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 100 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 five new games that I tried and others that got updates. Some are easy to recommend, but others have issues I’ll touch upon. Hopefully these roundups will help you decide which games to focus on first.
Beyond a Steel Sky
Despite having a few bugs and lacking achievements at the moment, I thoroughly enjoyed my first playthrough of Revolution Software’s Beyond a Steel Sky, the sequel to Beneath a Steel Sky that released 26 years ago. It perhaps would have been better if they waited until most of the issues were ironed out, but I thankfully didn’t encounter any game-breaking bugs that prevented me from completing the game. I do want to play through it again when achievements are added so I can try to make some better choices. But it’s still very much worth playing and one of my favorite adventure games of recent history, as well as one of my favorite Apple Arcade games. You can read my full review here and check out my walkthrough guide if you get stuck and need help.
Creaks is the latest game from Czech developer Amanita Design. I wasn’t sure if it was coming to iOS at all, and then it got a surprise release about two weeks ago on Apple Arcade. It’s very different from their previous games, so it took a bit for me to warm up to it. But once a few mechanics started coming together, I fell completely in love. It’s not a point-and-click adventure, but rather a mansion filled with rooms that are each a self-contained puzzle. Each puzzle allows you to journey deeper into the castle, meeting creatures that want to kill you. But by using light, as well as the switches and cranks and buttons around you, you can turn those creatures into household items and actually use them to help you. I wrote a full review here, so I don’t want to repeat everything. But if you’re a puzzle fan, you absolutely have to play Creaks. And if you get stuck, I have a walkthrough guide here.
The Chinese a Room started the streak of easy-to-recommend Apple Arcade games with their narrative-focused puzzle platformer, Little Orpheus. It captured my heart from the very start, with its lush jungles, fearsome Tyrannosaurus rex, cheeky humor, and top-notch voice acting. It’s meant to be experienced like an episodic TV series, so the whole game is broken up into 30-minute episodes. This the the kind of short but memorable experience I’m looking for from Apple Arcade, and I hope to see more like it. Once again, I have a full review, so I recommend reading that if you haven’t played yet. I also have a full walkthrough here.
The Lullaby of Life
The Lullaby of Life is the latest Apple Arcade release, but unfortunately it broke the steak of great games for me. There are no words, but it’s easy enough to get the basics down. You play as a little blob with a button on him. When you come across the symbol of that button in the world, you press it and it will play a music note. That music note will hit the symbol and clear it. So if it was blocking your path, now you can go through. As you progress, you acquire more buttons (when I stopped playing I had three) and you also pick up friends who have their own buttons. The idea is to play the notes in the right sequence when you see a string of them. I was on board at first, though not really sure where it was going, and partially convinced it was geared at kids. That changed first when I got to a section where it wanted me to double-tap and swipe to swim faster and get past whirlpools. It was a very frustrating experience, but I finally managed. I eventually quit, though, when I encountered a string of notes that required very specific timing and also apparently expected me to move between notes instead of standing still. Because one button you press sets off a sequence that eventually plays a note you need, but if you’re too close to it at the time, the symbol you pressed could hit the string of symbols instead and mess you up. It’s hard to explain, so you might just want to watch my video to see what I mean. After about twenty tries I gave up and decided the game is not for me. I’m also confused by some design decisions. The main blob’s buttons can be pressed either on him or from the corner of your screen. But the other blobs’ symbols don’t have shortcuts in the corner of the screen, so you’re still forced to tap on them, making it pointless to have any of them in the corner. There are also rocks you push around while you’re swimming and they don’t really put up a fight, so I’m n out sure why they’re even there. Anyway, I won’t be continuing with it, so you’ll have to try it for yourself to see if it gets any better than what I’ve seen.
