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The best Apple Arcade games
Apple’s mobile game subscription service has some juicy titles
Apple Arcade is one of the best things the tech giant has produced in the last few years, offering casual mobile gamers unlimited access to tons of fun titles for a nice, low cost. Ever since it launched in 2019, we've been grinding through the expansive list of games on offer. And after some significant time with almost every title currently on offer, we’ve come up with a list of the best Apple Arcade games that keep us coming back for more.
Most addictive Apple Arcade game
Despite dabbling with every single game Apple Arcade has to offer, Grindstone is the one title that keeps pulling me back in. Coffee runs, lunch breaks and important work meetings have all been top-and-tailed with a quick bash on Grindstone.
Every time I recommend it, people are quick to judge the colour-matching gameplay because, often, their only experience is with games like Bejeweled or Peggle, or worse, some of the insidious gambling-adjacent free-to-play games littering the App Store and Google Play. But developer Capy has taken the often sinister aspects of the genre and use them as a force for good by nixing any and all free-to-play elements (such is the Apple Arcade credo) and giving Grindstone some personality; something you just don’t see in the genre.
Rounds of Grindstone are short, sharp and outrageously brutal. You play as Jorj, a sword-wielding Viking who traverses a dangerous icy mountain like a pinball of death and destruction. Using simple swipe controls, you must chain together as many critter murders as possible. As a colour-matching game, you can only jump between critters that share a colour at first (e.g. blue to blue). That is until you string together enough kills (10 or above) to spawn a grindstone, which allows you to jump from one colour to another, opening the gates for sheer annihilation. Once a few grindstones have dropped, there’s almost no stopping Jorg from clearing out entire levels with one fell swoop. However, the perpetual critter culling (understandably) angers the horde and as you progress through each level, the critters are given the chance to fight back.
For example, if you land next to an angered enemy, Jorg can lose a heart (he has three in total). Get hit three times and you will lose all your loot and precious grindstones.
Grindstone actually gives you the option to leave peacefully with all your gear intact early on in each level but this is a game about guts and glory and the risk of losing it all makes painting the mountain red all the sweeter. If you’re currently climbing the mountain of Apple Arcade games, do yourself a favour and give Grindstone a gander. You won’t be disappointed and you WILL NOT STOP.
If you’ve officially ground more stone than you can handle, you should check out Capy’s other games. Here’s a quick list of some of their best:
- Super Time Force Ultra (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Windows and Mac)
- Below (Xbox One - Available on Game Pass, PC)
- Collaboration// Superbrothers: Sword and Sorcery EP (Switch, Android, iOS, Windows and Mac)
Best quick-fix Apple Arcade game
Pilgrims is a point-and-click adventure game from the wonderfully weird team at Amanita Design (Machinarium). In Pilgrims, the player serves as a guiding hand for a small group of troubled travellers, all with their own skills to offer. My first run of Pilgrims was a short one; it took me no more than 2 hours to reach the end goal and despite the short runtime, I was completely satisfied with my brief visit to Amanita’s wonderfully illustrated world. But before the credits rolled, it became apparent I had but skimmed the surface of this incredibly rich adventure.
The world of Pilgrims might seem small, and the laundry list of objectives quite short, but there are loads of ways you can tackle each puzzle to reach the end goal. Thanks to the charming characters and the game’s zen-like pace, you’ll want to jump back in and try a different path almost immediately. It’s the kind of game that makes you smile from ear to ear and a delightful way to spend 30 to 40 minutes before dozing off.
If you’ve already explored every path Pilgrims offers, you should check out Amanita Design’s other titles on mobile.
- Chuchel (Android, iOS, Windows, Mac)
- Machinarium (Android, iOS, PlayStation 4, Switch, Windows, Mac)
- Samorost 3 (Android, iOS, Windows, Mac)
3. Assemble with Care
Best Apple Arcade for vibing out
Few games really get you fixing for some, well, fixing.
Assemble With Care is a hand-illustrated adventure/puzzle game from the folks who brought you Monument Valley. You play as Maria, a travelled antique restorer who arrives in the fictional beachside town of Bellariva and almost immediately begins repairing the inhabitants’ dusty antiques and their broken hearts.
Props to Ustwo games for building a compelling lead character and world around a very simple core mechanic but what I really can’t get enough of is the nuts and bolts of Assemble With Care, the tranquil puzzle-solving.
If you take some time each day to unwind with something like Headspace, I strongly recommend tinkering with Assemble with Care when you need to decompress. Assembled with Care’s puzzles aren’t designed to give you any grief. Each chapter presents you with a new broken item to fix; be it a retro gaming handheld, a neon sign, or a portable radio, each item is laid out flat with all the tools you need to get the job done. Simple actions, like unscrewing a panel and pulling an object apart piece by piece is incredibly satisfying.
