Originally launched back in September 2019, Apple Arcade has grown not only in scope, but also with a lot of the games considerably improving over time. There were already a lot of excellent games in the service when it launched, but the Apple Arcade of 2021 is very different from the original with App Store Greats, Timeless Classics, and Arcade Originals on the service.
While a lot of people were hoping for many big multi-platform games to come to mobile and Apple platforms through Apple Arcade, I’m very pleased with the current state the service is in with something for just about everyone on iOS, iPadOS, tvOS, and macOS. With nearly 200 games on the service through old and new releases, I wanted to highlight a few that you should play as soon as you get your Apple Arcade subscription or activate your free trial.
Given how often new Apple Arcade games release and how much games can change with big content updates, this list will be updated over time so keep checking back. I’ve also included a few older games that have been brought into Apple Arcade at the end since they are still worth your time and the Apple Arcade releases are fully unlocked with no in app purchases or anything.
Assemble with Care, – [Review] – [Forum Thread] – For a lot of people, Ustwo is a name associated forever with Monument Valley. While the original was fantastic, the sequel was even better for some but the real best experience Ustwo have released on iOS is easily Assemble With Care. Ustwo doing an Apple Arcade game was going to be very good but I didn’t think it would be this good. The game is probably one of the most perfect built for mobile games out there. It has an excellent story, great voice acting, superlative controls (that are complemented by haptic feedback), and it is perfect for playing across multiple sessions. Maria’s tale is one you will not forget for a while and I can’t wait to see what Ustwo does next. The bar has been raised quite a bit thanks to Assemble With Care
Bleak Sword, – [Review] – [Forum Thread] – A long time ago, I played a game called Sword and Sworcery which introduced me to Jim Guthrie. A few years later, I played Hotline Miami and discovered Devolver Digital. Fast forward to 2019 and multiple games involving both parties, Bleak Sword launched with Apple Arcade and it brings together both Devolver Digital and Jim Guthrie once again. I’m willing to play anything involving either of them but when both are involved, I know I’m in for a good time. Bleak Sword from more8bit is an excellent take on combat on touchscreens. It is an action game that perfectly suits single or two thumbed gameplay on touchscreens with some gorgeous diorama visuals.
FANTASIAN, – [Forum Thread] – Fantasian from Mistwalker is a game that many people subscribed to Apple Arcade for and the first part finally arrived in April this year. Fantasian has a gorgeous diorama aesthetic and it has some interesting quality of life improvements across its gameplay. While the story will be complete later this year, Fantasian in its current state is definitely worth your time if you enjoy turn-based RPGs and older Final Fantasy games. Make sure to read my interview with Hironobu Sakaguchi here and localization specialist Jessica Chavez here about Fantasian.
Grindstone, – [Review] – [Forum Thread] – Grindstone from Capybara Games wasn’t really hyped up much around Apple Arcade’s launch but it has slowly started grinding up everyone’s best of 2019 lists. It is a match three like puzzle game that has a ton of depth and a great risk reward system in place. As you clear levels, the difficulty ramps up and you unlock newer abilities. Every move is like a puzzle and since it has been developed by Capybara Games, you already know the visuals and audio design are superlative. It was event recently updated to add some nice quality of life fixes and some holiday cheer. While a lot of people are likely playing Sayonara Wild Hearts and other games, Grindstone is one of the best Apple Arcade games and one of the best iOS games right now.
Little Orpheus, – [Forum Thread] – [Forum Thread] – The Chinese Room have put out some amazing games over the years across different platforms with the likes of Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture and Dear Esther. Little Orpheus is the studio’s first game for Apple Arcade and it is a beautiful side-scrolling adventure inspired by classic movies accompanied by great music by Jim Fowler and Jessica Curry. Hopefully Apple can get more games like this on the service in the future.
Patterned, – [Forum Thread] – There’s no shortage of great puzzle games but Patterned is something that stuck with me ever since it arrived on Apple Arcade. In Patterned, you start out with just a sketch and slowly assemble the final pattern piece by piece. On paper, this sounds like something you’d get bored of very quickly but it is one of the most relaxing and fun puzzle games I’ve played in years. BorderLeap also constantly brings in new patterns with Patterned including more than 850 in its current state including many inspired by different countries across the world.
