The Best Apple Arcade Games This 2021


Who would have ever thought that Apple Arcade would become so popular and so good quickly? While most of Apple's endeavors almost always end up being a success, the California-based tech giant and video games aren't exactly the most likely pairing. However, nearly two years after it first launched in September 2019, Apple Arcade's library of games has grown so much in terms of number and quality that it's become difficult to sift through the amount of content it has.

The Pathless is easily one of the most ambitious games of 2020 and it's available on Apple Arcade.

While the Apple Arcade has a healthy selection of titles for gamers of all tastes and preferences, the ones you'll find below are the very best Apple Arcade games you can find as of the time of writing.

Oceanhorn 2

As long as you have a recent-ish Apple device, Oceanhorn 2 should run and play just fine.

You've probably heard of this phrase before, but we'll say it again, Oceanhorn is the best Zelda-like game on Apple Arcade. Until someone releases something just as good if not better, or Nintendo releases an actual Zelda game on Apple Arcade, this will most likely be the case.

Similar to the original Oceanhorn title, Oceanhorn 2 puts the fate of the world in the hands of a young knight, once again. As is typical of any RPG and a Zelda-like title at that, this means that you need to visit a variety of locations, defeat powerful and weak enemies alike, as well as complete the occasional odd mission with several difficult puzzles thrown at you.

Perhaps the only issue we have with Oceanhorn 2 is that it assumes you know how to play the game from the get-go. This doesn't necessarily mean that Oceanhorn 2 is a difficult game. Rather, it's just that the game doesn't really take the time to tell you how to perform certain things and some aren't exactly intuitive.

Thankfully, once you do get a good understanding of how to play Oceanhorn 2, very few on the Apple Arcade compares to the experience.

Sneaky Sasquatch

Sneaky Sasquatch is a fully-realized game that's good for a couple of hours' worth of laughter and enjoyment.

For some reason, a massive campsite and whoever is in charge of its security is okay with a pilfering sasquatch living in the area. Thankfully, that isn't changing anytime soon as Sneaky Sasquatch puts you in the shoes of the said humanoid mythical creature in a game that feels a lot like a serious stealth-action title but with the premise of the Yogi Bear animated television shows and films of old.

And, boy, is this unique and odd combination glorious. Sneaky Sasquatch really does a great job of making you feel just how stealthy a creature many times the size of the average human can feel like. You'll even get a chance to channel your inner Solid Snake. But, instead of a box as a disguise, you can dress as a bush so you can tip-toe past the unwitting campers and steal whatever it is that the denizens of the forest want you to get for them.

What is perhaps the most surprising thing about Sneaky Sasquatch is how much effort and care the developers put into it.

Sneaky Sasquatch's premise made it so tempting to turn it into a quick cash grab and a gimmick. Yet, the developers put in the time to make sure that the controls worked well with beautiful animation and a game that takes its time hooking you in so that you have a hard time putting your iPhone or iPad down.

The Last Campfire

For a game featuring a lost ember trapped in a dark fantasy world, The Last Campfire is a vibrant and, dare we say, enlightening game.

Hello Games isn't just a one-trick pony. Even though they were busy turning around No Man's Sky, Hello Games still found time to create a beautiful experience in The Last Campfire. A stark departure from a game like No Man's Sky that's set in a never-ending procedurally-generated universe, The Last Campfire takes you on a more intimate journey, filled with numerous brain-teasing puzzles, paranormal and colorful creatures, as well as mystical ruins.

Equal parts beautiful and mysterious with its fair share of challenging moments, The Last Campfire is an innovative title that would have probably still succeeded had it released outside of Apple Arcade.

Pac-Man Party Royale

PAC-Man Party Royal is one of the least likely and yet most fun battle royale games out right now.

Give me things that are less likely than a Pac-Man battle royale game. Come on. We're waiting.

The thing is, no one really expected anyone to make a Pac-Man game with a battle royale mode. However, Pac-Man Party Royale makes this interesting pairing work wonders. Although each round of Pac-Man Party Royale feels just like any other Pac-Man game, players will quickly learn that this is not your typical Pac-Man game.

