Hi everyone, and welcome back to my almost daily roundup of Apple Arcade games, called Apple Arcade Unwrapped. It’s similar to my weekly roundup called My Week Unwrapped. At least while Apple Arcade is new, I’ll be posting every day about the games I played since the previous issue. The idea is to include gameplay videos and blurbs to help my readers decide which games to play first. There are already over 70 games available and I’m only one person, so please bear with me. But as I cover more games, I’ll be linking to that coverage here so you can find it all easily. Today’s roundup includes six new games that I tried and a few that I’m revisiting. Some are easy to recommend, but others have issues I’ll touch upon. There’s no shortage of good games in the lineup, but hopefully these roundups will help you decide which ones to focus on first.
If the trailer for PikPok Games’ Agent Intercept doesn’t make you want to play, I’m not sure what will. It shows you speeding around in a stylish car, flipping sideways over a ramp, past exploding vehicles and then turning into a boat mid-air before landing in the water. It looks exactly like a chase scene in a spy movie. And the game itself plays exactly like that. It’s a fast-paced auto-runner in which you get points for ramming into enemy vehicles, pick up rocket launchers to use on them, and need to avoid mines they drop. The whole package is slick and impressive. The only catch is that there’s one mission per day. You compete against others for a high score and then wait for tomorrow for another track. Part of me is grateful that the game is only asking for a few minutes per day, allowing me to spend more time with other games. But I also kind of wish there was more, since it’s so well-made. In any case, definitely give it a try and, if you like it enough, work it into your daily rotation.
Down in Bermuda
Yak & Co.’s Agent A is one of my favorite point-and-click adventures, so I was thrilled to hear they were working on another game that would be included in Apple Arcade. From what I’ve played so far, it’s more of a combination between hidden objects and light puzzles. It starts with a man named Milton crashing his plane in Bermuda. Thirty years later, you show up and offer to help him finally get home. You play as either a giant or some deity or whatever explanation you can think of until the game gives one. You press on buttons on structures and open up treasure chests with your finger, all while looking down on an island and helping out any creatures you encounter. There’s aspects I really like about it, such as having islands with puzzles scattered about to solve. It actually reminds me a lot of the Faraway series. I might even like searching for the hidden stars that are necessary for moving on to the next area if the controls were less clunky. But the camera doesn’t zoom out enough to be able to see most of the island at once. Zooming in and out is also controlled through a weird slider that’s easy to hit by accident. But the worst are dragging and rotating camera to see more of the island. You use one finger to drag, but it’s very slow. And you use two fingers to rotate. The two together with the small window you’re looking through make it feel tedious and exhausting to look for any items you’ve missed. My arm was actually tired after playing through the first two islands and I had no desire to continue. I’m hoping they can improve the controls so I can revisit it. But for now, I can’t really recommend Down in Bermuda to any but the most persistent and forgiving players.
The Get Out Kids
I didn’t really know anything about Frosty Pop’s The Get Out Kids before I started playing. I just liked the screenshots I saw and the idea of diorama-like sets. It starts off talking about accidents that befall every person who lives in the Maxwell house. It appears either the house or the family is cursed. If you played What Remains of Edith Finch, this plot might give you a strong sense of deja vu. From there, you meet two young friends and their dog — all depicted as just 3D heads — who call themselves the Get Out Kids because they sneak out of the house at night. In the first two chapters, you have to find items around each of their rooms by rotating e camera around and opening up closets and cabinets. Already here, I was losing patience with the game. I’m on a big iPad, but after each item I found, the room would zoom out all the way so it barely filled half the screen and I’d have to zoom it in again. This got annoying fast. After the first two chapters, gameplay did get a little more interesting, as the two friends head off to try and see a late night showing of Ghostblasters. They have to chase bats away and avoid a graveyard keeper. I might have stuck with it for the puzzles. But the dialogue is slow and can’t be sped up. And it’s quite possibly the worst dialogue I’ve seen in a game ever. These two kids seem to use slang from every country and time period and think they’re being clever. No one talks like this and it grated on my nerves having to sit through this dialogue slowly play out between every action. Perhaps most baffling is the way one of the kids’ mothers speaks, like she’s a baby. She’ll say stuff like “Defender-shender” and “Froggy-shoggy.” I don’t know if this was funny in the developer’s mind but it just came off as nonsensical gibberish to me and made it really hard to get invested in the game at all. It’s a shame, because the gameplay itself seems interesting, and I like the art style. But the dialogue just has me screaming internally the whole time and that’s makes it unplayable for me.
