This is part 3 of our Apple Arcade rankings. Quick navigation to other parts:

1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75 | 76-100 | 101-125 | 126-150 | 151-175 | 176-200 | 201+


51. Shantae and the Seven Sirens

Description:

Shantae and the Seven Sirens is a colorful and beautifully animated platformer that feels a lot like a Castlevania game. Shantae and her friends arrive on an island for a half-genie celebration, when all of them get kidnapped (except for Shantae, of course). To rescue the half-genies, you must pilot Shantae across different parts of the island to find magic powers that let you explore new locations. All along the way, island wildlife and other enemies stand in your path, and you have to decide how best to deal with them using your hair-whipping skills, magical abilities, or otherwise just avoiding them.

Rank Explanation:

I really dig the straightforward and old-school style of Shantae and the Seven Sirens. It’s also just a gorgeous game. There definitely aren’t many surprises with a game like this, but Shantae manages to execute so well on creating a Castlevania-type game that it’s also hard not to have a good time with it.



52. The Bradwell Conspiracy

Description:

An accident has happened at the newly opened Bradwell Museum, and somehow everyone was able to evacuate except for you. In this desolate first-person adventure game, you solve a bunch of environmental puzzles while winding your way through this museum which leads you to the discovery (shocker!) that everything isn’t quite what it appears to be.

Rank Explanation:

I didn’t really know anything going into The Bradwell Conspiracy, and I think that’s the best way to approach it. It’s much more of a puzzle game than I was anticipating, and a pretty creative one at that. It doesn’t always execute on its ideas as elegantly as it should, but The Bradwell Conspiracy gets high marks for trying a bunch of new ideas and doing right by a good number of them.


53. Chameleon Run+

Description:

This acclaimed runner from Noodlecake has made the "jump" to Apple Arcade. Chameleon Run+ is full of pre-designed levels built around a color switching mechanic akin to Ikaruga or Kalimba. Your character runs automatically, but can only touch and run along platforms that match their color. Complete challenges or simply try to survive by jumping and switching color until you reach the end goal.

Rank Explanation:

Chameleon Run+ is one of my mobile gaming blind spots. I never played it and never assumed it would age well or appeal to me. I was wrong. This game isn't immune to the passing of time, but it is a really well made runner with tough-but-fair challenges and a phenomenal game-feel. I'd certainly love to see more exclusive or exciting games added to Apple Arcade, but this one is welcome nonetheless.


54. Cat Quest II

Description:

Cat Quest II is a bigger, bolder version of the fantastic Cat Quest. As the name might suggest, these games are fantasy role-playing games where you play as a cat. You wander what looks like an overworld map in most games, but this operates as the primary view for doing just about everything in the game, including combat. Cat Quest II ups the ante by offering co-op play (where player two is a dog!), a larger world, and more stuff to do, find, and discover.

Rank Explanation:

Cat Quest II is one of those sequels that is just more of the first game. This is by no means a bad thing. Cat Quest was super charming and fun, so I’m glad there’s now more of it to play. It does feel a little odd as a game somewhat designed around co-op, though. Also some of its systems are a little too easy to exploit, making the game a bit too easy.


55. NUTS - A Surveillance Mystery

Description:

NUTS is a narrative adventure game about a young researcher sent into a forest to document the life and habits of squirrels. You do this by wandering the wilderness and setting up cameras and other observation gear before going back to your RV to see if you were able to gather the intel you were looking for.

Rank Explanation:

What starts as a novel meditative experience quickly gives way to a curious mystery that only gets more puzzling as you continue to capture the habits of these strange squirrels. It certainly helps that NUTS is super stylish and has a lot of fun quirks in the way it controls, though I wish some of observation challenges were a little less convoluted and tedious.


56. Manifold Garden

Description:

Manifold Garden is a mind-bending puzzler where you can adhere to any surface or fall infinitely off of cliffs as you explore an unsettling, non-euclidean environment. It’s very minimal in its presentation, but that’s part of what makes the game so mesmerizing.

