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.
ZEN Studio’s turn-based survival game, Dread Nautical, starts with you waking up in a ship with no memory how you go there. Some guy tells you there are zombie-like creatures about and hands you a pipe to fight them. Then you head off to search the ship and scavenge for useful items while trying to stay alive, one floor of the ship at a time. Each day you explore one floor, then the next day you wake up back in bed and can use what you found to build up your little home base. You can add beds for any people you meet along the way and an armory to fix up you weapons. It’s an interesting game and there’s a lot to like about it. But I can’t scratch that feeling that if it wasn’t on Apple Arcade, it would be a free-to-play game full of mictrotransactions. The base-building and the way I constantly feel like I’m running out of both space and weapons just on the second day is getting to me already so early on. There’s inventory slots to unlock, but I’m not sure how, so for now I’m limited to three. With weapons having limited use — even a pipe or frying pan! — I find I’m often forced to leave something behind. This is also the Normal mode, not the Hard mode, so I didn’t expect it to be like that. The constant equipment management may keep me from sticking with it, along with the long loading times between levels. It has a lot going for it, but I’m not sure the positives are enough to keep me playing it when I have other games that I enjoy more. But I still think it’s worth trying out for yourself to see if it clicks with you.
Frogger in Toy Land
Frogger seems like the perfect fit for mobile, especially after seeing how well Crossy Road did. So I was excited to try out Konami’s reboot of the classic, called Frogger in Toy Town. Visually, it’s pure eye candy, like playing inside a Pixar movie or one of Nintendo’s games. Unfortunately, I ragequit after failing the second level twice. There’s just too much going on, even at the very start. You’re not just crossing the street and avoiding cars. You have to pick up young frogs to save them and avoid toys that chase you down. I found my short time with it so stressful that I have no wish to try again. These mechanics could have been interesting, but they threw so much at the player from the very start. I would have rather had a chance to get used to things — especially the controls — and later on encounter enemies who hunt me down. As is, I’ll likely delete it and never look back.
Murder Mystery Machine
I had high hopes for Murder Mystery Machine, as I’m always on the lookout for a good, well, murder mystery game. And it does start out promising. You play as a rookie detective her first day on the job. You have an isometric view of a room and have to examine the crime scene. But there are some issues. First off, even on my big iPad and with the option to zoom in, it’s hard to tell what’s a clue and what’s not. If you tap on something that’s not a clue, too end up just walking there and nothing happens. I still managed to find almost all the clues except one — a closed window. I noticed the shattered window and the glass on the floor but didn’t think to check the closed window. That was the first point where the game started to lose me. Then, it shows you your board of evidence and says that you can rearrange things. But it doesn’t say that you have to in order to continue. So I wasted some time not sure what to do next, then asked for a hint and it showed me — thought not in the clearest terms. I stumbled through the rest of the first scene through the use of more hints and a less-than-helpful tutorial. Granted, part of the problem was that I was dragging from the left side of the screen to the right when it said the opposite, but it’s really silly that it can’t work either way. When I finally completed the “tutorial,” I was graded a B because I used too many hints to get through it. I think there might be an interesting game in here, but it needs to do a better job explaining things and not penalize players for needing the mechanics explained in the first place. I may give it another chance one day, but right now I’m turned off by how that first experience went.
Possessions. is by Lucid Labs, the makers of Stay, Mum, which I had a rocky history with. Still, I like puzzle games and it seemed like an interesting concept, so I wanted to give it a try. It starts off overly simple and remains that way for most of the game. Basically, there are items floating in space that need to be placed in the correct spot in the room. This is done by rotating the camera to change the perspective. It’s a compelling idea, but is never fully realized. The game is short, with only about thirty levels, and by the time it gets even remotely interesting it’s already over. I also had a hard time stomaching the slow cutscenes that pad out the gameplay. Yes, they can be skipped, but I watched them, both because I was recording my session and I also wanted to see if they ever offered anything of substance. But I was so bored that I couldn’t even follow the plot. I just saw lots and lots of babies, a roach-infested bathroom, a family that obviously has a lot of money, as they can afford a game room with an arcade machine, and then some confusing ending that involved a note. Each cutscene is slow and, since each level takes only a minute or two to solve at the most, it’s extra painful to watch those scenes play out. The graphics are pleasant and the perspective puzzle idea is an interesting one, but the entire time I wished I was playing something else. I also had to shut the music within the first couple of minutes to keep myself sane. It’s not the worst game in the world, but if you do decide to play it, I suggest shutting the music right away and skipping all the cutscenes. Then you’ll be done in about 15-20 minutes and you can move on to better games.
