Apple Arcade Unwrapped: November 1, 2019 – Lifelike, Monomals, The Mosaic, Nightmare Farm, Tales of Memo, Yaga and More

Hi everyone, and welcome back to my roundups of Apple Arcade games, called Apple Arcade Unwrapped. It’s similar to my weekly roundup called My Week Unwrapped. As I make my way through the Apple Arcade games, I’ll be posting my impressions 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 80 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 others 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.

Lifelike: Chapter 1

I rather enjoyed kunabi brother’s particle puzzle game, FROST, that had you leading groups of tiny lights with your finger. There were no real instructions, so you had to experiment and figure out what the goal was. It was nice meeting of art and game, but was also fairly short. So when I saw the developer had a similar game coming to Apple Arcade, called Lifelike, I was very much looking forward to it. When the first chapter released last week along with some other Arcade games, this was the first one I booted up. And visually, it’s just as — if not more — impressive as FROST. Unfortunately, there’s not much else going for it. This time, instead of controlling the particles directly, you swipe on the bottom of the screen to move a little cursor around. That already felt like a downgrade, but I still wanted to give it a chance. The idea is usually to lead groups of particles around, but it’s so linear and requires so little thought, that it’s hard to stay interested. Each level barely changes outside of the look of the particles. And what makes it worse is how slow it moves. You either have to wait for the particles to follow you or you have to wait for the camera to catch up with you. But it means there’s a lot of waiting. I played only the first 10 levels and it took me over 40 minutes, even though I never felt like the mechanics changed much in all that time. As pretty as it is, I’m not sure I’ll finish it. I would only recommend this one if you have a lot of patience and just feel like watching pretty particles swim around the screen.

Monomals

I didn’t know much about PICOMY’s Monomals going in, but the cute little animals charmed me from the start. The graphics are just as impressive as their previous iOS game, Heroki. It’s hard to describe your character in this one, but you’re some sort of combination of a fishing rod and an electrical plug. It’s an underwater platformer in which you need to make your way to the monomal at the end so you can collect it and add it to your collection. You can then create music using the different monomals. It’s a great idea, but unfortunately I’m finding the controls hard to get used it. It didn’t help that the games tutorial was messed up on my iPad, so I was never actually told that there’s an invisible joystick. Instead, I assumed i was supposed to grab and drag my character around, since he’s hanging off a fishing line. It made for a very messy first level, even though I did manage to eventually get through it. I might give it another chance because it does seem like a lot of work went into it, but it might just turn out that it’s not for me. Anyway, give it a try yourself and see whether it clicks with you.

The Mosaic

I’d been looking forward to Raw Fury and Krillbite Studio’s Mosaic ever since it was announced. It wasn’t originally confirmed for iOS even though it looked perfect for the platform, so I was ecstatic when I learned it was coming to Apple Arcade. I was disappointed it wasn’t a launch title, but it just arrived today, more than a month ahead of the PC and console releases. I already love that we’re getting all these games that might not have otherwise come to mobile, but it’s especially nice getting them first for a change. And Mosaic is right up my alley. It had you controlling an average guy going about his average day, getting up, checking his phone, playing BlipBlop, brushing his teeth and then going to work. All while he can’t afford to pay his bills or have much of a life at all. I’ve played almost an hour so far, so I can’t say for sure where it’s going, but I’ve already encountered some surprises. The underlying message of the game seems to be about going against the grain and stepping out of your routine to find something special. But that doesn’t always work out well either, so I’m still not sure where it’s going. But I’m eager to get back in and find out. I highly recommend playing this one sooner than later and taking advantage of the fact that we got it before everyone else. And don’t forget you can also play BlipBlop as a stand-alone game on your iPhone if you have lots of time to waste! But I already quit that addiction, so I’m just going to enjoy Mosaic for now.

NIGHTMARE FARM

I’m going to be straight with you here. I honestly don’t know why Hit-Point’s Nightmare Farm exists. It’s one of those idle games where you plant a few things and then do nothing while you wait for them to grow, rinse and repeat. I gave it about 25 minutes before deleting it, and most of that time was spent either watching very vague and boring cutscenes or waiting for timers to run down. The tutorial is also not the clearest, since the game attempts to explain everything without words. Still, it’s not difficult to understand the mechanics. What is hard to understand is why I would do it in the first place. You plant a few apples, then trade them for cookies or dog biscuits. Then you feed them to the dog who…poops them into wooden planks? I honestly don’t know. Then you can trade the wooden planks for a ball that the dog will play with for five minutes and fetch some tree branches for you. Like I said, I have no idea. But the most baffling part of it is that it’s on Apple Arcade. Usually games with timers like this are free-to-play and up to the wazoo with in-app purchases you’re meant to buy to speed up the timers. Without those, I’m not sure why these timers — or the game itself — exists. I guess there’s probably someone out there who will find joy in it, but I have too many actual worthwhile games to play to waste my time with it. I would recommend staying away from it and playing one of the other 80+ games instead.

