Get 'em cheap
What’s even better than playing a great video game on your Mac? Playing a great game on your Mac that cost only a fraction of its usual asking price, of course. And now is the right time to make that happen, as the annual Steam Summer Sale is underway.
Until July 5, the leading digital games retailer is offering hundreds of Mac games at deep, deep discounts, including recent releases at 40 percent off or more, as well as some legendary favorites at just a few bucks apiece. We’ve scoured the listings (much like we did last year) and picked out the 10 deals that are just too irresistible to resist. Scroll through the slides to see which cheap games you should snag first.
Editor's note: This story was originally published on June 23, 2017. We updated it on June 30, 2017, to add in more great games on sale.
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor ($4)
Games based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings universe have been pretty hit or miss over the years, but Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor is a definite hit. This vast, open-world game thrusts you into Mordor as Talion, a ranger who returns from the dead infused with the wraith of the Elf Lord, Celebrimbor—and its powers, as well.
Shadow of Mordor takes inspiration from fellow open-world favorites like Assassin’s Creed and the Batman: Arkham games, but the legendary source material really elevates the quest. Also cool is the Nemesis system, in which enemies carry distinctive traits and have story threads that continue throughout the adventure, ramping up the sense of immersion. And it’s just $4 right now!
SOMA holds the rare distinction of having "Overwhelmingly Positive" user reviews on Steam, which means people are truly enjoying this eerie and rather unsettling experience. It's a sci-fi survival horror game about a man who finds himself in an underwater research facility, surrounded by machines… and the machines begin acting like they're human.
Freaky enough for you? SOMA trades in psychological scares more than physical ones, although there's plenty of gore and surprise threats in this first-person quest. Our sister site PCWorld loved SOMA, giving it a 5/5 score and claiming that "SOMA does BioShock better than BioShock ever did BioShock." High praise indeed for this atmospheric affair, which is 70 percent off right now.
Life is Strange: The Complete First Season ($5)
Launched last summer on Mac, Life is Strange is a one-of-a-kind episodic adventure series that puts you in the shoes of high-school student Max Caulfield—and Max has a secret skill. She can rewind time at will to try and set right problems and catastrophes of all shapes and sizes, but she soon finds out that playing with time doesn't come without consequences, no matter how "right" her revisions might seem.
Life is Strange has been praised for its emotional storytelling, characters, and willingness to tackle risqué topics, and now you can get the entire first season for cheap. The first episode is already free for anyone, while the rest is available right now for $5—that's 75 percent off. A prequel mini-series is due later this summer with a second season behind it, so now's the time to get caught up if you dig the first part.
Borderlands 2 ($5)
Borderlands 2 has a few years on it at this point, but it’s still one of the absolute best games around for wild, raucous gunplay. And it has loads and loads of guns—potentially billions of weapons, as they’re all procedurally generated with unique attributes, giving you plenty of incentive to shoot so you can snag more and more loot.
You’ll take the role of one of four vault hunters on the planet of Pandora, and you can work together to blast the freakish monsters and other odd enemies in the colorful terrain. Borderlands 2 is deeply, lovably offbeat and filled with eccentric characters, making it so much more than the average first-person shooter. And you can get the Game of the Year Edition for under $9, which bundles in a heap of extra content to explore.
Supergiant Games have proven themselves masters of building compelling game worlds, and just as we saw it in the brilliant Bastion, we witnessed it once again in Transistor. Not only does Transistor have an incredibly interesting setting—a glowing cyberpunk city that feels alive, despite its fantastical nature—but it also has very distinctive and memorable characters.
One of them is a sword; or rather, it’s your friend trapped within your sword, which you’ll wield to banish bad guys in this role-playing revenge quest. We wrote about the iOS version of Transistor a while back, and it’s also on Apple TV, but right now you can get the Mac release for a mere $3. That’s 85 percent off the usual asking price, and a deal you shouldn’t sleep on.
Rocket League ($12)
One of the most endlessly entertaining Mac games today gets a nice 40 percent discount during the Steam Summer Sale, and $12 is an absolute steal for Rocket League. It’s soccer, except instead of controlling virtual humans, you’ll rev a sports car or truck around and smash the giant ball into the net. You can also soar above the pitch with your rocket boosters, if you can handle it.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg: in addition to soccer, which can be played in 1v1 up to 4v4 varieties, there are also basketball and hockey variants, as well as a couple of original modes. Rocket League also offers ample customization, as you can outfit your favorite car with all kinds of skins, toppers, and flags, and there’s plenty more to unlock as you play and play.
Sid Meier's Civilization VI ($36)
Sure, $36 might be the highest price on this list, but it’s also a huge savings from the usual $60 price point—and besides, you could play Sid Meier’s Civilization VI for basically forever. This tactical time sink, the latest in a series known for encouraging obsessive play, feels like a greatest hits compilation for the franchise, albeit with newcomer-friendly twists.
As ever, Civilization VI finds you managing a historical city as you attempt to survive the ages and extend its reach outwards. You’ll “explore, expand, exploit, and exterminate” (that’s “4X” strategy for you) as you balance aspects like research and diplomacy with a bit of well-timed violence. We gave it a glowing review this spring, and now is the best time to get hooked.
