October's Mac games
Been a while since you played a new Mac game? Well, it’s a pretty great time to change that, as October brought us a nice stack of standout releases. Sid Meier’s Civilization VI is easily the biggest of the bunch, launching the same week as the PC version and delivering an even larger and more engrossing take on the legendary turn-based strategy experience.
Other large-scale options this month include Farming Simulator 17 and Mad Max, while smaller indies like Oh… Sir! The Insult Simulator, GoNNER, and Burly Men at Sea all have their charms as well. And if you don’t see your next Mac game obsession in this batch, be sure to loop back on our picks from September, as well.
Sid Meier's Civilization VI
Wave hello to your new time sink, strategy fans. Firaxis Games’ beloved historical simulation series is back with a brand-new entry, and Sid Meier’s Civilization VI ($60) is another massive and wildly in-depth experience that’s well worth getting lost in. While the primary goal of building up and advancing a classic civilization remains intact, the latest entry brings some neat tweaks.
For example, cities now span multiple tiles, letting you play better with the local terrain and customize the layout as you wish, plus the Active Research feature lets you make faster progress over time through varying objectives. Our sister site PCWorld gave Civilization VI a 4-star review, saying it’s stronger than Civilization V was upon release—and it’s sure to get better through updates and expansions.
Farming Simulator 17
While some of our readers might be incredulous to hear that a game like Farming Simulator 17 ($35) exists, the millions (yes, millions) of people who bought the last entry are probably pretty pumped to get back into the digital fields. Giants Software’s game is something of a surprise phenomenon, but it’s back in action and the new entry sounds like a huge experience.
You can command hundreds of acres of land and drive more than 250 real-life farming vehicles, with new types of crops (sunflowers!) and livestock (pigs!) in the mix, along with forestry elements and even trains to commandeer. Farming Simulator 17 also has 16-player online cooperative play, along with the ability to download and install mods.
Originally released last fall on other platforms, the official Mad Max ($30) game just made the leap to Mac, bringing vehicular action and raw on-foot combat set in a desert wasteland. It’s not a direct tie-in with last year’s brilliant Mad Max: Fury Road, but you’ll play as Max and be able to find the same kinds of thrills within the seemingly endless, open landscape.
Car customization is a big part of the experience, as you can augment your ride (the Magnum Opus) with parts and weapons scavenged or stolen in the world, and that’ll come in handy when you’re fending off aggressive foes trying to bash you into oblivion. Mad Max also wasn’t as acclaimed as Fury Road, but critics’ reviews were slightly better-than-average for licensed games.
Oh… Sir! The Insult Simulator
We covered the original prototype version of this game, which was built in 42 hours for a game jam and released freely last December, but now the developers have expanded it out into a much richer experience—and it’s still only $2. As the title implies, Oh… Sir! The Insult Simulator ($2) is seemingly the first of its kind: a competitive game built around brutal verbal slams.
Each player takes a turn picking a term out of the shared pool, all in the hopes of building the most savage (and grammatically correct) insult to toss the other way, and there’s a delightfully British sensibility about it all. Along with enhanced graphics, this version features online play, a tournament mode, and different scenarios to battle within.
Jackbox Party Pack 3
Jackbox makes the best trivia and party games around—see You Don’t Know Jack, Quiplash, and Drawful—and now they’ve dropped a whole new bundle to busy up your next bash. The Jackbox Party Pack 3 ($25) comes with five fresh games and is headlined by Quiplash 2, the expanded “say anything” party game in which players vote on the best answer to a prompt.
Elsewhere in the package is the horror-themed Trivia Murder Party, the stats-centric Guesspionage, the white lie-rewarding Fakin’ It, and Tee K.O., a game about comparing witty t-shirt slogans. Sound silly? We’re absolutely sure of it, but nobody does it better than Jackbox. All can be played with paired phones and tablets as controllers, and nearly every game supports up to eight players (Fakin’ It only allows up to six).
Blast-happy players will certainly want to put GoNNER ($10) on their radar right now. This side-scrolling shoot-‘em-up/platformer has drawn comparisons to the great Downwell on iOS, serving up a series of procedurally-generated environments filled with enemies for you to decimate. You can shoot foes or jump atop them, plus there are backpacks and different heads you’ll find that bring special abilities as you clear the challenging areas.
GoNNER seems to have a nicely oddball personality too: it’s about an initially-headless creature who goes out in search of a special item to please his sad land-whale friend, which somehow leads to all of this stylized violence. Critics and Steam reviewers alike are largely loving it.
The stealth-action genre has become increasingly dominated by military-centric entries like Metal Gear Solid and Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell, but Aragami ($20) seems like a throwback to the classic Tenchu series. This stealth-centric affair lets you play as a skilled ninja assassin, and he’s got some pretty astounding tricks up his sleeve.
For example, he can manipulate shadows to shroud him in his approach on enemies, teleport short distances to get the jump on a foe, or summon a shadow dragon to devour someone. You can choose to let people live, but with over-the-top attacks like that, why bother? The cel-shaded art design looks spectacular, as well.
Rocksmith 2014 Edition – Remastered
Despite the rather peculiar title, Rocksmith 2014 Edition – Remastered ($40) seems worth a look from anyone still curious about the guitar-centric game, and certainly anyone who already owns the 2014 Edition. Essentially, this expanded re-release and free upgrade for the existing game brings in some helpful tweaks and adds a handful of extra songs.
Unlike Guitar Hero or Rock Band, Ubisoft’s Rocksmith uses a real guitar as its main instrument, and you’ll need the physical Real Tone Cable to play—but you can use whatever kind of guitar you want. Rocksmith has been credited with teaching a new generation of guitar players, but it’s also meant to be a fun game, and finds that fine line between the two experiences.
Burly Men at Sea
For anyone who seeks a break from tedium and has a thirst for adventure, Burly Men at Sea ($10) may be for you. To be clear, it’s not a game that lets you experience a lot of adventure: this adorable quest feels like a lightly interactive children’s book, letting you make small choices to guide the quest or peer around the environment to look for a next destination.
The ultra-minimal cartoonish aesthetic nails that storybook-like design, and although individual games may only last 10 to 20 minutes apiece, the branching paths allow for numerous single-session playthroughs. It’ll probably be too thin on in-depth gameplay for some, but Burly Men at Sea should charm the pants off of nearly anyone lured in by the look.
With its many millions of active players, Blizzard’s Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft feels like the de facto collectible card game today, but there are alternatives. Shadowverse (free) is the latest, although it appears to have garnered a significant following in Japan before getting translated into English. In fact, many of the Steam reviewers claim that it scratches an itch that Hearthstone simply cannot.
On the surface, however, they seem very similar: you’ll take turns playing a creature or hero card on the board, and then they’ll battle it out, while the 400+ collectible cards offer a load of deck variety. It’s a free-to-play game, too, which means pumping in money can bring big advantages, but at least you can try it out and probably play quite a bit without spending.