Of the 102 games currently available (at the time of writing) through Apple’s gaming subscription service – Apple Arcade – The Apple TV Gaming Blog has not yet dipped its toes into Simogo’s latest release, Sayonara Wild Hearts.
As I said in my recent article detailing an evening spent with Stela, I am but one man with two hands. One game at a time it must be.
But ’tis the Season of Lists in the games industry, and Apple kicked things off recently by handing out some awards and announcing its various picks of the year. With all the hype and fanfare surrounding Sayonara Wild Hearts – which featured as a launch title for Apple Arcade – I thought what better time to spend an evening with Simogo’s newest creation?
So I fired up the telly and the Apple TV 4K, powered up the Nimbus, cranked the stereo and dimmed the lights. If you’re going to do something, you may as well do it properly.
Most of the pieces I post here are pretty positive. If I don’t like games I usually stop playing them and certainly don’t spend much time, if any, writing about them. If you see this as a lack of balance then, well, fair point. But this is a blog after all, not CNN, and while I will certainly make criticisms when I feel they are warranted, for the most part I’ll write about what I’m playing or what I’m hoping for, and if I’m playing it or hoping for it, then it’s mostly good.
With that said, if Apple announces what it believes is the best Apple Arcade game of 2019, and based on that recommendation I download the title to spend an evening with it – and I don’t like it – then I feel compelled to say so, and why.
There you go, the cat’s out of the bag then, I won’t call myself a fan of Simogo’s first Apple Arcade output.
Visually and sonically, Sayonara Wild Hearts is stunning. Scenes melt and morph into each other across a background of time and space, while synth-laden beats and power-pop melodrama wash over you in wave after sound wave. It’s a hypnotic, enveloping, trancelike experience. And it would be even more so if the levels were longer. Just as I started to let myself go within the million shades of purple (luckily my favourite colour), I’d find myself back at the level select screen all too soon, removed from Simogo’s dream.
And that brings us to the gameplay.
Keep in mind this is The Apple TV Gaming Blog, and many of the 102 Apple Arcade titles lend themselves more successfully to a mobile gaming experience, rather than a console with a controller. I feel that Sayonara Wild Hearts fits into that folder.
I struggled to find any depth in the gameplay, feeling as if each level was a preview of a larger mobile title, with each one showcasing a gameplay style, rather than forming a deep interactive experience to game through.
A psychedelic take on lane-changing games such as Temple Run, a 2D fighting game in which the mechanics are reduced to a quick time event – sure they are beautifully produced slices of visual and aural pleasure, but that’s all they are. Slices.
There is an effort to string it all together with a narrative involving a quest to heal a broken heart, and these mechanics will no doubt be much better suited to touch screens, but I felt distanced from the game with a controller and TV, given there is so little to interact with.
Simogo brings a lot of street-cred to the mobile gaming table, with titles such as Beat Sneak Bandit, Device 6, Year Walk, and The Sailor’s Dream – all innovative, imaginative creations exploring unique narrative experiences, and if looked at through that lens, I suppose Sayonara Wild Hearts is another step in that exploration.
But as someone looking for a deep, interactive experience via a gaming console, I struggled to find one here.
Did your mileage vary? I’ve read many positive reports on players experiencing Simogo’s Apple Arcade offering, and isn’t that the beautiful thing about enjoying creative work? It’s so subjective, with so many different tastes to cater for. And fortunately, Apple Arcade offers such a broad range of gameplay experiences that players of all flavours will no doubt find something to their liking.
In the next couple of weeks The Apple TV Gaming Blog will be posting lists of its own, in an attempt to put 2019 into perspective, so keep an eye out for those, and hit ATVG up on the social feeds in the top banner to say why you’ve agreed or disagreed. Can’t wait to hear your thoughts.
If you’re new to The Apple TV Gaming Blog (ATVG), or just new to Apple TV gaming in general, or both, then the best place to get acquainted is our Best Apple TV Games of 2019 article. You’ll find a great collection of games to play, and a bunch of useful links to our previous site content. Welcome aboard. Enjoy the ride.