Portal 2 ($2)
Last year, we led off our list with the original Portal, which was marked down to a ridiculous $2. Well, now it’s just $1. Really! But since the iconic debut got the spotlight last time around, this time we’re highlighting Portal 2 instead. And now at just $2 for the sequel, it’s easily one of the most fabulous deals in the Steam Summer Sale.
Portal 2 keeps the portal guns, which let you create doorways to overcome perplexing environmental challenges, but then it adds so much more: it’s significantly larger than the (perfectly) compact original game, but that time isn’t wasted. The additional puzzle mechanics are excellent, as is the sense of humor and larger narrative—and it has a dedicated co-op story mode, too.
Hitman: The Complete First Season ($24)
Hitman just landed on Mac this week, actually, and there’s already a killer deal available. You can download the first chunk of the episodic game for free, which is an ongoing offer—but if you like it, you can get the whole rest of the experience for just under $24. That’s two-thirds off of the usual price of $70 for the full bundle.
Like the earlier editions, Hitman puts you in the glossy shoes of a trained assassin, and you’ll have to figure out how to complete each mission’s objective (kill) as stealthily as possible. This episodic reboot gives you a large new location with each new entry, ensuring that things stay interesting throughout. And again, the first episode will cost you nothing, so give it a shot and see if you want the whole bundle while it’s this cheap.
Castle Crashers ($3)
If you’ve never played Castle Crashers, then you should fix that now, because it’s an absolute delight. This vibrant, arcade-style brawler drops you into the armor of a colorful knight, and you’ll team up with up to three other online or local pals as you smash an array of weird creatures to bits.
The cartoonish look and crass humor give it a hilarious edge, and you’ll fight everything from a creepy, crawling, screen-filling monster to a giant, anthropomorphic ear of corn. Castle Crashers isn’t quite as exciting when you’re playing solo, although there’s a fair amount of loot and weapons to discover—but with friends, it’s one of the most entertaining games on Mac. And at 80 percent off, it’s a total steal.
Batman: Arkham Asylum - Game of the Year Edition ($5)
Considered one of the all-time best comic book games, Batman: Arkham Asylum is a brilliant adaptation of the Caped Crusader’s abilities… and it’s just five bucks right now. Five dollars! You’ll take control of the Dark Knight in this gritty rendition, using a combination of stealth, gadgets, and melee combat to take down Gotham’s most notorious villains.
This Game of the Year Edition bundles in some extra content beyond the main game, including a few additional challenge maps to take down once you’ve conquered the campaign. And if you’re looking for even more Batman, the open-world sequel Batman: Arkham City is also available for just $5 right now.
Firewatch is definitely the best forest fire lookout simulator we’ve ever played. Actually, it’s the only fire lookout game we’ve ever played, but even so, we’re pretty enamored with it. This gorgeous indie game is much less focused on the task at hand than it is on the characters and the storyline that surrounds them.
As Henry, a man who takes the solitary job to flee some rough times of his own, you’ll interact only with the voice on the other side of your walkie-talkie: Delilah, your distant boss. Their interactions form the core of your quest as you explore the national park, and a suspenseful mystery builds along the way as your choices help shape the narrative. It’s a really original, memorable experience, and it’s more than half-off during the sale.
Mafia III ($14.79)
Mafia III has only been on Mac for a few weeks now, which is why this price drop is so astounding: you can get it for just less than $15 right now, as opposed to the usual price of $40. It’s an open-world crime game built in the mold of Grand Theft Auto, albeit with a unique city and an intriguing hook of its own.
You’ll play as Lincoln Clay, a Vietnam vet who returns to the New Orleans-esque New Bordeaux in 1968 to take down the Italian mafia, who just wiped out Clay’s allies in the black mob. Mafia III deals with race in a way we don’t usually see from games, especially big-budget, mass-market releases, so the premise is a bit daring and original. That said, the in-game action has been derided by some critics for being too formulaic and repetitive.
Hyper Light Drifter ($10)
We may never get one of Nintendo’s Legend of Zelda games on Mac, but indie darling Hyper Light Drifter captures the essence of the old classics while putting its own spin on the formula. It’s actually a bit like recent hardcore console and PC hit Dark Souls, with challenging combat that may feel punishing at first, but can be pretty rewarding once you get a hang of it.
This action-oriented role-playing game definitely has the feel of a Super Nintendo-era game, albeit with stunning pixel graphics that pack in a ton of nuance and emotion, not to mention a gorgeous piano-driven soundtrack. It was one of last year’s must-play Mac games, and now you can get it for half-price while the Summer Sale lasts.
Kerbal Space Program ($20)
At a glance, Kerbal Space Program might not look like much—but it’s one of the most widely acclaimed Mac games of the past few years, and its fan base even includes SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk. And it could include you, too, if you decide to pick up this simulation while it’s available for half-off.
Kerbal Space Program finds you in charge of building a space exploration initiative for a group of silly-looking aliens (the Kerbals), albeit in a very realistic fashion. You’ll experiment to try and produce a functional ship and get it into space, and the game has been lauded for its lifelike physics and serious challenge. Even NASA collaborated on part of the game! If you like tinkering and dig space travel, you may get a real kick out of this one.