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While you'll still spend the rest of the game trying to avoid ghosts, Pac-Man Party Royale puts a nice spin into the classic gameplay by making eliminated players join the ghosts. But, of course, the remaining players aren't powerless. Those who are still left in the game and fighting to stay alive can chase after abilities that will help them stay alive as long as possible. And, oh, it wouldn't be a proper battle royale game if there wasn't a "glitch" closing in to limit the play area until only one player remains.

The Pathless

The Pathless might look worse on iOS and iPadOS devices, but it remains very much a beautiful and must-play game.

The Pathless will probably look familiar to you. After all, it was a standout in one of Sony's PS5 game showcases in 2020. However, what most people don't know is that The Pathless also made its way to other platforms. In particular, iOS and iPad OS devices via the Apple Arcade where it's unsurprisingly one of the best games to play.

Developed by Giant Squid, The Pathless is an open-world puzzler that marries a colorful visual style with a memorable soundtrack on top of graceful and fluid gameplay with a fantastic story to boot.

The Pathless is a great game outside of the Apple Arcade. The fact that you can have it for a lot less than how much it sells for other platforms makes it a no-brainer.

Fantasian

While not necessarily a groundbreaking game, Fantasian is an excellent callback to the JRPGs of the 90s.

Fantasian is what you get when you have industry legend Hironobu Sakaguchi tinker around with yet another RPG.

The creator of Final Fantasy delivers yet another potentially iconic experience in Fantasian. Not only does the RPG stand out with its handmade diorama backdrops that fit in perfectly with the 3D characters, but it also has a familiar story to tell.

In a realm governed by machines, it is up to the players to take on the role of Leo, who will have to reclaim his lost memories and unravel the mechanical infection that seeks to destroy the world.

NBA 2K21

Who knew that removing microtransactions from an NBA 2K game would make it so much better?

Would you believe us if we told you that the best version of NBA 2K21 is on the Apple Arcade? We know. That's hard to believe. However, with zero in-app purchases, NBA 2K21 is NBA 2K at its absolute finest. Not only does NBA 2K21 offer nearly the same realism on iOS and iPadOS devices (at least, up to the extent of what your device can handle), but NBA 2K21 comes with a surprising amount of content on the Apple Arcade as well.

From 5-on-5 basketball in Arena mode to some street action in Blacktop Quick Matches mode, as well as Online Multiplayer mode with a surprisingly robust MyCareer mode, NBA 2K21 is another must-have on the Apple Arcade.

Really Bad Chess+

Make no mistake, this is still a classic game of Chess. It's just that the pieces have been randomized.

Really Bad Chess+ is the innovative twist to the centuries' old board game that you probably thought you never thought you would ever need. Instead of the usual set of pieces, each game in Really Bad Chess+ adds a random element to each round. You'll get to play with a different set of pieces in each game and your opponent won't have the same number of pieces as well.

Oddly enough, each game is well-balanced. Even though you'll have more pawns than your opponent does, they'll still have to think twice before making a move.

Hitchhiker

It's amazing how much you'll learn about who you are just by hitchhiking around the country.

Just by the name itself, you would have thought that Apple Arcade would be filled with, well, arcadey games. Instead, you'll find that it has a plethora of unique single-player titles to offer. This includes Hitchhiker, which is a mystery game that combines unique visual and audio choices to create a winding tale that involves a lot of sketchy details about the protagonist's past.

What's so amazing about Hitchiker is that it takes the very simple concept of talking to strangers as you hitchhike across the country and turns it into a gripping story that will keep your eyes glued to the screen until the end.

Lego Builder's Journey

Don't blame us if you find yourself sobbing if not outright in tears after playing through Lego Builders Journey.

Who doesn't like Lego? Kids and adults alike love playing with these imaginative bricks. Much more probably so if you put a story behind the classic gameplay.

Such is the case of the isometric puzzler, Lego Builder's Journey. In the game, players will learn of a story of a father and child as they try to navigate their way through 34 lengthy stages set inside a Lego world.

Without spoiling anything, let's just say that you'll never expect just how emotional a story a game as minimalist as Lego Builder's Journey can tell.

Ray Ampoloquio
Ray is based in the Philippines. He is a lifelong gamer and a PC hardware enthusiast. He builds and repairs laptops and computers for friends and family in his spare time. You can find Ray on Twitter.