In case you missed it, I am on a quest to rank every Apple Arcade game there is.

Over a year into the Apple Arcade experiment, I’m adjusting my approach to these rankings to make it a bit less cumbersome to update and read. For the most part, this means the number of updates on previously released games will decrease, and the text below each entry will be kept to a brief-yet-accurate justification for its positioning.

This has less to do with the pace of Apple Arcade releases and more to do with the fact that the general quality of games on the service simply isn’t what it should be. In the time that one release comes to the service, multiple high quality games hit the App Store that you don’t have to pay monthly upkeep for. Unless something drastic changes with the service, my opinion on it probably won’t change much. With the most recent update bringing older established titles to the service, Arcade is certainly the strongest it has ever been, but additional shakeups like this will need to keep happening to finally sell me on the service.

Anyway, on with the ranking updates:

Game ranking updates for 4/6:


1. Fantasian

Description:

Step into a world threatened by a robotic infestation and malevolent god. Fantasian places you in the shoes of Leo, a mysterious hero who has lost all of his memories and finds himself serving a larger purpose as he tries to rediscover who he is.

Rank Explanation:

I'm almost annoyed at how good Fantasian is. In a lot of ways, it's a very conventional JRPG, but it is also bursting with remarkable details and innovations that serve it especially well on mobile. The annoying thing about all this is that I can so easily imagine an App Store full of games like this, but for now I guess I'll have to settle with this one existing on a subscription service.


2. Good Sudoku+

Description:

Good Sudoku is a Sudoku puzzle app, but it's also so much more than that. It's a teaching tool that goes out of its way to try and make you better at solving these little number puzzles, no matter whether you've played Sudoku for years or are approaching it for the first time.

Rank Explanation:

Since it's initial release on the App Store, Good Sudoku has never left my phone, and for good reason. It's always a pleasant experience to boot up Zach Gage's love letter to Sudoku and complete the daily puzzle or chip away at the game's thousands of pre-made challenges. This is thanks mostly too the handy tools and warm aesthetic baked into this special game's core.


3. Card of Darkness

Description:

Zach Gage has been making great mobile games for a while now, and Card of Darkness is one of his best yet. It’s a card-based puzzle game where you fight through dungeons by picking up piles cards to create a path to an exit. Each pile of cards can contain weapons, enemies, potions, or spells, and you have to be careful about the order in which you pick up cards if you want to survive.

Rank Explanation:

Card of Darkness has all of the hallmarks of a fantastic mobile game. It’s a simple, creative concept placed in a hyper-polished and convenient package that you can enjoy for minutes or hours at a time. It also helps that every level seems to contain some new card that completely changes how you want to approach dungeons.


4. Guildlings

Description:

Guildlings is a colorful rpg from the folks that made Threes! way back when. You play as Coda, a young girl who comes across an ancient phone with magical powers that turns you into a Guildmaster. As Guildmaster, you enlist the help of your friends to help you go on charming adventures that consist of things like getting your sister to her date at "Makeout Temple" and gathering clams for a grandma’s clam boil.

Rank Explanation:

I don’t think I’ve played an rpg that feels so perfect for mobile before. Not only does Guildlings play beautifully in a convenient portrait mode, but it also manages to feel like a grand adventure in the way lots of other mobile rpgs don’t. On top of this, Guildings is loaded with ground-breaking systems that make it feel unlike any game I’ve ever played. Everything about it feels like a warm hug, thanks mostly to the game’s focus on interpersonal relationships, plus its ultra charming visuals and writing.


5. A Monster's Expedition

Description:

You are a monster who finds themselves on a journey across tiny islands. To cross over to each new island, you need to push and roll trees to create bridges across the water. Along the way, your monster comes across museum exhibits to learn more about the world they are in.

Rank Explanation:

A Monster's Expedition's puzzle design takes a super simple idea and iterates on it both to create unique challenges and an even flow throughout the game. Just as you feel like you're reaching a point where pushing and rolling trees is getting tired, the game introduces a new mechanic or possibility that wasn't there before. This sense of pacing--along with overall immaculate design--makes A Monster's Expeditionan absolute joy to play.


