February's Mac games
Need something fresh to play on your Mac? Luckily, February brought a pretty compelling stack of fresh game releases, and we’ve picked 10 that should absolutely be on your radar. Torment: Tides of Numenera is arguably the month’s most anticipated release, as the long-awaited spiritual successor to isometric role-playing classic Planescape Torment is finally here.
Other noteworthy releases for February include indie gem Night in the Woods, cooperative naval battler and pirate simulator Blackwake, and the free The Long War 2 mod for XCOM 2, but we have plenty more options within. And if nothing strikes your fancy in this batch, be sure to loop back on January’s top picks for even more recent Mac gaming goodness.
Torment: Tides of Numenera ($45)
Amongst PC role-playing fans, 1999’s Planescape: Torment is regarded as one of the most daring and beloved games of all time—and it became playable on Mac later via GOG.com. A proper sequel to the Dungeons & Dragons-related game was never made, but Torment: Tides of Numenera, a high-profile spiritual successor, has just released.
Tides of Numenera holds closely to the original top-down design, and luckily, it keeps the quality as well: PCWorld's 4.5-star review says "there is perhaps no single RPG in the last decade more consistently surprising and delightful than Torment: Tides of Numenera." Developed by inXile Entertainment and releasing more than two years after the target from its $4 million Kickstarter campaign, it's surely the biggest and buzziest Mac game of February.
Night in the Woods ($20)
Cat-person Mae Borowski is 20 years old and has freshly dropped out of college – so she’s back in her depressed hometown for the first time in two years, aimless and trying to resume her old life. Of course, the town of Possum Springs has changed, her past relationships have shifted, and now some very weird things are happening at night.
That’s the premise of Night in the Woods, and while it might sound a bit mundane, it hits hard with funny and poignant dialogue, absolutely delightful visuals, and a great soundtrack to boot. You’ll explore the town, chat up the locals, make decisions along the way, and even play music… and poke a dismembered arm with a stick. This long-awaited indie is plenty intriguing, and has earned some rave reviews from Steam users and critics alike.
Just launched in Early Access a few days ago, Blackwake seems well on its way to becoming a Steam sensation—it already has more than 1,000 positive user reviews as of this writing, and they’re mostly glowing. This naval simulator puts you in the boots of a pirate on a vessel, and you’ll have to work together with other online players to defeat rival crews… and have a lot of fun along the way.
Blackwake lets up to 16 players work together on a crew, with up to 54 total players allowed per match, so multiple large factions can battle at sea. It’s full of humor and hilarious-looking deaths, and you’ll need to coordinate with your squad to keep your ship afloat and use maximum firepower. Early Access means it’s unfinished and could have bugs, but it doesn’t seem to be dampening many players’ enjoyment so far.
Hidden Folks ($8)
Essentially a black-and-white and digital evolution of the old Where’s Waldo? books, Hidden Folks tasks you with finding people, creatures, and various items across large, animated illustrations. Each of the 15+ environments offers several targets to seek out, with more than 120 in total, and the levels vary widely in terrain, size, and density.
But they all feel very alive and highly enticing. You’ll need to tap open doors and tents, move objects, and solve light puzzles, and every interaction is paired with a vocalized sound effect, which gives Hidden Folks a very charming, homemade feel to it. The low-key, pressure-free design makes this an ideal game to noodle over during a quiet evening on the couch or in bed, although there’s an iOS version too for half the price—it’s perfect for iPad.
XCOM 2: The Long War 2
Firaxis’ XCOM 2 was one of last year’s must-play Mac games, just like XCOM: Enemy Unknown and Enemy Within before it—but if you’ve already poured in dozens of hours into the game, you might be looking for a fresh challenge. Luckily, The Long War 2 mod is now available and compatible with Mac (via Steam), and it’s both officially sanctioned and totally free to play.
You’ll need the original game to run it, and The Long War 2 not only provides a much longer campaign to play (as the name suggests), but also a much harder one. It'll change your battlefield tactics in a number of ways, forcing you to ditch your tried-and-true techniques and learn new ways to dispatch the aliens in this extensive tactical campaign. Like the original Long War mod for Enemy Unknown/Within, it’s an essential add-on for serious fans.
Detention actually released back in January, but what we might have overlooked at first has quickly become one of the most talked-about Mac games in recent memory. This survival horror experience is set in Taiwan in the 1960s, with two high school students trapped and forced to explore an eerie high school campus to try and escape.
It’s set during a time of martial law and draws from Taoism, Buddhism, and Chinese mythology to add a very unique and local flavor, while the point-and-click side-scrolling approach and puzzles give it a unique feel for the genre. Detention has earned “Overwhelmingly Positive” reviews from thousands of Steam users so far, and horror fans shouldn’t miss this initially under-the-radar release.
Guts and Glory ($10)
Guts and Glory looks delightfully demented and gleefully gruesome. In fact, the head-turning Steam description really says it best: “A game about father and son riding their bicycle through obstacle courses of death, and other fun family experiences.” Yeah, exactly.
Manning a tandem bike through paths filled with spinning saw blades and spiked barriers is meant to be hilarious, and Guts and Glory certainly looks the part, with exaggerated and totally gory death animations. The game has plenty of other wacky situations on offer, with cars, ATVs, and other vehicles in play, plus you can build and share your own courses with Steam Workshop. It’s in Early Access right now, with promises of monthly content additions pulled from community suggestions.
911 Operator ($15)
Manning the phones for emergency services sounds like an incredibly stressful job… so, of course, now it's a video game. 911 Operator puts you on the other side of the line as people call for assistance with fires, accidents, and injuries, or occasionally call in threats, or sometimes make prank calls. It's your job to decide what's real and what must be prioritized.
The game features more than 50 recorded calls for you to respond to, and you'll choose branching dialogue paths to help with emergencies, direct police officers, firefighters, and paramedics to scenes using the computer, and try to juggle the mayhem along the way. You can even play on any city map in the world using the OpenStreetMap database.
We Are Chicago ($15)
We Are Chicago is probably unlike any game you’ve ever played, more so in premise and approach than anything. It’s a story about growing up on the rough south side of Chicago, where shootings and other criminal acts are distressingly common and young people struggle to escape the cycle of violence. You’ll guide one of those youngsters, a teenager named Aaron, over the course of a week as he tries to push back against the violence and survive.
It’s a narrative experience more than anything, as you’ll make dialogue choices and interact with characters in the neighborhood. Unfortunately, reviews have been largely critical, praising the admirable focus and attempt at moving storytelling, but knocking the level of interactivity, presentation, and lack of depth.
Inspired by side-scrolling adventure classics like Metroid and Castlevania, Forma.8 puts a new twist on the genre by putting you in command of a flying sphere. You’ll navigate the striking 2D environments, which look a bit like those of Badland, all while blasting enemies, solving puzzles, discovering secrets, and securing upgrades that enhance your capabilities.
There haven’t been a lot of reviews for Forma.8 just yet, whether from critics or average buyers, but there’s some solid praise for its mysterious tone and quiet, almost lonely feel compared to more action-packed and relentless genre entries. On the other hand, the lack of clear objectives or a helping hand could drive some players away, although the sense of intrigue seems like a strong allure.