This is part 4 of our Apple Arcade rankings. Quick navigation to other parts:

1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75 | 76-100 | 101+


76. LEGO Builder’s Journey

Description:

It’s a puzzle game built around Lego. Take random pieces scattered about the world to build bridges, create slides, or solve more complex puzzles. Along the way, you’re treated to a light story and some emotive music.

Rank Explanation:

Builder’s Journey has a lot going for it. It’s a puzzle game where you can actually be creative in building things with Lego, which is a really neat idea. It’s also got a great soundtrack. It even has a great narrative setup. But is squanders almost all of these things at every turn. Its puzzles vary wildly in difficulty (and quality), parts of the game cut out the music completely, and the story goes absolutely nowhere. Add to this how the game has really unresponsive controls and an overly minimalist design (why aren’t the people just minifigs?), and I’m just confused and disappointed.


77. Sociable Soccer

Description:

Sociable Soccer is an arcade soccer game where you build a dream team of footballers to try and take down other players’ teams. Along the way, you pick up other players to add to your roster, which you can use to create alternate lineups or feed to your other players to upgrade their stats. The whole thing feels a lot like a gacha game, except you can’t spend any money on it.

Rank Explanation:

I’m very frustrated by Sociable Soccer. It constantly teases you with gestures at good ideas, but they all turn out to be empty. The arcade soccer is so simplistic that it feels kind of random. Collecting and upgrading players is a ridiculously long grind (especially since the game limits how many times you can play matches). Managing your team involves arranging formations of players, and... nothing else. This is to say that Sociable Soccer has set up a bunch of great structures for creating a fun sports game with rpg elements, but said structures aren’t filled with anything satisfying.

Update: Sociable Socceris a much more substantial game with its 2020 update, but still has a pretty hollow core. It now makes for some good and lite arcade fun, but it can still feel like a frustrating grind. Having more people playing online might help, as CPU players can feel unfair at times.


78. Game of Thrones: Tale of Crows

Description:

Game of Thrones: Tale of Crows is an idle game where you play as Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch. Your duty is to protect the southern lands from all manner of threats that live in the north, and you do this mostly by sending scout troops beyong the wall, gathering supplies, and making decisions about some of the strange happenings that exist in the Game of Thrones universe.

Rank Explanation:

As it turns out, the day-to-day life of the Night’s Watch isn’t all that exciting, at least not in the world of Tale of Crows. After playing the game incessantly over the weekend, I saw a whole lot of repeated events, and not many of them were all that interesting. The silver lining of this disappointment is that the game is designed for quick check-ins, so it never felt like a huge waste of time. I just wish that there was more to discover whenever I did check in on it.

Update: I continued playing Game of Thrones: Tale of Crows after it launched last week mostly because it was convenient. Unfortunately, the more I play the game, the more I'm disappointed by it. Random events repeat far too often and nothing really feels like it has much consequence. It's just beautiful visuals and some light theming, with almost nothing underneath.


79. Stellar Commanders

Description:

A portrait-mode real-time strategy about planetary annihilation, Stellar Commanders pits two players against each other in a plodding race to see who can control the most territories before destroying the environment. Combat itself operates a lot like Clash Royale’s Elixr-based system, but involves a lot more management of node control, and subverting your opponent’s expectations.

Update: People are still playing this multiplayer game! And it’s kind of fun still! It still kind of feels like a slower, clunkier, and less intuitive Clash Royale, but in return it doesn’t have any terrible monetization, so I guess that’s worth something.

Rank Explanation:

The store page for Stellar Commanders looks rad as hell. There’s helicopers, rockets, and tanks deploying simultaneously all over the planet. Too bad this isn’t really how the game plays, or—if it is—it’s not how things start. Matches in Stellar Commanders move at an odd, lumbering pace, where it never really feels like you’re particularly productive. You can only really do single actions at a time and spend a lot of time just waiting to see what your enemy does to see if you can counter it. To be clear, this can deliver satisfying moments from time to time, but it’s not enough to make it something you’ll want to return to regularly.


80. Rayman Mini

Description:

Rayman Mini is an auto-runner much in the same vein as other Rayman entries on iOS. Rayman has been shrunk, and the only way to undo this spell is by running through levels full of huge bugs, jumping on giant leaves, mushrooms, and other flora to specified exits, apparently. As you work your way through these levels, you can gather collectibles that unlock new costumes for your limbless protagonist.

