If ever you needed an excuse to play more games and tuck into Apple Arcade, having to stay at home is a pretty good one!
For those who don’t know, Apple Arcade is a curated subscription service with more than 100 games that you can download and play — all for the cost of just $4.99 a month. The service was originally launched for iPhone and iPad, but is now available on Mac.
To make the most of all these great games, you shouldn’t rely on screen controls. Grab one of the best phone controllers (opens in new tab) you can buy right now.
The sighs from PlayStation gamers, the PC master race and anyone using Xbox Game Pass can be heard across the world, as Apple Arcade is quickly dismissed as “that one with the phone games” that lacks “real video games” to really deliver.
While I will scream from the rooftops that it’s time Apple game a damn about gaming by making the Mac a more attractive proposition for AAA game development, you could not be more wrong about this subscription service.
There are many great single player and multiplayer experiences that make the low-entry price worthwhile. So settle in, pick up your Apple device, and game on.
1. Sayonara Wildhearts
Straight outta Sweden, this is a fascinating award-winning neon-lit rhythm game that takes you on a big visual journey across some of the catchiest songs you will ever hear.
Much like the best albums, the gameplay passes you by fast, as this unique combination of music and art makes for a provocative experience. But also, much like your favourite LPs, you’ll notice something new with every listen — making this a highly replayable, moving experience.
2. Dead Cells+
Dead Cells is that lovely looking 2D roguevania platformer that you’ve probably seen in many game store sales. If you’ve skipped on it until now, you really should dive into this frantic 2D combat with gorgeous visuals and gripping gameplay, because it is one of the best experiences you can get into on Apple Arcade right now.
The randomly generated levels change every time you die, giving you a real sense of challenge that is missing from a lot of mobile games, and forcing you to learn from your mistakes and overcome. It’s truly brilliant.
3. Pocket Build+
Now for something completely different. If you just wanted a sandbox to build your own fantasy world and maintain it — all on a device in your pocket, then Pocket Builld+ is the one for you.
Make hundreds of items and build out your own fantasy world with endless possibilities. It’s quite a meditative experience to get building when on the morning commute.
4. Tetris Beat
Continuing Apple Arcade’s surprisingly impressive library of rhythm games, Tetris Beat pairs the legendary puzzler with an ever-increasing library of bangers to time your tile placements too.
The visuals are varied and attractive, the timing-based gameplay is a great twist on the traditional formula, the spatial audio support for AirPods Pro makes for an atmospheric experience, and with new songs added every month, replayability is excellent.
5. Dandara: Trials of Fear+
Raw Fury’s latest Metroidvania adventure is a fantastic game with gorgeous visuals, lightning-fast controls and addictive gameplay that keeps you hooked for hours on end.
As our female protagonist, Dandara, you are tasked with saving the world from the brink of collapse by navigating large, detail-rich levels with a control system that feels kind of similar to the likes of Celeste with a dash of Metroid combat. Grab a controller and download this immediately!
6. Mini Motorways
Road infrastructure management is a bit of a dry topic. But developer Dinosaur Polo Club has turned it into an addictively simple-yet-deep strategy gaming that is gorgeous to look at and listen to.
Daily and weekly challenges keep the replayability up, and when you get into the flow of planning and replanning routes, it can be a hypnotic experience. The only question now is: what form of transport they will get us to manage next? Air travel? Cruise ships?
7. Thumper: Pocket Edition
I thought it would be a struggle for Apple Arcade to get a rhythm game as good as Sayonara Wildhearts. I’ve been proven wrong by this absolute gem of a mobile game from Drool LLC.
They call it a rhythm violence game and it sure is a darker experience, equivalent to a drug trip gone bad. You are a space beetle hurtling along levels and reacting to obstacles timed to the beat for maximum points. The fast gameplay is utterly addictive to the point you will spend hours without realising it. Seriously, go and play this right now!
8. Old Man’s Journey+
This thoughtful puzzle adventure has won so many awards for its creative visual style, gorgeously heartwarming storyline and its range of challenge that makes you stop and think, while admiring the sights and sounds.
It is an emotional gut punch to play for sure, and makes for an unforgettable game, which you can now play through Apple Arcade.
9. Alto’s Odyssey: The Lost City
Alto’s Odyssey has mesmerised players in the past with its minimal art style and grasp gameplay. Now, the team at Land and Sea games take you to the desert in a unique visual feast of an endless runner. You’ll love the serene style and bask in your own success of nailing tricks with the simplistic controls.
