Apple launches new gaming subscription service

Joseph Ferrer, Staff Writer

The mobile gaming industry is filled with predatory, microtransaction-fueled pay-to-win games. Apple Arcade, Apple’s new subscription service, defies these trends and provides high-quality mobile titles for an accessible price. For $4.99 a month, subscribers will gain unlimited access to over 100 titles curated by Apple. Each game on the service is devoid of advertisements and microtransactions, allowing the user to focus entirelyon the game itself.

The selection of games on Apple Arcade is varied with titles that have console game levels of quality. Several prolific game developers are putting their support into the service, such as Sega with Sonic Racing and Capcom with Shinsekai Into the Depths.

My personal favorite games on the service come from the various up-and-coming indie studios. What the Golf? is a hilarious physics-based puzzle game that starts with simply getting a golf ball to the hole but quickly requires you to perform bizarre tasks such as getting a horse to leap off of a diving board, all while using the golf-based control scheme.

With iOS 13 adding Bluetooth support for DualShock 4 and Xbox One controllers, several games with standard controls are able to shine through Apple Arcade as well. Swedish developer Simogo’s Sayonara Wild Hearts has an incredible neon aesthetic with on-rails gameplay that requires the player to ride motorcycles and swing swords while syncing their actions with the beat of its pop soundtrack.

Wayforward’s highly anticipated fifth installment in their platformer series, Shantae and the Seven Sirens, plays extremely well with traditional controls.  One of the most surprising games in the library is Devolver Digital’s sequel to its rouge-like shoot ‘emup hit, Exit the Gungeon. The sequel takes the top-down gameplay from the original Enter the Gungeonand seamlessly translates it to a 2D side scroller.  While touch controls are available for these titles, I found them to be unresponsive and vastly preferred playing them with a physical controller.

My favorite game on the service has to be Bleak Sword as I personally feel that it has one of the best combat systems in a touch-based mobile game. Bleak Sword looks incredibly unique with an isometric art style that combines 2D sprites with 3D environments and a stylistically limited color palette of black, white and red. The game borrows heavily from Dark Souls with its dark medieval aesthetic and its gameplay. Bleak Sword manages to make fast-paced, reactionary combat feel incredibly smooth purely through touch swipes. The game’s high difficulty may deter some players but it’s exactly what makes the fights both incredibly intense and rewarding.

Apple Arcade provides a great selection of games for both casual audiences and hardcore players alike. Mobile games have been creatively bankrupt for a long period of time, but Apple Arcade breathes new life into the genre by highlighting creative developers.

For those on the fence about the service, Apple is offering a free one month trial for Apple Arcade which I absolutely recommend. After personally using the service for about a month, I believe Apple Arcade is a fantastic service with several standout titles that are some of the best experiences I’ve had with mobile gaming.