Apple Arcade Unwrapped: April 2, 2021 – Cozy Grove, FANTASIAN, Farm It!, Hitchhiker, lumen., SP!NG, Survival Z and Wonderbox

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. There’s also big Apple Arcade news today, with the introduction of Classics. You can read more about it here.

Cozy Grove

I always love developer Spry Fox’s artwork in their games, though it is kind of odd how they always feature bears instead of foxes. Their latest release, Cozy Grove, is no different, as you work on bringing color back to an island full of ghost bears. It’s a relaxing game without any combat, just roaming around collecting things and completing tasks for different characters. It’s charming, and it has some great lines, too, but ultimately it wasn’t really for me. I already felt I had enough of it from my first session. For those who like games such as Animal Crossing, though, definitely give it a try. I’m sure there’s an audience for it, but it’s just not me.

FANTASIAN

FANTASIAN was one of the most anticipated Apple Arcade games and it finally released today. It boasts handmade environments that give the game a really unique look. Gameplay-wise, it’s a turn-based RPG similar to Final Fantasy VII, complete with random battles. I haven’t had much patience for turn-based RPGs over the last few years, but I enjoyed my time with this enough to stick with it and see where it goes. At least I’ll have some eye candy to hold my attention while doing so. If you’re a fan of RPGs, definitely give this one a try. You can also watch some of my gameplay video to see what it’s like.

Farm It!

From the moment Farm It! was announced, I was a bit in denial over it. When it disappeared from the “Coming Soon” section in the App Store, I hoped that Apple came to their senses and realized that it wasn’t the kind of quality people expected from Apple Arcade. Unfortunately, it did release and it was exactly what I expected. The art style is super generic, the characters border on creepy, and the gameplay is shallow and boring. Basically, you swipe the screen to clear out plots of land, then swipe the screen to water plants, then swipe the screen to pick the plants, then just tip the box of produce into the truck. You’re graded on how well you did, but the scoring makes no sense since it’s not an actual puzzle level you’re going to try and replay to do better. Instead, you’re just going to keep doing the same thing over an over. So why doesn’t it matter whether you got 90% or 100%? Who cares? I was bored after a few minutes of this and didn’t bother seeing if there’s anything else. On top of it all, there are multiple currencies and the only goal in the game seems to be to buy stuff to decorate your house. It looks and feels like dozens of free-to-play games you’ve seen but without the IAPs. I personally wouldn’t recommend this one and I’m still embarrassed for Apple Arcade that it’s on the service.

Hitchhiker – A Mystery Game

Hitchhiker is a game I was very much looking forward to and — in most regards — it didn’t disappoint. It’s an adventure game in which you’re a passenger with five different drivers. Each one tells their story and also helps you fill in gaps in your own. There are some objects to interact with and light puzzles to solve. You also control the story somewhat through dialogue choices, but it’s not clear how much of a difference you can make. By far, the best part of the game for me was the voice acting, especially that of the first driver, Vern. It made it easy to get pulled into the story and had me eager to find out what was going on. Unfortunately, I found the ending a bit disappointing. Some things made sense, but others felt like they were left hanging. The game also uses a lot of symbolism and I’m not sure it always works. But the biggest problem for me was the final scene, based on everything we learned up to that point. It felt creepy to me and it seemed to be the opposite of what the game was going for. I don’t want to say much more about it because it’s really easy to spoil the story. I’m still glad I played it, but I wish it had better payoff. I also have a fully walkthrough guide here if you get stuck on any of the puzzles.

lumen.

lumen. was another game I was looking forward to and I completed it in a day or two because it was easy to get sucked into. I’m already a big fan of laser reflecting puzzles, and this one combined them with hyper-realistic graphics reminiscent of The Room series. There was also a story about an inventor, but it was a bit hit or miss for me. I was disappointed that so many of her inventions involved cleaning or other mundane tasks. I did, however, find the chapter about her cats waking her up for food in middle of the night amusing. And also relatable. I hope that if more content is added, they include more inventions like that one. I would also like to see more challenging levels, as most of the game so far was pretty easy. It got tricky later in the game, but never overly difficult. Still, it’s a peasant puzzler that’s easy to recommend. I also have a walkthrough guide here if you get stuck.

SP!NG

If you subscribe to my YouTube channel or Twitter account, you’ve probably seen me posting a lot about SMG Studio’s SP!NG. It’s a one-finger arcade game where you hook onto anchors and swing around them to pick up coins and then propel yourself forward. The simple controls make it easy to get used to, but it continuously throws new challenges at you to increase the difficulty. I’ve had some rage-inducing deaths that made me take a break for a bit, only to come back and complete a level almost immediately. What I love about the game is that each level is short enough that death doesn’t set you back more than a few seconds. So it never feels too horrible to fail. In fact, I’ve had a good laugh from many of my spiky deaths. You can also make the game easier on yourself by ignoring the star system and just worrying about getting to the exit in each level. I’ve been making sure to collect all three stars in a level before moving on and so far that’s worked out well for me. I completed all 180 Classic levels and am working my way through the trickier One Chance chapters that only let you use each anchor once before it disappears. There’s also a daily challenge mode, but I’m not a fan of that. It usually strings together two or three of the classic levels and times you on how long you get through them. But if you die at any point, you have to start over from the beginning. Those levels are a bit long for my tastes. But the developers do seem to be working on new content outside of that, so I’m looking forward to having more SP!NG to play. I’ve also been working on a walkthrough guide here if you need help on any levels

Survival Z

Survival Z is a roguelite in which you have to fend off hordes of evil zombies and make your way to safety. The controls are very touchscreen-friendly, as you need to focus mostly on running around and avoiding their attacks. Your weapons auto-shoots, so you don’t need to worry about aiming it. You also pick up traps you can lay down, such as turrets or dynamite. You also collect coins from zombies you kill and can use those to upgrade your equipment so you’ll be a little stronger on your next outing. It’s a well-made game and fun to play, but it’s also a lot like how I play Titan Quest, so that’s scratching the same itch. If I ever have enough of Titan Quest and need something with similar gameplay, I might come back to this. I recommend giving it a try and seeing for yourself if you want to stick with it.

Wonderbox: The Adventure Maker

And last, Wonderbox was another highly anticipated game that launched today. The idea that there’s an infinite number of adventures you can go on, between those designed by the developer and the user-made levels. If you like designing games yourself, you can also try your hand at it and then share it with others. The game looks great, with each level taking place on a 3D floating island. You explore each, fighting monsters and searching for the Heart of Adventure at the end. Each Heart of Adventure you collect gives you points, and when you level up you unlock new outfits or head’s that you can wear. At the end of my first session, I had just gotten the frog head, which I was pretty excited about. I’m impressed with the story mode so far, and especially liked the level where I had to collect 30 coins to buy a key. The coins were all tricky to get to, so it was fun to figure out. The one random level I tried, which I assume was user-designed, didn’t work out so well. I abandoned it because I only had a bow and arrow and believe I needed a sword to access the exit. If not, there was some other mechanic I wasn’t introduced to yet. Otherwise, I enjoyed my time with the game and am looking forward to playing more.

And that’s all the Apple Arcade games I’ve played since my last roundup! It’s getting near impossible to keep up, especially with 11 new ones added this week alone. But I’ll try to do me best! Again, let me know in the comments section which game you’re enjoying and I’ll see back here next time with more Apple Arcade Unwrapped!

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