Simply put, if ever you’re in a waiting room and need something quick to pull out and play, this is a great option.
10. Amazing Bomberman
Music-driven Bomberman? It’s an odd fusion when you think about it, but it works so well in being an incredibly fun experience! Dropping bombs in time with the beat and taking on competitors online makes for a great commuter-friendly short burst of excitement!
Much of the soundtrack was written exclusively for Amazing Bomberman, and many of the songs slap. This is a simple game with plenty of depth for tactical play and an extra wrinkle of rhythm-based gaming that makes it a must-play on any iOS device.
11. Castlevania: Grimoire of Souls
What else do I need to say that isn’t immediately clear from the title and the visual? It’s a 2D Castlevania game, available for free on Apple Arcade.
The gothic fantasy series returns for a classic side scrolling action game with a slick visual style and gripping soundtrack, along with that gameplay you know and love from Castlevania.
12. Oceanhorn 2
You will never ever get Zelda on Apple Arcade. That much is for certain! But, Oceanhorn 2 comes pretty damn close. This vast RPG adventure pitches you as a young knight exploring the world, fighting enemies and solving puzzles. Provided you get past the tutorial that is far too light for the vast array of actions you can do, but once you’ve got the hang of it, this is an impressive title.
13. Hitchhiker – a mystery game
One thing you start to learn about Apple Arcade is its strength lies in the vast array of unique single player experiences. Hitchhiker – a mystery game is a prime example of that, as its unique visual and audio feast takes you through a twisting and turning tale of finding out about your own past.
The premise of talking to people while hitchhiking across the country is so simple, which allows the on-screen characters to really grip you and the minutiae of its atmosphere to keep you hooked until the credits.
It’s always the unique, simple games that make Apple Arcade worth it and Prune+ ticks all the right boxes with a gorgeous art style and an easy concept: simply drag your finger to grow a plant, then prune it to aid its growth into a beam of light.
Trust me, this is a lot more fun than I could possibly make it sound. Moreover, it’s a commute-friendly game as you only need one hand to play and the soundtrack is really therapeutic.
15. Galaga Wars+
The shoot’em up arcade classic gets a new lick of paint and mobile-centric gameplay in this great addition to Apple Arcade. The short sessions and easy-to-use touch controls make this a great commuter-friendly title with plenty of reasons to keep jumping back in.
Sure, the graphical style of this title is nothing special to write home about — just your standard cartoony mobile title, but with daily bonuses, a range of iconic protagonist ships and characters (including Pac-Man), and controls you can operate with just one finger, you’ll love it.
Crossword games can get a little samey, but this two-person development team has knocked it out the park. Wurdweb is one of the best word-based mobile games I’ve ever played.
The simplistic gameplay with increasing complexity drives the sheer addictiveness of the whole experience, which is expanded further by daily challenges that keep it fresh. Seriously, if you need a quick distraction while commute, this is a great choice.
17. Lego Star Wars Battles
Think a classic Tower Defense game blended with a broader RTS and you’ll get Lego Star Wars Battles. Even to someone who was a little hesitant about this experience, the game is damn good and worth your time!
There are the classic injections of Lego humor added here and there alongside addictive mobile gameplay that is sure to keep anyone entertained on the commute.
18. Reigns: Beyond
My girlfriend saw me playing Reigns and called it “King Tinder,” which perfectly sums up how this works; the beauty of it lies in the simplistic gameplay concealing the sheer depth of the game and your impact upon it.
Much like Tinder, you simply swipe left and right on a series of decisions, which has an effect on a range of key indicators. With this latest iteration, however, Nerial Limited has thrown all of that royalist stuff out the window and given us a fascinatingly unique sci-fi story to play through.
The core binary decision gameplay is still going strong with some surprises thrown in there for good measure. Simply put, there’s nothing else around that is quite like this.
Reading the words “from the creator of Final Fantasy” are usually enough to make anyone pay attention, but Fantasian is an incredible game in its own right as well.
At its core is a fundamentally classic JRPG inspired by Final Fantasy VI, with deep, tactical, turn-based gameplay and a story with plenty of intrigue and many layers to keep you hooked.
Best of all, this gripping gameplay and story is held together by a simply stunning visual style that blends fluid animation with real-world dioramas (over 150 were built) for a game unlike anything else you’ve set eyes on before.
