March's Mac games
The Mac App Store didn’t get the same kind of promotion that brought so many great indie games to the iOS App Store this month, but that’s OK—March brought macOS players plenty of great options to consider. Atmospheric puzzler The Witness leads the latest stack of releases, giving you a vast island of conundrums to solve, but there’s plenty more in the mix.
For example, Thimbleweed Park brings a dash of old-school point-and-click adventuring to Mac, while Out of the Park Baseball 18 looks like another strategic home run, Day of Infamy delivers tense shootouts, and Don’t Drop the Bass is a party game about both fish and instruments. Check out the 10 most intriguing Mac games of the last month, and if you don’t jump on anything here, be sure to loop back on February’s picks, as well.
The Witness ($40)
Did you play Braid? Released on Mac in 2009, it was one of the first big sensations of the modern indie movement, delivering a puzzle-platformer take on the classic Super Mario design that folded in time travel and an emotional gut-punch. The Witness is creator Jonathan Blow’s long-awaited follow-up, and while it’s a different kind of experience, it’s likewise highly impressive.
Set on a stunning, colorful island, The Witness is a first-person puzzle adventure that finds you exploring the terrain, observing clues from nature, and solving puzzles to overcome the obstacles in your path. It’s vast and challenging, with 650-plus puzzles and plenty of patience needed along the way, but The Witness has earned rave reviews from critics and buyers alike.
Thimbleweed Park ($20)
Anyone with an itch for old-school point-and-click adventures shouldn’t miss Thimbleweed Park. It’s a throwback quest styled like classic LucasArts genre entries like Maniac Mansion and The Secret of Monkey Island… because it’s designed by Ron Gilbert and Gary Winnick, two of the original creators of those legendary games.
In look, feel, and interaction, Thimbleweed Park really seems to nail the homage with its murder mystery set in the oddball, titular town in 1987. After a body is discovered, you’ll control five different characters as you unravel the tale, soak in the plentiful jokes, and solve what are sure to be some really challenging brain-teasers. And as you might imagine, you won’t need high-end hardware to run it!
Out of the Park Baseball 2018 ($40)
The long-running baseball strategy series is back for the 2017 season with Out of the Park Baseball 2018—yes, 2018! As before, it’s officially licensed by both Major League Baseball and the Player’s Association, meaning you’ll be able to manage all of the big-league teams and players from either the general manager’s suite or from the dugout.
This isn’t a hands-on simulation: you’ll never swing the bat or throw or catch the ball. Instead, you’ll navigate menus as you build and improve your team, as well as dictate on-the-field strategy. Out of the Park 2018 has up-to-date rosters, as well as international teams, an enhanced 3D mode, and a Challenge mode for competing against your online friends.
88 Heroes ($15)
We’ve all played games with one hero, or maybe a few—but 88 in total? Well, that’s just crazy. And yet that’s exactly what you’ll find in 88 Heroes, a retro-stylized platform game that truly features that many playable characters, spread across 88 different rooms in enemy Dr. H8’s base, and each stage must be completed within 88 seconds. Yes, really.
Luckily, the characters live up to the absurd premise. You’ll play as a hamster in a ball, a bomb-laying chicken, a basketball star, a snake that winds through the stage like in mobile classic Snake, and plenty more ridiculous leads. I can’t help but admire 88 Heroes for its dedication to its shtick, but it also looks like a pretty fun old-school action game in the process.
Day of Infamy ($20)
Once upon a time, well before its modern-to-futuristic fixation, the first-person shooter genre was primarily based in World War II. Day of Infamy remembers these days well: it’s actually an officially-sanctioned homage to Day of Defeat, a classic, World War II-themed mod for the original Half-Life from way back when.
Luckily, you don’t need any other games to play Day of Infamy, which splits its intense close-quarters action between competitive and cooperative multiplayer scenarios. It spans 10 maps set across Southern and Western Europe, and provides an array of objectives to complete, not to mention various player classes to command in battle. Day of Infamy isn’t the most polished-looking game you’ll play this year, but Steam user reviews are widely positive so far.
Cosmic Express ($10)
Draknek must have a knack for incredibly adorable, incredibly unique puzzle games, because after making A Good Snowman is Hard to Build—a tricky game about rolling up perfect snowmen—they’ve returned with Cosmic Express.
Also available on iOS for half the price, Cosmic Express challenges you to “plan the train route for the universe’s most awkward space colony.” Each level gives you a compact area full of aliens and their destinations, and you’ll need to build a track that gets each creature to its stop without overcrowding or leaving anyone stranded. It seems pretty straightforward at first, but Cosmic Express’ challenge builds quickly and requires plenty of planning to solve each conundrum.
A winter blizzard might not be the most unique of video game locations, but Northern Canada in 1970? Yeah, that’s pretty original. Kona uses that setting to tell its story, as you take the role of Carl Faubert, a well-known private detective. Your job? Find out who’s been vandalizing the wilderness manor of the rich W. Hamilton.
Stranded in Kona by a snowstorm, you’ll get to know the seemingly abandoned terrain as you attempt to solve the mystery, although the game also twists into a bit of a survival experience amidst the quiet outdoors. Kona promises a surreal and atmospheric quest in this frigid and isolating adventure.
Don't Drop the Bass ($5)
Kona is solitary and unnerving, but Don’t Drop the Bass is social and simply hilarious. As the name suggests, you must avoid the grim fate of having a live bass—yes, the fish—fall on the ground. You’ll keep that from happening by continuing to bounce the fish up in the air using wooden boards, with up to four local players able to participate in this ongoing struggle.
Ever bounced a balloon up in the air with your limbs and tried to keep it from hitting the ground? It’s just like that, albeit now in video game form with curious power-ups, musical instruments (yes, that bass too), and varying play modes for same-screen fun. If you like your games delightfully weird, then Don’t Drop the Bass should fit the bill perfectly.
For the King ($15)
Blending turn-based role-playing battles with strategic action, For the King is an indie adventure with a lot of heart and charm. When the titular leader falls and the kingdom of Fahrul erupts into anarchy, the queen asks the citizens to help restore order and fight against impending threats—and you’ll lead a party against monsters ahead.
The blend of RPG and strategy elements comes into play in the world, where you may have to decide whether to keep your party intact or split up to explore more ground—a decision that could come back to haunt you. Survival elements look to add some challenge, plus you can play cooperatively with one or two other players. For the King is currently in Early Access on Steam, which means it’s still unfinished and may lack polish.
Cossacks 3 ($20)
The original Cossacks: European Wars might be one of those games that real-time strategy fans pined for back when, but the 2000 original and its 2005 sequel never made it over to Mac. Luckily, the new entry, Cossacks 3, has just made the leap to macOS after last year’s PC debut.
Cossacks 3 is actually a remake of the original game, so you’ll get a fresher take on the original experience… after 17 years of waiting. You’ll play as one of 16 nations in 17th and 18th century Europe, with gargantuan battles featuring upwards of 32,000 soldiers at once. Through a blend of building, research, and combat skill, you’ll attempt to prove your supremacy across five solo campaigns and various multiplayer maps. Reviews have been pretty mixed on PC, however.