Rank Explanation:

Every time I complete a puzzle in Manifold Garden, I’m in awe. For a game that gives you an amazing amount of freedom, it’s impressive how the game keeps coming up with ways to block your path. Sometimes the challenges here are so tough that I wander aimlessly for a while (not great for a mobile game!), but in dedicated play sessions, Manifold Garden is an immersive treat.


57. The Last Campfire

Description:

In The Last Campfire, you play as a lost traveler named Ember, who is searching for a way home. What you discover in this strange land is other people who have been mysteriously trapped here as well, and by solving puzzles, you can help them move on. Travel between various different locations and complete anything from sliding block puzzles to more standard fetch questing in this mysterious narrative puzzle game.

Rank Explanation:

The Last Campfire is a competent and varied puzzle game that feels almost like what a PC or console version of something like Monument Valley might look like. Environments are more spaced out, and the variety of puzzles expands beyond simple traversal (though that is a big part of this game). I don’t love the way the game controls, particularly how it forces you to make distinct swipes or turns to activate switches once you’ve tapped to activate them, and it’s not exactly bursting with new ideas, but The Last Campfireis enjoyable nonetheless.


58. Bridge Constructor+

Description:

Bridge Constructor+ is all about (you guessed it!) building bridges. Plot out planks of wood and reinforce them with struts, steel beams, cables, and more in hopes of being able to support the weight of traffic seeking to drive across them. This ends up feeling like a physics puzzle game that rewards ingenuity and smart planning.

Rank Explanation:

I've been pretty down on more recent bridge construction games because they seem to be built specifically for people who play a lot of bridge constructing games and therefore spike in difficulty very quickly. Bridge Constructor+ feels refreshing because it specifically doesn't do that, and building quality bridges while dealing with budget and weight constraints is fun, even if it doesn't involve zombie hordes or portals.


59. Threes!+

Description:

Slide over, imitators (I'm looking at you, 2048), the original number-combining tile slider has hit Apple Arcade. This is a game about making the number three and then combining it over and over again to make higher multiples for a high score. The only catch is that every slide you make moves every tile on the board, so you have to be strategic with your slides.

Rank Explanation:

When it released, Threes! was a revelation--a truly new puzzle format that could draw just about anyone into its unique grasp. I still appreciate Threes! from this historical perspective, but I honestly have a hard time going back to play it. Each new run has this long ramp of setting up your board that I find tedious. It's still a good game, but not exactly for me.


60. Star Trek: Legends

Description:

The entire Star Trek universe has been sucked into a mysterious force known as the Nexus, and it's up to the crew of the USS Artemis to discover what exactly is going on. As you play, you'll be able to outfit the crew of this ship with fan favorites across nearly every iteration of Star Trek and pit them in turn-based rpg combat when going on missions to figure out what this Nexus is all about.

Rank Explanation:

Star Trek: Legends is essentially a gacha game that you can't pay for. You get new crew members by summoning them randomly through your ship's teleporter. There are even timer-based expeditions that you can send your idle crew on between play sessions. It's kind of neat seeing how a non-monetized version of these mechanics can still work for a turn-based strategy game, but the combat in Star Trek: Legends is a little too basic and everything in it take a bit too long for the experience to be engaging for long.


61. Survival Z

Description:

A zombie shooter that takes after Slay the Spire's structure, Survival Z has you shooting, looting, dying, and repeating on loop in hopes building a survivor strong enough to take on overwhelming waves of undead. Along the way, you'll also build up an arsenal of defenses to deploy and survivor companions to shoot alongside.

Rank Explanation:

Survival Z would be dangerously close to my new favorite Apple Arcade game, but it's one of those games that squanders its potential at every turn. I'd love its roguelike structure if it didn't seem so dependent on grinding. Deploying defense structures gives Survival Z a tower defense vibe, but your access to them is disappointingly limited. The worst part about the game right now though is its hit boxes, which allow zombies to hit you from unreasonable distances.


62. Shadow Blade+

Description:

The classic trial platformer, Shadow Blade, slices its way onto Apple Arcade. Take control of a ninja who jumps, dashes, and slices his way through deadly levels in hopes of reaching the exit quickly while picking up every collectible possible along the way.

