December's Mac games
We recently looked back on the year in Mac gaming, choosing 20 of the most exciting and essential releases of 2016—but game studios didn’t stop releasing games just because we were winding down for the holidays. Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun looks like one of 2016’s top tactical games, for example, while Dying Light and N++ both warrant serious attention.
Consider this a partial addendum to that 2016 wrap-up, but more vitally, it’s a look at the most enticing new Mac games that just released within the last few weeks. If you’re in the mood for something fresh and fun, these are the 10 games that grabbed our attention in December. And if you’re looking for other recent picks, our November 2016 list has a lot of goodness on tap, too.
Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun
Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun ($40) is a tactical stealth experience set in the Edo period in Japan, letting you guide five skilled assassins as you serve the Shogun to defeat resistance fighters across the land. And you’ll command multiple heroes at once in many cases, using their differing abilities to work together to defeat the immense enemy forces.
What makes Shadow Tactics so intriguing is the overhead perspective—unique for a stealth-action experience—and the measured pace, as you’ll need to consider each move to find success in these tense battles. Steam user reviews are absolutely glowing, with players calling it one of the best games of 2016 and a tribute to the old-school Commandos military tactics series, plus there’s a free demo available if you’re curious.
Dying Light: The Following – Enhanced Edition
The title might be a mouthful, but Dying Light ($60) is a game worth knowing if the premise of bashing through—or leaping over—loads of zombies excites you. The core game finds you trying to survive in an open city full of disease-packing attackers, with the added ability of parkour skills to vault up walls and across rooftops. Of course, you can also use and craft weapons if you prefer to dispatch them violently instead.
This complete package also comes with The Following expansion, which drops a sequel-sized chunk of bonus content into the game. Personal acrobatics are swapped for fun-filled dirt buggies amidst the massive new setting, and it makes the overall experience impressively vast. All told, it’s a fun and exciting zombie romp that can keep you playing for quite some time.
The makers of N++ ($15) say they’ve spent the last 12 years “perfecting the platformer,” and given the “Overwhelmingly Positive” reviews on Steam and 90 score on Metacritic, it seems a fair number of people agree with them. N++ doesn’t have the visual punch of a Super Mario or Rayman game (that’s an actual stage in the screenshot), but it features some of the toughest and most rewarding platform-hopping action you’ve ever seen in a game.
And loads of it: N++ includes 2,360 different handmade levels to conquer, as you’ll use your momentum to thrust a tiny ninja through mazes filled with murderous robots and other hazards. N began life as a Flash game and then became N+ on consoles, but N++ is the grandest realization of the concept to date—and an “Ultimate Edition” update will nearly double the content in early 2017.
Lara Croft Go
If you don’t have a current smartphone or tablet—or simply prefer not to play games on touch devices—then you probably missed out on Lara Croft Go ($10), one of the best mobile adaptations of a classic game franchise to date. Like Hitman Go before it, this smart puzzler finds the iconic Tomb Raider heroine trying to solve her way through a series of environmental puzzles.
While the play-at-your-pace design makes a lot of sense for smaller screens and on-the-go attention spans, now you can play it on Mac with this new Steam release. It’s a great experience on any platform: this is a challenging, yet approachable puzzle game, not to mention a spinoff that maintains the essence of the action/adventure source material. And it’s a really attractive little game, to boot.
Five Nights at Freddy’s built an effective survival horror experience around cute and cuddly creatures, and now Tattletail ($5) is here to follow in its footsteps. This compact creeper is designed around the premise of a fake talking plush toy sensation from the late 90s… and there’s a rumor about a recalled Mama Tattletail with a protective urge and a thirst for blood.
To keep Mama at bay, you’ll need to satisfy your strange Tattletail toy’s demands to keep him silent, which means feeding and recharging him—as well as keeping yourself quiet as you wander through your dark home. Like FNAF, the silly starting point here gives way to surprise scares, and the handful of early Steam reviews are all pretty positive so far.
Her Majesty's SPIFFING
Brexit has seemingly been bad news all around in the real world, and in Her Majesty’s SPIFFING ($19), the Queen of England has responded by dissolving Parliament, restoring her rule, and finding a new way to build power: by sending a hero into space to claim a Galactic British Empire. And that hero is you, Captain Frank Lee English, along with your companion, Aled.
This point-and-click adventure about the Special Planetary Investigative Force for Inhabiting New Galaxies (ahem, SPIFFING) finds you solving puzzles in space, interacting with an array of interesting characters, and soaking in plenty of strongly British humor. It’s supposed to be fairly short, only lasting a few hours in total, but it seems to make a strong impact while it lasts.
Please Don't Touch Anything 3D
It’s a simple request—that is, “don’t touch anything”—but when you see one big, red button on a control panel in front of you, the temptation to press it is very real indeed. And in Please Don’t Touch Anything 3D ($15), you actually do need to touch that button… which then brings up other buttons, knobs, switches, and screens, all of which also need to be used in the correct sequence.
Be careful: pressing the wrong button can lead to a nuclear apocalypse or other grim results, but that’s all part of the trial-and-error, puzzle-solving fun here. It’s a brain-twisting experience, and one that really takes advantage of the 3D environment all around you following the original 2D rendition. It’s also available on iPad and iPhone for $6, in case you’d rather have it mobile and/or cheaper.
If you find speedy racing games to be a bit too intense or stressful, then Drive!Drive!Drive! ($20) may not be for you. Why? Because it’s three racing games in one—or rather, it tosses you into three simultaneous races that you’ll need to manage by constantly switching from one track to the next. Yes, that is a totally crazy concept.
You’ll only actively control a car in one of the races at a time, with the A.I. steering your cars in the other, but the A.I. driving isn’t great—so you’ll want to switch frequently to try and nudge ahead on all three tracks and secure the overall victory. It’s as much of a management game as a racer, although with wild, rollercoaster-esque courses, Drive!Drive!Drive! is never tedious.
Snowball! ($3) also has an exclamation point in its name, but it’s actually a whole lot more chill than the last game on this list. This is a fairly low-key spin on pinball, but instead of playing within the confines of a traditional table, you’ll smack a rolling, human-sized snowball around a cartoonish version of a homemade mountain course.
It’s extremely charming at a glance, looking like the kind of gag that some friends would make at a ski resort, and the Super Nintendo-esque, 16-bit aesthetic only adds to the appeal. Snowball! seems a bit lightweight on the surface, but consider two things here: it’s only $3 on Mac (or $2 on iOS), plus there are plenty of secret areas to discover if you play the “table” the right way.
The Little Acre
Fans of old-school adventure games might get a kick out of The Little Acre ($13), a throwback quest with a cute ‘80s cartoonish look and a sweet-natured storyline about a separated family across multiple realms. It starts in Ireland in the 1950s, as Aiden seeks his missing father and ends up in a strange fantasy land—so Aiden’s own daughter Lily goes off in search of him.
You’ll play as both Aiden and Lily in this point-and-click affair, and between the hand-drawn look and voice acting, The Little Acre really does emulate the classic genre experiences in look and feel. Steam user reviews are more positive than critics, the latter of which claim that it’s too short and easy to really explore its characters and premise, but it looks like it could be a solid pick for anyone seeking something warm-hearted.