Netflix’s gaming section is relatively new, and players haven’t always known what to expect from the streaming behemoth that is known primarily for movies and TV shows. But in recent months, Netflix has been steadily stocking the gaming catalog with great mobile ports like Into the Breach and Spiritfarer–giving hints as to what direction the company’s new gaming division will take.
If you’re curious as to what titles to try, check out our roundup of seven Netflix games that are worth a cruise.
In addition to ports of existing games, Netflix also acquired a number of development studios recently and is looking to make original games. According to a TechCrunch Disrupt event, Netflix has 55 games in development and some of them are based on the streaming service’s original shows. We’ve also gotten originals like Poinpy, which is featured below.
Curiously enough, Netflix also said it’s very interested in creating a cloud gaming service–something not even Google could make work. Stadia recently closed down, leading to questions about whether or not cloud gaming services are viable at this time. Netflix hasn’t revealed any details, so we’ll need to wait to learn more about its plans, if it does end up seeing them through.
Poinpy, by Downwell’s dev Ojiro Fumoto, feels very much like it sounds: Your character poings and pongs off walls and platforms in a series of increasingly difficult challenges. It’s a game with straightforward mechanics and vertical platform challenges that demand increasing accuracy from the player. As you progress, a blue blob of a monster will request fruits in specific quantities and types under a time limit. While the rules are easy to learn, Poinpy ramps up in intensity and becomes a very replayable game like Downwell.
For more information on behind-the-scenes, check out our interview with Poinpy creator Ojiro Fumoto.
Into The Breach
Into The Breach is a brilliant turn-based strategy game that tasks players with defending against monsters on a limited-sized tile map. Players start out with three mechs and each weapon has a different range and pattern of attack–requiring careful thought about order, pattern, and positions. As you progress, you can unlock other squads and units with other unique abilities and uses.
For Into The Breach’s Advanced Edition (which is the edition available on Netflix), reviewer Chris Pereira rated it a 10/10. The Advanced Edition included five new squads, new enemy types, and new bosses. Pereira praised the game for its deep strategy and how each action cascades down to the next, leading to players needing to consider even the miniscule details of how they’ll set up their offense.
“By limiting the size of maps and the number of units and actions you have, it avoids ever becoming overwhelming,” Pereira said, “while still giving you a wide-enough possibility space that your path forward is full of potential, rather than feeling preordained.”
Arcanium: Rise of Akhan
Arcanium: Rise of Akhan is a strategy deck-building game, like Hearthstone, where the gameplay revolves around selected heroes using unique decks. However, Arcanium is more PvE-oriented and has some interesting roguelite qualities. Players control a party of three heroes–each with their own decks–and need to clear tiled maps of corruption via battles. On every map, the content of the tiles are hidden until you defeat enemies in adjacent spaces, leading to an element of randomness in every map run.
On combat tiles, party members must defeat the enemies. Each hero has their own deck and players can spend heroes’ limited action points to play cards. Some units are tanks, equipped with abilities to take damage for other party members, and some are high damage dealers who, while having high offense, low defense.
The large number of cards and tile options–upgrading cards, replenishing health, obtaining equipment for heroes, and more–allows for a wide range of flexibility in how you want to play.
A 2016 game by Night School Studios, a studio now owned by Netflix, Oxenfree follows a group of teenagers dealing with a paranormal situation. It’s a narrative-heavy game driven by players clicking (or in the mobile edition’s case, tapping) on objects and other items in the environment. While uncovering what the scary hauntings are drives the story, main character Alex’s choices and how you develop her relationship to others radically changes how the game unfolds.
GameSpot reviewed Oxenfree’s PC edition and rated it 8/10. “[Oxenfree] doesn’t hammer you with platitudes about friendship and loss, but hands you a knot to untangle that rewards you at every success with an emotional gut punch,” reviewer Alexa Ray Corriea said. “It doesn’t ask you any big questions, and certainly isn’t easy in relenting its answers; Oxenfree just is what it is, a big little game about the all-too-human inability to let go of what hurts us.”
Spiritfarer follows Stella, the inheritor of Charon’s mantle, who is now in charge of finding and taking care of lost souls. In command of a giant ship, as Stella, you can build a guest house, kitchen, field and more. It’s a slow-paced game revolving around the fundamental theme of death, all packaged in an interesting hybrid mix of an action-platformer and farming sim.
In GameSpot’s Spirtfarer review, the game earned a 9/10. Reviewer Hope Corrigan praised the game for its unique characters, enjoyable platforming elements, and narrative design. “Spiritfarer is somehow a game with no risk but all reward. There’s no death, no pain, no rush on any task, and yet I don’t think I’ve ever felt this complete,” Corrigan said. “You’re allowed to totally take your time, play on your own terms, and even though your tasks are easy, they are incredibly fulfilling.”
Before Your Eyes
Before Your Eyes is an innovative 2021 game with a unique input system: Blinking as a mechanic. Your blink controls the pace of the game, and the beginning part follows the main character’s life from birth and onwards. In some parts, you’ll need to close your eyes in order to hear a conversation or blink to move a memory forward.
In GameSpot’s Before Your Eyes review, reviewer Andrew King rated it an 8/10 and praised it for unique and well-done integration of the blink mechanism and the narrative. “Before Your Eyes understands that experiencing our lives, of storing memories which become precious, is often tied to what we see: the people and the paths stretching out before us,” King said. “Instead of feeling like a gimmick, Before Your Eyes feels refreshingly natural.”
Before Your Eyes also made it on GameSpot’s Top 10 games of 2021.
SpongeBob Squarepants Get Cooking
Look, SpongeBob Squarepants Gets Cooking is not the most magnificent cooking-slash-restaurant-running game ever made. But it does fulfill the dreams of anybody who ever watched SpongeBob and thought, “Wow, I’d like to really try running Krusty Krab.” And for that, it earns an honorary mention on this list. If you enjoyed Diner Dash and that one strange Club Penguin pizza minigame, then this SpongeBob Squarepants game will scratch a nostalgic itch.
As SpongeBob, or as other characters obtained through progression, you’ll cook pancakes, krabby patties, and more for customers. As you take on more cooking shifts, the money earned can be used to upgrade kitchen equipment, decorate the interior, and other boosts. There’s the typical Plankton-out-to-sabotage plot sprinkled in-between each level, but it can be skipped.