Necrobarista is a visual novel about a cafe that acts as a sort of limbo between life and death. From what I played, you’re mostly an observer, watched the barista and owner interact with souls that show up at the cafe. The writing, for the most part, is strong, but I found it hard to get immersed the way it’s served up. Most of it is dialogue that appears a line or two at a time, then you have to tap to see the next lines. So it’s a lot of tapping, but no actual choices. I find it a little hard to get sucked into a story that way, compared to something like Neo Cab where it only pauses when you need to choose from dialogue options. Sometimes I would even see an ellipsis, thinking it was loading, but it was just the characters trailing off, I guess. It had the effect of making me wait when I was supposed to just tap. Anyway, I got tired of this format after a while. I was also confused by the sections where I choose different words, as I’m not really sure what the goal was and whether I was doing it right. I may go back to play more one day, but at the moment it’s not calling to me. You can watch my gameplay video below if you want to see what it’s like before downloading.
Assemble with Care
Assemble with Care got a new chapter recently. This one has you playing as Carmen, fixing an espresso machine for Helena. It’s short, but it was still a very nice addition to the game. You can see my full walkthrough here.
Grinstone, one of my favorite Apple Arcade games, got yet another content update. I was enjoying it at first, but I failed on a level that needed me to kill 300 creeps to open the door, while tons of strong monsters keep spawning. I was around 275 when I cornered myself into a position where I couldn’t do anything but die, and I lost the will to play after that. I may go back one day but it’s possible I’ve just had enough of the game by now. I’d still welcome an endless mode, but this level-based version is starting to feel pointless. Anyway, it’s still a great game and I highly recommend it. I just don’t know that it needs new levels added for eternity. You can see more of my videos here.
Jenny LeClue – Detectivu
Jenny LeClue was one of my most anticipated adventure games and it was the first Apple Arcade game I played. I enjoyed it for the most part, but some issues hampered that enjoyment — one being the lack of any voice acting. Earlier trailers from years ago featured voiceovers and it was glaringly obvious when the game lacked them. Well, this week — nearly a year after its initial release — the game got an update called the Spoken Secrets Edition. This update adds voice acting for all the characters, as well as a very welcome auto-play option that allows you to watch it like a movie and have all the dialogue play automatically without having to tap the screen to move it along. I played the first half hour again with the voice acting and it’s wonderful. This is exactly how I expected the game to be. Unfortunately, I don’t know that I have the time — or will — to play through the entire game again. Maybe on a quiet week when there’s nothing else grabbing my attention, or perhaps if/when the next part releases. But if you haven’t played the game yet, now would be a very good time to do so. The touch controls have also been improved, making for an overall better experience. It still ends on a cliffhanger, though, so just know going in that it’s not the full game — even though it is a pretty hefty length. Anyway, I’m pretty impressed with this update and am glad to see the voiceovers added, even if very late. You can watch my video below to see what it’s like.
And last, Neo Cab was one of my favorite Apple Arcade games that released early on. It recently got a new content update that adds two possible epilogues, and I finally played through it. It wasn’t much, and I still was a bit annoyed I couldn’t change my situation much at this point, but it probably comes down to the choices I made throughout the game. I still enjoyed it, but I doubt I’ll have the time to try and figure out how to get alternate endings. In any case, if you haven’t played it yet, I still highly recommend doing so.
And that’s all the Apple Arcade games I’ve played recently. I’m sorry these roundups aren’t more frequent, but hopefully the full reviews I’ve been writing for the games I really like have been helping you find the ones worth playing first. Again, make sure to check my list of Apple Arcade games to see all my coverage in one place. See you next time!
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Lullaby of Life did my swede in too – I couldnΓò¼├┤Γö£├ºΓö£├╗t get the hang of the controls (was it supposed to be double tap to accelerate with your left hand and move him with your rightΓò¼├┤Γö£├ºΓö¼┬¼? DidnΓò¼├┤Γö£├ºΓö£├╗t work for me). I gave up but, when I returned to it the following day (thought IΓò¼├┤Γö£├ºΓö£├╗d give it one more try) I found that itΓò¼├┤Γö£├ºΓö£├╗d started me over, despite me definitely tapping Γò¼├┤Γö£├ºΓö£ΓöÉcontinueΓò¼├┤Γö£├ºΓö£├╗. I emailed the developer several days ago, but have heard nothing back to date (think it was about 5 days ago). Bit of a poor show, really and I, like you, am not going to be continuing with it.
2020 iPad Pro, iPadOS 13.5.1.