This story is part of CNET’s coverage of Apple Arcade, including exclusive first looks we got at some of the service’s high-profile new games.
When the constant bombardment ofand other world events becomes overwhelming (which is often), playing a video game is one of my favorite ways to unwind. Immersing myself in a good story or puzzle is the perfect distraction when I get anxious about the world opening back up.
Since I started using Apple Arcade, I’ve found that many of the games’ aesthetics, soundtracks or tactile nature make them particularly soothing. Here are some of the best games to help you decompress on Apple Arcade so far.
I love the aesthetically pleasing nature of Patterned. If you’re a fan of adult coloring books, you should check this game out. After you choose a puzzle — or pattern — to complete, it will start out as a black-and-white sketch. You use visual clues to solve the puzzle, and as you drop pieces in the right place, each piece changes color. Sometimes, after you complete a puzzle, the scene comes to life with a bit of animation. Each game is set to a gentle soundtrack, and there’s no rush to finish. My favorite patterns to complete are the town scenes.
Assemble with Care
Developer: Ustwo Games
In the narrative puzzle game Assemble with Care, you play as Maria, a freelance antiques restorer, who arrives in the town of Bellariva during her world travels. The game unfolds like a storybook until Maria meets someone who needs something fixed. The game lets you rotate objects, change batteries, press buttons and rotate screwdrivers. In addition to fixing physical objects, Maria learns about the people of Bellariva’s problems and looks for ways to fix those as well. I enjoyed the game’s relaxed pace, tactile nature, calming soundtrack and gorgeous artwork.
Developer: Lykke Studios
Tint mixes watercolor painting and origami paper creations into a peaceful puzzle game. The game takes place in your own garden studio and you complete each puzzle in a sketchbook. Each “page” of your sketchbook gets a little more challenging, but the game doesn’t lose its soothing theme. There are built-in hints if you get stuck (no shame) and thefor easier, skippable levels. Each chapter of Tint begins with something different — sounds of rain, the warm glow of sun, the chirping of birds and more. There’s also a mode for colorblind and vision-impaired users.
Where Cards Fall
Developer: Snowman and The Game Band
is a narrative-driven coming-of-age puzzle game that uses cards to convey what it’s like to be a teenager (despite this, it’s still relaxing, I promise). You navigate each dreamy level by building and collapsing card houses. Some cards become doors that let you glimpse various memories. Getting to the doors becomes more challenging as the levels progress — pinch the screen to collapse cards and spread your fingers on a deck to build a house. There’s no rush to complete any levels and hints are there if you want them.
The cards, which players can build up or collapse, were a huge inspiration in the game’s creation. CNET got an exclusive preview of the game in the video below.
Lifelike: Chapter 1
Developer: Kunabi Brother
Lifelike is a simple, but fascinating game centered on mysterious amoebic creatures with swarming and flocking tendencies. If you liked watching the old visualizations on Windows Media Player, you might like this game. There’s no rush on any level, and no point system. The more you interact with the creatures, the more happens in the game. Enjoy playful, relaxing, almost hypnotic interactions with the creatures in this beautiful game.
Developer: Noodlecake and Lucid Labs
Possessions is a calming, minimalist puzzle game with a surprisingly in-depth story. The trick to solving each puzzle is perspective and spatial awareness — you must view the room from different angles. A lamp might look like it’s floating, but if you tilt the room a certain way, it looks like it’s on an end table. Every level is a bit more challenging as you have to “arrange” more objects — flowers need help getting into vases and cords must be plugged into the wall. You’ll also learn each character’s story in the cut scenes (sans dialogue), and by which objects are in each room. The only thing I didn’t like was how short the gameplay was, but developers could always add more levels later.
The Enchanted World
The Enchanted World centers on a young fairy whose world is wrecked by dark forces. You’ll help her on a journey to repair and heal what’s been damaged. With guidance from a red songbird along the way, you’ll get help from a web-spinning spider, quirky robots, a hungry frog and others. Redirect rivers, mend tree roots and save your world from the darkness. Some of the puzzles stumped me for quite a bit and I had to take to YouTube to figure them out, but the game is still a good time.
CNET got an exclusive preview of the game in the video below.
I’m a huge fan of word puzzles — Scrabble, Words with Friends, Wordscapes — you name it. Word Laces is a quirky game where you use the picture to find the meaning of the puzzle, lace the letters together and earn a shoe. The game is set to a gentle soundtrack and is blissfully undemanding. For example, you might see an image of two people hugging, and lace together words such as “friends” or “embrace.” If you get all the words, your prize shoe changes the color of the game’s background and the type of laces you use in the spelling challenges.
Developer: Dinosaur Polo Club
The goal of Mini Motorways is to draw roads to create a network and build up a busy metropolis. Adapt and think ahead to keep traffic moving smoothly and meet demands. It’s hard to worry about anything else besides where the roads are going, where you need traffic lights and bridges, so it’s the perfect game to distract you. Fans of building games like Sim City, Prison Architect or Two Point Hospital might like this one.
Developers: Pomelo Games
In Outlanders, you play as the leader of a group building a small town. Every level has different challenges, townsfolk with different talents, ways to balance resources, and choices to make. Similarly to Mini Motorways, the game requires balancing of in-game resources and concentration, so it can be a good distraction. The town-builder simulation added a Sandbox Mode in anif you’d rather just build a town without having to meet objectives.