6. Overland

Description:

Overland is like if you took Death Road to Canada and XCOM and smashed them together. It’s a bite-sized tactics game about scavenging and surviving your way across a United States that has been overrun with hostile alien creatures. It’s also a run-based game and hard, so you’ll die a lot and have to restart in hopes of faring better on your next try.

Rank Explanation:

I can’t think of many other tactics games that are so carefully designed to feel like a console experience while also keeping mobile play in mind. It’s run-based nature also ensures high replayability.

Although Overland has a fantastic checkpointing system, it’s not quite optimized to make pick-up-and-play sessions as quick and convenient as they could be.


7. Necrobarista

Description:

Necrobarista is an interactive fiction game about a cafe that also serves as the gateway between the living and the dead. Its story focuses primarily around the former and current owners of the cafe, serving up charming slice of life interactions while also musing on mortality and existentialism. Most of the game involves simply tapping to advance scenes of dialogue, though it occasionally takes breaks to let you wander the cafe space in first-person.

Rank Explanation:

Necrobarista far from a perfect game, but I thoroughly enjoyed my time with it nonetheless. Despite some technical issues and its ability to routinely make my iPad Pro get distressingly warm, I found the world-building and character moments in Necrobarista to be extremely compelling. There is definitely a laundry list of complaints you can weigh against this game, but its style and substance manage to overshadow its lack of polish.


8. Mutazione

Description:

Mutazione is an adventure game of sorts, but it relies much more on interpersonal relationships than puzzles. You play as a 15-year-old named Kai who has been sent to a small island town to care for your ailing grandfather. The twist is that everyone on this island just so happens to be a mutant. As you tend to your grandfather, you also get to know the inhabitants of this small town, primarily through speaking with them.

Rank Explanation:

I find Mutazione to be one of the best-looking titles on Apple Arcade. Something about its art direction really speaks to me. And as it turns out, creating a beautiful world that is fun to look at makes moving through it and engaging with all of its inhabitants that much more interesting. There’s also just some great writing and character work happening in Mutazione that make it one of the most compelling narrative offerings on the service.


9. Roundguard

Description:

Roundguard mixes elements of roguelikes and dungeon-crawlers with Peggle: You know, the packinco puzzle game. Players choose a hero who they then launch at pots of gold, potions, and—of course—enemies. Instead of having a limited number of balls per level, players need to manage their hit points, which lower when bouncing off of enemies or hitting spikes instead of a cushion at the bottom of a level.

Rank Explanation:

It may sound like a bit of an odd combination, but Roundguard is super fun. It’s the exact kind of game that Apple Arcade needs more of: A casual game that’s both endlessly replayable and deceptively deep. The only place Roundguard falters is how poorly it uses screen space. Otherwise, this game makes the case for re-upping your subscription once your trial expires.


10. Over the Alps

Description:

Discover the sights of the Swiss Alps as you weave a tale of mystery in a choose-your-own-adventure-style 1940s spy thriller. You play as an English agent who must constantly evade the authorities on a branching adventure that can takes you all over the picturesque countryside.

Rank Explanation:

Over the Alps is an impressively detailed narrative adventure. You spend most of the game just choosing dialogue options or actions from a preset list, but all of this is incredibly engaging because your choices influence both the story and inform how you should make future decisions so as not to blow your cover. It’s also really well written and every scene in Over the Alps looks like a vintage travel poster.


11. Unleash the Light

Description:

Steven Universe: Unleash the Light is Grumpyface’s followup to their previous Steven Universe title, Attack the Light. It’s an rpg featuring the characters and lore of Cartoon Network’s beloved Steven Universe series, and it heavily streamlines a lot of rpg mechanics into a small, mobile-ready package.

Rank Explanation:

I don’t know anything about Steven Universe, but this game is charming as heck. It feels like a Mario and Luigi rpg, but with characters that have more personality. It’s also really smartly designed so that it feels like you’re on an epic adventure, even though you’re playing through brief levels that are stitched together.


12. Sping

Description:

Sping is an abstract puzzle platformer built around a swinging mechanic. You control a little ball that falls through levels if not for you tapping and holding on the screen to make it grapple and swing around specific anchor points. The goal of each level is to gather as many coins as possible before reaching the exit, and doing so without hitting and obstacles.

