Lat­est Mac games

An­drew Hay­ward looks at this month’s best new re­leases

Macworld - - CONTENTS -

An­other month, an­other im­pres­sive stack of new games to play on your Mac. Fan­tasy role-player Pathfinder: King­maker and episodic nar­ra­tive ad­ven­ture Life is Strange: Be­fore the Storm are this month’s big­gest re­leases, but they’re just the start of this fine col­lec­tion. Read on to learn more about those games and oth­ers, in­clud­ing cod­ing-based puzzler 7 Bil­lion Hu­mans, Lego-es­que ve­hi­cle-builder Ter­raTech, and even a Mac ver­sion of Alto’s Ad­ven­ture.

1. Pathfinder: King­maker

Price: £34.99 from Steam (fave.co/2IB0B74)

It’s been some time since the hey­day of iso­met­ric role-play­ing quests such as Bal­dur’s Gate and the orig­i­nal Fall­out games, but lately we’ve seen a re­nais­sance of that style led by Pil­lars of Eter­nity. Owl­cat Games’ Pathfinder: King­maker is the lat­est such re­lease, cat­a­pulted to life by a $900,000+ Kick­starter cam­paign and the pop­u­lar­ity of the Pathfinder table­top fran­chise, which spun off from Dun­geons & Dragons nearly a decade ago. King­maker re­ally does look a lot like Bal­dur’s Gate, with its fan­tasy world and iso­met­ric com­bat, but it tries to do quite a bit more by adapt­ing the en­tire Pathfinder story and al­low­ing play­ers sig­nif­i­cant con­trol over the world.

2. Life is Strange: Be­fore the Storm

Price: £13.99 from Steam (fave.co/2zPdcB7)

The five-part Life is Strange episodic series is one of the best nar­ra­tive ex­pe­ri­ences you can find on Mac (and iOS) to­day, telling the com­pelling saga of a teenage girl who sud­denly dis­cov­ers the abil­ity to ma­nip­u­late time. If you’ve al­ready played through that sto­ry­line – and se­ri­ously, start there – then you might wel­come a chance to fill in some gaps with pre­quel tale, Be­fore the Storm. Set three years be­fore the orig­i­nal game, Life is Strange: Be­fore the Storm shifts its fo­cus to Chloe, a friend of orig­i­nal pro­tag­o­nist, Max. Chloe doesn’t have the same kind of time-travel skills, but the ‘backchat’ abil­ity lets you try to talk your way out of prob­lems… or po­ten­tially make them even worse.

3. 7 Bil­lion Hu­mans

Price: £11.39 from Steam (fave.co/2IB3ghd)

7 Bil­lion Hu­mans re­leased in late Au­gust, but it’s still worth check­ing out. Like Hu­man Re­source Ma­chine be­fore it, To­mor­row Cor­po­ra­tion’s lat­est is a brain-teas­ing puzzler built around com­puter pro­gram­ming el­e­ments. With each level, you’ll build chains of code to in­struct the hu­mans to com­plete the de­sired task. While the first game was based on Assem­bly lan­guage, this one ex­pands upon that with a new in-game pro­gram­ming lan­guage that al­lows for nu­mer­ous work­ers at one time. As be­fore, how­ever, you don’t need to be a coder to un­der­stand 7 Bil­lion Hu­mans: you’ll learn as you go, and emerge with a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of cod­ing me­chan­ics. But trust us, play the orig­i­nal game first.

4. CrossCode

Price: £14.99 from Steam (fave.co/2ID5ZXG)

You might have heard of CrossCode, but this in­die role-play­ing game al­ready has a huge fol­low­ing of fans who adore it. Just have a look at the bulk of ‘Over­whelm­ingly Pos­i­tive’ re­views on Steam, some of which claim that it’s on par with the kinds of 16-bit Su­per Nin­tendo clas­sics that it strives to em­u­late. Mis­sion ac­com­plished, it seems. CrossCode cer­tainly looks like a Chrono Trig­ger or Se­cret of Mana ana­logue from back when, de­liv­er­ing an epic RPG saga with pre­cise pixel graph­ics and lik­able char­ac­ters. It’s a bit of a hy­brid, though, bring­ing in epic dun­geon quests in­spired by those of The Leg­end of Zelda, in­clud­ing 30+ unique bosses to bat­tle.

5. The Gar­dens Be­tween

Price: £15.49 from Steam (fave.co/2IyVcO7)

The Gar­dens Be­tween is a charm­ing-look­ing puz­zle quest about a pair of friends back­track­ing through their mem­o­ries to­gether. And you’ll help them in a unique way: rather than in­di­vid­u­ally con­trol one or both char­ac­ters, you’ll in­stead ma­nip­u­late the flow of time, thus help­ing both of them nav­i­gate through co­nun­drums to reach the goal in each stage. The level de­sign it­self looks fan­tas­tic, with var­i­ous is­lands based around child­hood ob­jects: com­put­ers, video games, a fam­ily couch, and more. Re­views sug­gest that this ad­ven­ture is in­ven­tive with its world de­sign, but thank­fully never over­whelm­ing or frus­trat­ing, de­liv­er­ing a smart lit­tle ex­pe­ri­ence for any­one to en­joy.

