Apple Arcade is a new video subscription service from Apple that costs a modest $4.99/mo (with a 1-month free trial) that grants full access to a library of 100+ games on iPhones, iPads, Macs, and Apple TV devices.
Games on Apple Arcade are ad-free, have no in-app purchases (zero microtransactions), and have no always-on DRM. Subscribers can download the games to play, share access with up to six family members, and continue gameplay progress across all of the supported operating systems.
But is it worth it? Here are the best games on Apple Arcade that make the subscription worth its price tag.
1. Shinsekai Into the Depths
What happens when Metroid meets Subnautica?
In this vibrant underwater world, players discover a zombie-free twist on postapocalyptic living. During your quest, the player battles sea monsters, pilots submarines, and explores the depths while seeking an ancient civilization.
If you’re looking for a console competitor-tier title, Shinsekai possesses the pedigree to stand on its own as a 2D platformer. The game possesses simple controls, but it makes mastery all the more awarding and important.
Beyond the gameplay, Capcom did an extravagant job to make a player-immersive world. All of the music and sound effects were recorded underwater for added authenticity. The world teems with aquatic life and colors. Even the base graphical design of the HUD pushes away from the typical clean, minimalistic design that’s popular amongst the mobile genre for some wavier, rustic machine text.
If you’re looking for a game to get lost in, Shinsekai’s world and gameplay will give you plenty of reason to be an early adopter with this AAA-grade launch title.
Download: Shinsekai Into the Depths on Apple Arcade
2. Hot Lava
First-person parkour meets childhood game meets cartoon cel-shaded graphical style.
At first, fond memories of the Mirror’s Edge franchise surfaces. Skirting from platform to platform in speedy acrobatic succession comes seamlessly as players hop from spot-to-spot to avoid threatening lava.
Rather than limit its existence to a nostalgia trip, the game provides all the speed-run essentials. Online multiplayer and leaderboards allow both the intrepid soloist and group player to compete for the best time score with equal fervor.
The fast-paced thrill of going for a better time and smashing a record serves as the core of the game. Players can run, bounce, swing, and climb against the best. Checkpoints are plentiful and help to encourage the player to experience the full gauntlet of challenges.
For those that grew up on death run maps on Team Fortress 2 and CS:GO, Hot Lava provides a new addition to a forgotten game mode. As a launch title, the community aspect makes it a very promising mainstay for your device.
Whether looking for nostalgia or competition, Hot Lava offers a welcome distraction.
Download: Hot Lava on Apple Arcade
3. Sayonara Wild Hearts
A self-titled pop-culture video game comes next in our list.
Beautiful, eclectic, and neon. This game manages to draw all these together and provide so much more.
Despite the sheer visual splendor that needs to be experienced, Sayonara Wild Hearts can also be a very polarizing game. As beautiful as the game’s visuals are, it still faces judgment as more of a short, interactive music video than a game.
Despite this, I needed to include this title because it perfectly encompasses the purpose of the Apple Arcade subscription. Gamers don’t have to tightly clutch their piggy banks since it’s not about maximizing one game’s true potential (albeit possible) but more about experiencing and enjoying a continuous stream of titles.
Sayonara Wild Hearts creates a captivating short yet must-play entry experience through the seamlessness of gameplay, art, and music that might otherwise be overlooked due to price tag.
Download: Sayonara Wild Hearts on Apple Arcade
4. Where Cards Fall
In a breaking change of pace from the above-posted title, Where Cards Fall tells a captivating coming-of-age story with a much more relaxing stride. The simplistic puzzle game follows the traditional trend of getting the player from one part of the stage to the other.
As one might expect from the title, the twist to the classic formula comes with the cards. The player utilizes cards to circumvent obstacles. At set moments, these cards will stack up and transform into houses to help advance the journey along.
Upon completion of the stage, the player experiences a flashback sequence showing a bit of the youth’s life albeit without any clear language. It leaves the experience more peaceful and interpretive to the viewer’s eyes.
As an Apple Arcade exclusive, Where Cards Fall stands strongly as another thought-provoking piece in their catalog.
Download: Where Cards Fall on Apple Arcade
5. Bleak Sword
As the onslaught of retro-style difficulty and Souls series lookalikes continue, the mobile sphere had laid mostly empty until now. After the much-accoladed release of Blasphemous, an 8-bit challenger arises with a similar skill set of parry, attack, counter, and roll (dodge).
Despite the comparisons to other popular franchises, Bleak Sword can very much stand on its own. The generated arenas only hold so many enemies, and the stages don’t last more than a minute or less. Rather than a full Metroidvania to contend with, the player gets to focus on the satisfying combat elements while facing diverse sets of monsters.
The combat exchange all has a real sense of weight to it which complements the mobile control scheme. To further keep the player focused, the art design utilizes a minimalistic basic black, white, and red to make only the really important details stand out in combat.
For anyone seeking an episodic challenge between busy moments of life, Bleak Sword can offer a welcome respite.
Download: Bleak Sword on Apple Arcade
Apple’s Worthy Subscription
Unlike many subscriptions at launch, Apple Arcade came out the gate with a very strong catalog of titles. For those hesitant to take the free trial, I would encourage you to test these five titles and experience a taste of this worthy boon to gamers.
For those without iOS devices, the wait for Apple Arcade to hit additional Apple devices doesn’t have to be excruciating. In the meantime, check out the best Mac games to play.