Top 10 best Apple Arcade games
Let's talk about the best Apple Arcade games in 2021 and explain the whole service a bit!
If you've got an Apple device and you're into games, then you almost certainly have an active Apple Arcade subscription. It just makes sense. The service now has over 180 games on it, and unlike the majority of games available on mobile devices, they're totally free of any sort of in-app purchases or microtransactions.
Apple Arcade is, essentially, a subscription that gives you access to a batch of premium-quality games, for a single, simple monthly cost. But, there are now so many on it that, much like with the general storefront, it can become a faff to find a new game to play from the selection.
Here are the 10 best Apple Arcade games, picked by us, for youLet me assure you that it wasn't easy. When it first launched there were already over 70 games available on the service, and it then continued to plod along, releasing at least one new game onto the service every week, most weeks, right up until recently. Then, at the start of April, they suddenly dropped 30 new games onto the platform, including titles such as Don't Starve Pocket Edition and Monument Valley.
- Rather than just learning about the best, you can read about every single Apple Arcade game in our definitive guide.
Monument Valley might sound familiar, that's because the game originally launched many years ago, and has earned plenty of accolades since. Why was it released on Apple Arcade then? Because alongside a fistful of new releases, the platform also saw two new categories added to it: Timeless Classics and App Store Greats.
These two categories included revived and revitalised older titles, as well as a newer version of classics that had been redesigned to not include - you guessed it - microtransactions and in-app purchases.
The award-winning puzzle classic might seem like an obvious choice for our list of the best Apple Arcade games, but it joins titles such as The Pathless, Reigns, Sneaky Sasquatch, Oceanhorn 2, and dozens upon dozens of other incredibly high-quality titles.
In fact, the line-up includes everything from point and click adventure, in Tangle Tower, through to stylish entries in the matching, arcade genre, like Grindstone. These are all games that we've fallen in love with over the years, and so it's been quite a challenge to pick out the best from the service.
But, we've somehow done it, whittled them down to the best of the best. Follow the button below to find out Pocket Gamer's top 10, best Apple Arcade games.
Taiko no Tatsujin Pop Tap Beat
Simple, fantastic rhythm game fun. Taiko no Tatsujin Pop Tap Beat is the latest entry in the long-running series, but the first to make it onto iOS. In order to win you'll need to match the beats on the screen by tapping the appropriate part of the drum - inside or outside - but, it's not a simple, one-button game. Instead, you can register hits on different sides of the drum, and you'll need to do exactly that for a lot of the songs, as they'll require rapid drumming which can only be achieved through alternating hits on the drum.
Gameplay aside, Taiko no Tatsujin is just simple, colourful fun. Almost everything on the screen moves, characters jump up and down, and the bright, cartoon style makes it hard to not smile, even when you're losing. There's also a fantastic selection of music already included with the game - although, as with every iteration in the series, there's always a wish for more.
Read the Taiko no Tatsujin Pop Tap Beat review to find out why it might be one of the Apple Arcade's best games!Download the Taiko no Tatsujin Pop Tap Beat from the App Store!
All of the early footage we saw of Cozy Grove painted it as a mixture of Animal Crossing and Stardew Valley - a slice of life game, but with a wistful, pencil-shaded aesthetic. However, it's actually something a little bit different.
Instead of the open-ended nature of Animal Crossing, or the grinding perseverance of habit that comes with Stardew Valley, Cozy Grove instead has you completing a finite amount of activities each day that you play, taking a traditional quest structure and spreading it out across real-world days.
In our recent review we wrote "Cozy Grove is a really interesting game, I love the style of it and I enjoy the story with each of the characters. It’s a game I find myself going into, at lunchtime each day, as a part of my daily routine - much like Animal Crossing was about a year ago - so it seems to replace the need for a daily bit of casual and cute gaming. Building up my island and unlocking more spirits has been fun - and there always seems to be something new to discover in this world." Download the Cozy Grove from the App Store!
Legendary creator Hironobu Sakaguchi has returned to the jRPG genre with Fantasian, a beautiful RPG set in a world made up of absolutely stunning dioramas. The creator, who is perhaps best known for his work with Final Fantasy, re-established himself as able to work outside of the Square Enix megaplex, thriving as the head of Mistwalker, who created memorable titles like Lost Odyssey and Blue Dragon.
That quality really shines through in Fantasian, within its 150+ dioramas there's so much beauty that younger players will be able to enjoy the visuals to the same level that older players will look at them and fondly remember the pre-rendered backgrounds of PS1 era jRPGs. The story is also compelling, and the gameplay mechanics utterly memorable. Nothing short of a masterpiece.
