Lat­est Mac games

An­drew Hay­ward looks at this month’s best new re­leases

Macworld - - Contents -

If it’s still cold and mis­er­able out­side where you live, then why not find a fun new game to play on your Mac? We’ve some crit­i­cally ac­claimed indie games and other com­pelling cu­riosi­ties in the mix. Sub­nau­tica is one of the high­lights, as it drops you into a gor­geous un­der­wa­ter par­adise… that is un­for­tu­nately filled with vi­cious alien crea­tures. Mean­while, Ce­leste and Icon­o­clasts are both modern-day gems that look like retro clas­sics, and there’s plenty more in the pages ahead.

1. Sub­nau­tica

Price: £19.49 from Steam (fave.co/2bluszz)

If you crash-landed on a mys­te­ri­ous ocean planet, with­out dry land or other hu­mans in sight, what would you? You’d prob­a­bly freak out, but af­ter that, you’d bet­ter fig­ure out how to stay alive. That’s your prompt in Sub­nau­tica, a sur­vival game that chal­lenges you to ex­plore the depths be­low and try to stay alive amidst a thriv­ing ecosys­tem filled with strange alien threats.

You’ll scav­enge for re­sources be­neath the wa­ter as you try to stay safe in this un­fa­mil­iar space, and Sub­nau­tica has drawn praise for its daz­zling en­vi­ron­ments and ex­plo­ration. Think of it as a non­blocky, to­tally-un­der­wa­ter Minecraft with its own unique feel and ap­proach.

2. Ce­leste

Price: £14.99 from Steam (fave.co/2bhbbdb)

Tough-as-nails plat­form-hop­ping ac­tion with a side of emo­tional sto­ry­telling? That’s the con­coc­tion you’ll find in Ce­leste. It’s from the mak­ers of Tow­er­fall, and it’s earn­ing in­cred­i­ble praise from crit­ics, in­clud­ing some 10 out of 10 rat­ings. Ce­leste drops you into the hik­ing boots of Made­line, a young woman who at­tempts to climb up Ce­leste Moun­tain while deal­ing with in­ner strife along the way. It’s an in­cred­i­bly chal­leng­ing game of jump­ing and dash­ing around haz­ards (like Su­per Meat Boy), with pitch-per­fect con­trols help­ing you see through the chal­lenge, while the story frankly ex­plores feel­ings of de­pres­sion and anx­i­ety. That’s an un­com­mon, but seem­ingly very spe­cial com­bi­na­tion.

3. Rusty Lake Par­adise

Price: £2.89 from Steam (fave.co/2bkqope)

It might be called Rusty Lake Par­adise, but this game’s hand-drawn lo­cale is any­thing but idyl­lic. The 10 bib­li­cal plagues have be­set the is­land, with frogs and flies abound and wa­ter turned into blood. What is hero Jakob Ei­lan­der, home af­ter the death of his mother, to do? Well, it’s an ad­ven­ture game, so you’ll prob­a­bly have a bunch of puz­zles to solve. Rusty Lake Par­adise is the third main en­try in the Rusty Lake se­ries, so you’re bet­ter off start­ing with the ear­lier games, but it makes a strong im­pact as a very strange, vi­sion­ary ex­pe­ri­ence.

4. In­nerspace

Price: £39.99 from Steam (fave.co/2bokzpt)

In­nerspace is cer­tainly one of the most beau­ti­ful games re­leased this month. It’s a sur­real flight game about ex­plor­ing a se­ries of ‘in­side-out’, grav­ity-re­versed plan­ets, which ba­si­cally means soar­ing around dizzy­ing ter­rain and soak­ing in the sights. There’s a lit­tle bit more than just sight­see­ing, though: the In­nerspace is dy­ing, and in its last days, you’re tasked with help­ing an arche­ol­o­gist re­cover its relics. Along the way, you’ll un­lock parts to build new kinds of air­frames that help you ex­plore fresh ter­rain. It looks like a great pick for cool­ing down at the end of a long day, or af­ter play­ing some­thing a bit more in­tense.

5. Icon­o­clasts

Price: £17.49 from Steam (fave.co/2bixohv)

Cre­ated by one indie de­vel­oper across sev­eral years, Icon­o­clasts is an­other retro-throw­back gem that fuses Metroid-like lev­els and blast­ing with puz­zle-solv­ing and Rpg-like sto­ry­telling. It also seems to pack a sur­pris­ing amount of pol­ish, given its ori­gins, as you take con­trol of a young me­chanic who wants to help ev­ery­one – and learns some tough lessons along the way. While the trail­ers show off a lot of com­bat and ac­tion, the ac­tual bal­ance of the game in­cludes a lot more puz­zle-solv­ing than you might ex­pect, giv­ing Icon­o­clasts a dif­fer­ent kind of tone than your typ­i­cal 2D af­fair.

