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The best Apple Arcade games for iPhone, iPad and Apple TV – 2020

Best Apple Arcade Games
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

If you subscribed to Apple Arcade and don't know which of the 100-plus titles are the absolute best games to download - we can help. We’ve spent time working through every Apple Arcade game on the service, and have sorted out the very best that the service has to offer so that you can jump right into the good stuff.

The list of the best Apple Arcade games should include something for everyone, from fast-paced skill games to relaxing, thoughtful experiences that the service has become so well known for. We'll make the case for each game below, but any and all of the games you'll see are worth your time and valuable disk space.

So whether you’re settling down with your iPhone, or fancy firing up your Apple TV with a connected gamepad, there are superb premium gaming experiences waiting for you - though, you can always check out our round-up of the best iPhone games if you want some more choices to pick from.

(Image credit: Apple)

Crossy Road Castle

Genre: Platformer
Best played with: Apple TV

The latest and greatest game to enter Apple Arcade's stable of titles is Crossy Road Castle, a lighthearted multiplayer platformer in a procedurally generated castle. The game is similar in spirit to the original Crossy Road in that it's mostly about getting as far as you can while having a laugh rather than reaching the end of the castle. The multiplayer component allows up to four players cooperate locally, which definitely adds to the hilarity of it all. 

(Image credit: Apple)

Butter Royale

Genre: Battle royale
Best played with: iPhone

If you've got little ones, you've no doubt heard of Fortnite - the biggest battle royale game on the planet that puts 100 players against one another in a big open arena. That game is great for gamers of a certain age, but for littler ones, even Fortnite might be a bit too much. For that crowd there's Butter Royale, a food-based battle royale game that swaps sub-machine guns for croissant launches and ketchup bottles. This one keeps all the core tenets of what makes battle royale games so fun but puts it in a PG-rated package for everyone to enjoy.

(Image credit: Finji)

Overland

Genre: Strategy
Best played with: iPad

An isometric turn-based strategy game set in a post-apocalyptic America, Overland sees you try to cross from the East to West Coast in a bid for survival. Cue scavenging for petrol, aiding other lost travelers, and escaping giant burrowing insects. You know, a normal road trip.

(Image credit: Apple)

Skate City

Genre: Sports
Best played with: iPhone

While Tony Hawk's Pro Skater was all about impossible tricks in ludicrous environments, later skating games like Skate focused more on the fundamentals of boarding and the laid-back attitude that the sport still exudes in places like Southern California. Skate City from Agens Games takes that idea and fits it into a pocket-sized mobile game that has you kickflipping over staircases and grinding on rails while you cruise the streets of some of the world's most famous cities.

Sociable Soccer

(Image credit: Rogue Games)

Sociable Soccer

Genre: Sports
Best played with: iPhone

These days, soccer games seem desperate to look like real-world footage – and they have the speed and responsiveness to match (as in, not as much as you’d like). It wasn’t always like this, and Sociable Soccer harks back to a different era, when Sensible Soccer and Kick Off were kings.

Although there is a side-on viewpoint, this game’s best played from above. Switch to top-down matches and what you get is a fast-paced game that’s part pinball and part how you always imagined soccer to be in your mind.

There’s a player card system lurking, and a league that’s like nothing in the real world. Still, none of that will bother you when you’re hoofing the ball about and belt a 30-yard drive goalwards with five seconds until the final whistle.

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Pilgrims

(Image credit: Amanita Design)

Pilgrims

Genre: Puzzle
Best played with: iPhone

The team behind Pilgrims has form in adventure games packed full of character, having been responsible for point-and-clickers/tappers Machinarium and Samorost. If anything, Pilgrims heads further back in time, with mechanics echoing 2D arcade adventures on 1980s eight-bit home computers.

In short, the aim is simply to find items and use them in the right locations, in order to progress. That probably doesn’t sound terribly exciting, but this game’s all about the execution. On trying an item on whoever (or whatever) stands before you, you’re treated to a little animation. Even failure can provide amusement.

On iPhone in particular, Pilgrims is a joy – a hand-drawn slice of perfectly realised interactive entertainment. And because of the flexibility within the system, even when you finish Pilgrims, you’ll want to play through again to find alternative routes and anything else you’ve missed.

