Lat­est Mac games

An­drew Hay­ward looks at this month’s best new re­leases

Macworld - - Contents -

On the hunt for some­thing new to play? If you have a pretty ca­pa­ble Mac, then you have a lot of op­tions right now. May de­liv­ered a nice stack of new games worth check­ing out. Role-play­ing epics like Pil­lars of Eter­nity II: Dead­fire and The El­der Scrolls On­line’s Sum­mer­set ex­pan­sion are the two big­gest ex­am­ples, but this month’s list also in­cludes some off­beat or atyp­i­cal picks like House Flip­per, Mon­ster Prom, and Quar­an­tine Cir­cu­lar.

1. Pil­lars of Eter­nity II: Dead­fire Price: £32.99 from Steam (fave.co/2scmigr)

Ob­sid­ian’s orig­i­nal Pil­lars of Eter­nity was an ex­cel­lent throw­back to Bal­dur’s Gate-style iso­met­ric role-play­ers, and now the long-awaited Pil­lars of Eter­nity II: Dead­fire is here to con­tinue its tale. Here, we see the fan­tasy crew bat­tling through an ar­chi­pel­ago, sail­ing in swash­buck­ling fash­ion, and pur­su­ing a god all the while. The cen­tral story is ex­cel­lent, with a strong con­tin­u­a­tion of its pre­de­ces­sor’s themes. The prob­lem is there’s not much out­side that cen­tral story. Pil­lars of Eter­nity II feels like a game built off the backs of four or five ma­jor ‘set piece’ mo­ments, jaw-drop­ping story beats with the sort of spec­ta­cle I didn’t think was pos­si­ble in an In­fin­ity En­gine-style game.

2. House Flip­per Price: £15.49 from Steam (fave.co/2syu­ruk)

House Flip­per is like a playable ver­sion of one of those ca­ble TV shows about buy­ing crummy houses and turn­ing them into re­sell-ready stun­ners, but in this case you’re the per­son in charge of clean­ing up messes, tear­ing down walls, fix­ing elec­tri­cal is­sues, and plenty more.

It’s a first-per­son game that lets you do all the hard work your­self, from in­te­rior de­sign to con­struc­tion, and you’ll even have to man­age your bud­get like real-life flip­pers. It’s an earnest sim­u­la­tion, but the atyp­i­cal game con­cept has boosted sales and made it a favourite for Twitch stream­ers and Youtu­bers to share their an­tics.

Who knew house re­pairs could be so much fun?

3. The El­der Scrolls On­line: Sum­mer­set

Price: £19.99 from Steam (fave.co/2xntafv)

If The El­der Scrolls On­line is your game of choice, then you’ll prob­a­bly be over the moon to see this month’s re­lease of the Sum­mer­set ex­pan­sion pack. It doesn’t have the same buzz as last year’s Mor­rowind add-on, given the pop­u­lar­ity of the pre­vi­ous El­der Scrolls ad­ven­ture that en­vi­ron­ment was pulled from, but Sum­mer­set still has plenty to of­fer. It has a com­pelling new chunk of con­tent, in­clud­ing sto­ries and char­ac­ters we cared about, along with ac­cess to the tit­u­lar home of the High Elves. You can buy the ex­pan­sion alone on Steam if you al­ready play ESO, but the Dig­i­tal Col­lec­tor’s Edi­tion opens the base game of The El­der Scrolls On­line to you as well if you’re a new player.

4. Moon­lighter

Price: £15.49 from Steam (fave.co/2ksarqn)

Now here’s an in­trigu­ing com­bi­na­tion: Moon­lighter is one part Le­gend of Zelda-in­spired dun­geon bat­tler, and one part ba­nal re­tail sim­u­la­tor. As

Will, the son of shop­keep­ers, you’ll spend your day set­ting prices, in­ter­act­ing with cus­tomers, man­ag­ing staff, and up­grad­ing the store along the way. But at night, the game is very dif­fer­ent. See, Will moon­lights as some­thing of a war­rior, div­ing into mys­te­ri­ous dun­geons to fight crea­tures and re­cover loot, which he’ll then sell at his shop. The two sides of the game feed into each other, and early re­views have been very pos­i­tive, cit­ing a Stardew Val­ley-like hook to the day­time rou­tine along with chal­leng­ing com­bat in the evenings.

5. Quar­an­tine Cir­cu­lar Price: £4.79 from Steam (fave.co/2jkp0nm)

Many games try to wear ex­ten­sive con­tent as a badge of hon­our and boast of am­ple re­play value to en­tice buy­ers, but last year’s ac­claimed Sub­sur­face Cir­cu­lar went in the op­po­site di­rec­tion. It was billed as a ‘one-sit­ting game’, a com­pact and con­cise nar­ra­tive ad­ven­ture about a ro­bot de­tec­tive chat­ting up oth­ers of his kind to un­ravel a mys­tery while aboard a sub­way train. And now Quar­an­tine Cir­cu­lar does much the same with a self-con­tained story. It’s not a se­quel, even if the di­a­logue-cen­tric ap­proach is sim­i­lar: it’s about a group of sci­en­tists en­gag­ing an alien found amidst a global pan­demic, and the re­sults of your di­a­logue could shape the fu­ture (or demise) of hu­man­ity. Choose wisely.

