Action adventures and RPGs
The best action adventure game for Apple TV: Transistor
This one starts with protagonist Red suddenly finding herself in a world of deranged mechanoids, with only a massive talking sword for company. She’s had better days. As you battle through a futuristic city — using both real-time and turn-based attacks — a story gradually unfolds.
What makes this action-RPG a must-have, though, is its palpable sense of atmosphere and smart world-building. Your in-game route might be linear, but you want to explore the city’s every nook and cranny.
View Transistor in iTunes Preview (£4.99, universal)
This one whiffs of The Legend Of Zelda. It’s not quite the real deal, but Oceanhorn’s nonetheless a smart slice of adventuring for Apple TV. You explore sun-drenched islands, brave dank dungeons, solve puzzles, and occasionally swear at losing health when Siri Remote points you precisely the wrong way, like some kind of idiot, when trying to hack an enemy to bits.
View Oceanhorn in iTunes Preview (£7.99, universal)
After The End
There are echoes of Monument Valley in After The End – a sparse, ponderous adventure, peppered with puzzles, and where you regularly switch up your viewpoint to progress.
But instead of Escher-style shenanigans, you’re spinning and whirling the camera, to spot switches and gems that allow progress. Occasionally, the game goes a bit Doctor Who, too, hurling you through time, and dumping you in an alternate take on the place you just left.
There are frustrations: the pace is slow, and it’s often too easy to fall off a wall and be forced to backtrack. For the most part, though, this is a thoughtful, lean-back adventure ideally suited to Apple TV.
View After The End in iTunes Preview (£3.99, universal)
From the team behind the creepy LIMBO comes this even more terrifying puzzle-infused adventure. Again, you’re a lone, nameless boy on the run; but in switching the fantastical for a dark dystopia, the result is far more chilling.
The tale begins with you fleeing from gun-wielding soldiers and ferocious dogs. You sneak, sprint, leap, and plummet, desperate to keep one step ahead. But like in LIMBO, death is not the end – INSIDE simply rewinds, urging you to try again to make good your escape.
On Apple TV, Siri Remote users will find the protagonist occasionally not doing quite what they intended; but otherwise this is an excellent conversion of an indie console classic.
View INSIDE in iTunes Preview (£free + £6.99 IAP, universal)
Like Infinity, Activision’s Skylanders SuperChargers pairs plastic and polygons, with a wireless portal in the £55 starter kit that pulls an array of fantastical heroes — and vehicles — into the game. The fighting/shooting/driving action is simple, but amusing and kid-friendly, and you can play on iOS as well. Note that the toys are optional: you can pay for the full game and buy digital heroes instead.
View Skylanders SuperChargers in iTunes Preview (£free + IAP, universal)
It might look like an indie title from the 16-bit era, but Dynamite Jack is a whole lot of fun. Mixing Bomberman-style blowing things up with stealth and exploration, you must escape the Anathema Mines. Get seen by a guard and they’ll shoot first and probably not even bother to ask questions later, the meanies.
View Dynamite Jack in iTunes Preview (£4.99, universal)
The Phantom PI Mission Apparition
This sweet-natured point-and-click adventure features a moustached ghostbuster attempting to restore peace to a recently deceased rock star’s afterlife. (Essentially, a Slimer wannabe with wings nicked his spectral guitar, the cad.) It’s not terribly challenging, but there’s loads of heart, personality and imagination, which makes it a great fit for the telly.
View The Phantom PI Mission Apparition in iTunes Preview (£2.99, universal)
The best platform game for Apple TV: Icycle: On Thin Ice
Platform games rarely come odder than this tale of naked cyclist Dennis, peddling his way through a deadly post-apocalyptic wonderland. Like something out of an animator’s fever dream, the hero finds himself traversing collapsing cities, exploding wedding cakes, and a skyline of legs.
The controls are simple and effective: you slide left and right to nudge the squeaky cycle onwards, and press Play/Pause to hold aloft a brolly and break Dennis’s fall (lest he become broken on thudding into the ground or, equally unfortunately, be impaled on one of the game’s many spikes).
Visually stunning, brimming with confidence and imagination, and with various challenges to reward repeat play, this is a first-rate platformer for Apple TV that’s not to be missed.
View Icycle: On Thin Ice in iTunes Preview (£2.99, universal)
Sonic The Hedgehog
Yes, this is the same Sonic The Hedgehog you once played on a Mega Drive. Sort of. Because this is what happens when you give an old game to a brilliant developer like Christian Whitehead. You get widescreen 60FPS loveliness, new player-controlled characters, and remastered audio. This is no cheap cash-grab emulator.
What you don’t get, sadly, is a sane control system. Playing with Siri Remote is plain odd – you hold it upright, tapping the edges of the swipe area, and stabbing Play to jump. Oddly, it in some ways works better than playing on a slippy touchscreen. But settle down with a Nimbus (or similar) gamepad, and it’s like 1991 all over again. Only you don’t have that stupid haircut.
View Sonic The Hedgehog on iTunes Preview (£free with ads or £1.99, universal)
In Mikey Jumps, a single digit tapping or holding the Siri Remote’s touchpad is all you get to control the auto-running protagonist. But rather than being reductive, this proves transformative. It works brilliantly on Apple TV, but more importantly each single-screen challenge becomes a tiny platforming puzzle. Success requires deft timing and reactions so you don’t burn through lives – and that’s the case whether leaping, swinging using the grappling hook, or flying through the air using jet boots that oddly make Mikey appear to be powered by gigantic bubble ‘emissions’.
View Mikey Jumps in iTunes Preview (£free, universal)
This smart, distilled platformer features a jumping bean who never stops bouncing. You move it left and right, using careful timing to squash monsters and make it to the exit using the fewest leaps. Extra replay value comes from further challenges where you grab all of the fruit and locate pet axolotls.
View Bean Dreams in iTunes Preview (£2.99, universal)
Beneath The Lighthouse TV
Nitrome’s arcade puzzler features a lighthouse with spinny rooms of spiked death. Your aim: get a rotund chap from entrance to exit, without being impaled. This requires making circular motions on the touchpad to spin the room, the protagonist tumbling accordingly, and it feels like one of the few titles that hasn’t tried to weld a joypad to the tiny Siri Remote.
View Beneath The Lighthouse TV in iTunes Preview (£3.99, Apple TV only)
The Big Journey
Blob-like glutenous feline Mr. Whiskers is on a mission to find the creator of his favourite dumplings in this roly-poly lurching platformer that spins about the place seemingly in an effort to make you seasick on dry land.
Get your bearings and The Big Journey reveals itself to be an entertaining, colourful title that works well with the Siri Remote (tilt to rotate the screen, and tap to jump). It’s all a bit ‘stripped-back LocoRoco’, admittedly, but the knowing humour and approachable journey ensures The Big Journey is well worth taking.
View The Big Journey in iTunes Preview (£1.99, universal)