Arcade is Apple's subscription game service that will cost you $5 / €5 per month after a free trial. By connecting a game controller like Sony's DualShock 4, Microsoft's Xbox One controller or an MFI-approved Bluetooth controller like the Nimbus Steelseries, you can join the fun.
Also read: Apple TV's path to becoming a real game console
As of Jun 2020, Apple Arcade offers a library of over 100 games. New games or expansions to existing games are added weekly on Fridays. Some games are also available on PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and PC, while others are exclusive to Arcade or have their roots in mobile gaming.
Here are the 10 best Arcade games for Apple TV and the big screen, in our opinion. We have included information about availability on other TV platforms.
1. Sayonara Wild Hearts
Our current favorite on Arcade and one that we are really excited about. Sayonara is an original concept that plays almost like an interactive music video. It's cool, challenging and almost psychedelic. It puts a bold line under Apple TV as a game console as Sayonara was also recently released for PS4 and Switch. The game was developed by Sweden's Simogo, known for the amazing Year Walk game, and published by Annapurna, known for Journey and Flower. It should be enjoyed on the big screen.
Sayonara Wild Hearts is also available on PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Steam.
2. The Last Campfire
The Last Campfire is an adorable adventure game, both visually and narratively, about hope and existential questions. It is driven forward by a narrative but you are free to explore the surroundings. It is suitable for both children and adults, alone or together. The audio side is great too; especially the narrator voice that helps to set a special ambiance. The pieces start to fall into place only later in the game and the ending puts the whole game into perspective and forces you to rethink what you just experienced. Highly recommended.
The Last Campfire is also available on PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Epic, Steam.
If you liked Machinarium or Samorost you will most likely also like Creaks from Amanita Design who has created a type of mini universe with a unique visual style and atmosphere. You take the role of a boy who discovers an incredible, secret world under his room. It is a spooky puzzle games where you must solve puzzles in a maze of pathways and rooms, elevated by unique characters such as bird/men creators. You will experience hand-drawn art as you move through the glorious world. The soundtrack is also really good.
Creaks is also available on PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Steam.
4. Little Orpheus
From the developers of Dear Esther and Everybody's Gone to Rapture comes Little Orpheus about Ivan Ivanovich who in the 60's Sovjet embarks on a mission to the earth's core where an atom bomb, Little Orpheus, has disappeared. It sounds crazy and perhaps that's the best description of a game that is humorous and very imaginative. On Ivan's journey you encounter the most amazing places, and the story is carried forward by visually stunning and changing scenery. The game is very easy but several hours long. You should play it primarily for the story, graphics, and humor.
Little Orpheus is available exclusively on Apple Arcade.
For the older audience there is Stela, a 2.5-dimensional game similar to Limbo and Inside - and perhaps a little too inspired by these titles. You wake up confused and disoriented in a scary world where you must flee to survive. The soundtrack elevates the game and makes it a memorable and atmospheric experience that is hard to put away. The graphics are amongst the best we have seen from an Arcade game so far - and the game takes up to most space, too. Unfortunately, Stela is not very long.
Stela is also available on Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Steam.
6. InmostWe were close to giving up on Inmost after the first few moments but we are so happy that we gave it 20 minutes. After 20 minutes we were completely drawn into what initially looks like boring pixel graphics but turns out to be more of an artistic genre choice - and even beautiful at times - combined with modern elements such as the soundtrack, which is really strong. The game has a great atmosphere mixed with moving themes. Inmost is overlooked and we highly recommended it - but not for the kids.
Inmost is also coming for Nintendo Switch, Steam.
7. Rayman Mini
If you grew up with game consoles you probably remember Rayman. It is still fantastic in its more modern form. We already had Rayman Adventures for Apple TV but it is liberating to get Rayman Mini without in-app purchasing and other user-hostile elements. In our opinion Rayman Mini should be one of the first games that you download from Arcade, regardless of your age. It is great fun and gets more challenging - and weird - as you progress. It is developed by Ubisoft, who hardly requires an introduction.
Rayman Mini is available exclusively on Apple Arcade.
8. Yaga The Roleplaying Folktale
An RPG (role playing game) set in Slavic folklore where you play as Ivan the one-handed blacksmith who is cursed with bad luck. You can return to the city to craft weapons or to trade before you venture into a dark and crazy world of monsters and peculiar characters, on a mission to find a wife. The soundtrack is unique with its mix of hip-hop beats and Romanian folk music - it can be almost hypnotizing. Yaga is a challenging and fun game.
Yaga is also available on PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Epic Games.