6. Wizard of Le­gend Price: £12.39 from Steam (fave.co/2sb6n8m)

Moon­lighter only goes part-time on the dun­geon­crawl­ing beat, but Wizard of Le­gend is all-in on chaotic mon­ster brawl­ing. We’ve seen a num­ber of retro-styl­ized ‘rouge-like’ games with pixel graph­ics and chal­leng­ing com­bat, but what sets Wizard of Le­gend apart is the fran­tic pace of its ac­tion, and the fo­cus on magic spells rather than phys­i­cal weapons. You’ll dart around the en­vi­ron­ment whip­ping out dozens of dif­fer­ent spells and abil­i­ties, all of which you’ll need to har­ness to stay alive and keep push­ing ahead. And you can also in­vite a lo­cal pal for co-op­er­a­tive or com­pet­i­tive ac­tion, which leads to a chaotic whirl of ex­plo­sive at­tacks on the screen. User re­views so far have been pos­i­tive.

7. Mon­ster Prom Price: £9.29 from Steam (fave.co/2jieodh)

Dat­ing sim­u­la­tions can be pretty weird at times and Mon­ster Prom def­i­nitely fits that cri­te­ria. Why? Well, aside from star­ring mon­sters, it’s also a com­pet­i­tive lo­cal mul­ti­player ex­pe­ri­ence. It’s three weeks be­fore prom and you (again, a mon­ster) don’t have a date. What to do? Well, this nar­ra­tive-driven game leads you through var­i­ous choices as you try to se­cure a com­pan­ion for the big event, and it looks hi­lar­i­ous, risqué, and cer­tainly off­beat. And if you have pals along­side, you can even bat­tle it out for the af­fec­tions of your freaky class­mates.

8. To­tal War Saga: Thrones of Bri­tan­nia Price: £29.99 from Steam (fave.co/2sb8akc)

Cre­ative Assem­bly’s To­tal War fran­chise usu­ally de­liv­ers mas­sive, his­tor­i­cal strat­egy epics, but To­tal War Saga: Thrones of Bri­tan­nia tries a dif­fer­ent tact. It’s a smaller, stream­lined take on the se­ries, keep­ing the core thrust of the fran­chise while hon­ing in on a more com­pact tale and trim­ming off some of the se­ries’ cruft.

Thrones of Bri­tan­nia be­gins in 878 AD, as var­i­ous forces (in­clud­ing An­glo-sax­ons and Vik­ing set­tlers) at­tempt to con­trol Britain and help de­fine its path into the fu­ture. Re­ac­tions to the game have been pre­dictably wide-rang­ing: crit­i­cal re­views are pretty good over­all, while a lot of Steam users are up­set about the changes. Your ex­pe­ri­ence may vary.

9. Hori­zon Chase Turbo Price: £15.49 from Steam (fave.co/2szcxg3)

The orig­i­nal Hori­zon Chase is one of our favourite IOS rac­ing games, and now the retro-in­spired racer is avail­able on Mac with Hori­zon Chase Turbo. Like the smaller-screened edi­tion, Turbo pays tribute to old gems like Out Run and Top Gear, keep­ing things sim­ple as you fo­cus on jet­ting past the com­pe­ti­tion and se­cur­ing vic­tory. Hori­zon Chase Turbo ben­e­fits from spruced-up graph­ics, even if the bright, an­gu­lar look re­mains in­tact, plus it adds four-player split-screen sup­port across all modes. It’s packed with con­tent, too, given the 109 tracks spread across 48 cities, along with 31 cars. And while it doesn’t have live on­line play, you can bat­tle for pole po­si­tion on the leader boards with ri­vals.

10. Framed Col­lec­tion

Price: £7.19 from Steam (fave.co/2xnky47) Framed is one of the most uniquely com­pelling games on IOS, and Framed 2 is es­sen­tially more of the same, not that we’re com­plain­ing. And now you can play both of these games on Mac with the 2-for-1 Framed Col­lec­tion. If you haven’t played ei­ther game on IOS, here’s the gist: it’s a mys­tery game that plays out in the form of an in­ter­ac­tive comic book. Es­sen­tially, you’ll ad­vance the tale by re­ar­rang­ing comic pan­els in real time, en­sur­ing that the events un­fold in a way that helps your char­ac­ter progress or sur­vive. It’s part puz­zle solv­ing and part trial-and-er­ror tin­ker­ing, and the end re­sult is highly en­gag­ing. Framed played per­fectly with touch con­trols, but a mouse pointer should be suf­fi­cient.

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