20. Solitaire Stories
As the range of experiences on Apple Arcade starts to expand, so does the room for some casual titles that will help pass the time when your partner watches something boring on the TV.
Enter Solitaire Stories: solitaire with a story mode. While you won’t care one iota about the storyline, the levels are taxing and visually varied. You’ll have a lot of fun with this one.
21. Lego Builder’s Journey
Think Monument Valley but with Legos, and you’ll get to summing up Builder’s Journey. Telling the simple story of a father and son finding their way through a Lego world, this isometric puzzler is all about building paths to navigate across 34 lengthy M.C. Escher-esque stages.
No spoilers, it’s jaw-dropping how much of an emotionally wholesome plot this delivers through such a minimalist design. You’ll come to love the chilled outlook and feel of Builder’s Journey and the brain-teasing gameplay will keep you hooked all the way through to the credits.
22. The Pathless
You may have seen The Pathless before as a trailer on one of Sony’s PS5 game showcases. It’s a puzzler that is ambitious in scale, paired with a gorgeous orchestral track and a visual style with real personality.
Giant Squid’s beautiful open-world drips with atmosphere as you navigate with grace (thanks to fluid movement mechanics at its core) to come across a whole range of environmental puzzles, packed with lore that adds to the fantasy story.
Something of this scope proves the bonkers value for money of Apple Arcade, as The Pathless alone is more than worth the price of admission.
23. ChuChu Rocket Universe
Is anyone here old enough to remember the Dreamcast? ChuChu Rocket was not the most graphically intensive game at a time when polygons meant everything in the impending shadow of the PS2 launch — the black box that (spoiler alert) went on to eventually kill Sega’s console aspirations for good.
But once that passed, people realized just how good of an action puzzler ChuChu Rocket was, and it turns out, guiding ChuChus through mind-bending levels works really well on an iPhone.
If you want a sense of nostalgia without blowing the dust of your Dreamcast in the attic, or you don’t even know what I’m talking about and just want a good puzzle game, this is a great option to pick up and play.
24. Assemble With Care
In this unique experience, ustwo Games tells the story of Maria — a repairperson extraordinaire who’s paying for a continental journey by fixing things for customers, spanning from old gadgets to items of sentimental value.
The one-handed touch controls, bright visuals and chill soundtrack make for an easy experience to pick up and play for those of all ages. And each fix reveals a heartwarming undercurrent of wholesomeness.
Yes, we can see the irony of playing a game all about repairing stuff on a device that is notoriously hard to repair. But that doesn’t stop us from loving the calm methodical gameplay of this charming adventure from the minds behind Monument Valley.
25. Bleak Sword
Think about what would happen if you put the tough-as-nails combat of Dark Souls into a game that shares a lot of graphical inspiration with Undertale, and then stick that game on a touchscreen device. Sounds like hell, right? Well, you’d be wrong.
With arguably the best combat gameplay system I’ve ever experienced, Bleak Sword is a tense action game consisting of dodging, parrying and slaying a whole slew of monsters in dungeons that drip with gothic 8-bit atmosphere.
This is a Souls game boiled down to its essentials and made a cinch to play on the go.
And now, for something completely different. One key benefit of Apple Arcade is the sheer variety of experiences available — and the game Mutazione is a shining example of that.
To call this an “adventure game” (as so many people have done) misses the point in the same way that calling it a “gardening game” does an injustice to Die Gute Fabrik’s creation. Yes, tending to your garden is at the core of this title, but it’s about the experience as a whole.
From the immersive story and atmosphere that grabs you by the scruff of the neck from your first button press, to the hypnotic gameplay tropes that encourage you to slow down and take in the world. Mutazione is a unique title that you have to try.
Yes, a first-person game where you set up cameras to catch a fleeting glance of a squirrel does sound dull on paper, but stay with me. Under the skin of this relaxing puzzler is a small, but brilliant story of mystery and intrigue, one that brings an “all is not as it seems” level of creepiness to the affair.
And I’d be remiss to not shine a spotlight on the incredibly stylised visuals — the art design is striking and makes this a memorable experience on its own merit.
Did you have a crappy day at work? Usually, there are two gaming remedies. You can either go on a murderous rampage in one of the more violent titles out there, or you can pick a relaxing experience to sink into.