Rank Explanation:

There's such delight in the simple feeling of swinging that SMG Studio created here. The game feels simple, but it doesn't take long for Sping to really throw you for a loop with its clever level design. Between the creative challenges and it's incredible look and feel, Sping is among the very best that Apple Arcade has to offer.


13. Dear Reader

Description:

Most word games are about creating meaning from jumbles of letters. Dear Reader instead gives players excerpts from classic novels and creates many different kinds of challenges where you restore the texts to their original forms. It’s a simple concept, but Dear Reader constantly finds new ways to puzzle you with prose.

Rank Explanation:

I’m a proud English major, so when I first booted Dear Reader, I was skeptical. Although its initial puzzles are simple "fill in the blank" challenges that just so happen to be using prose from Pride and Prejudice, the game evolves to present over 20 different kinds of word play across tons of different titles that you can engage with on your own terms. If you want to play at a leisurely pace, great, but you can also turn things up a notch with speed reading difficulty settings and a daily challenge that gets harder over the course of a week.


14. Outlanders

Description:

Outlanders is a small-scale city builder where you manage a small community of rural villagers and attempt to reach goals set by their village leaders. You build small houses, harvest mushrooms, chop wood, etc. but things never get too developed. You need to manage the simple tools here and the available people in your village to do things like produce specific amounts of food or rebuild after a disaster.

Rank Explanation:

Calling Outlanders a city-builder is actually a kind of a misnomer. Although you do manage the building up of your community, the core experience is more like a puzzle game than anything else, with level that set specific, time-based goals. An update to the game brought along a sandbox mode that let’s you go off and build whatever you want, which is definitely the preferable way to play.


15. Tangle Tower

Description:

In Tangle Tower, you play as a pair of detectives, Grimoire and Sally, who are investigating a murder at Tangle Tower, an elaborate and mysterious mansion co-owned by two families. During your investigation, you interview the various family members, inspect rooms for clues, and solve puzzles to reveal new information and push the case forward.

Rank Explanation:

Tangle Tower scores lots of points for its animation work and voice acting molded around a mobile-first design. Characters are bursting with personality and charm. The game also has clever puzzle design mechanics that prevent you from getting stuck without needing hints. That being said though, it can sometimes feel like Tangle Tower pushes you down paths of deduction that you—the player—haven’t put together independently, which can be a little disappointing sometimes.


16. Jenny LeClue - Detectivu

Description:

The world’s greatest detective lives in Arthurton. She’s also a child, and her name is Jenny LeClue. In Jenny LeClue - Detectivu feels a lot like an homage to traditional point-and-click adventure games, but it modernizes a lot of the genre’s mechanics to make things like pixel-hunting feel a lot more like being a real detective.

Rank Explanation:

This game is charming as all get out. It’s also remarkably clever, colorful, and smart. All the ways Jenny LeClue twists conventional adventure game mechanics makes for an experience that requires much less trial-and-error while still feeling like a satisfying challenge. This is definitely a top-tier adventure game.


17. Exit the Gungeon

Description:

Exit the Gungeon is an action roguelite that has elements of bullet hell shooters. You ride elevators and clear floors of enemies that are shooting at you constantly. A couple twists are that 1) bullets can’t hurt you as long as you are airborne (or rolling) and 2) your gun transforms to have different properties every few seconds. It’s a wild, hectic time.

Rank Explanation:

I have a hard time imagining another action-oriented game charting higher on this list. Exit the Gungeon is simply fantastic. It’s endlessly replayable, humorous, and devilishly difficult (without feeling unfair). While it is definitely best played using a controller, Exit the Gungeon changes its mechanics for touch play in a way that makes a manageable (though a bit less enjoyable) experience.


18. Neo Cab

Description:

Neo Cab is a narrative adventure game where you work nights as a cab driver in the cyberpunk metropolis that is Los Ojos. As you drive around, you pick up all sorts of interesting characters and chat with them. While you do this, you need to balance your car’s charge, your driver rating, and try to solve an overarching mystery.