In our recent review, we wrote "Fantasian is a classic RPG at its core, with plenty of new tricks and a fresh art style to keep it relatable in the age of AAA cinematic experiences. The unique characters are delightful and full of intrigue, the story is engaging, and the visuals speak for themselves.
Having multiple options for controls and a unique way of handling random enemy encounters makes this a game suitable for anyone looking to get lost in a fantasy adventure. While it’s not currently complete, if the game’s second half matches even a sliver of its first half in quality, the game will continue to be an absolute must-play title on Apple Arcade."Download the Fantasian from the App Store!
The Oregon Trail
The Oregon Trail was not a game that we expected to find on Apple Arcade in any shape or form... but Gameloft has done an absolutely amazing job of reinventing the classic, almost-educational-but-known-for-being-nails-hard game.
They gave it a beautiful facelift that dances between nostalgic, pixel-art and other art styles, and also straps a narrative layer onto the game which simply wasn't there before. They've also bundled a whole bunch of different runs in, leaving plenty of room for them to further expand it if enough people hop on board the trail.
In our recent review we wrote, "Whether you're shooting wildlife, caravaning across a perilous river, or playing doctor with your crew, you'll find that this life-management sim provides hours of entertainment, with a constant push to go further, see more, and explore the wild yonder. Adding a new graphical sheen to a game that began as a text adventure is a welcome addition, and seeing the Trail again at its best is enough to trick my nostalgic memory to think that it looks just the same as when I sat down to play it during class, and that's a ticket I would buy again and again. While The Oregon Trail may not be for everyone and it doesn’t add too much to make it the best game it could be, it's a great title to play when you're looking for adventure or peril to overcome."Download The Oregon Trail from the App Store!
The Pathless was one of the first titles that we remember seeing announced for Apple Arcade, and it became an icon for the service during its earliest days, adorning the official site for the subscription. But, it wouldn't release until over a year later.
Thankfully it was completely worth it, a beautiful take on the classic, sweeping adventure game, but one flooded with majesty, verticality and mystery. This means that there's an almost constant sense of wonder and awe throughout the game, and rarely a dull moment. It's also crammed with fun, archery-based puzzles.
Then, then there are the spirit powers, and the combat scenes, both of them completely recolouring the world into stark blue or red. Phew. It all makes for an immensely memorable experience; one that we're going to keep talking about for years to come. Truly one of the best Apple Arcade games!Download The Pathless from the App Store!
One of our early favourites. Roundguard combines dungeon-diving RPG with the classic, Peggle formula. Bounce your way through dungeons, dodging (or smashing) enemies, levelling up, and maximising your journey through each screen in order to keep levelling up and pushing forward through the dungeon. There are even more rogue-lite elements in there too, with some clever persistence and character customisation options that have been added through post-release updates.Download Roundguard!
Butter Royale has been a constant delight for us. A family-friendly battle royale game with a fun, food twist. It's quick, it's action-packed and it's incredibly fun. Not only that, but there has been an astonishing amount of post-release content, including spices, which add a modification/upgrade/mutation style level of variety to your loadout, giving players a level of depth that is rarely matched in games, let alone games available on this service. It's easily one of the most memorable and impressive games on the service.Download Butter Royale!
An award-winning puzzle game filled with clever mechanics that make it feel like much more than a gem collecting game. In Grindstone you have to carve out pathways through matching units in order to clear screen after screen of enemies, pushing forward through the quirky, cartoon dungeons that make up its world. It's got grind in the name, but the clever gameplay and juicy animations make it so that it never feels like a grind.Download the Grindstone!
Alba: a Wildlife Adventure
Alba: a Wildlife Adventure is a great game where you make an impact on the world, despite playing a character. You do that by taking pictures of the animals around the world, picking up trash, and completing signs around the in-game world to teach the residents about the importance of creating a safe world for the animals who share this world with us. It's beautiful, poignant, and it proves that even the smallest actions can make a big difference. One of the essential games on Apple Arcade!Download Alba: A Wildlife Adventure!
Sneaky Sasquatch is, almost certainly, one of our most talked-about games here on the site. It's a magnificent sandbox world where you get to play as a mischievous, curious sasquatch who exists on the fringes of society.
There is, simply, so much that you can do in the game, from messing with the park ranger to racing go-karts... and almost every month since launch there have been major updates added to the game, adding to the already chaotic, wonder-filled concoction. It certainly deserved its place amongst the Apple Arcade's best games at the moment!Download Sneaky Sasquatch!