6. Slay The Spire

Price: £11.99 from Steam (fave.co/2bmyth0)

Slay the Spire ac­tu­ally launched late in 2017 in Steam Early Ac­cess, but it’s been gain­ing mo­men­tum in re­cent weeks as the game is up­dated and pol­ished be­fore the full ver­sion re­lease. Why is there so much buzz around this game? Well, it’s a mix of deck-build­ing card-bat­tlers and chal­leng­ing ‘rogue­like’ dun­geon crawlers. Es­sen­tially, it’s Dark­est Dun­geon or FTL meets Hearth­stone. You’ll go from en­counter to en­counter as you scale the tower, and when it’s time to bat­tle, you’ll use your deck of cards to dis­patch foes. Or you’ll die try­ing, but there’s re­ward in your grad­ual climb, and every run of­fers a new lay­out of threats to tackle.

7. The Red Strings Club

Price: £11.39 from Steam (fave.co/2bmhddz)

Given its pair­ing of a cy­ber­punk world and bar­tend­ing gameplay, you might see The Red Strings Club and im­me­di­ately draw the com­par­i­son to the com­pelling VA-11 Hall-a. In fact, no other game that we know of man­ages to com­bine all of those things into one ex­pe­ri­ence. Sounds strange, right? The Red Strings Club is cer­tainly a dis­tinc­tive game, blend­ing ad­ven­ture game-like sto­ry­telling with rich di­a­logue with fab­u­lous pixel graph­ics. Com­mand­ing a bar­tender, a hacker, and a mal­func­tion­ing an­droid, you’ll un­cover and try to thwart a ma­jor tech com­pany con­spir­acy while savour­ing the con­ver­sa­tions and lit­tle mo­ments along the way.

8. War­ring States: Tac­tics

Price: £19.49 from Steam (fave.co/2bknsmn)

Set dur­ing the tit­u­lar pe­riod (475-221 BCE) in An­cient China, War­ring States: Tac­tics is a turn­based strat­egy game that spot­lights bat­tles be­tween the var­i­ous feu­dal states. Com­mand­ing the forces of Qin, you’ll fight across the hexbased bat­tle­fields as you at­tack, uti­lize tac­ti­cal ma­noeu­vres, bash through cas­tle walls, and try to emerge vic­to­ri­ous in the end. It packs in 15 sin­gle­player story mis­sions along with a dozen maps for on­line/lo­cal mul­ti­player or AI skir­mishes. It’s pretty well un­der the radar, but Steam user re­views largely call it a di­a­mond in the rough, with the full ver­sion just re­leas­ing fol­low­ing an Early Ac­cess pe­riod.

9. Tesla vs Love­craft

Price: £10.99 from Steam (fave.co/2bil­clu)

De­vel­oper 10tons has a knack for top-down shoot­ers, wherein you look at the ac­tion from straight above and then blast the heck out of wave upon wave of en­e­mies – and Tesla vs Love­craft is their lat­est cre­ation. As the ti­tle sug­gests, this ar­cade-style ex­pe­ri­ence has quite the in­ter­est­ing premise. Here, you’ll take the role of leg­endary in­ven­tor Nikola Tesla, who finds a sur­pris­ing threat in the mon­sters cre­ated by hor­ror au­thor H.P. Love­craft. To mow them down, you’ll hop into your own Tesla-mech ro­bot – armed with Tesla-mini­guns, of course – and show them that tech­nol­ogy trumps wicked fan­tasy. That’s the plan, at least, but you’ll surely have fun try­ing.

10. Mo­bile Em­pire

Price: £7.19 from Steam (fave.co/2bn­njys)

Mo­bile Em­pire is a smart­phone-maker sim­u­la­tion, chal­leng­ing you to guide an up­start com­pany in 2001 into a tech jug­ger­naut over the years. You’ll de­sign hand­sets start­ing in those early days and progress through the eras, stretch­ing all the way up un­til 2035. All the while, you’ll di­rect em­ploy­ees, max­i­mize prof­its, and at­tempt to crush your com­peti­tors. That sounds great, although it comes with a caveat: Steam re­view­ers sug­gest the orig­i­nal Chi­nese game has been hap­haz­ardly trans­lated into English… and not all of it was trans­lated. Luck­ily, Steam will let you get a re­fund if you play less than two hours and re­quest it within two weeks of pur­chase, so keep that in mind.

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