Apple Arcade Unwrapped: September 27, 2019 – Cardpocalypse, Fledgling Heroes, Lifeslide, Painty Mob, Shinsekai Into the Depths, Speed Demons and More

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 almost 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.

Cardpocalypse

Cardpocalypse is a card game from Gambrinous, the folks behind Guild of Dungeoneering, which I had great things to say about when I reviewed it. You play as Jess, a young girl about to start her first day at a new school. She’s a huge Mega Mutant Power Pets fan, but her mom never lets her buy any cards. Luckily, she meets some kids at school who help her out — and, of course, offer to battle her. The game uses mechanics very similar to Hearthstone‘s — though I haven’t played that much — where you have a champion card and then weaker cards to use to defend him and defeat your opponent’s champion. I like the story and silly animations, but am struggling a bit with the card battles themselves. I don’t play too many collectible card games, so I still need practice to hone my skills and strategy. The problem is, the game just continues when you lose a battle, so you don’t get a chance to try again and work on your strategy. I’ve never heard of anything like that in a linear story-based game. Usually if you fail, you try again. It also didn’t help that one of the battles I lost was because the game skipped one I my turns, but that might have been a bug. The developers did point out that if you load your previous save, it should start before the battle you lost. But the game doesn’t indicate that, and it’s not a great way to handle the problem. They said they might consider offering a way to just quick restart the battle, so I may wait until then to give it another try. It stills seems like a well-made game, but if you’re new to the genre you might struggle a bit.

Fledgling Heroes

Subtle Boom’s bright and colorful Fledgling Heroes caught my attention with its cute cartoony parrots and dragons in the screenshots and trailers. I didn’t know much about the game, but that was enough to make me want to try it. Unfortunately, it turns out the controls are like those in Flappy Bird, where you tap to flap your wings and fly higher. It’s a little more forgiving than that, but I still find it challenging, especially if I’m trying to collect all the feathers and coins or complete other objectives. It does seem to be a very well-made game with lots of variety from level to level. There’s even a level builder for those who fancy themselves a game designer. If you don’t mind Flappy Bird controls, definitely give this one a try.

Lifeslide

Dreamteck’s Lifeslide looks pretty and I had high hopes for it. You control a paper airplane using either tilt or touch controls, picking up yellow bits that give you more time and blue bits that act as currency for buying upgrades. The problem is, neither control scheme feels great, at least not the bit I played. The game starts off sluggishly slow, and when it finally picks up speed a bit, it feels impossible to control without hitting the ground. It’s too slow to respond to my commands. It might be better after some upgrades, but I’m not going to play long enough to find out. It’s bad enough to lose because you smashed into something, but you also lose if you run out of time. There’s really nothing I like about the game other than its visuals. It tries too hard to be deep, telling a story about birth and life through the landscapes, and the music grates on my nerves. I have no interest in returning to it, and I can’t really recommend it.

Painty Mob

I almost ignored Painty Mob until I realized it was published by Devolver Digital, known for supporting oddball games. It turns out it’s a bit like an .io game in that you run around and have to paint as many “mobs” as you can without getting touched by one or getting blown up by a bomb. It’s completely bonkers and fun, too. But I can’t help but feel like it’s a free-to-play game without the IAPs. The gold takes a while to earn, but if you grind for it you can buy temporary power-ups to help you out. I prefer my high score chasers to be grind-free, so each game is self-contained and not reliant on past performance. But I know others don’t have such strict requirements for a game so definitely give it a try. The different characters you unlock also seem to open up new areas, and perhaps even have special skills, but I’m not completely sure. Either way, it’s at least worth checking out for a little while until the weirdness wears off.

Shinsekai Into the Depths

CAPCOM’s Shinkensai Into the Depths is a game that’s somehow both tense and relaxing at the same time. It has you exploring underwater, encountering enemies, searching for minerals to upgrade your gear, and attempt to stay alive. You can’t survive forever without air, so you need to find oxygen tanks, as well as places to refill them. The game was designed for touchscreens, so the controls actually work pretty well, even if I do confuse them occasionally. There’s a floating joystick on the left, with another on the right that has multiple uses. Swiping up makes you jump, swiping and holding is for aiming your harpoon, and tapping is for attacking enemies. I stopped when I got stuck and couldn’t figure out what to do next, but I look forward to continuing soon. I just wish it allowed you to save whenever and wherever instead of only at specific save points. But that’s a minor complaint for what otherwise seems like a very well-made game. If you like exploring, definitely check it out.

