Last year I thought Apple Arcade was going to introduce a new frontier for mobile gaming. That might still be true, but there hasn’t been much evidence to support the claim. Yes, the service has seen some amazing titles on it, but all the dazzle from its debut has subsided as game releases for the $4.99 subscription service have slowed to a trickle. I haven’t thought about it in months — though I still pay for it — but this week, it had the only mobile game worth talking about.
Developer: Sumo Digital
Available On: iOS
Blanketed in the same swinging sixties vibe that surrounds all great spy entertainment, Spyder casts players as Agent 8, a small, eight-legged robot sent in to do the work most humans are simply too big to do. The game is divided into a series of missions that send Agent 8 into enemy territory to retrieve documents, stop catastrophes, and occasionally disable a bomb or two. Rather than having a license to kill, this robot has a license to crawl. Players can take it over nearly every surface in the game. Top, bottom, sides; nothing is off-limits to Agent 8…unless it’s covered in oil.
Like any good secret agent, Agent 8 has its own set of gadgets, essentially making it a gadget with gadgets because yo dawg, I heard you like gadgets. These vary from simple screwdrivers to lasers that cut open vents, but the most important gadget is your puzzle-solving skills. While there is a waypoint to guide you through each stage, not every puzzle you encounter will be obvious from the outset. Sometimes you need to stop and think about what you’re doing lest you blow the mission.
While the central villain of the narrative is the dastardly organization known as S.I.N., the only enemy you’ll face is the game’s camera. I don’t pretend to think programming a camera for a normal 3D game is any simple task and I can just imagine the laborious effort that went into making Sypder‘s camera remotely usable, but most of my mission failures can be blamed on it not working with me when I needed it the most. Not a horrible dealbreaker as the game is mighty generous with checkpoints, but it’s the only blemish on an otherwise seamless experience. Despite the camera woes, touch controls actually work pretty okay here if that’s your only option.
This is a but a small example of the enormous potential of the Apple Arcade, something that, arguably, has been tough boast about in the wake of the service’s launch. With this game and the recent debuts of Roundguard and Crossy Road Castle, it’s slowly crawling its way back into relevancy.
Spyder is available for iOS as part of the Apple Arcade service.
(Premium priced games featured in Mobile Monday were provided by the developer. Free-to-play games were downloaded directly from the App Store or Google Play.)