August's Mac games
Summer is coming to an end, and autumn will soon be upon us—which could mean less fun in the sun, and more fun in front of your Mac. Luckily, there’s always something new to play in the world of Mac gaming, and we’ve got a fresh batch of recent releases worth checking out.
Thrilling action-adventure game Shadow Complex Remastered and space strategy affair Master of Orion: Conquer the Stars are perhaps the biggest Mac releases of August, but don’t overlook compelling indie gems like Reigns, Metrico+, and Pan-Pan in the bunch. Just flip through the slides ahead to find out more about August’s most enticing Mac games, and nothing grabs your interest, then maybe July’s top releases will fill that void.
Shadow Complex Remastered
We’re accustomed to waiting for some games to hit the Mac, but really, seven years is a long time. Still, Shadow Complex Remastered ($15) was thankfully worth the wait, as it delivers the best modern take on Nintendo’s classic Super Metroid-style 2D adventure formula—and this brand new edition adds a bit more polish over the 2009 Xbox 360 original.
Shadow Complex sees you take control of Jason, a man who stumbles upon a top-secret facility while backpacking and uses its advanced tech to try and recover his kidnapped girlfriend—and save the United States, as well. As the quest unfolds, you’ll unlock more and more of the facility while also gaining exciting new suit upgrades and abilities, empowering you while making the game even tenser and more fun. It’s a fantastic game, even several years later.
Master of Orion: Conquer the Stars
MicroProse’s original Master of Orion is one of the old legends in the PC strategy game space, as the 1993 classic was considered the new gold standard for the 4X genre at the time. A couple of sequels followed, but this new entry—published by World of Tanks maker Wargaming—is the first release in 13 years.
Rather than toss out the old template, Master of Orion: Conquer the Stars ($30) starts with the same 10 classic alien races from the original and goes from there, letting you explore dozens of solar systems and research more than 75 technological advancements as you battle for the galaxy in turn-based skirmishes. Critical reviews widely consider it a simpler entry in the 4X strategy genre than some contemporaries, however, so die-hards might find less satisfaction than curious newcomers.
Super Time Force
Looking for a new-school take on old-school run-and-gun action? Super Time Force ($15) delivers just that, as this absolutely chaotic side-scrolling shooter finds you navigating bullet-drenched, retro-stylized landscapes as a futuristic warrior. You’ll take down loads of foes across six different eras in time, and you’ll not only blast through time but also control it.
Thanks to the time traveling mechanic, you can rewind time and pop back into the game at any point, only you’ll then have multiple versions of you shooting at the same time. It’s wild and also extremely silly and over-the-top, and the console and PC versions were pretty well-regarded when released back in 2014. It’s overdue on Mac, certainly, but fans of frenzied 8-bit action games shouldn’t miss it.
Reigns ($3) has been a recent favorite on iPhone, but if you’d rather play on your computer—or if you don’t have an iOS device, of course—then it’s both the same price and same experience there. In short, Reigns is a monarchy simulation in which you’re a newly-appointed king who must try to maintain order in the land. However, it’s not a stuffy, drawn-out experience.
Instead, each decision comes up as a card with a yes or no decision to make. Should we attack the land to the north? Do we build a dam? Should we give the church more power? Each call affects all of the different power structures in the land, and your downfall will come swiftly if you don’t balance all of those demands. It’s super funny and really smartly designed, too, and games last minutes rather than hours.
After more than two decades, Team17’s vaunted artillery combat series remains one of the rare reasons that hearing “You’ve got Worms” is actually a positive. Well, at least that seems to be the case with this new entry. The series has bounced between 2D and 3D entries over the years, sometimes of varying quality, but Worms W.M.D ($30) is being hailed as a return to form.
It captures the gameplay design of 1999’s still-celebrated Worms Armageddon, albeit with modern tweaks and flourishes, and the goal is still to use your militarily-equipped annelids to dominate the enemy forces—whether playing solo or in local or online multiplayer modes. So yes, if you love Worms, go ahead and bug out over W.M.D.
Charts and graphs might not seem like the most thrilling things in life, but they provide the basis of this inventive puzzle-platform game. Metrico+ ($14) is an enhanced version of an indie game from the PlayStation Vita handheld, and it challenges your hero to navigate challenging terrain that reacts to your own movements and interactions.
It’s not simply a matter of getting from one place to the next, Super Mario-style, as the bars, lines, figures, and other geometric shapes change based on your various actions. Essentially, you’ll not only need to physically move through the level, but figure out how to do that based on the shifting environment and your abilities. Metrico+ might hurt your brain a little, but hopefully only in a very good way.
Pan-Pan ($13) is a beautiful little indie adventure that drops you into large, open environments and challenges you to solve their riddles. You’ll need to remain observant as you look for items and solutions, and see how some things in the world affect others.
Puzzle-solving is the primary objective in Pan-Pan, but this seems like a world you’d want to just wander around in, soaking in the attractive low-polygon sights and meeting its myriad characters. It almost reminds me a bit of iOS smash Monument Valley in tone and look. Pan-Pan is relatively compact, only offering about a few hours of challenges to overcome, but you’ll probably want to spend extra time exploring and enjoying the bright atmosphere.
Monsters and Monocles
From the makers of early iOS favorite Velocispider comes Monsters and Monocles ($15),which is currently available in Early Access via Steam. It’s a chaotic, top-down shooter in which up to four players (local or online) can work together to blast through wild waves of foes—all with a cartoonish, Victorian steampunk aesthetic to boot.
It’s similar in approach to great games like Nuclear Throne and Enter the Gungeon, and uses procedurally-generated levels and enemy batches so there’s always something new to play. Even though Early Access means it’s not final and will continue to evolve and expand, Steam user reviews are largely positive and say it’s pretty polished for a pre-release experience.
The Final Station
Haven’t tired of post-apocalyptic games just yet? If so, then check out The Final Station ($15). Part simulation and part combat game, The Final Station tasks you with commanding a train through a world overrun with violent, infected humans—which means it’s up to you to protect your passengers and ensure everyone’s trip doesn’t end early… or messily.
As the warrior-conductor in question, you’ll rely on limited resources to keep the train safe and moving, and blast through the sickly swarms when you do have to stop. Crafting is essential, as is scavenging for supplies when possible, and you’ll encounter some big showdowns at stations across the five-chapter journey. Hope you can make it to the end in one (healthy) piece.
Staying atop a fast-moving snowboard as a horse would probably be both very challenging and incredibly, delightfully silly—so it’s a good thing that Snow Horse ($6) delivers on both counts. This oddball indie game puts you in that exact scenario, tasking you with keeping the steed upright on the board as he makes his way through the powder-packed terrain.
Each attempt lasts for as long as you can keep the horse from crashing, and as an extreme sports game, you can naturally pull off gnarly flips and tricks, grind on rails, and vault well up into the sky to reach suspended platforms… so long as the horse doesn’t land on the wrong side. Snow Horse is goofy, of course, but it’s also pretty fun (and also on iOS for just $2).