The announcement of the new gaming service from Apple, the gaming community was met with ambiguity . Someone sees in Arcade the salvation of mobile gaming from the endless breakthrough of dubious free-to-play, and someone is confident that the company is no longer able to overcome the culture of aggressive monetization, which itself generated.
Regardless of enthusiasm and fear, Arcade is a serious bid to redraw not only mobile gaming, but the industry as a whole. Apple will offer players a subscription model in the spirit of the Game Pass, and to create an outstanding library of games has invited dozens of publishers and studios to collaborate.
Among them are Devolver, Klei, and even the studio of Hironobu Sakaguchi, creator of Final Fantasy. However, Apple does not take away from partners the right to freedom of creativity and the subsequent release on other platforms. Except, of course, Android. Simply put, for many projects, Apple Arcade exclusivity is temporary.
Apple promises more than 100 games at the start of the service, which is scheduled for this fall. However, today only a small part of them is known. To the already announced projects from Apple Arcade and take a look.
Beyond a steel sky
One of the most notable titles in Apple Arcade is the continuation of the cult quest Beneath a Steel Sky from the Revolution studio, released back in 1994. The first game was distinguished by stylish art from Dave Gibbons (comic book “Keepers”), witty dialogs, social subtext and relevant black humor in the setting of a fading Australia of the future.
The sequels were planned to be made in 2012, but the not-so-successful Broken Sword: The Serpent’s Curse Kickstarter campaign (the continuation of another cult series from Revolution) slowed down the process. And now Apple comes onto the scene.
Beyond a Steel Sky is a unique case, because this is a real continuation of the quest, which is supported by the very same Charles Cecil and Dave Gibbons. This is a spiritual heir in terms of history and ideas, but new times dictate new rules for gameplay.
According to Cecil and Gibbons, there is no deuce in the name for a reason. The authors strive in some ways to isolate themselves from the point-and-click heritage of the classics and attract new players unfamiliar with the original. Gibbons notes that this approach is also found in comics: when individual stories are self-sufficient, and new readers can join at any time.
What is happening in the trailers is very similar to the gameplay of Life is Strange. Or, for example, Dreamfall Chapters, which has gone through a similar path of metamorphosis – from a classic quest to a more accessible adventure game.
How exactly the authors realize the potential of touch control will become clear very soon. Remembering the port of the same Life is Strange on iOS and Android, we can safely say: the touchscreen for such games is a great option.
The game will also be available on PC, PS4 and Xbox One.
Studio Klei became famous for unusual games with stylish cartoon graphics. Behind their shoulders, for example, are two parts of the bloody beat ’em up Shank, which pays tribute to the grindhouse movie, as well as an excellent hybrid of the platform and stealth action The Mark of The Ninja and the cult “Survivor” Don’t Starve.
Their new Hot Lava game for Apple Arcade also looks promising. The basic idea is unexpected and at the same time simple: what would happen if the meme “gender is lava” became a game from Klei. And it would be cartoon crazy with gameplay reminiscent of Mirror’s Edge and Story About My Uncle.
Hot Lava is designed to remind us of our childhood, when many of us rode on sofas and armchairs, and then on garages and fences, trying not to go down to the ground again and find a more interesting way.
In the trailers presented, the characters do the same: the living rooms of residential buildings and warehouses are lava-laden, turning into tracks, and the comic-looking characters jump on furniture, slide and push off walls, swing on ropes and cornices, trying not to touch the floor. Crazy tracks can be created by yourself, using the built-in editor. The main thing is that it doesn’t work out like with Super Smash Bros. Ultimate .
It is not yet clear whether Klei will surprise with something fundamentally new (a beta test on a PC did not reveal all the features of the game), but playing in the comical analogue of the Trial mode from Mirror`s Edge in the company of friends will be interesting anyway. In such a game, dynamics and smoothness of control are the key, and Klei has always been in order with them.
At the moment, the game is announced only for Apple Arcade and Steam.
Where cards fall
There is not much information about Where Cards Fall. Judging by the trailers and the early demo, we are waiting for a stylish low-poly platformer in isometry, where players will have to interact with the likeness of playing cards.
