September's Mac games
Itching for something new to play on your Mac? Worry not, because September brought us another nice stack of new game releases. XCOM 2 fans will definitely want to check out the huge War of the Chosen expansion, plus new indie games SteamWorld Dig 2 and Hiveswap: Act 1 are both intriguing, while dinosaur-hunting survival hit ARK: Survival Evolved has finally exited Steam Early Access.
Those are just a few of the 10 recent Mac game releases we’ve rounded up, so browse the slides ahead and see if anything grabs your interest. Can’t find anything for you? Well, be sure to loop back on August’s biggest and brightest releases, then.
XCOM 2: War of the Chosen ($40)
Did you finish last year’s epic XCOM 2 and still feel like you wanted even more from the game? Well, now’s you chance to dig back in thanks to the War of the Chosen expansion, which adds nearly a full game’s worth of fresh content to the experience. You will need XCOM 2 to run it, but you’ll want to start with the main game anyway.
War of the Chosen introduces the titular new enemy, The Chosen, which developer Firaxis says are the “most cunning” foes to date. You’ll also have to fight against the Spectre, an alien race that can create dark copycat versions of your XCOM soldiers. Otherwise, the core tactical strategy gameplay remains intact, which is a very good thing for series fans. Keep fighting the good fight against these extraterrestrial invaders.
SteamWorld Dig 2 ($20)
We had a lot of fun with the XCOM-inspired SteamWorld Heist, but Image and Form’s steampunk-esque franchise charts a different path in SteamWorld Dig 2—and it’s straight down below the surface. Like the original Dig, this 2D action game finds you exploring underground as an adventurous robot, as you mine for minerals and battle the threats found beneath.
SteamWorld Dig 2 takes its cues from classics like Super Metroid and Castlevania (the so-called “Metroidvania” formula), as you gradually unlock new abilities that expand out the world and deepen the adventure. Press reviews have been even stronger than the original, continuing this indie series’ impressive run over the last few years.
ARK: Survival Evolved ($60)
After more than two years of Early Access availability, ARK: Survival Evolved has finally been released as a full game. However, being a preview version didn’t stop millions of people from buying this large-scale survival game, which finds you battling and/or taming more than 100 different beasts—including dinosaurs—within vast open areas.
The island setting seems packed with things to do, including crafting, building structures, farming, and joining tribes, but it also seems like it’s loaded with bugs—and not the flying kind. Steam reviews have been sharply divided since the game left Early Access, and even a player who logged 8,500 hours of gameplay doesn’t recommend buying it. Now that’s harsh!
Hiveswap: Act 1 ($8)
Hiveswap is based on a massively popular webcomic (called Homestuck) and raised more than $2.4 million in funding from Kickstarter. But if you don’t know about either of those things, that’s OK: as the Steam listing suggests, “This game is set in 1994! Homestuck hasn’t even been invented yet!”
Fans will probably get the most out of this first episode of the spinoff game, which has rave reviews from players so far, although it’s designed for anyone who enjoyed ‘90s-era point-and-click adventure games. As a young girl named Joey Claire, you’ll find yourself kidnapped by aliens and transported to an unfamiliar world, with slick hand-drawn visuals telling the story all the while. It’s the first of four episodes, with the others to follow at some point.
Sunless Skies ($25)
Sunless Sea earned some glowing reviews a couple years back for its strong literary twist on role-playing, as you explored the waters around Victorian-era London and soaked in the extensive, oft-beautiful writing. Now, after a successful Kickstarter campaign, sequel Sunless Skies is here, taking the same concept up to the stars.
Commanding a “spacefaring locomotive,” you’ll explore the heavens as you carry passengers and discover all sorts of stories between far-off ports. However, Sunless Skies is in Early Access on Steam right now, and it sounds like the early version is light on content and still unrefined. If you’re a super fan, however, you can get started now and help shape its future with your feedback. Otherwise, you might want to wait until it’s properly finished.
It’s survival of the fittest out in the wild, of course—but what if you’re the one shaping the genetic code that helps some creature try to tough it out? That’s the premise at play in Niche, an intriguing indie game that recently left Steam Early Access. It’s a turn-based strategy game with simulation elements, and it lets you breed your own species.
What makes Niche especially unique is that it’s based in real genetics, and you can manipulate genetic code in the game (100+ genes) to help adapt and customize your species. The worlds and animals are all procedurally generated, so there’s seemingly endless replayability, and the game sounds like a descendent of sorts of EA’s memorable Spore from 1998.
Tyranny – Bastard's Wound ($15)
Obsidian Entertainment’s Tyranny was one of last year’s standout role-playing games, and now the studio is back with Bastard’s Wound, an add-on expansion that requires the base game. Tyranny opens up a new area of the world and still allows plenty of player choice along the way, plus this expansion has a trio of companion quests to flesh out various character stories.
Unfortunately, our sister site PCWorld had a go at Bastard’s Wound and didn’t find it to be a particularly essential addition. That’s in part because you can only get the full experience if you’re in Act II of the game, or still have a save from back then—otherwise, if you already finished the main game, you’re left high and dry.
Swim Out ($6)
We already covered the iOS version of Swim Out when it hit the App Store last month, but now Lozange Labs’ charming little puzzler is on Mac as well. Essentially, Swim Out is a turn-based puzzle game set in a public swimming pool, filled with the kinds of thematically accurate annoyances you might expect: leaping kids, people on giant inflatable rafts, and other swimmers.
Your goal is to make it to the exit ladder without crossing anyone else’s path, and to do that, you’ll need to be strategic with your movements—and use some crafty tricks along the way, like tossing beach balls to stun fellow swimmers. The end result feels weirdly like Lara Croft Go, and don’t worry, you’re no less badass in a one-piece and a swim cap.
Dungeons & Dragons: Lords of Waterdeep ($15)
Dungeons & Dragons: Lords of Waterdeep is a much-loved board game adaptation of the legendary fantasy tabletop game, and now the digital adaptation of the board game is available on Mac. Playdek’s computer rendition puts the full board game experience on your screen, letting you play online with up to four other players in either real-time or asynchronous battles.
Each player takes the role of one of the titular lords, and you’ll aim to amass influence in the city by placing agents, collecting gold, and sending your minions out on missions. The earlier iOS version was pretty well received, and it seems like this Mac version brings everything to larger screens without losing the spirit of the physical version.
Morphite looks a bit like an off-brand version of No Man’s Sky, a hugely-hyped PC and PlayStation 4 game from last year that fell well short of expectations (but eventually bounced back via updates). The similarities extend from the graphical look to the loose, open-ended approach, but at least Morphite doesn’t seem to have launched with major issues.
Potential lack of originality aside, the game looks plenty enticing. It’s a space game in which you’ll descend upon procedurally-generated planets and see what’s what, gathering resources and data all the while and potentially blasting some baddies. It’s like a low-key first-person shooter, with less emphasis on intense action and more on exploring at your own pace. Morphite is also available on iOS for about half the price.