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My PS4 bricked itself during a system update a couple of months ago, so I needed to take a break from playing Death Stranding. Which was bad timing: Sony’s repair centers were closed because of COVID. (They reopened this past week, so hopefully I’ll get it repaired soon…) I decided the next large game I’d play would be the Switch version of Tokyo Mirage Sessions, but first I decided try out a few more Apple Arcade games.

Notes on the games I tried:

Sayonara Wild Hearts

I gave this one another try: I went through the whole thing again in the full album playthrough version, and also played through the first level or two a few times to get a gold medal. Still didn’t click for me: stylish, though.


I played it for a few hours, enough make it through the first boss once on the first character. I don’t yet have a feel for whether I think there’s something there: there’s an awful lot of randomness inherent to the second-to-second play of a Peggle-style game, and to me that seems fairly seriously at odds with the kind of potential control you’d want in a Roguelike? But maybe there’s more skill than is evident (I haven’t played the original Peggle much), or maybe they’ve designed the game in such a way that the randomness doesn’t matter as much as it seems, that you can manage it okay once you know when to spend your magic and how to best use your upgrades? I’m certainly willing to believe it’s the latter one, but ultimately I decided that, if I was going to spend time on a Roguelike, I should stick to Slay the Spire. (Which I’m playing a lot again, and which I like quite a bit more than I did when I first posted about it, I’ve gotten over the initial learning curve hump and I like what I see on the other side. Incidentally, they just released it on iOS, and I prefer the iPad interface over the Switch interface, but it’s great either place.)


The only Apple Arcade game I’ve seen with a privacy policy when you launch it; I should have deleted it then, but I pressed on, and it’s an uninspired action puzzle game with a free to play energy mechanic only barely removed. By far the slimiest feeling game that I’ve played on the service.

Tangle Tower

A Phoenix Wright-ish detective game. Doesn’t have the same soul, and I was a little afraid that I’d miss stuff in the hunting and pecking through rooms and in the logic deduction, but it ended up having a decent system to support the player and help me not get stuck? Pleasant, even somewhat charming; happy to have spent three hours or so with it, not something that I would actively recommend, but if you’re already subscribed to Apple Arcade and have some time to kill, it’s not a bad choice? (I’m surprised they’re charging $20 for it on Steam, though.)

Manifold Garden

This one honestly probably deserves a post of its own. A 3D puzzle game that’s well worth playing: good core mechanics: you can change gravity so that any of the six directions of walls can be down, and sections of the world are like a 3D torus. Which takes a while to wrap your head around, but basically you can get to almost anywhere you want by combining those two facts. So you get used to the consequences of that for a few hours, and learn about a couple more mechanics and rules of engagement; and they do a very good job of dribbling out the learning, keeping me feeling smart most of the time, feeling frustrated some of the time, but always making it past my frustration. (I was very close to having to look things up in a walkthrough once or twice, but I didn’t.) And also the game didn’t outstay its welcome, and was divided up into sections that were well paced for making progress over an evening.

Also, the graphics style is super distinctive, in a way that worked for me; I certainly wouldn’t want every game to look like this, but the rectilinear nature, the symmetry of the six directions, and the repeating nature of the geometries added up to something honestly kind of special.

It’s playable with touchscreen controls, but they made one bad choice there (around the controls for dropping blocks) that was frustrating and kind of an unforced error. So most of the time I played it with an Xbox controller; and then I ran into a problem where using the controller interferes with Bluetooth audio through my AirPods. Which is a problem, since Apple removed the headphone jack on the current iPad Pros! So I’m annoyed at Apple both because of the wireless interference bug (I mean, maybe I’ve got a bad Xbox controller, but I doubt it) and because of the lack of headphone jack. Still, it’s a good enough game that I recommend giving it a try even if you have Apple Arcade but don’t have a controller; if I’d been in that position, I probably would have given up after an hour and a half, but I also still would have felt that that hour and a half was interesting and rewarding?


This game calls itself a Deck Building Tactical RPG, which sounds fun? But when I gave it a try it didn’t click for me. Part of that is that it didn’t match what I think of as a deck builder: when I went through the introduction (which was fairly lengthy, and included arcs for four separate characters), there wasn’t any deck building: your deck did increase in size, but in ways that were completely predetermined. Which maybe makes sense from a didactic point of view if you want to teach people how the mechanics work, but which wasn’t at all what I expected given the label.

It did seem to open up after the intro, giving me an option to construct a deck, but I guess it’s a game about selecting a complete deck instead of about gradually growing a deck? Presumably your card pool continues to change as you progress through the game, though.

I’m also not entirely convinced that card play and tactical RPG elements are a combination I particularly enjoy: I’m not sure but I suspect that I prefer games that focus more on one side or the other.

Anyways, I’m willing to believe that there’s something here, I don’t feel like I’ve given it a fair shake; but, as per the above, right now I’d rather spend my time on Slay the Spire.

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