Patterned is firmly in the latter column, offering the laid-back mental stimulation of jigsaw puzzles to an ever-evolving zen piano soundtrack. The puzzles themselves are visually stunning and there’s something fulfilling about finishing a particularly difficult one and seeing the end result.
Strategy games are tricky to pull off on a touchscreen, but Overland nails this handily with an addictive turn-based system that brings near-chess levels of thinking to a post-apocalyptic road trip.
Whether it’s grabbing more fuel for your car, rescuing a survivor or picking up essential supplies, your journey across America is accompanied by a unique visual style and a difficulty level that will really test you.
30. Beyond Blue
Think of this as a BAFTA-winning playable episode of Blue Planet with a captivating storyline running throughout. Beyond Blue proves that Apple Arcade is not just for mobile games, as it is an immense visual feast for the eyes across Apple TV and Mac.
Jump into eight untouched ocean locations and discover the unbounded mysteries of these depths. In fact, developers E-Line Media actually partnered with Blue Planet makers BBC Studios and some of the leading ocean experts, to create something that is both educational and jaw-dropping.
31. Monument Valley 2
Monument Valley 2 takes that same gorgeous, perplexing perspective puzzler you loved in the original game and expands on every element. It is an excellent, meditative, mindful time that refuses to let go of your attention until the credits roll.
And if you have played it before, the fact you get this for free now on Apple Arcade is just as good of a reason as any to play it again. Oh, and the original is also available too! Not to say there’s any real canon to the whole thing that means you should play them sequentially, but it’s more beautiful puzzling for your money!
32. Dear Reader
Another of the more relaxed pace games on this list with an interesting gameplay twist. The premise is simple: read some of your favourite books and complete wordplay puzzles within them, whether its solving anagrams, arranging words in paragraphs or filling in the blanks.
If you’ve had a stressful day at work and just want to do some laid back gaming, this is a great way to go.
33. Splitter Critters+
A 2D platformer with a fascinating twist that plays really well on a touch screen — Splitter Critters tasks you with making from point A to point B with the added help of being able to split a level apart and move the pieces around to make a path. The further you go, the more engagingly intricate the puzzles become.
This is a great addition to any iPhone library, for those who need a quick commute time waster with some extra charm.
Amanita Design, the Czech indie studio known for classics like Machinarium and the psychological horror Happy Game, created this gorgeous immersive puzzler that tells a gripping story about this unique world that gives you those seriously uncomfortable vibes.
Avian folk and deadly furniture monsters wait for you at every turn as you navigate an incredible series of puzzles and discover more about the unusual goings on.
35. Gibbon: Beyond The Trees
The latest addition to Apple Arcade is both a timed exclusive to iOS and one of the best uses of free form movement in an iPhone game.
The concept is simple: you are part of a family of gibbons who find themselves lost in a dangerous world. To get around these beautiful hand-painted 2D levels, you will use a gameplay movement system based on brachiation, the way real gibbons swing through the trees. You’ll have a blast playing through this hour-long campaign.
36. Gear.Club Stradale
Apple Arcade never really had a racing pedigree. That was until Gear.Club Stradale arrived. Think of it like the passion for car culture you see in old Test Drive games, mixed with the quick arcade drop-in racing style and handling of Forza Horizon.
It’s an addictive mix that, while it may not have the depth of a console racing sim, it’s great to just pick up and play, with slick menus that get you straight into the action in seconds. Plus it doesn’t hurt that its ruddy gorgeous.
37. Cooking Mama: Cuisine
I’ve always loved the Cooking Mama games on Nintendo DS — another classic bit of Nintendo weirdness that gave you the mini game-esque gameplay of a Warioworld with the challenge of cooking tasty dishes.
The iPhone is a great system for more cooking action, as this is an addictive blast for quick commutes and long evening sessions alike.
38. Horizon Chase 2
If the sim-esque nature of Stradale doesn’t capture you, then Horizon Chase 2 is the arcade greatness you’re looking for. High speed racing gameplay that takes inspirations from the 90s classics of old such as Outrun is a great bit of action to jump into on your commute.
The visual style is gorgeous, the multiplayer is addictive and there’s plenty of content to sink your teeth into.
Football Manager is easily one of the best sports management sims out there, and you can play it on-the-go on your iPhone or iPad. That same addictive, strategic experience is present and it makes all commutes fly by in a flash.
If I had one small issue, it would be that on-screen elements like buttons are too small at times, but for what you get, this is a brilliant game worth your Apple Arcade subscription.