Rank Explanation:

There’s a lot of things I really like about Neo Cab’s look and storytelling, but there’s also a lot of things that make it a pretty poor mobile experience. The game has a great vibe and sharp writing, but there are way too few checkpoints in the game and it’s just a tad too easy to miss dialogue.


19. Monomals

Description:

Monomals is a cute and bright platformer about a fishing competition between animal DJs who are all hoping to catch creatures to help them make their music. The platforming involves piloting a fishing lure underwater through waters full of dangerous fish and other hazards.

Rank Explanation:

This game just has incredible style. It’s colorful, gorgeous, and joyous at every turn. Monomals also happens to be a pretty clever platformer that finds ways to challenge you without ever feeling particularly punishing. As you catch fish in the game, you unlock tools for a music creation mode, which is a fine-but-superfluous addition to addition to the game.


20. WHAT THE GOLF?

Description:

Imagine an arcade golf game with Katamari Damacy-like sensibilities. That’s What the Golf? It’s a bunch of physics puzzles that are purportedly about hitting a golf ball into a hole, but very rarely is that actually what’s going on.

Rank Explanation:

What the Golf? is a game of surprises. As a pure puzzle game, it’s not all that challenging, but every level brings a new layer of humor and absurdity that makes you want to keep playing to see where it goes. There isn’t much reason to come back to it once you’ve seen it’s tricks though.


21. Spelldrifter

Description:

Spelldrifter mashes up collectible card game mechanics with those of a turn-based tactical rpg. You build a party, customize their decks, and then take three heroes into missions where you battle in close quarters. As you play, you start to unravel a story about how fate has tied your adventurers together.

Rank Explanation:

The first thing I’ll say about Spelldrifter is its tone kind of sucks. It reeks of lame baditude, but you can reduce most of this by simply playing the game on mute. Despite this issue, Spelldrifter has enough variety, mechanics, and depth to make it a really engaging and fun experience nonetheless. There’s tons of cool synergies and combos to play around with, and using that in a tactics-based environment feels really novel in a way that a lot of other Apple Arcade games don’t.


22. Sayonara Wild Hearts

Description:

Sayonara Wild Hearts is a gorgeous game about arcana, motorcycles, and pop music. At its core, it’s an auto-runner, but it’s packed with so much style and charm that you can’t (and won’t) want to just write it off like that.

Rank Explanation:

I love the everything about the way Sayonara Wild Hearts looks, to the point I thought it would be number one with a bullet here before Apple Arcade even launched. Then, I played it and found the controls to be a little swimmy in a way that basically guarantees I won’t revisit it. Also, the music is just kind of... okay? Still fun though.


23. South of the Circle

Description:

South of the Circleis a narrative adventure game about explorers that find themselves stranded in the Antarctic. Along the way, your characters flash back to moments in their life leading up to this harrowing adventure, which also allow you to make some decisions to influence the story.

Rank Explanation:

Although there are some light puzzle-solving elements, South of the Circleis primarily a storytelling vehicle. This is a good thing though, as the game’s voice acting, art direction, and animations are all top-notch. Make sure to check this game out if you’re hankering for a unique story.


24. Cardpocalypse

Description:

Everyone at Jess’s new school is obsessed with a new card game, and she manages to get it banned on her first day. Cardpocalypse tells the story of Jess’s journey through the game of Mega Mutant Power Pets and how it shapes her childhood. Along the way you build your own decks of the card game and play it yourself in hopes of being an unstoppable opponent.

Rank Explanation:

Cardpocalypse has a way of capturing the fervor young children can have for games. There’s a surprising amount of story dividing up the collectible card game action of Cardpocalypse, and frankly, it makes the game way more interesting than it would be otherwise. The card game is competent, but the way its contexualized within the overarching story makes it special.


25. Hexaflip

Description:

Hexaflip is an action puzzle game where you flip a hexagon through environments to reach an exit. It’s got simple controls, but it creates challenge by adding some time pressure to each level.

Rank Explanation:

This game just feels really nice to play. It moves at a silky smooth 60 frames per second, looks nice, and provides great haptic feedback every time you flip your hexagon. Levels are also nice and bite-sized, making it a great title for a quick burst of Apple Arcade action.