Tales of Memo

I had some idea from the name of Tendays Studio’s Tales of Memo, as well as the description, that it might be memory-based. I’m not a big fan of memory puzzles — you know, the ones where you turn over two cards and hope that they match. But I liked the cute animals and the art style as a whole, so I wanted to give it a try. Unfortunately, it is entirely based off memory matching games. Each level is a battle against an enemy. At first, it’s very easy and you can just turn over cards as much as you need until you get the matches. It’s pretty hard to fail at that point. But later, the enemies start mixing up your cards after a little time passes. Then cards that change are added, and you have to tap at the right time to get the number you want. I wasn’t that impressed, but I stuck with it until the timed levels appeared. Those just felt way too punishing to me and, with a game based almost entirely on guessing and luck, it didn’t feel like I was really in charge of my destiny. It also didn’t help that the game is free of text, so nothing was truly explained. I also didn’t like that it linked two battles together, so if I beat the first and lost the second, I kept having to play through both again. It’s unfortunate that such charming graphics and cute little animals were wasted on such uninteresting mechanics. This is another game I can’t really recommend, unfortunately.

Yaga the Roleplaying Folktale

Breadcrumbs Interactive and Versus Evil’s Yaga is another game I was looking forward to for a while, and it’s definitely one of the better offerings over the last month. It has you taking control of a one-armed blacksmith with bad luck. It’s an action RPG with rhyming dialogue, fantastic voice acting, a great sense of humor, and impressive artwork to bind it all together. Unfortunately, I think it’s probably best played with a controller. I couldn’t even play at all on my iPad because the joystick is fixed at the bottom of the screen, and so are the four action buttons. It’s too uncomfortable to play like that, so I switched to my iPhone. It certainly feels better on there, but it’s more cramped and now my fingers cover half the screen. The game also doesn’t explain much, so I wasted my limited supply of bread when I didn’t need it and then didn’t have any when I was low on health. While it does let you continue once if you die in battle, twice forces you to lose your place and some of your items. That seems a little too punishing for me. I really want to enjoy the game, so I hope they improve the controls. I would still recommend checking it out, but know that it’s not free of frustrations.

tint.

Lykke Studio’s finger-painting color-mixing puzzler, tint., was one of the first Apple Arcade games I played. I enjoyed it to an extent, but forgot about it amongst all the other games on my plate. It got a content update this week with twenty new levels, so I was reminded about it and decided to continue where I left off. I still like it, but not everything about it. In case you don’t know already, each level has colored targets, along with some paint droplets on the paper. There might be some other paint on the page you can also mix with. But the idea is to draw lines of paint to the targets of the same color. Red goes to red, blue to blue, and so on. Purple would need a mix of blue and red. It gets tricky when you need to figure out how to get one color to another without crossing over one that would change it to the wrong color. I like the game when it has a clear and straightforward layout that forces me to think of a proper solution. But too often, I feel like I’m just brute forcing the puzzles by making long and winding paths around each other. Those are also easier to mess up, because you’re squeezing the paint through narrow openings and there’s no undo button to fix any mistakes. I wish the game would avoid these messy solutions, or at least the possibility of them. I would rather be forced into a clean solution so I know I solved it the intended way. It’s still an interesting game that’s worth trying, but not the ingenious puzzler it could have been with a little tightening up of the mechanics and puzzles themselves. And if you get stuck, maybe my walkthrough will help you.

And that’s all the latest Apple Arcade games I’ve played! Remember, you can access all my Arcade coverage here to see which games I recommend the most. I’ll be back with more next time, but meanwhile let me know in the comments section which games you’re enjoying the most.

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Dr Renier Palland

I absolutely LOVE Mosaic. Raw Fury had me with Kathy Rain and Whispers of a Machine. It’s one of the most ambiguously depressing games I’ve ever played, yet those small discoveries make up for the light in the dreary darkness.

The rest of this week’s releases are pure nonsense. I feel cheated with these random games from nowhere that feel half-baked and boring.

Grindstone though… Lawd. I can’t stop that one.

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