Oceanhorn 2: Knights of the Lost Realm
I only played part of the original Oceanhorn because I found the touch controls a little lacking. That means I don’t remember much about it. But Cornfox & Brothers’ Oceanhorn 2, set 1000 years before the original game, looked too impressive to pass up. And it is certainly a sight to behold. Running around, exploring and slashing at things with my sword also feel great. I might have only had positive things to say about the game except for a few issues. First off, there’s no tutorial whatsoever. One of the first things that flashed across my screen was a challenge to perform a dash, and another to perform a roll. But the game never explained how. There’s no dash or roll buttons and I couldn’t find anything in the settings or menus that explain how to perform them. Forty-five minutes into the game and I still have no clue, even after defeating my first boss. I’m not sure if they just expect everyone to have played the original — and remember everything from it — or what. But I find it pretty baffling that the game doesn’t offer any help in figuring out the controls. The other issue was with the boss. I was doing pretty well, but the camera kept getting in my way. I’d get to the point where he’s stunned and I can go all out, but I wasted so much time rotating the camera back to him that the round ended with him having a tiny sliver of life left instead of dying. I also had trouble finding my health potions in the heat of the moment. So I died. And I guess I was frustrated and flustered, because the next two attempts were much sloppier. I managed to defeat him just barely after using up all my potions — which ended up only being 3, even though it said 5 available before I started using any. Several times, I would be standing right in front of him and just hacking away, but my angle would change and I’d miss him on some hits. If I had this much trouble with the first boss, I’m scared to see what’s ahead. But I like that exploration aspect and taking in all the scenery, so I’ll stick with it, at least for now. Since it’s Apple Arcade and had iCloud sync between iPhone, iPad and Apple TV, I may see if it feels better with a controller on my TV. It certainly seems like the type of game that would look great on a big screen, and I’m more likely to play it in long sessions than short ones. So expect to hear more from me as I continue playing. I may first have to look up a guide for how to dash and roll, though.
Projection: First Light
I really wanted to like Shadowplay Studios’ platforming adventure, Projection: First Light. I’m very fond of shadow puppets and the idea of playing a game made entirely out of them really appealed to me. It also has some interesting mechanics, where you can move a little light orb around the screen to create shadows that your character can then jump on. The story is weird, but I don’t mind weird stories, especially if they’re not bogged down with a ton of bad dialogue. This game actually has no dialogue, so the story is told through silent cutscenes. It has you controlling a little girl who keeps causing trouble, breaking things in small ways at first and then in much bigger ways. She then runs off chasing butterflies and learns to control the light. The problem is, the controls are very fiddly. You use the left side of the screen to move left and right, then swipe up on the right side to jump. The jump ready feels a little unreliable, but then you add the light into the mix. When it works as intended, it creates platforms for Greta to jump onto. But it could also end up knocking her off if you create the wrong shape and angle while you’re working to get the one you need. But the most frustrating part of all is that sometimes the light just moves when it shouldn’t. I’ve had a number of occasions where I swiped up the jump the the light moved to my finger, even though I didn’t touch it. Sometimes it would just warp to the other side of the screen with no explanation. Considering how sensitive the shadow creation already is, I find it pretty unplayable when I can’t even rely on the light to stay where I put it. And on top of that, the game wastes too much time on the same things. There are long stretches where you’re just doing the same thing over and over again, so new and interesting ways to use the light and shadow mechanics take too long to show themselves. All this together makes it a pretty hard game to recommend, even though it does a unique art style and some interesting ideas. I hope it can be improved upon and, if it does, I’ll revisit it.