It looks like this – the hero, for example, needs to bridge the gap between the platforms. And then a deck of giant cards comes to his aid, which the player can control by building platforms or even buildings from it in a couple of taps. Ideally reminds to the limit of a simplified Portal, and externally – Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons.
It is not yet clear how the existence of magic cards is explained in the game world (people even live in these house of cards) and why the hero can control them, but this is not the main thing. The main thing is that behind the videos and screenshots you can not see a particularly outstanding game. Although the authors want to believe, they are trying to uncover the theme of growing up and the role of memories in our lives.
It is encouraging that Where Cards Fall is one of the few games that Apple has spent a lot of time in the preview video. Also, do not forget about previous games by Snowman, for example, the most humane and insanely beautiful runners Alto’s Odyssey and Alto’s Adventure.
The release of Where Cards Fall is also announced on the PC.
Annapurna Pictures, a film company that has been producing high-profile author’s films (based on the works of Spike Jonze, Paul Thomas Anderson and Katherine Bigelow) has been playing games intensively since 2017. Annapurna Interactive has already managed to support many interesting indies: from What Remains of Edith Finch to Ashen and mobile Florence.
The Pathless is their new project created by Giant Squid (ABZÛ authors). We are waiting for action in the open world, where we, as a hunter, will explore the damned island and hunt monsters in the company of a hand-held eagle.
The presented trailer demonstrates a dynamic exploration of the island, hunting, shooting on the go, stealth and skirmishes with monsters. All this is accompanied by wonderful music and a fabulous visual component. The game is intriguing at least in style, and what is happening in the trailers clearly sends us to Journey, The Legend of Zelda, Shadow of the Colossus and The Last Guardian.
The game is also announced on PC and PS4.
Oceanhorn 2: Knights of the Lost Realm
The Oceanhorn series is a unique analogue of The Legend of Zelda for those platforms that Nintendo usually bypasses. The original game was an isometric likeness of Zelda, successfully sold on iOS, and then released on Steam .
But if the first part was guided by the early releases of Zelda, then Knights of the Lost Realm is already inspired by Twilight Princess, Skyward Sword and, of course, Breath of the Wild. From now on, the game will have an open world, and the camera will move behind the back of the protagonist. Also, there will be companions in the game (whether the cooperative mode appears, is still unknown), and firearms will appear in the arsenal. All this will be designed to complicate and diversify the gameplay.
Looking at the trailer, you might even think that Oceanhorn is the official port of Zelda, these games are so similar. However, in the absence of Nintendo games on target platforms, there is the main advantage of Knights of the Lost Realm. Moreover, the first game was a very high quality copycat.
Overland has long been announced on the PC, and on the network for $ 20 you can even get an earlier version. However, the gameplay looks ideal for mobile platforms.
Overland is an unusual hybrid of strategy and survival simulator. We play as a group of travelers in the post-apocalyptic world, and the gameplay is a turn-based battle and the study of small levels generated by chance.
Typically, the Overland gameplay looks like this: a group of characters arrives in a new area, rummages around for useful things for survival. Then they are attacked by monsters, and the heroes, spending action points, get out of the situation and try to escape by car (you still need to get to it) or give battle to monsters, including using the environment.
There are moral dilemmas in the game (sometimes you have to sacrifice squad members), and the plot is served between levels. And all this is simplified to the limit and is generated procedurally. Ideal format for mobile devices.
Hironobu Sakaguchi is not the only iconic game designer participating in Apple’s new program. But while nothing is known about the project of Will Wright (creator of The Sims) for Arcade, then there is information about the game from Mistwalker, Sakaguchi Studio.
Sakaguchi announces a cryptic phrase in the preview video: “This game should not exist.” It’s hard to say exactly what the game designer was referring to, but it can be assumed that Fantasian is a risky, unusual project that might not have been released without the support of Apple.
All we know about Fantastian will be JRPG, and locations reminiscent of Final Fantasy VII are created manually in the form of dioramas, then scanned and added to the game. Does this mean that the game will be implemented AR – is still unknown. There are no details about the gameplay and plot yet.
