time winner, and even then, Alto’s Odyssey is a sequel to an existing hit title. This is all old money winning awards, and while each game is certainly deserving, it’s not necessarily the most promising thing if the games catching Apple eye are all by existing developers. Hopefully 2019 sees some fresh blood take home the Apple Design Award glowing cube.