Apple Arcade is now live on the iPhone via the iOS 13 software update. Apple’s new gaming subscription service has launched with more than 60 games accessible, which may be an overwhelming number for those exploring the new tab in the App Store. While games such as Annapurna’s Sayonara Wild Hearts and Capcom’s Shinsekai: Into the Depths has been gaining a lot of warranted attention, there is one game you need to download right away and experience: Hot Lava.
Developed by Vancouver-based Klei Entertainment, the studio behind Oxygen Not Included, Hot Lava is a nostalgia-fueled 3D platformer. You may remember the days of being a kid, jumping from sofa cushions to tables and other pieces of furniture, pretending the floor is lava. Klei Entertainment took that idea and ran with it, creating an expansive game where the floor has become overflown with magma and your only method of getting from point A to point B is by running through an obstacle course made up of all sorts of furniture and toys from your childhood.
On paper, the concept is just as you remember. Klei Entertainment sought to keep Hot Lava as authentic as possible, only evolving the concept and translating it into a video game. In Hot Lava, you play as a child’s action figure. Coaxed on by another figure, you begin to run around the house, jumping from the tables to overturned garbage cans, chairs, and more. It’s not before long that you encounter a lava monster, the likely source of the mess of lava.
Hot Lava is a truly creative title. In the game’s first map, you’ll be running and jumping through a gymnasium. As you’d expect, the course is made up of bleachers, gymnastic balance beams, and trampolines. Klei Entertainment uses these everyday childhood locales and puts a twist on them to create unique courses to run through. Each map has a series of five or so different courses with their own challenges. Some may be tied to running the course in a finite amount of time, or to find a hidden collectible. Complete enough challenges and you’ll unlock additional maps such as Basement, a junk-filled or Whole Sale, a grocery store inspired map. You’ll also be able to unlock cosmetic items to personalize your figure. Hot Lava comes with multiplayer support so up to three other players can be seen running through the courses alongside you, completing their own challenges. As competition brews, it quickly turns into a race to finish line while seeing how other players react and overcome the obstacles in front of them. One wrong move and you’ll end up in the lava, spawning back at the last checkpoint.
The game is rather simple in its control scheme. Using the iPhone touch functionality, you can press and hold the top left of the screen to move forward, bottom left to move backwards, and tap the right side to jump and grab a rope and other objects to swing. With the right side of the screen, you can tap, hold and swipe left or right to move the camera, or use the phone’s gyroscope to maneuver the camera as you leap around, though, I prefer the tactile controls better myself. Hot Lava has controller support so you’ll be able to use the Xbox One, DualShock 4, or third-party controller for a more traditional control scheme.
What really spoke to me about Hot Lava was the incredible amount of detail and care that went into the visual aesthetic. Klei Entertainment has used a heaping helping of 80’s cartoon inspiration when developing Hot Lava. The game even opens up with a drawn-out fictional Saturday morning cartoon: Global Action Heroes. The cheeky homage to G.I. Joe not only sets the tone of the game but also the figure you’re playing as. There’s no better toy to navigate this treacherous environment than a nimble Global Action Hero figure.
Hot Lava is one of the true standouts on Apple Arcade. Although I have only scraped the surface, it’s a game that represents the vision Apple Arcade sets out. It’s a game that doesn’t beg for your undivided attention for hours on hours, yet it has an inciting gameplay hook that’ll keep you coming back time and time again.
Hot Lava and Apple Arcade has launched on iPhone alongside the iOS 13 update today. Apple TV and iPad support will roll out in the coming weeks.