Rank Explanation:

There’s a whole lot of auto-runners on Apple Arcade, and Rayman Mini decides to be the one that stands out by using popular characters and being weirdly technical. Even in early levels, collecting every little item is a challenge that requires a high degree of level memorization and sharp reflexes. Part of this is by design. Rayman Mini wants you retrying levels until you’ve perfected runs through them. The only problem is that I find it overly difficult to navigate levels due to Rayman Mini’s controls, which feel weirdly imprecise and slow given the demands of the game.


81. Explottens

Description:

In Explottens, you are a hot shot pilot who also happens to be a cat. The plane bit doesn’t really matter though, because the game itself is basically just a level-based dual-stick shooter where you can move your plane in any direction you want at any time or just hover in mid-air at will.

Rank Explanation:

Explottens feels like a pretty slapped-together game. Your plane doesn’t feel like a plane, there are extreme swings of difficulty between levels, and there’s a currency that appears before entering levels that doesn’t appear to correspond to anything else in the game. As you play more Explottens the odd choices keep stacking up, and none of them feel intentional, nor do they make the game enjoyable.

Update: The developers of Explottens implored me to give the game a second chance, so here I am, and I gotta say the game is better than I initially gave it credit for. I think this has a lot to do with how the game presents itself though. It seems like a linear dual-stick shooter, but in reality the game rewards you for going back to old levels and replaying them so you can invest in upgrading your craft for harder missions. This isn’t really made clear anywhere in the game, which makes it easy to mistake for something it’s not. It’s still a pretty weird shooter that is still loaded with a bunch of strange decisions, but now I can get some enjoyment out of it.

Update: Explottens got an update that added a new environment and some other endgame content. Unfortunately, though, the endgame of Explottens is where the game is at its worst. Your aircraft has a kind of slippery feel to its movement that can make it really difficult to avoid the more difficult patterns of attacks from enemies, which get more complicated the further you get into the game. While I have an appreciation and understanding of Explottens's structure, it doesn't change the poor game-feel.


82. Samurai Jack

Description:

Samurai Jack’s archnemesis, Aku, has trapped him in a place "between time" where he’ll have to work together with his allies to defeat all manner of dangerous foes. For fans of Samurai Jack, this means a lot of fan service packed into a pretty straightforward action-combat game.

Rank Explanation:

I was initially very excited when booting up Samurai Jackand seeing how much work went in to make the game look and feel like the classic animated series. However, the game itself feels like older licensed games that just kind of stitch together familiar ideas and faces into a game that otherwise doesn’t feel particularly special.


83. Yaga The Roleplaying Folktale

Description:

Much like its full name suggests, Yaga is an action-rpg steeped in folklore. In it, you play as a one-armed blacksmith who is cursed with bad luck. The tsar of the kingdom sends you out on a quest a variety of quests in hopes to break a curse laid upon him by Baba Yaga. When you aren’t simply wandering through areas and fighting baddies, you can take on quests and make dialog choices that shape your blacksmith’s personality and impact the narrative. This, plus a ton of Slavic influence, are the things that differentiate Yaga from other action-rpgs.

Rank Explanation:

Yaga is a fascinating mishmash of things. Slavic folklore, Mass Effect-esque dialogue wheels, action combat, and rhyming couplets all play a part to make this game undeniably distinct. The only problem is, I’m not sure the blending of these component parts ends up making something cohesive.

It’s also worth nothing that Yaga feels borderline unplayable without a controller, but you won’t realize this until you’re in a combat encounter. Fights require a level of finesse that the game’s touch controls simply cannot provide. There’s also some really horrendous load times in Yaga that really kill your momentum.

Update: Yaga has aged poorly. Despite an update that brings a lot of quality of life improvements to it (including an easy mode to make playing it on touch tolerable), the game that hides beneath the stylish veneer is hard to get excited about. The load times are still very much a problem, too.


84. Kings of the Castle

Description:

Kings of the Castle is a super-colorful first-person platformer about collecting diamonds. Your goal is to parkour all over an environment, collecting these gems so you can pay a dragon to free a prince locked away in a castle.

Rank Explanation

There’s a lot I like about Kings of the Castle’s style and sense of speed, but it just doesn’t feel like a great fit for Apple Arcade. First-person platforming is tough, especially if you’re doing it via a touch screen, and the game’s multiplayer mode is basically nonexistent unless you can round up some real life friends to play with you.

Update: Kings of the Castle got some new daily challenges, but they don’t change the core experience in any meaningful way. The first-person platforming continues to show promise, but ultimately just feels too clunky to control.


