So far I’m really impressed with the line up on Apple’s Arcade service. For a monthly subscription of just $4.99 following a month free trail, you have access to 100+ advert free games that you’re able to share with 6 others attached to the master account. All in the games are solid enough with Apple Arcade getting plenty support from developers across the indie games sphere.
One of the games I’ve had most fun with is the super simple and minimalist looking Bleak Sword. While hardly revolutionary with it being a retro-looking classical hack and slash brawler, what it does offer is a brutal mix of action with the most challenging and fun boss battles I’ve ever played on a mobile platform.
The stripped back art style works strangely rather well with the enemies animations an obvious high point. Sure it doesn’t look overly pretty and yet that doesn’t matter. The nine levels where you can build your character’s abilities as you progress all feel measured with a fine difficulty progression throughout.
I’ve spent all of my time with Bleak Sword while out and about on an iPhone 8+. I’ve yet to try it out on an iPad or by way of using a controller although I suspect this option will afford an easier way to play. While mobile you attack, dodge and use your shield by way of swiping or tapping the screen. To dodge you swipe in the direction you want to go. A short tap on the screen enables you to parry attacks and a longer hold while then swiping towards an enemy means you’ll attack in that direction.
All this means you’re able to play Bleak Sword with one hand. On the iPhone 8+ that can feel a little bit of a challenge due to the phone’s size. That said, I’ve still been able to have some serious fun while on the bus, train and while time to play over lunch at the office.
I’m not going to say what this game reminds me of although to get good at it you have to be able to recognise the enemies attack styles and hey you will die an awful, awful lot. As I’ve mentioned already, this one is utterly brutal and possibly the hardest game I’ve played on any mobile device.
It’s also brilliant and has brought up all of the same type of joy and emotions from the series I’ve played over the years and dare not name. Like What the Golf?, Bleak Sword is one of the best launch titles on Apple’s Arcade service. It’s a hidden gem that really deserves to be played by anyone who likes this type of challenge.
Bleak Sword is out now on Apple Arcade. The game was reviewed by using a personal Apple Arcade account and was played exclusively on an iPhone 8+. You can find more information on Get Indie Gaming’s review editorial policy here.