When Apple Arcade launched in September, there was one aspect, in particular, that was unique about the subscription service. We knew more than 100 games were coming to Arcade and that some of the biggest names in mobile gaming were developing titles, but many of those games were secret up until Apple Arcade actually debuted. Over the last few weeks, many players have found themselves completely absorbed in experiences like Assemble With Care, Card of Darkness, and Grindstone, all of which were completely unknown prior to the day they launched.
And it looks like that trend is going to continue. Over the weekend, four more games hit the service, led by Pilgrims, a quirky new game from Czech studio Amanita Design, which is best-known for the hand-drawn robot adventure game Machinarium. Pilgrims is a great representation of Apple Arcade as a whole: it’s a wonderfully unique adventure game that’s unlike anything I’ve played before, the kind of inventive experience that’s become a rarity on mobile. And it was also a complete surprise.
Pilgrims is sort of like a classic point-and-click adventure crossed with a card game. The cards represent characters and items, and you start out with just a mustachioed man to use. There’s a map that lets you travel to different locations — a campfire, a bar, a fishing pond — where you can interact with the landscape and other characters. If you tap on a worm or an acorn, for instance, that item will then be added to your hand as a playable card. To use a card, you simply select it while in a location and watch what happens. There are puzzles to solve to move through a simple story; early on, you have to figure out how to catch and cook a fish to trade for a bottle of wine, and later, you’ll try to get a bear out of its cave.
Soon enough, you’ll have a handful of objects like lassos, brooms, and gold coins, along with new characters like an angry old lady and a gun-wielding brute. Each has its uses and abilities, and the more you play, the more complex and convoluted the puzzles become. Like most adventure games, the solutions can be a bit silly, and you’ll be using objects in ways that don’t always make a lot of sense. But the card structure makes this less frustrating than it otherwise could’ve been. It’s playful and fun. Instead of constantly clicking through tedious menus, it’s more like you’re experimenting, tossing out cards to see what works. Even if you don’t get the right answer at first, you’ll usually see a fun animation.
Everything is rendered with a hand-drawn art style that makes Pilgrims look like a classic storybook, and, like most of Amanita’s work, there’s virtually no text or dialogue. Instead, you’re able to infer what people want or how they’re feeling through animations and simple comic book bubbles depicting specific objects. In the wrong hands, this kind of design can become horribly frustrating, but as is typical for Amanita games, I rarely found myself stuck or annoyed during the short time it took to play through Pilgrims. It’s a short, sweet, and charming game, the kind you can easily finish in a single evening.
Pilgrims is joined by three new Arcade releases, including a space shooter called Redout; 3D adventure mystery The Bradwell Conspiracy; and Nightmare Farm, the latest release from the creators of cat-collecting hit Neko Atsume. The four games couldn’t be more different from each other, and they help further broaden an already diverse lineup of games. Hopefully, they’re a sign that Apple will continue to support Arcade with new and interesting games — ones that will keep on surprising us.
read more at https://www.theverge.com/ by Andrew Webster