Six of the best: Apple Watch games

Has the time come for videogaming on your wrist? Why yes it has...

Gaming has a brave new frontier in the form of the Apple Watch. 

As we speak, armies of developers are trying their hand at fashioning interactive experiences for it, puzzling over how best to make games work on a 1.5in display.

The truth is, they've not all nailed it yet. Even a short time with the device is enough for anyone to understand it’s very much not a PlayStation on your wrist. 

The screen blinks off whenever it can, and doesn’t fare well with fast responses when it’s on; there’s no audio and visuals are jerky slideshows or simple canned animations; having to hold your wrist in front of your face and tap away with the other is an ergonomic nightmare.

No surprise, then, that most of the games we’ve tried are rubbish. But we're not giving up on it yet. After all, it's only been around for a few weeks, and who'd have thought that smartphone gaming would get this good?

And anyway, among all the dross there are gems such as the six games in this list.

(Note that ratings in this round-up are specifically in relation to each game on Apple Watch, not how it fares elsewhere.)

1. Lifeline… (£2.29/US$2.99)

What is it?

Essentially a Choose Your Own Adventure on your wrist. Lifeline… places a stranded astronaut’s very survival in your hands, as you make decisions regarding what they do next — for example, should they sleep by an engine possibly spewing radiation, or risk a night under an alien moon?

Is it any good?

The script is smart, funny and poignant, and the straightforward interface, short session times, and a story playing out in real-time, make it perfect for Apple Watch aficionados wanting something properly good to play on their new wearable.

How’s the iPhone app?

You get the same story and an atmospheric soundtrack, but this is one of those rare games that is far better on Apple Watch.

Stuff says ★★★★✩

Download Lifeline...


2. Rules! (£2.29/US$2.99)

What is it?

A devious and tightly focused memory test that merrily smashes your brains out with a brick. Over ten rounds, you get rules (“Tap ascending”, “Blue if you see red”) that must be applied to tiles featuring cute little robots, monsters and other objects.

Is it any good?

Very much so. The cunning bit is that all prior rules are only referred to by number; when you’re on round eight and trying to remember what the third rule was, it’s very easy to slip up and make an incorrect tap. Do so and your game is over, potentially scuppering your daily target.

How’s the iPhone app?

A very different beast, with a four-by-four grid and three different modes. If you make it to level 100, we salute your memory skills and dexterity, along with assuming you’re some kind of robot.

Stuff says ★★★★✩

Download Rules!

3. BoxPop (£free + IAP)

What is it?

A straightforward puzzle game that has you wink out every visible light by moving in L-shaped leaps and bounds, like a lonely, drunken knight on a tiny chess board. Like Rules!, the game offers a daily challenge, and the aim here is to complete five puzzles.

Is it any good?

The game’s brevity and simplicity do it plenty of favours, and the L-shaped move system enables surprisingly complex puzzles and solutions within the confines of the tiny Apple Watch display. The only minor snag is you might get stuck and end up staring at your wrist for ages.

How’s the iPhone app?

More of the same, but with some nice music, animation, and larger boards as you work your way through the game. IAPs exist for eradicating ads and giving you an undo capability.

Stuff says ★★★★✩

Download BoxPop