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Guildlings

(Image credit: Sirvo Studios)

Guildlings

Genre: RPG
Best played with: iPad

When a tried-and-tested genre tries to ‘get down with the kids’, that’s usually a recipe for disaster. But Guildlings – by the team behind classic mobile puzzler Threes! – nails the balance between fantasy and modern life, in an offbeat and entertaining RPG that exists in a world of ‘wizards and Wi-Fi’.

The script appears directed at a YA audience, but it doesn’t talk down to them, and so works well enough for adults as well. Conversations fly by like text messages, packed with breezy jokes. Exploration is fast and precise, and battles carefully balance challenge with a forgiving nature.

It all feels very pleasant, with success often depending on keeping characters happy, and fights broadly about defence and tiring foes out rather than kicking their faces off. Chances are, the first chapter’s four or five hours will whizz by, and you’ll be left clamoring for more.

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Pac-Man Party Royale

(Image credit: BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment Inc.)

Pac-Man Party Royale

Genre: Arcade
Best played with: Any system

Yellow dot-muncher Pac-Man has serious staying power, and is reportedly the sole videogame character with more widespread recognition than Mario. Him ending up on Apple Arcade is quite the coup, then. Fortunately, this battle mode take on an arcade classic is really good.

The basics remain zooming about a maze, eating dots, and avoiding ghosts. Only this time, you’re playing against friends (or AI ‘Pac-Bots’, which adorably have little antennae on their heads). As you munch dots, you speed up, increasing your chances of catching a marching Super Pellet that transforms you into a temporarily unstoppable foe-devouring chomping machine.

To win, you must be the last Pac-Man standing. And if you get gobbled, you at least don’t have to sit twiddling your thumbs – you come back as a colorful ghost to haunt and pursue anyone still left in the game.

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Sayonara Wild Hearts

(Image credit: Annapurna Interactive)

Sayonara Wild Hearts

Genre: Rhythm action
Best played with:
Apple TV/iPad with controller

Described as a pop-album video game, Sayonara Wild Hearts finds The Fool, a heartbroken woman, charged by all-powerful beings with bringing balance back to the universe. As if she didn’t already have enough to deal with.

The game plays out as a rhythm action game. You blaze along in 3D, scooping up collectables by getting yourself into the right lane at the optimum moment. Given the manner in which the lush visuals arrest the eyes, it’s easy to be dazzled and crash through levels at first. Also, the touchscreen controls are sub-optimal. This game is really made for a controller.

When better placed to move The Fool around, though, you can learn a level’s choreography, and get fully into the zone. The effect is wonderful – akin to Guitar Hero smashed into Rez, but also its own thing. Finish the game and you unlock a superb bonus, where you can take in the entire intoxicating experience from beginning to end, soaking ears and mind alike in the full album.

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Assemble with Care

(Image credit: ustwo games)

Assemble with Care

Genre: Narrative puzzler
Best played with: iPhone

As much short story as puzzle game, Assemble with Care finds globe-trotting restorer whizz Maria passing through the sunny town of Bellariva. At each stage of her journey, she meets an inhabitant who asks her to fix something precious.

Your job is to manipulate these on-screen items, take them to bits, figure out what’s wrong, and put them back together again. Which probably sounds terrifying, but this game’s intuitive, smartly conceived interface will make you think you, too, can repair an ancient watch or slide projector. (TechRadar hint: probably don’t try this at home.) It’ll also make you realize that relationships often need fixing more than mere objects.

For a short game – you’ll be done in an hour – it packs quite the emotional wallop. One to be savored, then, and a title that really highlights the benefit of Apple Arcade’s try-anything subscription model.

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Grindstone

(Image credit: Capybara Games Inc)

Grindstone

Genre: Match puzzler
Best played with: iPhone

Creeps are everywhere in Grindstone Mountain, and so it’s time to clean the place up – and nothing cleans things up better than a massive sword. (And then quite a lot of water to get rid of all of the creep blood, but whatever.) Only this isn’t a hack-and-slash brawler, but a surprisingly thinky puzzler.

You enter each screen with a set number of creeps to dispatch. Tap out a path through creeps of a single color, and then let rip. (If you once loved Dungeon Raid, Grindstone may scratch that particular itch.) Over time, new features appear, like treasure chests and deadlier adversaries, and you can counter with upgradable kit and sheer brainpower.