85. INMOST

Description:

INMOST is a platformer with an emotional story driving things along. You play as a variety of characters through various vignettes, and solve puzzles and learn how these seemingly disparate characters are tied together. To set the mood, INMOST also sports a beautifully dark pixel art style.

Rank Explanation:

I’m intrigued by the story of INMOST, but I don’t really enjoy playing it. The platforming is slow and clunky, and a lot of the puzzles rely on trial-and-error. Instead of feeling challenging—which is what I believe INMOST is going for with these decisions—it makes for a pretty boring and repetitive experience.

Update: I went back to IMOST because I thought I had missed something about the game on my first try with it, but I still find it a kind of bumbling and boring experience, mostly because of the really poor and unresponsive touch controls.

Update: INMOSTgot updated with some improved controls, as well as new areas, puzzles, and story bits. None of this saves the experience for me though. I thought the controls brought it down for me, but now I realize the game--despite looking quite nice--is just dreary, dull, and slow.


86. Skate City

Description:

Skate your way through three different cities, whether just to find perfect lines or complete specific challenges. Skate City is kind of a 2D take on the Skate series, where you aren’t doing crazy trick combos or finding collectibles. Instead, the focus is on performing specific tricks and riding smoothly.

Rank Explanation:

Overall I’m not super impressed with Skate City. The controls are not as intuitive as they look. It’s visuals also look kind of clunky. This, plus the fact that Skate City has very little personality to speak of, makes it feel pretty forgettable.


87. Projection: First Light

Description:

Emulating traditional shadow puppetry aesthetics, Projection: First Light is a puzzle platformer where you guide a young girl named Greta through mysterious, monochromatic environments. The shadowy visuals aren’t just a visual gimmick though. Many of the game’s puzzles require that you manipulate a light following Greta, which can cast shadows and create platforms for you on your journey.

Rank Explanation:

The light manipulation mechanics of Projection: First Light are interesting, but are poorly executed. Shadows that you cast can shift and flicker unpredictably, and it’s almost easier to put yourself in more difficult platforming situations than it is to make things easier for yourself. As a result, it’s hard to recommend Projection: First Light, especially when there’s already a fun platformer with unique aesthetics and mechanics on Apple Arcade (Monomals).


88. Oceanhorn 2

Description:

The follow up to Oceanhorn, Oceanhorn 2 is an action adventure game that bears more than a little resemblance to The Legend of Zelda games. You play as a young adventurer with a sword who journeys into dungeons in order to solve puzzles, discover new items, and use those items to help you with the next dungeon.

Rank Explanation:

Oceanhorn 2 might as well be called The Legend of Zelda: Knockoff Edition. If you’re itching for a Zelda-like experience on iOS, this one fits the bill, but it’s not anywhere near as well designed as the real deal. Oceanhorn 2 also seems designed to take great screenshots, but has moments when in motion where it can look kinda janky. The game itself seems fine, but just feels derivative.

Update: The Golden Edition update to Oceanhorn 2 makes it a sleeker package, but the core of the game itself still feels woefully half-baked. This Zelda knock-off has poor pathfinding, frustrating combat, and is generally just a series of boring fetch quests. Doing all of this at 60 frames per second and with some improved quality of life updates is nice and all, but it can’t save the game from feeling clunky and derivative.


89. Ultimate Rivals: The Rink

Description:

Play hockey using all manner of sports stars, from Drew Brees to Megan Rapinoe, in short, three-on-three matches. Ultimate Rivals: The Rink feels a bit like if NHL Hitz had the sports equivalent of the Super Smash Bros. roster. Each player also has unique skills and abilities, allowing you to create a custom dream team that matches your play style before going head-to-head online.

Rank Explanation:

Ultimate Rivals has a lot of the right concepts down to be a fantastic arcade sports game, but the hockey in it just isn’t terribly exciting. Your players automatically aim for the net and it feels like the game performs some background dice rolls based on your shot power and distance from the net to determine if it goes in or not. As a result, I found a ton of success in the game by just mindlessly shooting at the net as much as possible. I know that part of the appeal of arcade sports games is that they are simple and accessible, but Ultimate Rivals might be a bit too simple for its own good.


90. Hogwash

Description:

Three little piggies are dead set on muddying up a farm, but they have to be smart to make sure they aren’t caught by a farm hand that’s trying to keep the place clean. This is the setup for Hogwash, an asymmetrical multiplayer game where teams of three players try to outsmart one player who is trying to chase down and hogtie all three pesky pigs.

