Top 25 best Apple Arcade games in 2023
Let's talk about the best Apple Arcade games in 2023 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 200 games on it, and unlike the majority of titles 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 titles, 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 25 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 title onto the service every week, most weeks, right up until recently. Then, at the start of April 2021, 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 it 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 25, 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 title. 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 - 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, 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 title 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 it suitable for anyone looking to get lost in a fantasy adventure. While it’s not currently complete, if the Fantasian’s second half matches even a sliver of its first half in quality, it will continue to be an absolute must-play Apple Arcade title"Download the Fantasian from the App Store!
The Oregon Trail (Gameloft)
The Oregon Trail was not a title 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 Oregon Trail 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, but one flooded with majesty, verticality and mystery. This means that there's an almost constant sense of wonder and awe throughout The Pathless, 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 the ones available on this service. It's easily one of the most memorable and impressive Apple Arcade games.Download Butter Royale!
An award-winning puzzle title filled with clever mechanics that make it feel like much more than a gem-collecting competition. 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 title 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 this colourful world, from messing with the park ranger to racing go-karts... and almost every month since launch there have been major updates added to the Sneaky Sasquatch, 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!
Kingdom Rush: Frontiers
A good iOS tower defence game is always a good idea, right? Kingdom Rush: Frontiers is an amazing pick for those looking to play something strategic but fun at the same time. You can plan which units to deploy, upgrade them, and try to pass as many stages as you possibly can. Part of the famous Kingdom Rush series, Frontiers spans across many different lands, features land-exclusive obstacles and is overall heaps of fun!
One of the best Apple Arcade games you can currently enjoy in the strategy TD genre, and definitely one of our personal favourites.Download Kingdom Rush: Frontiers
Crossy Road Castle
Do you think Crossy Road was a fun challenge? Then you need to give Crossy Road Castle a shot because it's the epitome of a challenging game. You no longer have to answer the age-old question 'why did the chicken cross the road?' - instead, you have to wonder how in the world did the chicken enter the castle and keeps climbing?!
In essence, the gameplay is pretty similar. However, you have a much more challenging task, which is climbing the castle. In Crossy Road Castle you can play against friends, partake in exclusive events, and even enjoy the offline mode.Download Crossy Road Castle
Strategy games that have simple visuals are a joy when you're trying to relax, and Mini Motorways is probably one of the best such titles - ever. Your task is to connect various parts of the city with key points on the map, such as shops and cinemas, all the while not creating too much traffic and avoiding accidents at all costs.
It's one of those oddly satisfying titles to master because you can create some truly unique roads and come up with exquisite strategies to beat each individual level. We even have some Mini Motorways tips to help you out, so make sure to check them out if you decide to give it a try!Download Mini Motorways
NBA 2K23 Arcade Edition
If you love basketball, then there is no better choice than NBA 2K23 Arcade Edition. This all-time classic is one of the sports games which offer an authentic experience, enhanced by fully 3D graphics and smooth animations. You have famous players from the NBA competing in tournaments and even live battles.
You can build your very own dream team, and come up with one of the best lineups you've always dreamed of seeing live. Who wouldn't love to see Luka Doncic, Jayson Tatum and Giannis Antetokounmpo playing in the same team?Download NBA 2K23 Arcade Edition
Casual, yet full of (unexpected, may I say) surprises, Solitaire Stories takes a classic and elevates it tenfold. It's a title where you can actually customise your deck design by choosing from several gorgeous decks, learning some interesting stories from the characters you encounter, and trying to beat the increasingly difficult stages.
With several game modes and features available, Solitaire Stories is by no means your typical Solitaire. You'll have challenges, events, contests, and even a global leaderboards system in place to show you how well you're set against other players. Pretty neat!Download Solitaire Stories
Assemble With Care
It is difficult to describe Assemble With Care in any of the usual genres. The closest term to it is "Interactive story." The first thing the game suggests to do is to use headphones. And this is the case when you should not neglect the advice, because if you do this, the amount of pleasure from immersing yourself in the story doubles.
The two things you notice right away are the visuals and the sound. At first glance, they are simple and even primitive, but the more you play, the more interesting it is to get to the next chapter of the story. The gameplay itself is divided into two parts. The first is the very stories of the inhabitants of Bellariva, and the second part is interactive.
You will learn that Maria is an engineer. Exactly half of the game Maria fixes things, and it is each of these things that drive the plot and intertwines the stories of Mary and the people who surround her and whom she helps.Download Assemble With Care
Bleak Sword is a 3D black and white pixelated clicker. Here, through swipes, you need to repel the blows of enemies and carry out counterattacks. Conceptually, it is reminiscent of Dark Souls. Reaction and the ability to remember the behavior of opponents are also important here. Yes, and the setting is similar. In Bleak Sword, little time is devoted to the plot, but with the help of short cutscenes, the atmosphere of very dark fantasy is maintained.
