So I've spent about three weeks with the newest project from Apple, and all I can do is gush. Full disclosure before I get into it; I'm still using the free trial that Apple provides for everyone when they sign up. It's a full-featured 30 day trial that allows access to every single game in the Arcade. I have about a week left, but I felt confident I could do this review justice with what I've experienced so far.
At a very modest $4.99 a month, this subscription service is easily one of the best deals in gaming. Anyone who knows me has heard me rave about what Microsoft has done with their Game Pass service, and up until now, that was the gold standard by which all sub services would be gauged. With this low monthly fee, Apple provides hundreds of gaming experiences without any extra charges anywhere in sight. There are no loot boxes, or ads, or any option to buy more coins in any of the games I've played. And from my understanding, there never will be. This alone is worth the monthly cost. And if you're a gamer and you get hooked on some of these games, it will become clear why you simply can't pass this service up.
My love affair with Apple goes back to 2000, when I bought my first iMac. Steve Jobs was back with the company he founded and his brilliant campaign with the pretty colored iMacs had me hooked. I've since owned another iMac, a MacBook, a MacBook Pro, three iPads, Apple TV, and some version of an iPhone since 2009. I signed up for Apple Music when it launched in 2015. I'm a fan. So trying out Apple Arcade was not surprising for me or anyone who knows me. In fact, the usual eye roll was in order as I shared my new games with everyone who would listen. I have gamer friends and family members, but they're not quite as passionate about the medium as I am.
The service is a breeze to set up, using your Apple ID and a few quick agreements (that your subscription will automatically renew until you stop it, etc.). It has its own tab at the bottom of the screen when you launch the App store on any of your devices, including Apple TV for most games. And once launched, you're treated to a highlighted game of the day, with a short description and a link to Get it. Scrolling down shows off a wonderfully curated list of featured games, new releases, and games for specific genres (role-playing, adventure, sports). There are literally dozens of games on display here, each with its own chance to shine with one simple click. It's classic Apple, with everything just working.
I also love that you can now pair most Bluetooth controllers to your device, allowing for a Playstation Dual Shock 4 to be used. I love that controller, and being able to use that instead of on-screen controls is fantastic. I paired three separate controllers, and they all linked up in seconds, without a hitch. This is truly a great experience for fans of mobile games, and a great user experience overall.
As for the games, I've played about twenty of them extensively, but I've tried about double that amount. I'll revisit this topic with specific game reviews, but I thought it might be worth listing some of favorite game experiences so far, in case you decide to dip your toes in the water and take Apple's newest service for a spin.
My Top 5 (so far):
Grindstone (a fantastic spin on the match-3 genre, with excellent sound and animation)
What the Golf? (physics-based golf game for people who hate golf)
Dear Reader (word game based on classic literature with some great content)
Agent Intercept (spy thriller that plays like an endless runner)
Shinsekai (high-profile exploration game from Capcom, a top-tier publisher and developer)
I would love to hear any thoughts on what everyone might be playing. And let me know if there's a specific game you'd like to see reviewed.