Speed Demons

Radiangames is always surprising me, as I’m never sure what genre his next game will fall under. I loved Slydris 2, a high score puzzler, but Speed Demons is more reflex-based. It reminds me somewhat of his last game, Scorcher. It has you controlling a little car through hectic races full of trucks and tons of other vehicles going every which way. You can crash through them without penalty, and sometimes that’s actually the goal. Each level has a different mission, be it getting to the finish line first, or making it to all the checkpoints in a certain amount of time, or maybe taking down all the red vehicles. It’s fast-paced and somewhat forgiving, at least early on. I was able to 3-star most of the early missions without too much trouble, but it did get harder towards the end of my first session. It looks great, too, with all the crashes and explosions. I’m not sure how much I’ll stick with it, but if you like racing games or just high-speed games in general, definitely give it a try.

ATONE: Heart of the Elder Tree

I mentioned ATONE before, and it kept calling me back for more. I spent some more time with it before it crashed and solved a few more puzzles. I also unraveled more of the story and luckily didn’t encounter any rhythm battles. I’m still very curious about where all this is going, and plan to stick with it. I also noticed that there’s an option to switch to story mode where I wouldn’t have to worry about the battles. I decided not to at the moment, but may change my mind if they become too problematic. Either way, I appreciate the option being available. I definitely recommend this game to anyone who likes exploration, rich storytelling and unique art styles. I also started a walkthrough if you get stuck and need help.

Grindstone

Of all the Apple Arcade games I’ve tried, I’ve been the most obsessed with Capybara’s Grindstone. Every time I play, it ends up being for an hour or more. It keeps introducing new enemies and challenges and each level ends up taking quite some time to clear of all three objectives. If I didn’t have so many other games to play, I imagine it would be impossible to pull me away from this one. It doesn’t hurt that it’s a challenging game but also relaxing, since nothing is on a timer and you can take as much time as you need. If you like puzzle games, especially match-three, don’t wait on this one. Just play it. I also started a walkthrough guide if you need help.

Jenny LeClue – Detectivu

I already talked about Jenny LeClue a few times and I loved the story and artwork, but was worried it was taking too long to get interesting. I’ve finally encountered some puzzles and things are heating up. But I did encounter some bugginess with the touch controls, where I had trouble getting Jenny to grab onto ladders so she could move them. The developer is aware of the issue, though, and said an update is coming soon. So if you’re playing and encounter the problem, just put it aside and wait for the update. I’m excited to play more and see what else develops. I still think the game should have maybe sped things up, but I’m eager to see where things go. The meta storyline and humor are also keeping me interested, even if there are no voiceovers. If you like point-and-click adventures, this is one you should be playing.

Sayonara Wild Hearts

I started Simogo’s Sayonara Wild Hearts about a week back and quit after ten minutes because I found the controls hard to work with. Everyone kept encouraging me to give it another try, so I did. I got further this time and even managed to score Silver on some levels, not just Bronze. It is undoubtedly a trippy game that’s impressive in its overall presentation, from the animations to the soundtrack. That said, I still find it difficult and appreciate the ability to skip difficult parts, even if I haven’t done so yet. I wouldn’t mind a way to sit back and watch instead, though. I don’t want to miss out on the parts I’m struggling with. I’ll likely stick with it, but I still bump into things too often, especially trees. Instead of small swipes to change lanes, you keep your finger on the screen and control left and right like a joystick. So it requires more finesse than I have. I would recommend it at this point, but if you’re not good at these types of games, you might get frustrated.

And that’s it for this issue! Remember, I’m linking to all my Apple Arcade coverage here, where you can also quickly see which games I recommend the most. If your tastes align with mine, it should help you figure out which of the 70+ games to start with. And please let me know in the comments section if you have any feedback or want some help with a specific game. I’ll see you next time!

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smjjames

On Cardpocalypse, what mode are you playing? I’m playing story mode and am able to repeat battles multiple times.

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