And the last new game I started in this roundup is RAC7’s Sneaky Sasquatch. It’s a lighthearted and kid-friendly game about stealing food from park visitors. You play as said sasquatch and run around the park meeting other animals that can either give you quests, sell you useful items, or even buy food from you. The idea is to tiptoe around the campsites and any areas where people tend to hang out, then try and open their coolers and tents and steal their food without getting caught. You need some food to fill your own belly, but can sell the rest. Each night, you go to sleep and the park resets itself so you can scavenge more food. Once you start earning enough gold to purchase items, it really starts opening up. I only just bought the shovel and have been having fun looking for dirt to dig up. I’m also trying to find all the pieces of a treasure map so I can hunt down a spectacular treasure and save the park from being turned into luxury condos. There’s a cave I haven’t explored yet because I need to buy a flashlight and I see canoes I could use once I have some oars. Overall, I’m enjoying the game a lot, though have had a few small issues. For one, there’s a quest to scare four people. But if you get caught or leave that screen in the middle, the quest resets itself. I accidentally changed scenes because it’s not always easy to tell where the transition will take place. I would like to see some way of preventing that while in middle of a quest. The other issue is that I’m supposed to push some canoes into the water, but couldn’t manage to do so. I’m going to mess around with it more and hope I just missed some detail and that the quest isn’t somehow broken. Anyway, Sneaky Sasquatch is easy to recommend with its playful premise, and watching the sasquatch eat a glass ketchup bottle is enough on its own to warrant giving it a try. So don’t wait on this one!
I started Capybara’s match-thee puzzler, Grindsone, a few days ago and found it to be a lot of fun, but was a little bothered with having to buy my hearts back between levels if I lost any. I spent some more time with it — almost 1.5 hours in one sitting — and, while that still bothers me somewhat, it’s becoming less of an issue due to how many crystals I’m earning. I’ve made it to the final boss in the first area but took a break there. Things have really gotten interesting with the added enemies that require 10 of any color to destroy, and the mini bosses that require 5 of a specific color. There are also new crafting materials and uses for them. This has turned out to be quite the addictive game and I’m so glad it’s premium and not full of IAPs and all sorts of ways to skew the difficulty curve to get players to spend money. If I didn’t have so many games to play at once, this probably would be stealing most of my attention. But since my time is limited, I’ll have to savor this in small doses and not barrel through it the way I’d like to. I’d highly suggest Grindstone to anyone looking for a game that’s good for one-handed on-the-go play but offers a solid challenge.
Jenny LeClue – Detectivu
My first session with Jenny LeClue ended with me being stumped, unable to find the students’ papers. I since learned that I needed to move the blackboard, which I didn’t realize was possible. Once I knew to look for that option, I noticed one of the onscreen prompts changed to show that, but it was so subtle that I didn’t realize it. But once I was past that point, the game moved at a swift pace. I played another 50 minutes, bringing the total to about 1.5 hours, and the game is still just as gorgeous as I imagined and I’m enjoying the writing, even if it is a bit odd at times. My main issue at the moment is that there doesn’t seem to be any puzzles. Any mystery-solving has mostly involved scanning a person or area for clues and then making a deduction based on the evidence found. I was hoping for a little more that that. But I’m hopeful because the game keeps making jabs at these puzzles, claiming they’re too easy. Jenny keeps complaining that nothing interesting ever happens in Arthurton so she could have a real mystery to solve. So that gives me hope that the game will open up soon and offer more interesting puzzles. I’m not sure it’s the best idea to wait that long into a game to show your chops, but I’ll be happy if it at least does start introducing more interesting puzzles. In any case, I’m enjoying it enough to stick with it and see where it’s going. I also have a walkthrough guide I’m working on here.
I also started the Detective Grimoire sequel, Tangle Tower, a few days back and had only good things to say about it. I’ve since played some more and it’s definitely one of my favorite Apple Arcade games. It’s also one of my favorite point-and-clock adventures in a long time. The humor is entertaining and the voice acting for every single character is top notch. This is another game I wish I could spend a lot more time with instead of having to fit in sessions between all the other games I’m trying. If you like puzzles and mysteries, do yourself a favor and play Tangle Tower. I also have a walkthrough started here.
And that’s all the games I have to cover at the moment. I’ll be back in another day or two with more, but remember you can see all the games I’ve covered in this handy list. It now features around 25 games. I also started a ratings system there, mostly just to give readers an idea which games to start with at a glance. They’re not actual review ratings, so 1 star doesn’t mean a game is bad, just that it hasn’t completely hooked me yet from what I played. If you see three stars, go for those games first, as they’re not to be missed. It’s also a fluid ranking system, so ratings may change. For instance, I’m about to go give Sayonara Wild Hearts another chance and see if I can get used to the controls and change its rating. So check out that list and let me know what you think. I’d love to hear any feedback on this whole journey I’ve started.