There are plenty of good games to download right now in Apple’s regular App Store — hello, Marvel Snap — but the fact remains that if you’re going to play on your iPhone or iPad regularly, Apple Arcade is the best deal. For $4.99, you get unlimited access to a growing library that now includes not only exclusives like Fantasian but also many of the best releases from the iPhone’s gaming glory days. And none of the games feature ads or microtransactions, so you can just enjoy them without having to worry about forking out extra cash.
Since its debut in 2019, the library of games has steadily expanded, and Apple has settled into a nice rhythm of releasing a game almost every week. Here are the eight best additions to the service from 2022.
Provides a variety of games for your Apple device for $4.99 / month.
If Air Twister had come out on the Sega Dreamcast, it would probably be heralded today as a cult classic. Instead, it’s something you can stick on your phone and play whenever. It’s an arcade-style rail shooter from legendary designer Yu Suzuki, and it’s notable for a few reasons: the touch controls make it feel perfectly suited to a smartphone, the design of the alien world is wonderfully bizarre, and the prog rock soundtrack is just begging for you to wear headphones. It really feels like a classic genre designed to modern tastes, and there’s nothing else like it on iOS (or anywhere, really).
Dead Cells is one of the best pure action games of the last decade, and now the full game — along with all of its expansions — has come to Arcade. The game combines brutal, unforgiving combat with a Castlevania-style gothic tone and a roguelike structure that has you slowly but steadily progressing through the world. It’s hard, but once you hit a rhythm and figure out the perfect build, it’s also hard to put down.
Horizon Chase 2 is a game that calls back to some arcade classics, so it’s just the thing if you’re itching for a return to Ridge Racer or Cruising USA. The controls and tracks are just complex enough to provide some challenge without making you feel like you have to be an F1 driver just to win a race. It also has a solid single-player mode, complete with cars to upgrade, and the colorful visuals really pop on a good display.
Old Man’s Journey is like a painting you can touch. It tells the story of one man’s life, a simple but poignant tale that wraps up in a brisk two hours or so. What makes the story particularly special, though, is how you interact with it. Old Man’s Journey is a fairly simple adventure, but the twist is that you get around the gorgeous landscapes by manipulating the world itself, turning pictureque scenes into puzzles.
Football Manager 2023 Touch
The long-running FootballManager is just the thing if you’re still sad the men’s World Cup is over. Unlike the FIFA series, which is primarily about recreating the on-field experience, FootballManager puts you behind the scenes. You get hired at a club where you’re put in charge of tactics, finances, scouting, and more. And while the series clearly has PC roots, making the menus a bit complex for a small iPhone screen, it’s actually great for mobile because it’s the kind of experience that can be played in brief fits and starts. Instead of spending my free time answering work emails, I answer fictional ones in FootballManager.
Gris is one of the most beautiful games I’ve ever played, sort of like a breathtaking animated movie that’s also interactive. It’s a seemingly straightforward side-scrolling game about bringing color back to a desolate world, but it has an incredible style and flow to help set it apart. It’s also incredibly forgiving, with no enemies or death to mar the experience and prevent you from seeing all of the beauty the game has to offer.
We all need moments of quiet contemplation, and Hidden Folks is great for that. It has no time limits and never rushes you. Instead, you can take your time exploring the various worlds with a Where’s Waldo?-style gameplay that has you using cryptic clues to find strange and adorable characters and objects. The black-and-white levels are both huge and playful, letting you poke around for surprises.
The Monument Valley The series is a high watermark for mobile gaming, and this year, Apple Arcade added the excellent second game. Just like the original, the game consists of a series of architecturally impossible levels that you have to manipulate to help a small figure get to the end. This time around, the game also tells a sweet story about motherhood, conveyed without a single spoken word.