Apple’s video game subscription service, Apple Arcade, has been around since 2019, offering a staggering selection of more than 200 games to play on your iPhone and iPad.
While it’s easy to download a trial and try out each game on the service, that’s a lot of games to pick through. We only have so much time on this Earth before Death’s skeletal hands reach out and pull us into the mire. Luckily for you, we’re here to help you squeeze more out of life before you expire.
Whether you want a grand adventure, a short story, some platforming fun or deep strategy, there’s an Apple Arcade game on iOS for you. So let’s dive into some of the best iPad and iPhone games on Apple Arcade.
Being a game developer in real life is hard and stressful, but Game Dev Story makes it feel fun and breezy. It’s a strategy management game where you build your own development studio and pump out games for the latest consoles, attend award shows and even build a console of your own. It’s about recruiting the right team, managing their morale and looking for interesting mixes of genres and styles.
A War Shooter? Sure, sounds good. A War Romantic Novel? Weird, but give it a go and see what happens. The aim of the game is to get good review scores, bring home Game of the Year awards and earn loads of money to fund even more complex, ambitious projects in the future.
If games aren’t quite your speed, how about roads? Mini Motorways starts as a meditative strategy game where you funnel different colored cars to their respective depots, lazily drawing out roads with your finger on the touchscreen. By the end of each level, you’re frantically trying to unclog traffic jams, building freeways to bypass the biggest clogs and cursing your past self for every mistake. Play this if you want time to melt away.
From Final Fantasy creator Hironobu Sakaguchi, Fantasian is a classic Japanese RPG on your phone or tablet. It’s gorgeous to boot, featuring hand-crafted dioramas that have been photographed and scanned into the game, making every location you visit pop off the screen. It doesn’t have the most original premise – oh no, the protagonist has lost his memory again – but it’s one of the most approachable, breezy JRPGs you can play.
If a spiritual spinoff to Final Fantasy isn’t to your taste, how about a Zelda ripo… we mean homage. While Oceanhorn 2 is an action-adventure game with more than a casual link (eh? eh?) to Zelda, it manages to exude personality. It’s also really, really pretty.
The puzzles are just challenging enough to keep you engaged, and there’s a constant drip-feed of new mechanics and situations that make Oceanhorn 2 hard to put down — especially since you can play it on the device you’re likely reading this on.
While it’s far away from the most accomplished version of 2K’s basketball game, NBA 2K21 is one of the most graphically impressive games on iPhone and iPad. Yes, it’ll look a lot better if you play it on PS5, but it’s magical that games like this even work on mobile. Plus, you can’t take your PS5 on the bus, can you?
Forget what you know about golf. Take what you know about it and kick it into the nearest bin. Take a golfball and blow it up (disclaimer: don’t do that). What the Golf? sells itself as a golf game for people who hate golf and achieves that exact goal.
If you think crazy golf courses aren’t wild enough, What the Golf? asks the questions: What if you were the golf ball, what if the ball turned into a car and what if golf was actually a different game altogether? It’s daft fun with physics and puns for days.
Sayonara Wild Hearts is a game where you shoot lasers, ride motorcycles and sword fight while listening to pop music. It’s an ever-shifting rhythm action game that constantly surprises across its 20-odd levels. There’s a layer of mastery, a scoring system and a soundtrack that whips. It’ll tame your wild heart.
If you’re looking for a short, earnest, heart-warming story, Alba: A Wildlife Adventure is well worth a punt on Apple Arcade. Where triple-A games often shy away from having something worthwhile to say, this little gem of a game understands the importance of conservation and shows that everyone can do their bit to battle the symptoms of unchecked capitalism. Play it on an expensive phone for maximum irony.
Endless runners are everywhere on mobile, but Alto’s Odyssey: The Lost City is among the best. Featuring a minimalist, striking art style, you snowboard down sand dunes and grind along hot air balloons, dodging rocks and chasms while jumping and backflipping. The more you progress, the longer your scarf grows. It feels like a proper journey, despite its simplicity.
Monument Valley is both a cerebral puzzler and an art piece. It’s mind-melting and beautiful, asking you to navigate through optical illusions and tricks of the camera. To say much more would be to spoil it, but it’s short, sweet, and unforgettable.
Written by Kirk McKeand on behalf of GLHF.