Towaga: Among Shadows
Back in 2017, Sunnyside released one of the most stunning games I’ve ever seen, called Towaga. It has you standing in place, shooting a beam of light around you to fight off enemies that attack from all directions. It’s hectic and got my heart racing and I loved it even though I wasn’t good enough to get very far. So I was thrilled to learn that they had a sequel coming to Apple Arcade. Towaga: Among Shadows is somehow even more gorgeous than the original, and it mixes things up by adding new mechanics, like levels where you fly around in the air. There are also several different gameplay modes, though I still need to unlock them. Once again, I’m having a hard time keeping up after the first few levels. There are upgrades you can purchase, though, to make things a little easier, so I’m hoping those will help me get further. You earn currency even if you fail a level, so you’re always making progress. If you’re not afraid of a game that requires fast reflexes, definitely give Towaga: Among Shadows a try. Even if you are, it’s worth checking out just for the visuals alone.
Word Laces seems to exist just so Apple could check off a box for overly simplistic and generic word games that you’ve seen a million times, but usually with ads between every level. If you’ve tried any of the popular free word games like Wordscapes, Word Connect or Word Cookies, you should be very familiar with how this works. You’re shows a few letters and have to draw a line between them to make words. The main difference here is that you’re shown a picture and the word you have to make is related to that photo. For instance, there might be a camel in front of a pyramid and the word you have to make is EGYPT. When you make one word, new letters are added so you can make another. Each level usually has about four words to make. The words also have to be linked in a sort of crisscross fashion so you can tie laces between them — hence the name. The game is a little too simplistic for me, but if you usually play these games, now’s your chance to do so without constantly being bothered by ads.
The Enchanted World
The Enchanted World was one of the first Apple Arcade games I tried and I finally had a chance to continue with it. It’s proving to be much more challenging than I ever expected, but in a good way. I’m still fairly early on, but I just encountered several new mechanics. I had to break up paths of cogs to create new ones, walk over fragile spiderwebs spun by my new spider friend, and before I took a break I got eaten by a frog. Now I’m hopping around on lily pads. I’m surprised how many ways they’ve managed to shake up sliding tile puzzles in just a few levels. And the game also looks and sounds great. I still highly recommend it. Just have patience with it if you get stuck.
I think it’s safe to say that Grindstone is my favorite Apple Arcade game so far. If I wasn’t trying to cover so many other games, I’d probably never put this one down. I’ve played over 10 hours already and apparently I’m only about a third through the game, from what I’ve been told. It’s a color-matching puzzler in which you string together monsters of the same color to destroy them. Every few levels, new kinds of monsters and new traps are added, such as gravestones that spawn skellies, or roots that grow and attack other monsters. The idea is to make strings of 10 or more so you create a grindstone, which allows you to change colors in the same path. Some other objects act the same way, like the roots I mentioned and some enemies. You also unlock a ton of equipment, which allows you to find the best build that works for you. I hope it gets an endless high score chasing mode one day, because I never want to have to stop playing. Don’t pass this one up! And if you need help, I started a guide here.
I finally got back to playing Neo Cab and I really like where it’s going. In my first session, I was playing as a futuristic cab driver who picked up her life and moved to live with an old friend. That friend then blows her off to go clubbing as soon as she arrives. So when I started up again, I needed to pick up a few passengers to kill some time. One was an employee of my sworn enemy, the company that’s automating all cars and putting drivers out of business. That was an interesting conversation, but what I didn’t expect was to then drive a cyclist who was hit by one of those self-driving cars. This has to be the first game I’ve ever played that calls cars killing machines. As someone who doesn’t drive, but walks and bikes everywhere, that really hit home for me. I’m now more eager than ever to see how this story plays out. If you’re interested in a narrative-heavy game with little gameplay, give this one a go! It’s written well and looks great, too.
And finally, I finished another one of my favorite Apple Arcade games, Tangle Tower. Like I mentioned before, it’s a sequel to the point-and-click adventure, Detective Grimoire. This time, he teams up with his sassy sidekick, Sally. They have to investigate a murder that appears to have been committed by a painting. Along the way, you find clues, solve puzzles, and question suspects to see what might not add up. The more you talk to them, the mystery unravels. It’s not the most difficult game I’ve played, but I don’t mind that too much. It meant I could keep playing at a good pace without getting stuck for too long. The dialogue and voice acting were my favorite parts, so I was happy to keep hearing it. I think I have to watch the ending again to get all the facts straight and see if the motive makes sense. But either way, I thoroughly enjoyed the journey and it makes me want to finally play the original. If you like point-and-click adventures or murder mysteries, definitely give this one a go. And if you get stuck, I have a walkthrough guide here.
And that’s everything for this installment of Apple Arcade Unwrapped! I still have plenty of games to try, so make sure to keep checking back. And if you need to know at a glance which ones I recommend, this list should help you. Again, any feedback is welcome and I’d love to hear what everyone else is enjoying. See you next time!