This week, an Apple Arcade developer is switching sides in mobile games as Ustwo Games’ Desta makes its Netflix debut. Then there are two critically acclaimed cult favorites, each on either side of the great tech divide: Oxenfree on Netflix and Gris on Apple Arcade. Oh, and just for fun, there’s also some culinary antics with SpongeBob and his Bikini Bottom buddies. There’s plenty of excitement for iPhone and iPad gaming this week. Let’s get into that, shall we?
Oxenfree opens on Netflix Games
Oxenfree is old news to many at this point, but we’re glad it’s coming back to life, possibly for a whole new audience. It suddenly arrived on Netflix Games on Saturday as part of a barrage of announcements during Netflix’s Tudum fan event.
It remains a wonderful adventure game about spooky happenings between a group of disaffected teenagers on a strange island. The world oozes a troubled atmosphere, the characters are filled with wit and backslash, and the dialogue systems feel truly organic. The puzzles are well thought out too – you can try this popular game right now via the Netflix app or download it via the App Store.
Immerse yourself in Desta’s dreamy world
The new game from Monument Valley maker Ustwo Games isn’t another peerless perspective puzzler – although there’s more to come – instead it’s a tactical take on the humble dodgeball game.
Desta: The Memories Between is a game where every ball throw is part of a conversation between the titular hero and an estranged friend from your hometown. It’s a clever fusion of story and game mechanics, where pulling back to aim before releasing is fun, sure, but not as fast as the simple tap and swipe required in Ustwo’s signature Monument Valley series.
As you meet more characters and things get more complex, you can see that the game is designed to be played and repeated over and over again – a roguelike that’s different every time. Additional content will be added in the coming weeks and months.
A meaty game, then, with a nice bonus detail: in keeping with the game’s themes, developer Ustwo Games donates 3% of the game’s profits to organizations that take care of young people in need. Kind.
What else is there to play this week?
Apple Arcade is still coming out with new (similar) releases, and this week’s turn is Gris, a critically acclaimed but not-too-widespread puzzle-platformer with a lush art style. Imagine a hand-drawn, trippy art deco world and an edgy, fragile heroine, Gris, smashing her way through it. Wonderful.
If you have a Netflix account and are looking for a little lighter time, there’s SpongeBob: Get Cooking via Netflix Games. It sees you spinning plates for the people of Bikini Bottom as you fill various food orders. It’s actually a reboot of the existing Krusty Cook-Off game that’s been on the App Store for a while. However, as this is another new Netflix game, all in-app purchases have been removed – so it doesn’t bother you for money.
selection of the week
That’s all for the iPhone games and iPad games must-play this week as the battle between Apple Arcade and Netflix really intensifies. Oxen Free, Desta, Gris, SpongeBob – where will this end?!
Our top tip of the week? If you’re only playing one new game this week, we recommend Oxenfree – it’s a wonderfully modern twist on the kind of adventure game you don’t see often anymore. It’s a work of art. So good that Netflix bought the whole studio that created it.
Until next week!
– Neil Alexander Lange