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For anyone even remotely interested in gaming, Apple Arcade makes a pretty appealing value proposition. Over 100 new and (pretty much) exclusive games for $5/month, with no pesky ads or in-app purchases to dilute the experience. The quality on show is impressively high, too – these titles are, by and large, leagues better than your average App Store find.
That means the problem facing most subscribers is one of choice. How do you dig into such an overwhelming catalog of titles?
We’ve been exploring Apple Arcade since it hit beta release, with each of our five writers picking three of their personal favorites to tell you about. We’ll be slowly releasing their selections, or you can read about all fifteen right now in the Premium section of the app. (We’re currently running a one-week free trial of the Premium subscription.)
Here, we look at three Arcade favorites chosen by our resident gaming expert Jon Mundy. If you’ve found it difficult to know where to start, you could do a lot worse than to try these titles!
Jon’s top three
We’ve seen an awful lot of Puzzle Quest-aping match–3 RPGs on iOS over the years, but Grindstone adds something genuinely new and thrilling to this hybrid genre. Situating your warrior character on the grid lends a sharp focus to proceedings, while cutting a bloody swathe across the screen by linking successive matches is a real kinetic thrill.
The ability to craft and equip items adds a little extra RPG depth to proceedings. And Capybara Games has managed to pull all this off with its usual visual flare, this time channeling a certain irreverent Cartoon Network spirit.
If you were to describe Painty Mob in a sentence, it might be hard to distinguish from any number of cheap and cheerful arcade action games. You are, after all, simply wandering around arena-like levels blasting a growing crowd of enemies with paint bombs.
But it’s the tight execution of the action, the tactical limitations of your primary weapon, and the need to utilize your colorful environment that carries Painty Mob well beyond novelty status. Each garishly hued stage is packed full of countless incidental details, things to collect and explode, and a general aura of chaotic joy.
Card of Darkness
Card of Darkness is a collaboration between indie gaming legend Zach Gage, BIT.TRIP developer Choice Provisions, and Adventure Time animator Pendleton Ward. Which is the kind of fever-dream-team line-up we would never have imagined gracing the App Store.
The result is this beautiful and strange solo card battler, which sees you drawing cards from a grid until you’ve cleared a path to the exit. Those cards have assorted properties – some good, some bad – and there’s a constant, tantalizing balance between risk and reward. Dash to the exit, or grab that treasure? Either way, you’ll have a blast.