I’m always on the lookout for the perfect mobile game. It’s a difficult task as only one or two games fit the bill for me every year. The best mobile games need to be something I can either sit down with for hours or simply play for a few moments. They need to function offline so I can play them no matter where I am. And on top of that, I prefer that they have a tactile component to them that uses tap controls in a satisfying way.
I’m pleased to say that I’ve found this year’s perfect puzzle game – and its an Apple Arcade exclusive.
Stitch (stylized as stitch.) is an embroidery puzzle game that combines Picross and stitching. It’s the latest game from Lykke Studios, a developer that’s already made some of Apple Arcade’s best games, like Tint and Lumen. Like those titles, Stitch works because it’s focused around an elegant puzzle premise that’s easy to communicate to players thanks to intuitive controls. It’s also one of this year’s most soothing games — something that’s already made me spend hours with it.
Stitch had me hooked right from its simple tutorial. Upon opening the game, I’m given an empty embroidery hoop. The camera focuses on one section of it and a small grid appears with colored numbers on it. The idea is that I need to fill in that grid correctly by creating the correct stitches that run through the right number of squares. So if there’s a brown two in a box, I’ll need to make a quick two-square stitch that runs through that box. If I see a four, I can either create a two-by-two square or a four-square line. Of course, everything needs to fit properly in order to correctly solve the grid and move on to the next piece of the hoop.
As a puzzle game, its closest parallel is Picross. Like that format, I need to create a picture by filling in grid squares correctly, but it’s even more streamlined than that game, especially when it comes to controls. Rather than using a joystick to navigate a grid, you simply need to tap and drag to make a stitch. Erasing it is as easy as double tapping. It’s a perfect control scheme for the idea, making it an ideal mobile experience.
Puzzles start easy enough. Some beginner hoops have me stitching frogs and penguins using some simple instructions. But like any good puzzle game, the challenge ramps up from there. More complex puzzles have me embroidering a full landscape, requiring me to complete more complicated puzzle boxes around the grid. A helpful hint system helps make sure I’m never fully stuck, but I’ve already hit a few grids that had me doubling back on my work to figure out the right pattern.
Though it does get tricky, Stitch never stops being relaxing. Naturally, the whole game looks like it’s made out of soft and colorful yarn. Light piano music soundtracks the experience, giving it a cozy winter feel — like I’m sitting next to a fireplace in a rocking chair. If I get frustrated on a puzzle or simply need to get off my phone, I can quit and pick up exactly where I left off on any hoop.
Stitch isn’t out to eat up your time or money either, which is a must for me with a mobile game. Since it’s on Apple Arcade, it doesn’t include any form of microtransactions that could otherwise put a damper on a sincere game. Instead, it just features some light progression hooks that reward me for playing. I get experience points as I stitch, which raise my tier. Getting to Silver Tier II unlocks some weekly hoops to complete, giving me more to do after I’ve completed its 77 base puzzles. There’s even a free stitch mode, which allows players to go back into any hoop and recreate it in any way they’d like, adding a nice creative touch to the experience.
I’ve only just begun playing around with Stitch, but I firmly believe it’s the ideal vision of a mobile game. It’s something that makes smart use of touch controls and can be played in very short sessions whenever players have a minute to spare. I very much intend to make it my go-to commute game going forward, as it allows me to kill 30 minutes with a hypnotic puzzle game that won’t result in pricked fingers.
Stitch is available to download now as part of Apple Arcade.