The list continues here, or see below to jump to another page:

1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75 | 76-100 | 101-125 | 126+

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Tagged With: List, Review, Tint, Mosaic, cat quest 2, Apple Arcade, Apple Arcade: Ranked, Card of Darkness, Overland, Sayonara Wild Hearts, Bleak Sword, Grindstone, What the Golf, Where Cards Fall, Sneaky Sasquatch, Sonic Racing, Hot Lava, The Get Out Kids, Assemble With Care, Dead End Job, Dread Nautical, Spaceland, Oceanhorn 2, Over the Alps, Jenny LeClue - Detectivu, Pinball Wizard, Exit the Gungeon, Super Impossible Road, Cricket Through the Ages, Hyperbrawl Tournament, ChuChu Rocket Universe, Lego Brawls, Mutazione, Dear Reader, Cat Quest II, Neo Cab, King’s League II, Pilgrims, Outlanders, Down in Bermuda, Fledgling Heroes, Big Time Sports, Dodo Peak, Skate City, Punch Planet, Way of the Turtle, Painty Mob, Mini Motorways, Things that Go Bump, Shinsekai Into The Depths, EarthNight, Redout: Space Assault, Word Laces, Patterned, Stellar Commanders, Nightmare Farm, Spelldrifter, Tales of Memo, The Enchanted World, Possessions., Decoherence, Various Daylife, frogger in toy town, spek., agent intercept, atone: heart of the elder tree, super mega mini party, Guildlings, Shantae and the Seven Sirens, Hogwash, Pac-Man Party Royale, Stela, Don't Bug Me, Ballistic Baseball, Rosie's Reality, Lifelike, Explottens, tangle tower, monomals, yaga the roleplaying folktale, UFO on Tape: First Contact, Takeshi and Hiroshi, discolored, sociable soccer, marble it up: mayhem, Manifold Garden, ShockRods, Cardpocalypse, Steven Universe: Unleash the Light, Mind Symphony, Battlesky Brigade: Harpooner, Hexaflip, Spidersaurs, operator 41, ultimate rivals: the rink, projection: first light, Stranded Sails, charrua soccer, secret oops, loud house: outta control, lifeslide, Crossy Road Castle, A Fold Apart, Butter Royale, Doomsday Vault, Earth Night, Fallen Knight, Fledging Heroes, Hexaflip: The Action Puzzler, Inmost, Jumper Jon, Kings of the Castle, Legend of the Skyfish 2, Lego's Builder Journey, Murder Mystery Machine, No Way Home, Oceanhorn 2: Knights of the Lost Realm, Rayman Mini, Red Reign, Roundguard, Scrappers, Speed Demons, Spyder, Star Fetched, The Bradwell Conspiracy, The Pinball Wizard, Towaga: Among Shadows, Yaga, Beyond Blue, neversong, The_Otherside, The Winding World, Towers of Everland, Spongebob: Patty Pursuit, Little Orpheus, Beyond a Steel Sky, Creaks, Necrobarista, Good Sudoku, The Lullaby of Life, Game of Thrones: Tale of Crows, Next Stop Nowhere, The Last Campfire, Samurai Jack, World's End Club, A Monster’s Expedition, Marble Knights, South of the Circle, Slash Quest, Reigns: Beyond, The Collage Atlas, All of You, The Survivalists, The Pathless, Zombie Rollerz: Pinball Heroes, Warp Drive, Alba, Alba: A Wildlife Adventure, Frogger Toy Town, Lego Builder's Journey, Lifelike: Chapter One, The Loud House: Outta Control, lumen, Marbe Knights, The Mosaic, Mutazoine, Oceanhorn: Chronos Dungeon, Pligrims, Populus Run, Samurai Jack: Battle Through Time, Socialable Soccer, Spongebob SquarePants: Patty Pursuit, Tower of Everland, Winding Worlds, Yaga: The Roleplaying Folktalke, NUTS - A Surveillance Mystery, Survival Z, Spire Blast, Sping, farm it, cozy grove, fantasian, the hitchhiker, wonderbox
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