Rank Explanation:

Apple messed up! They got the wrong Shadow Blade! This game is fine (good, even), but why Apple Arcade didn't do Shadowblade: Reload+ is confusing. It's a game that looks and feels better while also offering more challenges outside of its standard levels. Shadow Blade+ is still a good platformer, but its a little disappointing to know there's a better game that could've come to the service.


63. Grindstone

Description:

Capy’s addition to Apple Arcade is a match-three title where you control a barbarian who is slashing through patterns of creeps to meet certain kill goals in order to gather loot that will let you take on even tougher challenges.

Rank Explanation:

Grindstone has a great premise for a mobile game, which is probably why there are already games on the App Store that do what it does, and better. It’s not a bad game, but it’s not terribly exciting, either.


64. TinyCrossword+

Description:

TinyCrossword+ is exactly what it sounds like. This game serves up micro-puzzles with 5-6 rows and columns each and serves up clues for you to start filling in the blanks with. As you go, you unlock harder difficulties, which you might need to overcome with the help of some hints like random letter powerups, highlights of incorrect letters, or straight-up asking for the answer.

Rank Explanation:

A crossword is only as good as its clues, and the ones in TinyCrossword+ are solid. It covers a lot of ground between abbreviations, pop culture knowledge, idioms/sayings, and more with its riddle-like hints. I do wish the game's keyboard felt a little more snappy, and it only took me a dozen puzzles or so before I got a repeated clue, but knocking out a tiny crossword on the daily as part of my Apple Arcade experience feels nice nonetheless.


65. Tetris Beat

Description:

This Tetris variant combines rhythm game mechanics with the timeless block-stacking puzzle game that practically everyone knows and loves. Play with a backing track of modern (mostly electronic) music, with two modes that require and reward timing actions to the beat of the music, and one that serves up the standard classic version of Tetris while the music just plays along in the background.

Rank Explanation:

This is not a Tetris game, but I think that's ok! Its new game modes are interesting and fun, mostly because the soundtrack here is actually pretty varied and current while avoiding piling up any cliche mega-hits or novelty songs. If you're just interested in playing plain old Tetris, I'm not sure the controls are up to snuff here, but they work really well for the timing-based rhythm variants that seem to be the focus of this title.


66. The_Otherside

Description:

The_Otherside feels like if someone made Stranger Thingsinto a board game. It’s a retro-styled turn-based game where you control up to four party members in an effort to close otherworldly gates, all while defending themselves from the hellish creatures that come through them.

Rank Explanation:

It’s hard not to draw comparisons between The_Otherside and Zombiecide: Tactics and Shotguns. They’re extremely similar digital board games that involve a lot of enemy crowd control, dice-based combat, and environment exploration. All of those elements are pretty well executed here though, and I’m happy to have a new strategic board game added to my library.


67. Cricket Through the Ages

Description:

Learn about the history of cricket as you have two astronauts throw space rocks at each other. Cricket Through the Ages is a goofy physics game where wild-armed players "play cricket" by flailing about wildly. There is a competitive aspect to this nonsense, but it’s not the main focus.

Rank Explanation:

Cricket Through the Ages is most enjoyable when things are going out of control on screen. Fortunately, this is often the case, as this game goes out of its way to be completely absurd in the best ways possible. Although I enjoy this game quite a bit, Cricket Through the Ages loses some points for feeling a bit too much like it’s cribbing from Colin Lane’s games. There are also times where the physics buffoonery works against you in frustrating ways.


68. No Way Home

Description:

This is a sci-fi exploration-based action adventure game where you play as a human that has just woken up after drifting through space for nine million years. Lost in an alien galaxy, you take on missions, upgrade your ship, and try to discover a way back home.

Rank Explanation:

No Way Home is a game that borrows mechanics from a few different popular genres. It’s exploration-heavy like Castlevania, has a crafting system like a survival game, and features dual-stick shooter combat. All of these disparate parts are pretty cool, but they don’t gel together as well as they could. As a result, No Way Home feels a bit disjointed and aimless, despite having some neat ideas.


69. Dead End Job

Description:

Dead End Job is like The Real Ghostbusters with a toned-down Ren and Stimpy aesthetic. You wander through haunted areas, busting ghosts using standard dual-joystick shooter controls. All the while, you’re earning upgrades and money, which can help you take on even more powerful poltergeists. Although it looks like a pretty casual game, Dead End Job can be rather punishing to all but patient and deliberate players.

