This story is part of CNET's coverage of Apple Arcade, including exclusive first looks we got at some of the service's high-profile new games.
When I'm stressed out, playing a video game is one of my favorite ways to unwind. Immersing myself in a good story or puzzle is the perfect distraction after a long day. Apple Arcade, Apple's that launched in September, has a in multiple genres, with new games added all the time. The games are available on iPad, iPhone and Apple TV to start, with content slowly coming to Mac as well.
Since I started using Apple Arcade, I've found that many of the games' aesthetics, soundtracks or tactile nature make them particularly soothing. Here are some of the best games to help you decompress on Apple Arcade so far.
Patterned is an aesthetically pleasing puzzle game. Choose a puzzle, or pattern, to complete. Each pattern starts as a black and white sketch. Use visual clues to solve the puzzle, and when you drop a piece in the right place, it changes color. After you've completed the puzzle, the scene has a bit of animation -- almost like an adult coloring book come to life. The soft colors and gentle soundtrack make it a soothing game. My favorite patterns to complete are the town scenes.
Assemble with Care
In Assemble with Care, you play as Maria, an antiques restorer, who arrives in the town of Bellariva during her world travels. While abroad, Maria makes a living by fixing things. The game unfolds like a storybook until Maria meets someone who needs something fixed. The game lets you rotate objects, change batteries, press buttons, rotate screwdrivers and more. In addition to fixing physical objects, Maria learns about the people of Bellariva's problems and looks for ways to fix those as well. I enjoyed the game's relaxed pace, tactile nature, calming soundtrack and gorgeous artwork.
Tint is a design-based game in which you progress by mixing watercolors to match colored origami paper creations in your own garden studio. Each "page" of your sketchbook gets a little more challenging, but the game doesn't lose its soothing theme. There's no rush, no timers and no one to beat. Each chapter brings something different -- sounds of rain, the warm glow of sun, the chirping of birds and more. There's also a mode for colorblind and vision-impaired users.
Where Cards Fall
is a narrative-driven coming-of-age puzzle game that uses cards to convey what it's like to be a teenager (despite this, it's still relaxing, I promise). You navigate the world by building and collapsing card houses. Some cards become doors that let you glimpse various memories. Getting to the doors becomes more challenging as the levels progress -- pinch the screen to collapse cards and spread your fingers on a deck to build a house. There's no rush to complete any levels and hints are there if you want them.
The cards, which players can build up or collapse, were a huge inspiration in the game's creation. CNET got an exclusive preview of the game in the video below:
Projection: First Light
Projection: First Light is a shadow puppet adventure game in which you control light to solve puzzles. In the game, a character named Greta embarks on a journey of self-discovery after getting into trouble in her town. She follows a glowing butterfly out of her room and out into the world. The game is broken up into chapters that point toward a larger narrative. Use the tiny orb of light to cast shadows and help Greta move around. The game weaves in educational aspects about the history and art of shadow puppetry with a gentle soundtrack and soothing ambient sounds.
Lifelike: Chapter 1
Lifelike is meant to be a calming gaming experience, centered on mysterious amoebic creatures with swarming and flocking tendencies. If you liked watching the old visualizations on Windows Media Player, you might like this game. There's no rush on any level, and no point system. The more you interact with the creatures, the more happens in the game. Enjoy playful, relaxing, almost hypnotic interactions with the creatures in this beautiful game.
Possessions is a calming, minimalist puzzle game with a surprisingly in-depth story. The trick to solving each puzzle is perspective and spatial awareness -- you must view the room from different angles. A lamp might look like it's floating, but if you tilt the room a certain way, it looks like it's on an end table. Every level is a bit more challenging as you have to "arrange" more objects -- flowers need help getting into vases and cords must be plugged into the wall. You'll also learn each character's story in the cut scenes, and by which objects are in each room.
The Enchanted World
The Enchanted World centers on a young fairy whose world is wrecked by dark forces. You'll help her on a journey to repair and heal what's been damaged. With guidance from a red songbird along the way, you'll get help from a web-spinning spider, quirky robots, a hungry frog and others. Redirect rivers, mend tree roots and save your world from the darkness. CNET got an exclusive preview of the game in the video below:
Spek is a perspective puzzle game in which you guide a dot through a minimalist world and collect fragments of a broken dimension. It's a puzzle, but it requires a little bit of strategy. If you twist the puzzle a certain way, it might break into three shapes, and tapping might reverse the dot. Each level gets a little harder, with obstacles to adapt the shape to, or the potential for orbiting. But it's not too daunting in the beginning, and the minimalist puzzles are set to soothing music.
Word puzzle fans might enjoy Word Laces. Use the picture to find the meaning of the puzzle, lace the letters together and earn a shoe. The game is set to a gentle soundtrack and is blissfully undemanding. For example, you might see an image of two people hugging, and lace together words such as "friends" or "embrace." If you get all the words, your prize shoe changes the color of the game's background and the type of laces you use in the spelling challenges.