June's Mac games
The ongoing Steam Summer Sale means that it’s the ideal time to stock up on Mac games new and old, and we have some recommendations on the best deals around. But if you’re just on the hunt for something that’s totally new on Mac, then that’s what this monthly roundup is for.
We scoured the release lists to pick 10 of the most compelling Mac game debuts from the last few weeks, including gunship shooter Overload, intense indie action game Dead Cells, and the mysterious adventure tale Unforeseen Incidents. Read on to find out more about these games and several others, and be sure to loop back on May’s top Mac game releases if you need more options.
Interplay’s Descent was a formative early 3D game, albeit a potentially stomach-churning one: With six-degrees-of-freedom movement through tight corridors, the gunship shooter could be nauseating. Still, it has its die-hard supporters, and Overload is billed as a spiritual successor that comes from some of Descent’s original creators.
Overload essentially sounds like a modernized take on the same formula. You’ll zip through the tight, zero-gravity environments while blasting robots and rescuing survivors, albeit with a nice graphical upgrade over the mid-90s originals. Overload has “Overwhelmingly Positive” recent reviews from Steam users, and critical appraisals have been pretty positive as well. You can buy it on Steam.
Dead Cells ($20)
Got a thing for old-school action games and don’t mind a heaping helping of challenge? If so, then you might get a kick out of Dead Cells. This recent indie game has been in Steam Early Access on PC since last year and just expanded to Mac, but even in its unfinished state, it has earned plenty of acclaim for its inventive merging of established genres.
This 2D gem is one part Metroid/Castlevania, with sprawling levels filled with secrets and fresh abilities to unearth, and one part “roguelite” (like Spelunky or The Binding of Isaac)—which means that when you perish, you start over from scratch. But you’ll gradually improve and unlock permanent upgrades to make future runs easier, and the intense combat and stunning animation should keep you glued through the frustration. You can buy it on Steam, where it’s 40 percent off until July 5.
Unforeseen Incidents ($20)
Pairing a gorgeous hand-painted look with traditional adventure gameplay and an X-Files-esque mystery narrative, Unforeseen Incidents has picked up some serious praise from fans of old-school point-and-click affairs. It’s set in a small town where handyman Harper Pendrell hears chatter of a serious illness sweeping through town—and then finds it staring him in the face when he encounters a violently ill woman in the streets.
From there, Unforeseen Incidents unfolds a conspiracy tale and Harper has to solve his way through puzzling scenarios to seek the truth. It’s also a meaty, self-contained quest, unlike a lot of the short-form, episodic adventure games we’ve seen in recent years. You can buy it on Steam.
Suzy Cube ($8)
We’ll probably never see an official Super Mario game on Mac (unless Nintendo shockingly shifts focus away from its resurgent console business), but Suzy Cube looks like a very close approximation. NorthernBytes’ indie game is a clear tribute to Super Mario 3D Land from several years back, as it uses the same kind of interface and camera angles for its platform-leaping action.
It might be too close to comfort for some, but Suzy Cube still seems like a lot of fun. You’ll guide the little heroine through more than 40 levels filled with enemies, hazards, and challenging obstacles, all while trying to recover Castle Cubeton’s lost treasure along the way. Best of all, it’s cheap—although the well-reviewed iOS version is even cheaper. You can buy it on Steam.
Cultist Simulator ($20)
Now here’s a game that’s unlike anything else you’ll find on Steam. Cultist Simulator finds you as a “seeker of unholy mysteries” in a Lovecraftian 1920s setting, in which you can start your own religion, pull in unwitting followers, and, well, summon extraterrestrial deities.
Cultist Simulator comes from Alexis Kennedy, best known for gems like Fallen London and Sunless Sea, and it’s a card-based game with a twist. Rather than wield cards competitively, you’ll use and combine them to craft the storyline around your cult, command disciples to do unspeakable acts, evade authorities, and preserve your legacy. It looks fascinating if you’re willing to put in the time to explore its narrative depths. You can buy it on Steam.
We couldn’t fit this late May release on last month’s list, but Choice Provisions’ Runner3 might still be worth a look now. This sequel to the previous Bit.Trip Runner games expands upon the same theme of sprinting through obstacle-laden courses and attempting to survive until the end. Each gauntlet is backed by music that syncs up well with your leaps and actions, which helps you get into a rhythm as you tackle each ultra-challenging level.
It looks beautiful, and Runner3 seems to be as delightfully offbeat and imaginative as past entries. Critical reviews have been pretty strong, but Steam user reviews are more mixed, with some die-hard series fans claiming that it’s too frustrating and offers less content than past entries. Luckily, Runner and Runner2 are also half-off via the Steam Summer Sale until July 5. You can also buy Runner3 on Steam.
Objects in Space ($20)
Objects in Space promises a vast open setting to explore… but it’s a mostly 2D game played on virtual monitors inside of your ship. No, it’s not your average open-world experience, but Objects in Space still looks plenty intriguing thanks to its mix of retro style and occasional bits of background 3D, as well as an emphasis on stealth exploration.
As a spaceship captain, you’ll buy and sell cargo and take on bounty-hunting contracts to stay afloat, and the developers liken interactions to Cold War submarines: you’ll have to be silent and stealthy to gain an edge on potential foes. Objects in Space is currently in Steam Early Access and user reviews say it’s still very buggy—but even amidst technical flaws, people are digging it. You can buy it on Steam.
In the world of Skipchaser, the titular beings are a genetically-enhanced force of trained assassins scattered throughout the universe, ready to be activated with deadly missions. You’ll control one of them in this striking little indie game, which pairs blasting action across 50 levels with a bit of sci-fi storytelling as you serve the mysterious M.O.T.H.E.R. corporation.
Along the way, you’ll encounter heaps of enemy goons to blast indiscriminately, and they’re procedurally generated to deliver a unique challenge each time you play a level. You can also trick out your gun with plenty of custom tweaks, plus the combat benefits from elemental damage types that can help you counter tough enemies. You can buy it on Steam.
There are some real tower defense gems on Mac, from PixelJunk Monsters Ultimate to Kingdom Rush and Plants vs. Zombies, but Protolife brings a compelling twist to the formula. Here, you’ll defend a space colony on the planet Gagarin-5 from a sudden infestation of a rapidly-growing organism, which you’ll do by building up defensive towers using a single, small robot.
Rather than drop in prefab towers, you’ll build them block by block. That offers more flexibility and customization, but also requires more tactical thought as you contend with the uncommon threat. Protolife includes more than 30 levels, and the lo-fi pixel aesthetic seems like a neat way to convey this intriguing space conflict. You can buy it on Steam.
Ding Dong XL ($1)
Nickervision Studios has released seven Mac games to date, and they’re all $1 apiece and seem incredibly simple. Ding Dong XL, the latest of the bunch, also looks rather entertaining. It’s a one-button arcade-style game that finds you pressing that button to launch a ball, which bounds from the top to the bottom of the screen and then back again.
What’s the point? Well, enemies and power-ups continue to flow from side to side, and you’ll have to time your button presses perfectly to dodge destruction and survive for as long as possible. Ding Dong XL might not be the most engrossing game out there: Even the Steam listing suggests that it’s something to play between rounds of other games. Even so, user reviews are “Very Positive” so far.