Rank Explanation:

There’s a lot to like about Dead End Job, but its action-oriented nature makes it best suited for controller play only. This limits its appeal on devices meant for on-the-go play. Also, it’s not that hard to find other, better dual-stick shooters on iOS outside of Apple Arcade.


70. ShockRods

Description:

This is a car combat game, but it moves and plays like a typical third-person shooter. You compete in classic multiplayer shooter modes like capture the flag and team deathmatch, but you control a car that can go from moving forward to strafing sideways no problem. As you play, you can unlock new cars to customize your automotive avatar.

Rank Explanation:

ShockRods feels like an old shooter, but in all the right ways. It’s not trying to make too much sense, and prioritizes gameplay that feels good to make you want to keep playing it. I can’t say this game is too fun on a phone using touch, but using an iPad and a controller it’s a fun throwback multiplayer game.


71. Spyder

Description:

Play as a super-spy who also happens to be a robot spider in this puzzle/platformer. Crawl all over the surfaces of submarines and trains to do things like hack computer terminals, defuse bombs, and vent deadly gas to keep your team one step ahead of the bad guys.

Rank Explanation:

Spyder makes a pretty good first impression. It has nice visuals, a creative and fun conceit, and its level designs are actually quite clever. The only thing really holding this game back is its camera controls, which are pretty bad regardless of whether you’re playing via touch or controller. If the camera here improves, I could see Spyderleaping a bit futher up this list.


72. Legend of the Skyfish 2

Description:

Legend of Skyfish 2 is the second game in Mgaia’s Zelda-inspired action/adventure series. You play as a Red Hook Guardian, a kind of warrior armed with a fishing rod that you use to bash enemies and pull yourself around environments to solve light puzzles. This game builds on the first primarily through adding a quest system and a somewhat open, interconnected world.

Rank Explanation:

My issue with the first Legend of Skyfish game was that it was too easy, and this is still a problem in Skyfish 2. The whole game is incredibly linear (even the quests are supposed to be done in a specific order) and it feels trivial to blaze through just about everything that stands in your way. Even the puzzles don’t take much thought to complete. The game looks nice though, plus sometimes it feels good to play a game that makes you feel overpowered.


73. Winding Worlds

Description:

Do your best to fix everyone’s problems in this surreal, narrative adventure. Winding Worlds has you controlling a character as he leaps between mini-worlds, chatting up the people there, and trying to find ways of solving whatever has gone wrong there.

Rank Explanation:

Winding Worlds is a pretty simple game, but massive props to KO_OP for designing a title that plays beautifully in landscape on iPad and portrait on iPhone. The game itself is pretty short, and its story is a basic parable, but its gameplay is varied enough and the writing is charming enough to make it enjoyable... enough.


74. Creaks

Description:

Amanita Design’s second release on Apple Arcade is a more standard puzzle adventure than Pilgrims. Creaks has you playing as a young man who is lost in a mysterious world found through a crack in his apartment. The challenges here are ones of traversal, and most of your time is spent figuring out how to manipulate your environment to hit the right switches you need to move forward.

Rank Explanation:

Creaks hit during a wave of Apple Arcade duds hit the service, and even then it’s nothing too fancy. Of course, it has the signature Amanita Design style, but otherwise feels like their take on Inside (a thing quite a number of Apple Arcade games have done for some reason). It’s a totally solid experience that is helped a lot by its audio and visual design, despite feeling a tad derivative.


75. Don’t Bug Me!

Description:

Don’t Bug Me! is a sort of off-kilter tower defense game where you play as an astronaut defending mission-critical space hardware. This game merges the basic tenets of tower defense with resource management, real-time strategy, and light shooter elements.

Rank Explanation:

This is very much one of those games that is more than the sum of its parts. Don’t Bug Me! isn’t especially challenging, or long, or deep, but it does what it does well, and presents everything in a pleasing and colorful low-poly style. It’s just a nice and inviting experience that feels well-scoped for a service jam-packed with long games fighting tooth-and-nail for your attention.

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