6. Alto’s Ad­ven­ture

Price: £9.99 from Mac App Store (fave.co/2Rn7ahz)

Alto’s Ad­ven­ture is a de­light­ful ex­pe­ri­ence on iOS and Ap­ple TV, and now it’s also a de­light­ful ex­pe­ri­ence on Mac. The side-scrolling snow­board­ing game lets you ef­fort­lessly glide down the slopes, grind on hang­ing bunt­ing, catch some mad air, and take in the stun­ning sights. Our rec­om­men­da­tion is a bit tem­pered, how­ever: the Mac ver­sion is twice the price of the iOS/Ap­ple TV edi­tion, de­spite be­ing seem­ingly the same game, plus this year’s Alto’s Odyssey has since ex­panded upon the premise for those other de­vices. Still, this charm­ing game is sure to en­ter­tain, so if you pre­fer to play games on Mac and haven’t al­ready tried this one, give it a shot.

7. Dis­tance

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

Well, this looks in­cred­i­bly fun. Dis­tance fuses to­gether rac­ing games, plat­form-hop­ping ad­ven­tures, and a dash of park­our – ve­hic­u­lar park­our, that is – as you speed through a series of fu­tur­is­tic tracks to­wards a fin­ish line. There’s no straight­for­ward path to the end of each track, how­ever, since you’ll need to leap and fly to tra­verse huge gaps and myr­iad haz­ards. With a sin­gle-player cam­paign, stand­alone ar­cade lev­els, and both on­line and lo­cal mul­ti­player in the mix, Dis­tance de­liv­ers a few dif­fer­ent ways to ex­pe­ri­ence its thrills.

8. Ter­raTech

Price: £19.99 from Steam (fave.co/2QtAu53)

If Minecraft is dig­i­tal Lego bricks for build­ing struc­tures, en­vi­ron­ments, and sculp­tures, then Ter­raTech is Lego bricks for cre­at­ing ve­hi­cles and ma­chines of all shapes and sizes. Whether it’s trucks, tanks, planes, space­ships, wacky hy­brids, or some­thing new, you can as­sem­ble it and give it a whirl. Once they’re built, the open-world sand­box en­vi­ron­ment lets you freely ex­plore and test out your cre­ations, or you can jump into a cam­paign with com­bat el­e­ments or en­ter Gaunt­let Chal­lenge time-trial races. There’s even a com­pet­i­tive mul­ti­player mode, al­though it could re­ally use a more freeform, col­lab­o­ra­tive on­line mode. In any case, there should be plenty of fun within.

9. The Univer­sim

Price: £22.99 from Steam (fave.co/2Qu2­fuf)

Like the clas­sic god games of yore, The Univer­sim is vast and com­plex, with in­ter­con­nected sys­tems gov­ern­ing the world and its in­hab­i­tants. Also, those in­hab­i­tants look kind of ridicu­lous, flail­ing around as you use your godly in­flu­ence to give, take, at­tack, drop in dis­as­ters, and do just about any­thing else your heart de­sires. Start­ing with just a cou­ple of hu­man-like Nuggets on the ground be­low, you’ll help shep­herd along their civ­i­liza­tion with ei­ther a strong hand or a re­laxed gaze, with many unique plan­ets to play with and un­ex­pected twists along the way. The Univer­sim is still in Early Ac­cess, so it’s not fully pol­ished or com­plete just yet, but the ini­tial re­sults look in­trigu­ing.

10. Time­spin­ner

Price: £14.99 from Steam (fave.co/2zNQ1a6)

It’s been a heck of a time lately for in­die ‘Metroid­va­nia’ games, in­clud­ing Ce­leste and Dead Cells and plenty more in be­tween, but if you’re still itch­ing for more, then Time­spin­ner seems like an­other com­pelling con­coc­tion. On the sur­face, this side-scrolling ad­ven­ture cer­tainly looks like an­other 16-bit relic from the Su­per Nin­tendo days. And while it’s built on some of the same genre el­e­ments ex­em­pli­fied by the Metroid and Castl­e­va­nia clas­sics, Time­spin­ner puts a unique twist on the for­mula by let­ting you stop time in bat­tle to gain an edge over foes. Along with magic orbs and Fa­mil­iars to train, this looks like yet an­other strong pick from a genre that’s ex­plod­ing with great­ness of late.

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