October's Mac games
Looking for huge new Mac games, intriguing bite-sized indies, and everything in between? We’ve got you covered with our look at the top titles released during the month of October. Minecraft: Story Mode leads the pack, with the episodic series delivering the first official story content in the block-centric phenomenon, while Alien: Isolation – The Collection brings the raved-about movie game to Mac with all the add-on content bundled in.
And that’s not all. Indie games like Read Only Memories, Mushroom 11, and The Beginner’s Guide have made waves in recent weeks, while Prison Architect finds the unsettling fun in building and maintaining a maximum security facility. Find those games and more within, and if you need more recent options, be sure to flip back to September’s list as well.
Minecraft: Story Mode
Minecraft has more than 70 million users across platforms, and many of them have used the open sandbox to create their own adventures—but an official storyline and characters? That’s heresy. Or is it? Minecraft: Story Mode ($25) thankfully doesn’t try to crowbar a narrative into the existing game; instead, it’s an episodic spinoff series that uses the block-based universe to tell one of surely many stories.
The first episode establishes the tone and heroes: Blocky teens who dream of quests and quickly find themselves thrown into one. Telltale Games’ multi-part adventures are typically for adults (see: The Walking Dead), but the amusing dialogue and colorful graphics give Minecraft: Story Mode an all-ages appeal. And the tale will change and evolve based on your decisions, with the second episode just dropping and three more coming as part of the $25 season.
Alien: Isolation – The Collection
Finally: a great new Alien game. While we’ve seen a couple hits over the years, the Alien name has been plastered on a lot more junk. Luckily, Alien: Isolation ($60) isn’t that—in fact, it’s arguably the best thing the franchise has produced since the first two movies. Isolation succeeds by replicating the fear and helplessness of the original film, trapping you on a decrepit space station with the very intelligent titular foe.
It’s about a year late on Mac, but at least the delay means you get everything in one bundle. The Collection includes all of the add-on PC content, most notably a couple of standalone missions in which you are part of the original Alien crew on the Nostromo. For die-hard fans, those alone might justify the expense.
SimCity for a maximum security prison? Talk about an unnerving challenge. As the title suggests, Prison Architect ($30) puts you in charge of designing an ever-expanding prison, but you’re not just drawing up plans and cashing checks—you have to keep the inmates happy, too. Well, not happy: Complacent enough that they don’t try to kill each other or overcome the potential weaknesses in your design, rather.
Prison Architect has drawn raves, in part because the open-ended design also allows the game to be interpreted and enjoyed in varying ways. You can play it for fun, or you can take into account the seriousness of the subject matter—which undermines the “fun” but makes it no less engrossing. As PCWorld says in its 4-star review, Prison Architect forces you to “make tough choices with no good solutions.”
Read Only Memories
Love cyberpunk? Got a thing for dystopian futures? Do you know what Bubblegum Crisis and Snatcher are without clicking the links for context? Well, if any of those things are true, then you should probably check out Read Only Memories ($15). And even if not, this indie adventure game is one of the most appealing throwback games we’ve seen recently.
Read Only Memories is set in Neo-San Francisco in the year 2064, as you interact with the world’s first self-aware robot. It’s a point-and-click adventure that’s heavy on dialogue, albeit with gorgeous pixel graphics of characters and backdrops, and a super slick cyberpunk sensibility about it. A diverse cast and inclusive tone only make it seem sweeter.
No, you didn’t miss the first 10 Mushroom games—and in fact, Mushroom 11 ($15) won’t feel much like anything you’ve seen in the past thanks to an interesting core play mechanic. It’s a puzzle-platformer with a curious twist: You’ll continually destroy your creature to make it push forward through the side-scrolling stages.
It’s an amorphous, blob-like fungus at your command, and you must guide it through each post-apocalyptic level by trimming away at its edges. Doing so nudges the organism ahead as it regenerates, and you’ll need to carefully manipulate it to overcome physics challenges and the like. Mushroom 11 has a cool look and an even cooler soundtrack, thanks to The Future Sound of London, and should be a nicely brainy little challenge.
The Beginner's Guide
If you like games that are equally surreal and experimental, then you can’t miss The Beginner’s Guide ($10). It hails from Davey Wreden, creator of the beloved The Stanley Parable, but it’s even less of a typical game. As the Steam description reads, “It lasts about an hour and a half and has no traditional mechanics, no goals or objectives. Instead, it tells the story of a person struggling to deal with something they do not understand.”
You’ll play through a series of very different levels created by Wreden’s “friend” while Wreden himself provides narration and insight into the fictional creator. It’s a very personal exploration from Wreden himself—“fiercely personal or painfully self-indulgent,” actually, according to PCWorld—but it’s crucial that you avoid spoilers or expectations going in. Still interested? If so, it’s surely worth your $10.
Civilization: Beyond Earth – Rising Tide
Sid Meier’s Civilization series is legendary in its ability to steal away your time with wondrous, large-scale strategic action, and spinoff Beyond Earth was well received last year for taking that design into new, sci-fi territory. Now, the Rising Tide ($30) expansion (which requires the full Beyond Earth game) is here to build out the premise even further.
The biggest enhancement may be the ability to create floating cities atop the water, as well as access resources found in the depths below. You’ll also contend with new world types—Primordial and Frigid—along with dynamic leader traits, fresh diplomatic options, and other little additions that help create a more robust overall experience.
Tales from the Borderlands: Season One
It’s a Telltale double dip this month: while one series (Minecraft: Story Mode) starts up, another sees its first season come to an end. We spotlighted Tales from the Borderlands on iOS earlier this year, but it’s also on Mac—and in any case, the episodic series has only become more widely acclaimed and enthusiastically received as the five-part season carried on.
While based on the Borderlands first-person shooter series, you don’t need to be a die-hard fan to enjoy Tales from the Borderlands ($25); hell, you don’t even need to have played those games. Tales builds a really funny and eventful standalone quest from the offbeat, post-apocalyptic universe, and does so in a way that makes it feel like a compelling, individual project. And the first episode is free on iOS now if you need a taste before buying the full season.
Human Resource Machine
After the brilliant World of Goo and quietly captivating Little Inferno, it’s fair to say that the folks at Tomorrow Corporation have our attention with any new release. As such, Human Resource Machine ($10) already grabbed our eye when it popped up on Steam mid-month, but no surprise: There’s a pretty interesting game behind the familiar aesthetic.
It’s a game built around programming basics: As a corporate manager, you’re tasked with automating your workers’ tasks, and that means figuring out how to build their routine with basic code. Human Resource Machine requires no coding knowledge whatsoever: It’s a fun game that happens to subtly teach you programming principles along the way. And the trademark sense of humor from the earlier games is certainly evident here.
It’s quite obvious that Trove (free) wouldn’t exist—at least in its current form—in a world without Minecraft, given the clearly shared voxel aesthetic. With that out of the way, Trove takes that starting point and spins it out into something else: Where Minecraft is just a sandbox to shape, Trion Worlds’ online game actually has quests, missions, loot, and all the other good stuff that keeps you hacking and slashing away.
It’s massively multiplayer, so you’ll play alongside a whole community of heroes, plus it’s free-to-play—so you can get started and play without a big initial spend. Despite its stronger focus on action, Trove still lets you build out structures and create your own experience, but there’s a lot more traditional gameplay to soak in, as well.