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iOS gaming recap – Shovel Knight digs into Apple Arcade, Netflix’s briny battle royale, and Monument Valley 3 teased

Shovel Knight Dig griffin statue
(Image credit: iMore)

This week in mobile games, a new-retro classic dropped on Apple Arcade that you'll definitely want to check out. There’s also a great new battle royale game on Netflix that will help fulfill any piratey desires you may have. Additionally, we learned that Monument Valley 3 is on the way — eventually.

With so many fun games to discuss, let's not dilly-dally any further. On to the main event!

 Can you dig it? (yes you can) 

Shovel Knight Dig screenshot with Shield Knight

(Image credit: Yacht Club Games)

Apple Arcade has got into a good retro groove lately – after the addition of Amazing Bomberman and the OutRun-inspired fun of Horizon Chase, we’ve now got pixel-art perfection in the shape of Shovel Knight Dig

It’s a collaboration between Shovel Knight series originator Yacht Club Games and master mobile game maker Nitrome, and it’s wonderful.

The platform adventuring of the other games in the series is all here, but it’s more tightly focused around digging down to discover treasures and trinkets while taking branching paths through to the end of the game.

Every run through the game feels different, thanks to the way the game is remixed a little every time you play, in true roguelike/roguelite style. 

A cracker, then – a beautiful retro aesthetic wrapped up in very smart, modern game design.

 All aboard the good ship Netflix 

Netflix subscribers have a growing catalog of quality games to check out through the iPhone and iPad app – and the latest is a battle royale game set in pirate-infested high seas. 

It’s been made by regular Netflix collaborators Rogue Games and Amuzo, who by this point are tried-and-tested game makers. 

While they’ve clearly taken inspiration from the superb Brawl Stars in how you progress and upgrade your characters, in the actual battles it’s never not a good time hooning around on the briny sea firing cannons and dropping explosive mines to take out other pirates. Recommended, and totally free of in-app purchases and ads, just like Apple Arcade games

 Monument Valley 3 is coming, but not soon

Monument Valley locations

(Image credit: Ustwo)

Ustwo Games teased out a little more about the much-anticipated Monument Valley 3 this week, as part of an interview around its next game Desta: The Memories Between, which is launching on Netflix next week.

Apparently, the team working on the game is growing, and is starting to narrow down the concept behind the game, though Ustwo Games chief creative officer Danny Gray warns that the game’s still “a long way off.”

We got some early details about the game back in March, too — when it emerged that the game could have a ‘green’ theme and was being directed by eco-warrior and former Subway Surfers designer Jennifer Estaris.

It’s not clear which platform it’ll emerge on just yet – but we’d bet it’s a straight fight between Apple Arcade and Netflix to snap it up as an exclusive. It’ll be fascinating to see which tech giant Ustwo Games chooses to side with.

 What else to play this week

Ascender ios game

(Image credit: Peter Moyle)
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Ascender

Where Shovel Knight Dig has retro looks married with modern game mechanics, Ascender is a straight-up retro game in form, function, and everything else — barring the touch screen controls. Its unforgiving one-hit kills make each run a tense affair as you boost upwards past baddies and through spike-lined gauntlets to get a high score. Good, old-fashioned stuff.

Get from: App Store (opens in new tab)

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Lettermon

This game offers a fun idea — make as many words out of a set of letters as you can to level up a cheery anthropomorphized alphabet. The ‘I’ is a smiley multicolored ice cream, for example, and the ‘F’ is a grinning portion of fries. There are some slightly weird UI and menu navigation decisions going on in here but ignore that and this is a good pick for word nerds.

Get from: App Store (opens in new tab)

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Kinder World: Houseplant Game

This game is gentler still. You look after a houseplant and spruce up your virtual home. It’s one of several new cozy, wellbeing-focused games coming out right now, and is designed to be a mindful, relaxing break. You can even read wholesome, positive messages from other players seeking a respite from the harsh world outside, too. Nice.

Get from: App Store (opens in new tab)

That's all, folks!

That's all of the iOS gaming news for this week. There are several exciting iPhone games and iPad games on the horizon that we can't wait to get our hands on. For now, the awesome releases of the last few days are more than enough to keep us entertained, and in a variety of genres too. 

If nothing else, make sure to play Shovel Knight Dig since it's a great new entry in the series. Of course, if you want something a bit more chill, Lettermon is a fun way to relax and pass the time with adorable word puzzles and alphabet characters. 

Until next week!

- Neil Alexander Long

Neil Alexander Long is a gaming contributor for iMore, as well as the founder and editor of mobilegamer.biz (opens in new tab), a mobile games industry website that specialises in exclusive news, interviews and insights.


He started his games media career almost 20 years ago on UK games industry magazine MCV, before editing Official Nintendo Magazine, interactive iPad magazine iGamer (RIP) and edge-online.com (opens in new tab) (also RIP), Edge magazine’s online presence.


In 2014 he moved to Apple to serve as App Store games editor. There he helped launch new App Stores on Apple Watch and Apple TV, the App Store's UK Today tab, Apple Arcade and countless games, including Clash Royale, Monument Valley 2, Brawl Stars, Candy Crush Friends Saga and Beatstar. 

With contributions from