There’s a whiff of freemium in the lives and weapons system – as if the title was quickly adjusted prior to appearing on Apple Arcade. But even that grumble doesn’t knock one of the best match puzzlers on iPhone.

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Sneaky Sasquatch

(Image credit: RAC7 Games)

Sneaky Sasquatch

Genre: Arcade/stealth
Best played with: Any system

For reasons unknown, a sasquatch’s existence is tolerated in a massive campsite. Why, we’ve no idea, given that the hairy critter is quite the thief, pilfering food from unwary guests, before wolfing it down at a nearby table.

You play the sasquatch, in a game that manages to simultaneously echo Yogi Bear and stealth titles. One minute, you’ll have a duck ask you to steal back a suspiciously human-sized hat from an RV; the next, you’ll be tip-toeing past campers, dressed as a bush.

This entire game could so easily have been a gimmick, but Sneaky Sasquatch is brilliantly designed. The controls are tight; the animation is wonderful; and the game slowly expands in a smart way that keeps you hooked. Stick around long enough, and the hairy hero may even be able to play some golf, or do some go-karting. Just stay away from that mean old ranger!

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Super Impossible Road

(Image credit: Rogue Games)

Super Impossible Road

Genre: Racing
Best played with: iPhone

At some point in the future, humanity gets a bit bored with having people race on tarmac. Instead, they’re dumped inside metal balls and hurled along terrifying roller-coaster tracks that twist and whirl through space.

Initially, your aim is merely to keep on the impossible road – either for as long as you can, or in the time gate mode until the clock runs down. But then there are the races, whereupon one other cunning tactic comes into play: cheating.

In Super Impossible Road, you can leap off of the track and rejoin later, sneakily getting ahead of your opponents. Only if you miss, you’ll end up back at a restart point, with a bruised ego and ground to make up.

This one’s tricky to master, but a dizzying thrill-ride once it clicks. And multiple modes, tracks, and vehicles should keep you playing for the long term.

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What the Golf

(Image credit: The Label)

What The Golf?

Genre: Sports-ish
Best played with: Any system

What the Golf? gets weird very quickly indeed. Initially, it looks every inch the cartoon golfing experience, of the kind that littered the App Store in its early days. Only when you swing, it’s the golfer who ends up hurtling through the air.

The game barely lets up from this initial surprise, chucking all kinds of craziness at you with merry abandon. Some holes have you pick your way through bombs. Others have the ball sling itself around a side-on landscape like Spider-Man. Then there are takes that echo racing games, or have you attempting to pilot a missile to the green.

It’s so relentlessly bonkers you’ll even be glad of the more sedate in-between bits, which find you pinging a ball around a maze to find your next challenge. Not one for purists, then, but all the better for it – unless you hate fun games packed full of imagination.

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Card of Darkness

(Image credit: Zach Gage)

Card of Darkness

Genre: Strategy
Best played with: iPhone

From the mind of the guy who reinvented on iPhone everything from pool to crosswords, and the illustrator of Adventure Time, comes this epic quest smashed into the framework of a card game.

Each challenge has you staring at piles of cards, knowing that beneath any one of them could be a stack of gold, a weapon, or a fearsome monster. Your aim is to forge a path through the cards to the exit, but once a pile’s disturbed, you must use every card within.

There’s a lot going on here, and pretty soon your head will be swimming with all the many critters and their varied powers and effects. But stick with it, and take your time, and you’ll unearth one of the very finest mobile strategy games around (along, obviously, with a massive bitey spider that’ll take your face off).

Card of Darkness

Oceanhorn 2

(Image credit: Cornfox & Brothers Ltd)

Oceanhorn 2

Genre: Action-adventure
Best played with: Apple TV/iPad with controller

We’re going to use the Z word: Oceanhorn 2 is the closest you’ll get to Zelda on Apple Arcade, short of Nintendo doing an about-face and abandoning its strategy of hideous freemium mobile titles.

As in the original Oceanhorn, you’re again a young knight with the fate of the world in their hands. (No pressure.) In typical RPG fare, this means you must comb varied locations, scrap with plentiful enemies, complete missions, and solve the odd puzzle.