Sayonara Wild Hearts, – [Review] – [Forum Thread] – Sayonara Wild Hearts from Simogo and Annapurna Interactive has been a showcase game for Apple Arcade, but it has been interesting seeing everything about the game from its original reveal for Nintendo Switch to the Apple Arcade trailer. Sayonara Wild Hearts blends rhythm games, platformers, endless runners, and more together with gorgeous visuals and slick animations. All of this is accompanied by one of the best pop albums of the year. Sayonara Wild Hearts is an essential for Apple Arcade or just about any platform it is available on. This is easily Simogo’s best work yet and one of the best experiences I’ve had in gaming in 2019.
The Pathless, – [Forum Thread] – Annapurna Interactive and Giant Squid’s The Pathless was one of the first games revealed for Apple Arcade and it was heavily used in marketing for the service. After a few delays, The Pathless finally arrived as a launch title for the PlayStation 5 while also hitting Apple Arcade, PS4, and PC platforms at the same time. After spending a bit of time playing The Pathless, it is evident why Apple promoted it so much. The action adventure game has gorgeous visuals, great music, and pushes players to explore without a minimap. The Pathless is a must play game on Apple Arcade and a great reason to subscribe to the service in the first place.
WHAT THE GOLF?, – [Review] – [Forum Thread] – I enjoy golf and fishing games a lot across different platforms and am always up for trying out new games that involve them. What The Golf? from Triband is advertised as a golf game for people who hate golf but it is one of the better golf games in recent years. It will change how you approach not just golf but also puzzles in general. What The Golf? shipped with a ton of levels in its campaign at launch and it has continued to grow with regular updates. What The Golf? earns a spot in our best Apple Arcade games for how much fun it still is and how interesting it has continued to be with every update.
Wonderbox: The Adventure Maker, – [Forum Thread] – When Wonderbox: The Adventure Maker was first shown off as an upcoming Apple Arcade game, it looked a too good to be true as a platform for creating and sharing adventures. The actual game ended up being that and a lot more. Wonderbox has you playing, creating, exploring, and learning together with gorgeous visuals and music. The production values, creativity, and potential Wonderbox includes are pretty mindblowing in its current state. I can’t wait to see how it evolves over time. It is easily one of the best games on Apple Arcade.
Barring games not available elsewhere on mobile, Apple brought some classics to the service and here are the top three of the App Store Greats on Apple Arcade.
– [Review] – [Forum Thread] The brilliant word game SpellTower+ from Zach Gage is something most people who play on iOS already know but it is a great addition to Apple Arcade. This release brings all the game modes from the original to modern devices with all the lovely interactions and sounds intact. The original SpellTower is one of the first games I recommend to people on iOS and now those with Apple Arcade can enjoy it at no added cost over the subscription. If you enjoy word games, there isn’t anything as polished as SpellTower+ right now.
Game Dev Story+, – [Review] – [Forum Thread] With so many App Store greats getting remade or brought into Apple Arcade, Game Dev Story+ is one of the nicest surprises. Kairosoft’s addictive simulation experience about running your own game company is something many people including myself have put in a ton of time into and it is another superb addition to Apple Arcade. Game Dev Story+ is a must play regardless of if you have Apple Arcade or not. If you do subscribe to the service, this will definitely be one of the games you keep coming back to.
Mini Metro+, – [Review] – [Forum Thread] Mini Metro+ from Dinosaur Polo Club is a strategy simulation game that not only has superlative gameplay, but it also has a very elegant aesthetic as you build a subway map for a growing city. Over the years, it has gotten many new cities and continued to expand for veteran players. Mini Metro+ on Apple Arcade is brilliant value add for the service. Mini Metro+ also feels absolutely perfect to play on touchscreens.
What are your favourite Apple Arcade games and have you been subscribed from the start?