Like any other clicker, Bleak Sword is a good way to pass a couple of minutes on the road. It is most comfortable to play it on your phone.Download Bleak Sword
This is perhaps the most emotional game in the collection, although it looks pretty cute at first glance. INMOST is built entirely around the story, which is served almost without words through very simple gameplay.
There are three characters in INMOST and the missions which replace them. At some moments you need to manage a little girl who has a difficult relationship with her mother, while at other moments you need to play as an elderly man or a knight fighting monsters in the dungeons. Only closer to the end of the story do you begin to guess how the plots are connected.
At the very end, everything falls into place and a long-awaited puzzle is formed in the player's head, which can cause strong emotions. If you like short but touching and sometimes heavy stories, INMOST is one of the top picks for you.Download INMOST
This very peaceful simulator is somewhat similar to Mini Motorways. Here you also need to take into account the needs of the inhabitants of a small city, and all processes are performed in a couple of clicks. But in Outlanders, the player builds buildings himself, collects resources for the inhabitants of his settlement, and also makes sure that everyone has a job and housing.
Outlanders is divided into levels, at each one you need to not only develop your town but also perform certain tasks. For example, you will need to collect enough resources to build a ship, and along the way achieve 100% happiness among the population, providing all residents with houses and food.
At the same time, Outlanders is not too hardcore. This is a great title for those who love city-building simulators and strategies, but just want to relax and look at a nice picture, and not think over development tactics for hours.Download Outlanders
Wurdweb reinvents the traditional word-building board game Scrabble. Firstly, here you can not make up any words that come to the player's mind but can only choose them from the list. You can replenish the list by closing special cells with letters.
Secondly, Wurdweb has many game modes and other options. You can also enable an option in which the main task is to close a certain cell using a limited set of words.
Most of the time the Wurdweb is quite simple, but sometimes you have to think about your next move.Download Wurdweb
Lego Builder's Journey
This is a short and understandable story about the adventure of a father and son, told with the help of Lego bricks. You can finish it in just a couple of hours. But during this time the Builder's Journey manages to show several very different, albeit very simple, puzzles.
The game is distinguished by a picture and nice sound. Unlike other Lego games, it is more like Lego film. It is made as if with the help of stop-motion animation. Thanks to the fact that the developer paid a lot of attention to every detail and the sounds familiar to anyone who has ever assembled a Lego, it looks very realistic.Download Lego Builder's Journey
This simple Apple Arcade game is most reminiscent of the famous series of games about Tony Hawk. Here you also need to overcome obstacles such as ramps, steps, and railings, but in Skate City all this happens in 2D. You can't do special combinations like Tony Hawk's Pro Skater in the game, but you can still score points with constant simple tricks. And by doing tricks and completing numerous tests, you will unlock new areas.
Skate City also stands out for its visual style. The graphics in it are simple, but because of the cozy pastel colors, you don’t pay attention to them. And in general, the simulator looks very warm, and the relaxing lo-fi soundtrack reinforces this impression.Download Skate City
Card of Darkness
Most card games are built around combat and deckbuilding, but Card of Darkness is a different story. Here the player needs to travel around the world, designed in the spirit of the animated series "Adventure Time," and fight on a completely different system.
Each level is a 4×4 field filled with stacks of cards. The player sees only the top cards of the stacks and they need to be drawn to receive different bonuses: weapons, health, or money. And the enemy may also appear on the map.
Everything can be tricky in Card of Darkness. The fact is that you constantly need to think about whether to take a chance and draw a good card, or pass by and meet the next enemy unarmed. And the vertical interface makes the it very convenient to run on the phone.Download Card of Darkness
Sayonara Wild Hearts
Sayonara Wild Hearts can hardly be called a game at all. Rather, it is an incredible audiovisual experience that can be completed in just an hour. During this time, the Sayonara Wild Hearts manages to reinvent the usual mobile runners and mix them with a dozen genres.
The plot is given very little attention here. The main thing in Sayonara Wild Hearts is not even how it looks, but how it sounds. An original pop soundtrack was written for the game, in which each song dictates the rules of the level and its pace. Often it is necessary to perform all actions in time to successfully overcome all obstacles.Download Sayonara Wild Hearts
Manifold Garden is a gaming adaptation of impossible geometry in the spirit of Escher's paintings. It was developed by a physicist and the action takes place in non-Euclidean spaces with endless stairs and no ceilings. Levels allow you to move around this world from the first person and you change it at any time.
Manifold Garden is not just a museum of geometry. The player needs to solve puzzles, which usually involve pressing buttons in the correct order. But due to the complexity of the world, even such simple tasks can bring difficulties. After all, you never know how the world around you will react to your actions. Overall, this title is a real gift for lovers of optical illusions.Download Manifold Garden
There it is, these are the best Apple Arcade games at the moment! You can share your favourites in the comments below, or discuss some of the titles that we are featuring here.