9. Sneaky Sasquatch
The game about the Sasquatch who lives in a national part has been a huge hit with our kids. You start out simple by tip-toeing your way around and stealing food from trash cans and tents. As you progress, you can buy clothes, houses, cars, ski and golfing equipment etc. It is a simple yet humoristic game that lets you roam freely or follow the main storyline to advance and open up new parts of the world. There are many hours of good fun here.
Sneaky Sasquatch is available exclusively on Apple Arcade.
10. Skate City
We installed Skate City hoping to get a nostalgic trip back to the Tony Hawk genre of skateboard games but one should adjust expectations. Skate City is developed by Snowman, the studio behind the Alto games, and it shows. It has a chill vibe and nice surroundings when you skate from left to right to perform tricks. It may seem simple at first but the learning curve is steep and it will get very challenging later on - and frustrating. It is one of those Arcade games that must be played on the big screen with a controller.
Skate City is available exclusively on Apple Arcade.
11. Oceanhorn 2
A classic 3D role-playing adventure game that might as well have been released for a Nintendo console. It demonstrates what Apple TV 4K can do in terms of graphics, but at the same time its limitations. Oceanhorn 2 is built on Unreal Engine and offers many hours of good gameplay in an expansive game world. Unlike many other games on Arcade, the development team has clearly had ambitions to create a big game.
Oceanhorn 2 is available exclusively on Apple Arcade.
12. Speed Demons
If you, like us, grew up with small mini toy cars, Speed Demons almost feels like waking them to life. On chaotic highways or roads you must race against other mini cars, seen from a helicopter perspective, while you try to avoid traffic - or smash into other cars, depending on the race track. The text is far too small and not optimized for the big screen but other than that Speed Demons plays well on a TV with a game controller.
Speed Demons is available exclusively on Apple Arcade.
Best App Store games
We have also included a list of our favorite games from the tvOS app store. These games are bought individually as they are not part of the Arcade subscription service.
We published a similar list in 2017 and many of the titles from 2017 could easily be on our list for 2020. We are therefore publishing this 2020 list as a supplement to the 2017 list.
We were never in doubt that Playdead's Inside should top our list. After its launch on PS4, Xbox One and PC, it arrived on Apple TV where it is just as beautiful, evocative, and upsetting. It has won numerous awards because it deserves to, and Inside should be enjoyed on the biggest screen in the house. Download it now!
Inside is also available on PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Steam.
2. Alto's Odyssey
A snowboard game in the 'endless runner' category and an ego game that you play alone to kill pastime. There is no storyline or higher meaning but it can be challenging and you can upgrade your snowboarder with coins that you collect. It is very similar to the first game in the series, Alto's Adventure, but is now set in the desert.
Alto's Odyssey is available exclusively on Apple TV.
3. Lost Echo
We played Lost Echo on iPad back in the days. It is now available on Apple TV with upgraded 3D graphics and controller support. It is a story-driven science-fiction game in the classic adventure genre, and we recommend it to gamers who grew up with adventure games.
Lost Echo is available exclusively on Apple TV.
Wacky vikings in Valhalla. Oddmar is a charming platformer game. The concept has been seen and tried before but it is still a fun little game. It is challenging enough to enjoy even as a seasoned gamer and it looks great, too. Oddmar should be enjoyed on the big screen with a game controller.
Oddmar is also available on Android TV.
5. Trials Frontier
You may be familiar with the Trials series of motorcycle games on PlayStation and Xbox. Trial Frontier is a scaled-down version for mobile platforms that has later been ported to Apple TV. In 2.5D graphics, your job as the rider is to complete courses, perform wild stunts, and race against others. It is cluttered with in-app purchases but is still mostly enjoyable.
Trials Frontier is available exclusively on Apple TV.
6. Sonic the Hedgehog
We have to admit that nostalgia played a big role in putting Sonic the Hedgehog on our list. It is the classic version from Sega Mega Drive, although upgraded to widescreen, 60fps, and improved audio to make it more enjoyable on a modern TV. Sonic 2 and CD are also available on Apple TV.
Sonic the Hedgehog is widely available.
In 2017, we included a list of games that we hoped would make it to Apple TV. Only a single game from our list has made it to the platform, namely Inside.
Besides more ambitious, new games on Arcade, we miss many existing games that could - we imagine - be ported to Apple TV. Examples are Super Mario Run, Limbo, The Walking Dead, The Wolf Among Us, Grim Fandango, Gemini Rue, Yesterday, Samorost 3, Dead Synchronicity, The Inner World, Year Walk, The Journey Down, Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, Trine, and Life is Strange.