Fantasian is not Sakaguchi’s first mobile experience. Earlier, his studio released the highly successful Terra Battle mobile RPG series.
LEGO Brawls and LEGO Arthouse
LEGO, in collaboration with RED Games, is preparing LEGO Brawls, a side-view competitive action game. There are no details about the game, but what is happening in the trailers makes us remember not only Super Smash Bros., but also such multiplayer 2D-action games as TeeWorlds and Soldat. Players will be available melee, firearms and even equipment. How all this will be arranged and what modes will be in the game is still unknown.
LEGO Arthouse makes another studio from Denmark. And it intrigues much more, because it will be a serious story adventure, touching on the theme of aging and preserving the childish curiosity and interest in life. The project is clearly aimed at a more adult audience, although there are no details about it yet.
Both projects are announced only for Apple Arcade.
The bradwell conspiracy
The Bradwell Conspiracy is a first-person adventure game set in a utopian 2026. The plot is associated with the Bradwell Corporation, which presents its new project called Clean Water Initiative. This bodes for a change for the better for all of humanity, however, the main character, being on a corporate party dedicated to the launch of the project, loses consciousness from a mysterious flash and wakes up alone in the middle of an empty scientific complex.
Stylistically, the game resembles Fallout and Evil Genius, and ideologically explicitly refers to Prey and BioShock. The gameplay is reported to be built on research and interaction with another survivor named Amber. The main character will collaborate with her at a distance, sharing a picture from his augmented reality glasses. However, how all this will look and play is not yet clear.
Publishes the project Bossa Studios, best known for Surgeon Simulator. The Bradwell Conspiracy is also announced on the PC.
In Yaga , the Slavic flavor is immediately guessed. And it’s not just the name that refers us to Baba Yaga. The main character is a bearded blacksmith who fights in the forest with wolves and bears, rests in huts and flies on stoves to familiar folk tunes. This is doubly unusual, because the Breadcrumbs studio is located in Romania.
The game is declared as a “fabulous action-RPG”, where we play as a blacksmith, forced to carry out the orders of the king and get into trouble because of this.
The gameplay is reminiscent of Diablo and Crashlands with a more diverse action component. The hero, for example, handles the hammer just like Kratos – with an ax. There will be a dialogue system, a craft, a confrontation between Christianity and paganism, and even giant chickens.
The game will also be released on PC.
Projection: first light
Projection: First Light is a platformer that tells the story of the Greta doll and at the same time carries the player through the history of the puppet theater. That is why the locations will reflect different eras: from Greece to Victorian England. And Greta, traveling, will know herself and her place in the world.
It is still unclear whether one should expect any gameplay finds and revelations of the Limbo level from the game, however, in Projection: First Light, a beautiful art platformer is already guessed, which is also valuable from a cultural point of view.
The game is also announced for consoles and PCs.
Sayonara wild hearts
One of the most unusual games in Apple Arcade is a hybrid of racing, action and rhythm games, flavored with the logic of sleep and a sea of references to modern pop culture.
The authors themselves from the Simogo studio call their project “a gaming pop album” and “an euphoric music video”. The game begins as a simple runner, but then it gets complicated, it turns into a shooter, then into a beat ’em up, now into a rhythm game, then into God knows what else.
And all this splendor is strung on pop cultural allusions and, of course, music. An amazing sight reminiscent of Suda51 games. Sayonara Wild Hearts is like the concentration of all that we love in games and pop culture.
Crazy gameplay is accompanied by a good acid story with crystal butterflies, travels through deserts and cities, futuristic bikers and tarot cards.
The game is also announced on the Nintendo Switch.
Above, we selected the most interesting titles that were promised immediately at the start of Apple Arcade. However, this is not all the announced games. In total, 30 projects are currently known, most of which there is almost no information except for the name and key art.
It is known that Konami, Disney, Devolver, SEGA (with the new version of Sonic Racing), Will Wright and many more independent developers will drop in Arcade. A complete list of announced games (although there is almost no information besides the names and key art) is on the Apple website .