Rank Explanation:

Hogwash is like a family-friendly version of Dead by Daylight, and it’s a decent one of those. Without a horror element though, Hogwash doesn’t feel particularly intense, and therefore a little less rewarding than the game it draws inspiration from. To it’s credit, it seems like there is a decent online community playing Hogwash, but I don’t see a whole lot of promise in its mechanics to make me want to keep playing it.


91. tint.

Description:

tint. is a puzzle game about mixing watercolor paints on a virtual notebook. You paint lines from pools of color in an effort to activate certain colored nodes. The trick is that these nodes might be different colors than your pools, or they might be surrounded by lines of other colors. To circumvent this, you have to be creative in how you have your colors intersect to create new colors while also leaving space for you to activate all notes on a given page.

Rank Explanation:

tint. has a lot of neat ideas, but there are a few things about it that rub me the wrong way. There are arbitrary rules about how many times your paints can be mixed and how to draw your paint lines that make the game feel less like a playful puzzle game and more like a chore. The end result of each puzzle never really ends up looks too artistic either, which feels odd against a backdrop that is so clearly in love with its art-based premise.


92. Beyond a Steel Sky*

Description:

Beyond a Steel Sky is the long-awaited follow-up to the cult classic adventure game Beneath a Steel Sky. You continue your adventure as Robert Foster, who this time is investigating the disappearance of a child after a violent attack in the game’s opening. Your investigation quickly brings you back to Union City, which has been transformed into a bright, technolocratic metropolis as a result of Foster’s actions in the first game. It is here you spend the majority of your time solving puzzles that involve item combinations, dialogue trees, and hacking.

Rank Explanation:

I really want to like Beyond a Steel Sky more than I do. At times, it can feel like Fallout or Mass Effect, but without all the crunchy stats and shooting, but the game is so laser-focused on being an adventure game such that its open 3D environments feel hollow and distracting. Some puzzle sections in the game also follow bizarre logic or are otherwise poor at communicating how you can or should interact with your environment to progress forward (even when using the in-game hint system). This is all made worse by how buggy the game is. Several puzzles bugged out to the point that I spent hours experimenting on puzzles, only to learn I had done the right thing initially but needed to reload the game for it to actually work properly. It’s unfortunate.


93. Rosie’s Reality

Description:

Rosie’s Reality is a puzzle game where you need to build pathways for a robot to reach an exit. You can’t just build any old pathway, though. You only get a specific set of special tiles to build your paths, and you need to use these to avoid enemy robots, jump over obstacles, and take advantage of your surroundings to reach your goal.

Rank Explanation:

There are a lot of neat things about Rosie’s Reality, with the blend of AI programming with traversal puzzling being chief among them. Unfortunately though, Rosie’s Reality is obsessed with its own animations, and it makes for a game that moves at a frustratingly slow pace. If this game got updated to make it a little more responsive to player input and less focused on drawing attention to every little movement on screen, Rosie’s Reality could shoot up these charts. Until then, it’ll hang out right here.


94. Jumper Jon

Description:

Jumper Jon is an exploration platformer where you only have 30 seconds to make it between checkpoints, or else you die. In this way it feels kind of like a mashup between Castlevania and Minit. You race through puzzle rooms, jumping over obstacles and on enemies as quickly as possible in hopes you can make it to a golden feather that will restore your clock to a fresh 30 seconds. Then, you do it all over again.

Rank Explanation:

I don’t care how creative your platformer is if it doesn’t feel good to play. Such is the case with Jumper Jon. The limited time limit makes you feel like you’re speedrunning a game you’ve never played before, but it ultimately doesn’t feel satisfying because of the floaty controls.

Update: My initial issue with Jumper Jon didn’t have to do with a lack of content, but I hopped back into it hoping that there were some hidden control tweaks in the update that added a new chapter with new areas, abilities, and enemies. Unfortunately, there weren’t and trying to speed your way through platforming sections with your weightless, floaty protagonist continues to be pretty underwhelming.


95. Star Fetched*

Description:

There’s a lot of genre-mixing going on in Star Fetched. It’s an action platformer, but it also has a good amount of crafting, rpg elements, and even tower defense. The whole concept of the game is you’re a goofy little space explorer looking to save the galaxy from an imminent alien threat.

Rank Explanation:

None of Star Fetched’s component parts feel fully cooked. Come to think of it, the game just doesn’t seem finished. In addition to feeling shallow on all fronts, Star Fetched has a lot of rough edges. Tons of bugs hamper what would already be a pretty middling experience. It has lots of neat ideas, though so it scores above some other games in that regard.


