The 10 Mac games you need to play from December 2015

Kick off the new year by looking back at last month’s best games.

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December's Mac games

It’s the beginning of a new year, which means we’re all overwhelmed with lists telling us all about the great games and media we missed for the entire year, plus what we can expect ahead—we’ve got a few of those, as well. But you don’t need to look very far to find interesting new Mac games: In fact, we’ve got 10 more here that just debuted within the past month!

The chaotic blasting of Nuclear Throne, frantic bomb-diffusing teamwork of Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes, and sharp racing action of GRID Autosport lead our latest look at new Mac game releases, but we’ve also got an old strategy classic, a free (and hilarious) narrative experiment, and no less than two games starring birds in unfamiliar roles. If somehow you don’t find what you’re looking for here, be sure to hit November’s listing as well.


Nuclear Throne

From the makers of the brilliant Super Crate Box and Ridiculous Fishing comes Nuclear Throne ($12), a frantic, top-down shoot-‘em-all game in which you play as mutant trying to blast its way through the wasteland. Your goal? Ascend to the throne by battling through level after randomized level, choosing new mutations between stages, and anxiously killing all comers. 

The tricky thing about that? Well, Nuclear Throne takes its cues from the roguelike genre, so once you die, you’re done. You’ll probably play dozens, if not hundreds of times before actually pushing all the way through, but that’s no grim fate: The gunplay is satisfying, the lo-fi pixel graphics are a delight, and the pull to keep trying to go a little further is strong indeed.


Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes

Red wire or the blue wire? Well, diffusing a bomb is a lot more complicated than that in Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes ($15)—so you’ll need help. Actually, that’s what the experience hinges on. One player stares alone at the virtual bomb, which is adorned with buttons, wires, timers, symbols, and other surprises. And all of your other friends? They’re looking at the manual, whether printed out or on another screen, but they can’t see the bomb. 

The result is a lot of frantic communication—shouting, probably—to try and get the device disabled before it goes off, which reminds us a fair bit of the awesome Spaceteam. Grab a MacBook and print out the manual to ignite your next play party.

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GRID Autosport

It’s been a good while since we’ve had a big, comprehensive road racing simulator on Mac, but GRID Autosport ($40) is ready to fit the bill. Hailing from the developer behind the great Dirt off-road series, Autosport features a few different racing disciplines, letting you take part in touring car races, endurance events, street races, open-wheel showdowns, and more. 

GRID Autosport is big on options, with more than 75 cars included—like the McLaren 12C GT3, Drift-Tuned Mazda RX-7 (FD3S), and Pagan Zonda Revolución—and 22 courses, along with a full career mode and online competition. Previous entry GRID 2 shifted more towards street racing, but with Autosport, the series feels more like an all-around driving showcase.

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Aviary Attorney

The first of two (!) bird-centric games from December is Aviary Attorney ($15), a straight-up lawyer simulation where you play as the anthropomorphic fowl in Paris in the year 1848. If you know Capcom’s Phoenix Wright series, it looks similar to that: You’ll question witnesses around the city (including lions and tigers, oh my) and track down evidence to try and defend your clients. And there are multiple endings available, providing incentive to play again with different aims.

Beyond the novel animal kingdom focus, Aviary Attorney looks downright delectable, with public domain illustrations by 18th-century caricaturist J.J. Grandville used, along with a Romantic-era soundtrack from classic composer Camille Saint-Saëns. Oh, and it promises ample bird puns, which we can surely all get behind.

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Medieval II: Total War Collection

Tactical strategy nuts with Macs have Feral Interactive to thank for gradually filling in the blanks in the back catalog of one of the genre’s greatest franchises: Sega and Creative Assembly’s wide-ranging Total War series. And the latest is Medieval II: Total War Collection ($25), which arrives on Mac nine years after the debut of the core game on PC, but should still be warmly received by eager fans. 

Set across the 11th and 16th centuries and with many different factions to pick from those eras, you’ll build up a large city, field an army, and take it into large-scale, real-time battles. And even if the graphics look their age, the scale of the warfare is still impressive. This Mac App Store exclusive bundles in the Kingdoms expansion, too, so there’s loads to explore and enjoy.

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Dr. Langeskov, The Tiger, and The Terribly Cursed Emerald: A Whirlwind Heist

The Stanley Parable is a much-loved narrative experiment, and we’re starting to see the next projects from its makers. The recent Beginner’s Guide from creator Davey Wreden is an intriguing, perplexing meditation on game development, and now designer William Pugh has formed a new team to deliver Dr. Langeskov, The Tiger, and The Terribly Cursed Emerald: A Whirlwind Heist (free). 

It’s similar to The Stanley Parable in a sense, with first-person navigation paired with narration, although it’s very short and quite funny. While described as a “15-minute heist game,” things aren’t exactly what they seem. Best that we not say any more—it’s totally free, so grab it!

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The Sims 4: Get Together

If you’re still all wrapped up in EA’s long-running Sims franchise, then The Sims 4: Get Together ($40) might be worth a look. It’s an expansion pack—so you’ll need the full Sims 4 game to play it—but it adds a significant amount of content to the experience, along with a larger focus on social play and interactions. 

Get Together drops you into the European-inspired new world of Windenburg, where you can join or create a club and then go dancing, get behind the decks for an epic DJ set, grab coffee at a café, play foosball, and apparently make out in closets—that comes with the territory, we suppose! And if you missed it from earlier in the year, The Sims 4: Get to Work was the game’s first expansion.

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Hatoful Boyfriend: Holiday Star

Like we mentioned, December had an overwhelming surge of bird games—and the other is the stranger one of the two. Hatoful Boyfriend: Holiday Star ($10) is a winter-themed spinoff of the original entry, and both are dating simulators… starring birds, of course. Yup, it’s super weird. 

The Japanese visual novel sensation has been lovingly remade for English-speaking players, and you’ll navigate conversations as you try to woo various fowl friends. The pigeon boyfriends have anime-inspired transformations, as well, and Holiday Star features birds from the core game and new ones as well. Also, there’s apparently a military-themed side story in there somewhere. If bird romance catches your attention, we’d suggest playing the original first, which is currently discounted on Steam.


PewDiePie: Legend of the Brofist

If you read the title and rolled your eyes and/or scoffed in disgust, worry not: You’re in good company here. PewDiePie (a.k.a. Felix Kjellberg) is the YouTube star who has made millions of dollars streaming and reacting to video games, but does he really need a video game himself? Talk about a vanity project!

Amazingly, it’s a pretty good vanity project. Legend of the Brofist ($8) takes the form of an old-school, side-scrolling action game where you’ll hop atop enemies, leap between speeding cars, and zip through the skies in a fighter plane. It looks and sounds great, and plays pretty well too, although it’s so soaked in the YouTube personality’s humor and video life (including his girlfriend and pets) that it might seem totally baffling to the uninitiated.

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Oh… Sir!

While some games are worth digging into for hours and hours, others are better suited for a quick laugh—and luckily, this one is free. Oh… Sir! is a free-to-play insult simulator that lets you and another local player build out wonderfully dumb zingers to hurl at each other, adding terms and phrases from a pile of options as you go back and forth in competition.

There’s plenty of “Your Mother/Father” in there, along with much sillier (and properly British) fare and apparently a wicked Windows Vista slam, too. Oh… Sir! was created in 42 hours for a game jam—where it won second place, apparently—so it’s limited in scope. But pull it out amongst friends and it’s quite likely to crack everyone up for a bit.

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