Oopsie, doopsie I choked it again
It's been a while since we've had a long, enjoyable discussion about Apple Arcade. I remember having high hopes for the service when it launched in 2022, and while the enthusiasm around the service died down in the weeks after launch, it actually maintained a steady stream of releases from quality throughout 2022. A few of these have been covered, such as Necrobarista, Crossy Castle, and The Pathless. It's a great trio of games, but there are several other notable titles that launched on the service last year that you should probably try out if you haven't already.
Developer: Cobra Mobile Limited
I'll be frank with you: Towers of Everland isn't the best example of a dungeon crawler you can find on iOS. The Legend of Grimrock was ported to mobile a few years ago, and it's still one of the best RPGs you can find on the platform. That said, Everland has been bringing me back to my iPad every month since it launched in May. After falling hard from The Elder Scrolls Blades last year, I was looking for another game that would give me a nighttime adventure before I fell asleep. It more or less fits the role. You can choose from four characters (City Guard, Rogue, Mage, Golem) or create your own, then get to work taking down monsters in the many towers that have sprouted across the land.
The art direction is pretty questionable and the combat is far too simple for its own good, but with daily quests and new areas added over the past year, it's a pretty decent way to kill an hour before the ZzzQuil doesn't come into play. Also, because it's a grid-based dungeon crawler, it plays just as well with the touchscreen as it does with a controller, which is precisely what I want d a game I play in bed.
Developer: Wayforward Technologies
You can generally rely on Wayforward Technologies to support new platforms, regardless of size. He was one of the first developers to release a game for Apple Watch and was there when Apple Arcade launched with the first half of Shantae and the Seven Sirens and Spidersaurs. Last September, he gave up his third title for service with Marble Knights.
Up to four players can control a group of marble-riding heroes as they attempt to defend the kingdom of Roundingham from Lord Terroball. Not exactly the deepest narrative to work with, but story aside, Marble Knights can be a frenetic, fast-paced adventure game with some really clever ideas. The combat is easy to grasp, and the difficult never really sees an increase, but with three more players its old-school arcade quality really begins to shine. It's playable with the touchscreen and tilt controls, but I did much better when I synced my Xbox One controller.
The last campfire
Developer: Hello Games
The Last Campfire seemed to come and go pretty quickly when it released on multiple platforms in August. The short puzzle adventure game features incredibly lovable Ember as he journeys through a mysterious maze in search of other embers that have wandered off before he can move on.
Depending on your involvement in the story and Rachel August's excellent narration, this can be a bit of a tearjerker. It doesn't help that all the embers you encounter on your journey are so adorable. The puzzles are cleverly crafted throughout the five-hour adventure, and they're often jaw-dropping with resplendent art direction that requires playing on a big screen (although an iPad works just as well). The Last Campfire is an exceptionally imaginative game, and why shouldn't it be. After all, the people who developed it are the same people who gave us those treasured LostWinds titles on the Nintendo Wii.
South of the circle
Developer: State of Play Games
South of the Circle is actually the catalyst for this whole article. Over Christmas weekend, while visiting family, I was bored to tears as my dad watched an endless barrage of crime shows like Blue Bloods, NCIS: New Orleans, and Bones. I took out my iPad and found that South of the Circle was still downloaded and decided to give it a try. Three hours later I sat there stunned that I hadn't played one of the best games of the last year.
This cinematic and narrative adventure game puts you in the snow boots of Peter, a scientist who begins his journey to Antarctica in 1964. His plane has crashed and the pilot's leg is broken, forcing the somewhat nebulous Peter to brave the freezing temperatures in search of help. A red light in the distance beckons him, and as he searches for someone who can help him, he experiences moments from his past, showing his life during the Cold War and his relationship with his soul mate, Clara.
There's so much more to the story, but I really don't want to spoil it. Like many other story-based "walking simulators", it means so much more when you experience it yourself. South of the Circle is the exact type of game I want to see on this service, and I can only hope this year gives Apple Arcade as many gems as it got in 2022.