On-boarding is poor – the game oddly assumes you’ll know how to perform certain actions, and won’t tell you how. But it looks great, and once you get to grips with the controls, you’ll forgive those early blips. The title also shines on the big screen, feeling like proper console fare. Whether you consider that a compliment perhaps depends on your gaming tastes, but there’s no doubting Oceanhorn 2 is quite the achievement.

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Exit the Gungeon

(Image credit: Devolver)

Exit the Gungeon

Genre: Shoot ’em up
Best played with: Touchscreen

There’s a smattering of a story here about a ‘Gungeon’ falling to bits, and you needing to escape. But, really, this is full-on high-octane bullet-hell shooty larks, with you leaping about in confined spaces, blowing everything away, and trying very hard to not get shot.

This game is tough. The pace brings to mind  Super Crate Box, as does the weapons system that finds your firearm regularly mutating. Typically, the better you are, the more powerful the weapon you’ll end up with. In short, be rubbish, and you’ll die.

Actually, you’ll die anyway – a lot at first. But you’ll gradually lengthen your runs, and give bosses a serious kicking. Not quite feeling it? Try switching control methods – there’s the full-speed high-octane take with a controller, but go touch-only and everything slows down while you leap, like the game’s merged with The Matrix.

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Mutazione

(Image credit: Die Gute Fabrik)

Mutazione

Genre: Adventure
Best played with: Touchscreen

One hundred years ago, a meteor struck a holiday resort in the tropics. Those few that survived showed strange mutations, rescuers took flight, and everyone left behind then tried to transform the island into a paradise. Now as teenager Kai, you travel for the first time to the island to visit a dying relative.

This is every inch the exploratory adventure. It’s heavy on conversation – and just poking around. Although next steps are heavily signposted in a journal, Mutazione is often at its most rewarding when you just live life, learning how the island functions.

The slow pace may irk those who like to fast-forward through games. And a gardening element at the heart of the production may well prove to be the last straw. But should you want a relaxing, engaging, stimulating handheld experience, full of heart and character, you, too, should make the journey to Mutazione.

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Bleak Sword

(Image credit: Devolver)

Bleak Sword

Genre: Brawler
Best played with: iPhone

Fire up the likes of Dark Souls on a PlayStation 4, and you can stomp about a beautifully rendered environment, hacking to bits all manner of adversaries with your medieval-era weapons. Bleak Sword is to a great extent the same game – albeit stripped back for mobile play, and with visuals that appear to have escaped from a 1980s PC.

Protagonist and enemies alike are stylized pixelated stickmen, but the controls are all modern gestures. It quickly becomes second nature to roll, parry, and hack to pieces anything that comes your way, from giant forest critters to enemies with unfeasibly large swords.

Curiously, Bleak Sword doesn’t work nearly as well with a controller. It really pays to spend a little time learning the touchscreen controls on an iPhone, and marveling at how such a game can work so well when you’re pawing at glass instead of having your mitts wrapped around a gamepad.

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Shinsekai Into the Depths

(Image credit: Capcom)

Shinsekai Into the Depths

Genre: Platform
Best played with: Any system

Instead of global warming leading to Mad Max, this Capcom platform game finds mankind living in a world of ice. Humanity’s tried to escape the cold by heading below the ocean waves, but that territory is now also beginning to freeze. As terrifyingly large chunks of ice rapidly encroach on your home, your lone aquanaut must venture forth, in a bid for survival.

Right from the off, this game feels unique and tantalizing. Whether you’re using slightly slippy touchscreen gestures or a gamepad, it’s fun to blast your aquanaut around, slash at underwater horrors, and prospect for resources.

There’s a temptation to continue zooming about, killing anything that moves; but Shinsekai’s world is full of peril, from fearsome underwater creatures to the mundane – yet no less dangerous – threat of running out of oxygen. The title therefore quickly resolves itself as a tense, electrifying balancing act as you head further into its unexplored depths.

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Genre: Platformer
Best played with: Apple TV

The latest and greatest game to enter Apple Arcade's stable of titles is Crossy Road Castle, a lighthearted multiplayer platformer in a procedurally generated castle. The game is similar in spirit to the original Crossy Road in that it's mostly about getting as far as you can while having a laugh rather than reaching the end of the castle. The multiplayer component allows up to four players cooperate locally, which definitely adds to the hilarity of it all.