The OK-ish and the Meh — Apple Arcade Review #1
Apple Arcade has been out since September 19th, 2019 and I’ve had time to test a number of games on the platform. The better part of the pack deserves proper reviews that will come in other posts, but many games are just not worth the time. Here an unordered list of games you may want to consider nonetheless, and some I think you can let aside.
Everything is not Lost
Those games would not have appeared in the Arcade catalog, your subscription would have been fine anyway. But I had a good time playing them. You might too.
Where Cards Fall
Where Cards Fall has been one of the first Apple Arcade game I played and it was an interesting adventure. As a player, you follow the main character through his memories on his journey as an aspiring architect. In each level, you build houses of cards to reach your goal and unlock further memories.
The puzzles were challenging, the tactical controls well designed and the visuals appealing. But the game is not perfect. It is somewhat long and becomes repetitive after a while. And the performance on my iPad Air 2 was not great, making control less responsive sometimes, leading to some errors in the interpretation of the gestures.
Exit the Gungeon
Devolver Digital | Dodge Roll
I have to admit I did not spend a lot of time with Exit the Gungeon, mostly because it is not the type of games I usually play. But compared to many of the other titles in the Apple Arcade catalog at the time of release, it was way more refined. And based of the reputation of its older brother, Enter the Gungeon, you will probably have a lot of fun.
If you are a fan of turn-based tactical games, this could be a good pick for you. The game uses popular gameplay mechanics of the genre and is well executed over all. Some may found it lacks some challenge, but Spaceland benefits from good graphics and a classic but mysterious story to keep you engaged.
Lykkegaard Europe Limited
Tint. provides a very relaxing experience and the gameplay is very well suited to touch devices, which is not the case of all Arcade games (I see you platformers).
The concept is very simple: A sheet of paper with several dots of watercolor. Your objective is to connect them with respect of the color.
Unfortunately, there are only a few more additional twists to the formula (like mixing colors) and the game quickly starts to become repetitive if you want to play over long sessions.
The Get Out Kids
Two rebel kids in a spooky town. That could be the pitch of this hyper casual point&click game. The Get Out Kids is pleasant to play even if it is short and that the story is really silly. The relation between the two characters is great, the visuals as well. Some gameplay mechanics and the corresponding controls are difficult to understand though.
Outlanders seems to be a very interesting city-builder. The controls are great, even on touch devices. The visuals are not outstanding but very readable. But the on-boarding missions lost me. The game was very slow to progress (even when controlling the simulation speed). The first missions being short, I had to redo many times the same things to progress. It left me with a well executed but not very compelling game.
Hexaflip: The Action Puzzler
Hexaflip was probably envisioned as a free-to-play title before joining Apple Arcade, but the refactor has been done right. There is no lock, except for the new levels you get with your progression.
The game is a fast-paced two-fingers puzzle game. A strange but interesting mash-up, even including some rhythm mechanics along the way. But after a while, and despite many variations, the game feels somewhat repetitive. However, if you are a completionist, the challenge is high in some cases.
Shifty Eye | Jason Godbey
My history with Discolored is particular, and has probably biased my overall perception of the game. I played it right after The Witness and I was lured in by the promise of a beautiful puzzle point&click, just like the one I just finished.
And indeed, Discolored has beautiful visuals and a great sound design, but the comparison stops there. The game design is far from perfect, and many puzzles have cryptic solutions that do not feel logical. In many circumstances, I just spent my time trying all combinations of objects to finally find the right one out of the blue. Maybe it’s just me. Maybe not.
All of You
All of You is a really cute game. A chicken mother loses all of her children. She goes in a journey to get them back, one by one, one level at a time.
The gameplay mechanics are also unique. On the screen, you get several circular windows, each one giving you a glimpse of the puzzle to solve. But those windows are magic. You can swap them. Time may be paused. Among many other things.
Despite that, many of those puzzles are not obvious or simple to understand, and the game regularly ends up with a lot of trials and errors, which is not satisfying.
Card of Darkness
I have not much to say about Card of Darkness. I’ve enjoyed my time playing it but never got far as I did not like the visuals at all. The mechanics are simple to learn but probably a little harder to master, even if the first levels of the game seemed fairly easy. I fear a sense of repetition might come sooner than later but I did not play the game long enough to feel it.
Your Time Deserves Better
In my opinion, the following games are not worth your time. Many better games exist in the wild, even in the free-to-play space.
Oceanhorn 2: Knights of the Lost Realm
Cornfox & Brothers Ltd.
This seems to be a pretty unpopular opinion but I really disliked Oceanhorn 2: Knights of the Lost Ream. Despite very good graphics, even if pretty conventional, the game is unpolished on every other aspect. The story is boring, not very well exposed, and the gameplay is clunky at best, even when playing with a controller. A shame because I spent a very good time playing the previous one.
The Pinball Wizard
This game did not click with me at all. The controls when played on a touch device were very strange to handle and the ultimate goal was not clear. The Pinball Wizard may not be a bad game. It is just not one for me.
Not much to say about Agent Intercept. I played it when Apple Arcade has been released and it was not very fun. A very repetitive gameplay, not much challenge and low quality graphics.
The case of Overland is tricky. The title has been overhyped by Apple during Arcade press events, probably due to a very distinct art direction. And I have to admit I had great expectations for it. But in the end, the game did not deliver. I’ve tested the game upon release only and it was not worth it. Gameplay was repetitive and not very interesting in the first place. Locations were very similar from one map to the next. Tutorials were missing and many aspects of the game was left to player discovery, which is frustrating in a roguelike game.
SEGA | HARDline
As a hyper casual racing game, Sonic Racing should have been released as a free-to-play game. Driving is very assisted and the challenge is not very compelling once you have removed all the typical boosters and unlocks of free-to-play titles.
Redout: Space Assault
Redout: Space Assault has almost the same issues than Sonic Racing, in a different setting. The game is visually beautiful, but lacks refined controls and the story is not engaging.
Yet another game, probably originally planned as a free-to-play, that has been retrofitted as a premium one. Word Laces is a very repetitive hyper casual word game like we can find legion in the regular App Store.