If you’ve got an itch for pulling things apart but don’t have the patience or dexterity to put them back together, Assembled with Care is for you.
Ustwo’s Monument Valley was one of mobile gaming’s first big success stories and there are two of ‘em! You can pick up both the original and the sequel on most mobile devices.
- Monument Valley (iOS and Android)
- Monument Valley 2 (iOS and Android)
Best Apple Arcade game for horror fans
Inmost is the game that most took me by surprise on Apple Arcade. The App Store and Google Play are littered with indie horror adventures that try and capture the same grim and terrifying tone of indie classic Lone Survivor but none have been able to quite marry lo-fi pixel art and bone-shaking horror like developer Jasper Byrne did (the exception being the recent Darkwood). Inmost does. It’s one of the most polished indie horror games I’ve ever seen. It just feels so good to play. Each character handles differently but is limited to directional commands and a single action button. Simple actions, like running and climbing ledges are incredibly smooth.
I had absolutely no expectations when I started Inmost and it quickly shot to the top of my mobile must-plays.
Coming from a small two-man Lithuanian studio via indie publisher Chucklefish Games (Stardew Valley, Wargroove) Inmost casts the player as three separate playable characters from different times (and worlds) all with different playstyles, controls and puzzle-solving mechanics.
The world of Inmost is teeming with supernatural beasties; from dangerous slime to possessed corpses and towering, Lovecraftian goliaths; it’s a full-blown supernatural horror. Behind all that, there’s a tender and tragic story about grief. Some of the best moments of Inmost came completely out of the blue. One that stuck with me was a sombre walk in the shoes of a frail old man while an unknown voice waxes poetic. This early scene was all I needed and Inmost had me hook line and sinker.
If you’re into Inmost, you should check out the other quality games from the Chucklefish stable:
- Stardew Valley (iOS, Android, Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Windows, Mac)
- Wargroove (Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Windows)
- Risk of Rain (Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Windows, Mac)
5. Sayonara Wild Hearts
Sayonara Wild Hearts’ quickly became a headline title of Apple Arcade when it first launched thanks to its neon palette and developer clout. It’s not exclusive to Apple Arcade but there’s no doubt in my mind it’s the reason many have and will sign up for the free trial.
Simogo's rhythm game has been described as a visual pop album about a history of heartbreak. Many have joked that’s it’s the Taylor Swift album of indie games but in reality it's more akin to a K-Pop music video. It’s also narrated by Queen Latifah as if that’s not reason enough to give it a whirl.
The game wastes no time throwing you into the action. From the main menu, the needle drops and the tunes don’t stop coming until the credits roll. Each level/song is themed differently; influencing not only the soundtrack but the world and challenges Simogo throws at you.
Speaking of challenges, there’s not a lot to be found here. Like Assemble with Care, Sayonara Wild Hearts has been designed to be enjoyed peacefully. It does throw a new interesting challenge at you every few levels but at most, you’ll fumble a handful of times and even then the game will ask if you’d like to fast-forward a little if you’re having trouble .
The most basic description of Sayonara is an on-rails endless runner with rhythm elements such as timing your actions in sync with the soundtrack. You’d think that’d be a perfect fit for touch controls but it’s not as simple as swiping left and right to change lanes; sometimes you need a little extra dexterity that’s tough to nail with touch. I’d recommend playing this one with a PlayStation or Xbox gamepad if you’ve got one handy.
If Sayonara is very much your jam, you’d be remiss to ignore the developer’s suite of games made for mobile. Device 6, in particular, is still one of the best games ever made for mobile devices.
- Device 6 (iOS)
- Year Walk (iOS, Windows, Mac)
- Beat Sneak Bandit (iOS)
6. WHAT THE GOLF?
It’s been a great couple of years for weirdo golf games. Desert Golfing hit Android and iOS way back in 2014, and when the Switch launched back in 2017, we were blessed with the wonderfully Aussie Golf Story.
Indie golf games are usually driven by one core principle: golf is boring, whacking things with a stick is fun. Something What the Golf? clearly understands.
What The Golf? features a series of increasingly absurd courses where the golf ball target can be just about anything. In one course you might be using a cat as target practice and in the next you could be flogging the poor kitty cat across the green.
Each level is like a Kinder Surprise; if the surprise was a new absurd reimagining of the fundamentals of golf.
- Golf Story (Switch)
- Desert Golfing (iOS, Android, Windows, Mac)
7. Bleak Sword
Here’s one for all the die-hard fans of the deadly Dark Souls series. Bleak Sword from more8bit and Devolver Digital is a crushing parry to all the naysayers who believe mobile games are strictly a casual affair. Designed to play on the go, there are certainly casual elements to Bleak Sword, such as short, sharp battles and a mobile-friendly control scheme but the difficulty is anything but casual.