96. Next Stop Nowhere*

Description:

Night School Studios's contribution to Apple Arcade is a narrative adventure about a space courier who gets wrapped up in an exciting plot after a chance encounter at a watering hole. The game revolves primarily around dialogue and decision-making to help guide the overall story, though there is some light puzzle-solving and spaceship flight sequences where you have more direct control of your character.

Rank Explanation:

I wanted to blaze through Next Stop Nowhere as soon as I fired it up because of its colorful world, clever writing, and tremendous voice acting, but I have decided to put it down for now. The game launched with some pretty annoying technical issues that can make it hard to move your characters, and--more importantly--cause certain lines of dialogue to be cut off from other people chatting. I'm going to wait and see if Next Stop Nowhere gets a little more polish so I can enjoy it in full without these frustrations.

Update: I was very encouraged by the news that Next Stop Nowheregot an update that supposedly fixed a lot of the problems the game launched with, but the game is still unfortunately very, very buggy. Characters talk over each other constantly, subtitles miscue, characters get stuck alternating between animations, and more. I can't wait to play this game, as it seems extremely up my alley, but there's no reason to touch it for now.


97. Fledgling Heroes

Description:

Fledging Heroes is an auto-runner where you pilot various birds through different environments. In controlling birds, tapping in this game causes your bird to flap, and—depending on what kind of bird you happen to be controlling—said flap may behave differently. Some levels ask you to complete certain challenges in order to gather feathers (which then unlock new areas), while others are time trials of sorts that grant similar rewards. There’s also endless modes, boss stages, and even a level editor.

Rank Explanation:

If you’re going to release a runner on mobile in 2019, it better be something incredible. This is a genre that’s been done to death on mobile, so it’s hard for me to muster excitement for these games unless there’s some really creative twist involved. Unfortunately, Fledgling Heroes does very little change things up. The one edge it presents is the ability to create your own levels, but my experience in level creation was marred with bugs.

Update: Updates to the level creator in Fledgling Heroes finally fix the problems it had at launch, plus it lets players share levels with each other. In the time since this happened though, a little game called Levelhead came along and is a much better outlet for level creation and sharing than this game is likely to ever be.


98. BattleSky Brigade: Harpooner

Description:

Launch your bunny pilot into the skies to blast away baddies and collect coins. BattleSky Brigade: Harpooner combines the mechanics of a vertical shooter and a fishing game. As you are launched out on your journey, you want to blast as many things as possible, but when your rope runs out, you cast a net and want to collect as many coins and other currencies as possible. Upon your return, you can use your collectibles to upgrade your ship to take on harder airspaces.

Rank Explanation:

This game feels an awful lot like Ridiculous Fishing, but it is nowhere near as charming or satisfying. The overall game is also slow and poorly explained. BattleSky Brigade: Harpooner feels like a way to waste your time while buying upgrades. It’s certainly not the worst way to do that on Apple Arcade, but nothing about this game comes off as exciting or innovative.


99. Punch Planet

Description:

Punch Planet is a six-button fighting game that somewhat closely resembles Street Fighter. In its roster of six fighters, most special moves are executed using quarter circle motions, though there is one charge character who also doubles as a grappler. The whole game also has a cool, cartoony sci-fi aesthetic.

Rank Explanation:

Punch Planet is a very cool, stylish, and fun experience, except it only feels like half a fighting game. It only has two single player modes that are barely distinguishable from each other and no online multiplayer. Once you’ve cleared Arcade mode, there isn’t much to do, especially considering you can’t even change the AI difficulty.


100. A Fold Apart

Description:

A Fold Apart combines puzzles designed around a "paper folding" mechanic with a story that examines the anxiety and uncertainty of a relationship being put to the test. Each chapter begins with a texting conversation where you can choose from some pre-determined replies. This then transforms into a nightmarish puzzle landscape whenever one person texts something that strikes a nerve. In this part of the game you have to flip and fold your environment to get your character to collect stars in order to press forward.

Rank Explanation:

If I had to think of one word to describe A Fold Apart, it would be immature. The characters in the game have wild overreactions to each other’s messages in a way that feels juvenile. This descriptor also applies to A Fold Apart’s gameplay, which could have used some more time to fully develop. The controls are frustratingly imprecise and slow, and puzzles need a quick undo or restart button. None of A Fold Apart really feels like it fits together the right way.

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1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75 | 76-100 | 101+

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