Best puzzle adventure games on Apple Arcade 2022

A list of Apple Arcade games, including LEGO Brawls and The Oregon Trail
(Image credit: Apple)

If you love games that wrap brain-bending puzzles in compelling storylines, Apple Arcade has you covered. Though its launch lineup still lacks a few of the intriguing titles we've been promised down the line, there are still plenty of games to suit fans of tricky brainteasers and twisty mysteries.

In no particular order, we've rounded up the best (and the rest) of Apple Arcade's launch titles that fit the "puzzle adventure" category, to help you figure out what you'll want to play first.

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Projection: First Light

  • Studio: Blowfish
  • Age rating: 9+
  • Use a gamepad? Yes

Snow White and the Seven Dwarves gets credit as the first feature-length animated film, but Lotte Reiniger's The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926), brought to life with shadow puppets, beat Walt Disney to the punch by more than a decade. Projection: First Light feels like a tribute to Reiniger's enchanting film, following a shadow-puppet girl in a shadow-puppet world whose pursuit of a glowing butterfly leads her into a magical adventure.

In Projection: First Light, you control both the main character and the light at her heels. Shadows serve as platforms to jump on, helping the girl overcome the treacherous landscape. The levels feel as though they were inspired by the shadow puppet shows featured in various countries, wonderfully translated onto a mobile device.

Jenny LeClue - Detectivu

  • Studio: Noodlecake
  • Age rating: 12+
  • Use a gamepad? Yes

The first of two games inspired by Donald J. Sobol's Encyclopedia Brown series of kid mysteries, Jenny LeClue, challenges you to play both as the titular plucky pre-teen detective and her own author. The sales of his quaint, cozy mystery series have taken a nosedive, and though he longs to keep Jenny's world safe and harmless, his editor's pressuring him to heap death and danger on the little town of Arthurton and its most accomplished child sleuth.

That meta aspect adds fun depth to the story, which also benefits from sharp characterization, as we noted in our review of the game. Its gorgeous autumnal look draws you in, as does the eerie and atmospheric prologue. And the gameplay itself is fun and varied, challenging you to make snap decisions that affect how the story plays out, scrutinize characters and crime scenes for visual clues, and think like a detective to assemble your observations into a theory of the case.

Tangle Tower

  • Studio: SFB Games
  • Age rating: 4+
  • Use a gamepad? No

A young painter, seemingly murdered by the knife-wielding figure on the unfinished canvas she was painting? Now that's a great way to kick off a mystery, as we noted in our review of Tangle Tower. It brings its intrepid investigators, earnest hipster doofus Grimoire, and too-cool-for-the-room Sally to the titular mansion to solve that baffling murder.

There, you'll have to rub elbows with the eccentric members of two families, united by marriage and living in opposite towers of the same building. Witty writing, fun voice acting, gorgeous music, and a delightful Euro-anime visual style make Tangle Tower stand out from the crowd. The puzzles you'll solve are varied and are always tied to the surrounding characters. Like Jenny LeClue, Tangle Tower wants you to connect the dots between the evidence you've gathered. Its approach to those efforts differs enough that playing one game will only leave you more eager to try the other.

The Enchanted World

  • Studio: Noodlecake
  • Age rating: 4+
  • Use a gamepad? No

Something has stolen your nameless young fairy's mother away, and to get her back, you and your magic staff will have to rearrange the world around you as you proceed along your path. The Enchanted World executes a simple conceit very well — sliding-tile puzzles, where you have to shift around and swap out segments of a grid until they line up the right way.

The game finds increasingly novel ways to tweak this core mechanic, whether you're revising and re-revising your path to first banish the creature that's blocking your way, then escape to the exit, or figuring out how to channel a stopped-up river in the right direction. The deliberately crude graphics mirror this "simple but well done" approach, making up for a low polygon count with expressive animation. Plus, it's just fun to tap trees and watch them bloom while your fairy hums a happy, distracted little tune.

The Bradwell Conspiracy

  • Studio: A Brave Plan
  • Age rating: 9+
  • Use a gamepad? Yes

In a classic case of "wrong place, wrong time", a visit to a near-future museum dedicated to Stonehenge proves catastrophic after the building caves in. Fortunately, an employee at the Bradwell Corporation, which sponsored said museum, is in the same situation — and it's up to the two of you to lend each other your eyes to escape the underground HQ as you communicate through the smart glasses you're wearing.

There's a neat twist to the nonviolent gameplay I dare not spoil here, one that leans into the Portal comparisons hard while remaining clever and original. It can be annoyingly finicky in execution — maybe future patches will fix that, along with the occasional glitches that crop up later in the game — but like The Bradwell Conspiracy itself, it's still a fun, worthwhile idea. When we reviewed the game we absolutely loved it.

Down in Bermuda

  • Studio: Yak & co.
  • Age rating: 9+
  • Use a gamepad? No

Thirty years ago, aviator Milton's plane crashed in the Bermuda Triangle. Now, bearded and wizened, he needs your help to navigate a series of strange islands, piece together his past, and find his way home. You'll poke, flick, tap, and twist your way through colorful three-dimensional dioramas in search of hidden objects and puzzles to solve. If augmented reality were ready for prime time, this game and its host of tactile interactions would be a killer app.

As befits its tropical setting, Down in Bermuda is a laid-back affair, with cute and vibrant graphics and a goofy, ever-changing set of challenges. The puzzles range from "preschool easy" to "I filled an entire notebook page with sequences of numbers trying to get this one right." But they're all fun, and if you get stuck on one, there's usually another waiting to distract you. And the story, though told in the briefest of glimpses, manages to tug at your heartstrings right off the bat.

Operator 41

  • Studio: Shifty Eye
  • Age rating: 4+
  • Use a gamepad? No

Operator 41 is light on story — in each bite-size vignette, you'll help your trenchcoat-clad avatar sneak past patrolling guards and other hazards toward a phone or other spy objective. You'll have to crouch in cover, toss obstacles to distract or knock out your pursuers and avoid both flashlight beams and security cameras.

But what the game lacks in complexity, it makes up for in style. The clever two-color scheme — red for objectives, danger, or occasional contrast, cool blue for everything else — makes your goal in each level crystal clear. Controls respond well, the intuitive rules play fair, and the difficulty level ramps up smoothly as you progress. Operator 41's fun stealth challenges make it a great candidate for gaming on the go whenever you have a few minutes to spare.

Flex those brain muscles!

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There's something incredibly satisfying about solving a puzzle after testing your brain with it for days on end. These games are great for when you need a break from the more intense action games that Apple Arcade has to offer while remaining exciting nonetheless. They're also great as a conversation starter with friends who have their own subscription to Apple's gaming service — can you solve these puzzles before your friends do?

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Nathan Alderman
Contributor

Nathan Alderman is an iMore contributor. He’s been using Apple computers since his first Apple IIe in 1985, and writing professionally about Macs and their software since 2005. During his 12 years freelancing for Macworld, he covered email clients, web browsers, web design programs, writing apps, and games, and he’s continued to follow those interests at iMore since 2017. An editor and writing coach in his full-time career, he spends his dwindling spare time writing fiction for fun, volunteering for democracy, and contributing to podcasts on The Incomparable Network. Nathan adores his wife and wrangles his alarmingly large children in bucolic Crozet, VA.

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