2017 04: April

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New 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 in March, 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 2018 looks like another strategic home run. Seven others made the March list - but they have invoked invisibility in the App Store! We will add some from February instead.

The Witness (U$59.99)

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, colourful 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 ($29.99)

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 ($59.99)

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.

Torment: Tides of Numenera ($66.99)

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.

XCOM 2: The Long War 2 ($74.99)

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.

(Note the configuration restrictions.)

Forma.8 ($21.99)

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.

Others that made the list but as they are not in the App Store, you will need to search for them, include:

88 Heroes (US$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.

Day of Infamy (US$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.

Cosmic Express (US$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.

Kona (US$20)

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.

Don't Drop the Bass (US$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. (Try looking at: http://www.radishbox.com/dontdropthebass/)

For the King (US$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.

Cossacks 3 (US$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.

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