Controls seem simple at first: tap to parry, swipe to dodge roll, and use both in tandem to attack in any direction, as well as holding down one finger to charge attacks. If you’re not feeling the touch controls, you can connect a PlayStation or Xbox controller and play that way. It might make gameplay a little easier but truth be told, the developers have done a cracker job translating this shortlist of commands to touch.
Each round sets the bloody battle on a small dioramic level; a small slice of Bleak Sword’s monochrome fantasy world. Level and character models are super lo-fi 8-bit renditions of menacing forests, knights, ghouls, skeletons etc. Standard fantasy fare. Despite its blocky presentation, enemies move across the small map fluidly and their animations are detailed enough to signpost incoming attacks (which you’ll need to learn for each new enemy type).
What I appreciate about Bleak Sword is that it really doesn’t waste any of your time; it’s quick to get to the combat and when you do fall, it’s 100% your own fault.
Warm up those digits and download Bleak Sword. Just make sure you’ve got a good protective case before you enter a world of pain.
- Reigns (iOS, Android, Switch, Windows and Mac)
- Exit the Gungeon (Apple Arcade)
- Downwell (iOS, Android, Switch, PlayStation 4, PC and Max)
8. Rayman Mini
When I first saw Rayman Mini on Apple Arcade, I glazed over it, thinking it was Rayman Adventures or Jungle Run (the two existing Ubi Rayman games on the App Store). When I heard Rayman Mini was an entirely new adventure for Apple Arcade, I had to check it out.
True to form, it’s an absolute delight. If you’ve played any UbiArts Rayman title in the past, the world and gameplay of Mini isn’t going to come as a surprise to you. Same as the other mobile titles, this is an auto-runner where you’re tasked with tapping the screen to jump, vault and glide throughout Rayman’s musically charged challenges.
That said, there is a small difference in Mini’s level design. The game’s introduction shows that Rayman’s been shrunk down in size by a wicked wizard. The game takes advantage of little Rayman’s predicament by creating courses and obstacles out of life’s small wonders; things like spiderwebs, bouncy vegetation and the like. To be completely honest though, Rayman’s lush green world’s are already so fantastical, it took me a while to realise that the setting was different from previous titles.
- Valiant Hearts: The Great War (iOS, Android, Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One)
- Rayman Adventures (iOS, Android)
9. Cat Quest II
To recap the first Cat Quest game (which sadly isn't available on Apple Arcade yet), this adorable RPG is set in the kingdom of Felingard, where you play as a cat with magical powers embarking on an adventure to save your catnapped sister and defeat the evil Drakoth. There are plenty of dungeons to be explored, hidden treasures to uncover, NPCs to help and tons of fun to be had.
Cat Quest II is much the same, but this time, you can play as both a cat and a dog, as you join forces to reclaim your thrones and put an end to the ongoing war between Felingard and the Lupus Empire. It's a worthy successor to the OG Cat Quest, bringing with it more weapons, spells, abilities, and a ton more pun-filled side quests.
Having played both Cat Quest and Cat Quest II on the Switch, I was keen to see how it would translate to my iPhone 12 Mini. As it turns out, it's pretty purr-fect, with intuitive controls and cute graphics to boot.
10. Mini Metro
Like many other Apple Arcade games, Mini Metro got its start on other platforms, releasing on Windows, macOS and Linux in 2015. Now, it's also available on iOS, Android, Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4, landing on Apple Arcade earlier this year.
Essentially, this puzzle strategy game puts you in the shoes of a metro system designer. Set in a number of big cities around the world, it's your job to create lines and loops to ensure passengers are getting where they need to go in a timely fashion. It's the kind of game you can fit in between meetings, waiting for your coffee, or for a quick fix during your lunch break. It's minimalistic, beautifully designed, and oh so addicting.
When you're done redesigning the world's metro systems, it's also worth checking out its sequel, Mini Motorways, which is also available on Apple Arcade and will have you equally as hooked.
How to play Apple Arcade games
If you're tempted by the titles on this list, you're going to need some kind of Apple device to play them on. The obvious choice is the latest iPhone 12, but any iPhone, iPod Touch, Apple TV or iPad running iOS 13 (or later), iPad OS or TVOS 13 (or later) can access Apple Arcade's 1-month free trial via the App Store.
Apple Arcade is also available on MacBooks and iMacs running macOS Catalina or later.
In iOS, there's a dedicated tab for Apple Arcade at the bottom of the screen so it's super easy to access the library of games included in your subscription.
Once your free months runs dry, Apple will charge you $7.99 per month to keep playing the games you've downloaded via Apple Arcade.
Most popular iPhone 12 plans
If you're considering upgrading your iPhone to make the most out of Apple Arcade, these are the most popular iPhone 12 plans according to WhistleOut's mobile plan comparison engine.