iOS gaming recap: Zombie hordes, talking wolves, and a robot-based love story
We take a look at two new chart-topping hits, a delightful indie game and what’s new on Apple Arcade.
This week in mobile games we learned that US players love zombie games (expected) and wolf games (unexpected).
We also take a look at a great indie gem with retro toy vibes plus what’s new on Apple Arcade: a puzzle-based adventure game about piecing your robot girlfriend back together.
Let’s get into it, shall we?
Survival of the fittest
Developer Habby clearly has a knack for making shooting stuff incredibly satisfying. Not long after it had a big hit with frenetic shooter Archero, it now has another chart-topper on its hands with Survivor.io (opens in new tab), which is at the very top of the U.S. App Store game charts at the time of writing.
It's a top-down arena shooter where the number of zombies on screen keeps going up and up and up. Luckily your firepower escalates alongside the number of undead — the action stops every few minutes so you can upgrade your gear or add new gizmos to your arsenal.
Our hero quickly escalates from keeping the deadheads at bay with a humble rifle to becoming a swirling, drone-enhanced weapon of mass destruction. The swarms and waves of zombies and animals change regularly too, and over-the-top boss fights help change up the rhythm.
The presentation is not exactly dazzling — it looks a bit like a Flash game you might have played on Kongregate or Newgrounds back in the day — but it’s good stuff nonetheless.
A new wolf game that’s a bit of a howler
Sitting just underneath Suvivor.io on the U.S. games charts right now is Wolf Game: The Wild Kingdom (opens in new tab), and it’s… not to our taste, to put it mildly.
You play as chatty wolf Alpha, who is forced to flee his homeland to build a new life, building up a squad of fellow wolves and establishing a new vulpine empire.
Folks in the business call this a 4X strategy game, where you "explore, expand, exploit and exterminate." This is straight out of the same playbook as the likes of Game of War and State of Survival, a mix of battles and base-building that lots of folks seem to love. But honestly, dear reader, I can't figure out why.
The game has a very specific look, like other games in this genre: pre-rendered characters and backgrounds with strange animations, plus menus and other UI elements that make it look and feel like an early 2000s PC game. And the actual gameplay amounts to endlessly tapping icons to complete tasks and collect resources, then tapping more icons to do battle with hyenas, bears and enemy wolves, which are mostly automated. Seriously, fans of tapping icons a lot will love it.
It might not be our thing, but many people have downloaded it — it’s not easy to get to number two on the charts, after all. So well done to its developer Special Gamez Technology, even if we personally don't want to think about it.
A retro toy without the plastic
Remember Screwball Scramble? Was it even a thing outside of Britain in the ‘80s and ‘90s? If you're unaware, it was the must-have childhood thing. You got a ball across an obstacle course by pressing buttons and twisting dials. All the cool kids had it.
Automatoys (opens in new tab) is that, but set on elegant Monument Valley-like dioramas. It also has a jazzy lo-fi beats soundtrack from artist Submerged Tapes.
As you help the smiley little ball to the goal, tap or hold the screen. This triggers the bouncers, grabbers, levers, and spinning mazes, so it’s super intuitive. And it’s well worth buying the nine levels after the three stages you get for free. They’re all a delight, and a few of your dollars will go a little way to supporting tiny, super-talented indie developer Idle Friday.
What else to play this week
Love You To Bits+ (opens in new tab) is new to Apple Arcade today, a delightful puzzle adventure where you scour the universe for bits of your robot girlfriend so you can put her back together again. This means exploring every corner of the game’s universe by solving puzzles and unlocking more locations.
There’s a wholesome story threaded throughout as well, based on the love story between hero Kosmo and dismantled robot sweetheart Nova.
It’s charming stuff, and not too many folks will have played it. It was first released on the ‘normal’ App Store several years ago, so hopefully more folks will get to enjoy this lovingly-made game from Spanish indie studio Alike through Apple Arcade.
Until next week!
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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.