Year In Review: The Best Freakin’ Mac Games Of 2013

There are still a ton of us who game on our Macs. If you’re one of those folks, you’ll know how great a platform the Mac can be. While there may not be as overwhelming an amount of games on Apple’s fantastic computer platform, the ones that are there are of high quality.

And? There are a ton more these days than ever before. 2013 was a great year to be a Mac gamer, with ports of a ton of the big titles of the year, including games like XCOM: Enemy Unknown, Sim City, and Bioshock Infinite.

A bunch of iOS games came to the bigger screens of the Mac, too, with fantastic, hit titles like tower offense, Anomaly 2 and Solstice Arena, a speed massively online battle arena (MOBA) game from Zynga that has some legs, and some smaller indie gems like Gentlemen! from Lucky Frame.

Whether you like the big blockbuster games or the more cerebral indie ones, the Mac platform has a plethora of gaming experiences to choose from. Here are the best ones we’ve seen.

Blockbuster Hits

Take out those aliens, Commander.

Take out those aliens, Commander.

Firaxis’ XCOM: Enemy Unknown scored with gamers on consoles and PC with its highly refined strategic, tactical gameplay. The series has always been known for these things, but this latest title found the sweet spot between accessible and gorgeous. When it came out for the Mac Platform in April of this past year, Mac gamers got the chance to experience it in all its alien glory. Whether you’ve got a taste for turn-based tactical gameplay or just want to check out the cool sci-fi visuals and storyline, you can grab the elite edition of XCOM: Enemy Unknown in the Mac App Store for $49.99 right now.

Not as helpless as she seems.

Not as helpless as she seems.

Bioshock: Infinite is the third game in the Bioshock series, this time set in the airy steampunk heights of Columbia, a city run by a megalomaniac despot. The story involves a young girl with the key to America’s future in her hands and a faceless anti-hero (you) named Booker DeWitt, who must protect Elizabeth and bring down the theocracy. Bioshock: Infinite is well worth the sale price of $19.99 in the Mac App Store right now, so get it while you can.

Still a handsome devil, isn't he?

Still a handsome devil, isn’t he?

You can simply walk into the Mac App Store and purchase Lego Lord of the Rings for $14.99, which is truly a steal. You can also simply walk in and buy it, as well. Combining the Tolkien lore, based on the Jackson movie, and the fun of Traveler’s Tales’ Lego brick-building games, Lego Lord of the Rings has a humorous take on the story of the One Ring and over 80 of the characters we all love, like Gandalf, Gollum, and Frodo. It’s a delightful romp through Middle Earth and one you’ll enjoy immensely right on your Mac.

Sure you got all the bugs, comrade?

Sure you got all the bugs, comrade?

Deep Silver’s Metro: Last Light takes you on a harrowing trip through post-apocalyptic Moscow. It’s the sequel to the original game, Metro 2033, which itself was based on Russian author Dmitry Glukhovsky, who also served as a consultant on both games. Last Light tells the story of an underground world, complete with mutants and the search for a mythical bunker full of food, medicine, and weapons. You’ll need to blast your way through level after level of horrifying mutated creatures, surviving your way to the secret cache. It’s survival horror at its best, and you can get your copy from the Mac App Store for a cool $19.99.

Maybe the most fun you can have with giant, improbable guns.

Maybe the most fun you can have with giant, improbable guns.

Borderlands 2 brings more guns, more humor, and more of the old ultra-violence to your Mac with a delicious $9.99 price tag in the Mac App Store. You’ll play as a newly-arrived vault hunter on the planet Pandora, with a megalomaniac sociopath dogging your every turn. This first-person shooter keeps the action high, and the storyline and characters you’ll meet are among some of the funniest ones you’ll encounter in a video game. It’s tricky to make games truly funny, but 2K has done a fantastic job here, taking all the successful features of the original Borderlands and cranking them up to eleven.

Cross Platform Win

Fight the powah.

Fight the powah.

Developer 11-bit Studios’ brand of tower offense gaming came first to the Mac, and then made its way to iOS, a different sort of journey than most games on both platforms. Anomaly 2 is the third in the series, which debuted on iOS back in 2010. The current focus on the OS X version paid off with a fantastic game full of strategic action that turns the standard tower defense genre on its head, placing you in the role of the bad guy creeps. You’ll earn money in each staging area to upgrade your vehicles and weapons of mass destruction as you work your way through a well-written single player storyline, honing your skills to take online and play against your friends. Grab a copy in the Mac App Store for a fine $3.99 and save humanity from extinction!

C'mon, team! Advance!

C’mon, team! Advance!

Zynga’s speed MOBA, Solstice Arena, has a lot to recommend it, from lightning-fast game play sessions to a fairly liberal free-to-play in-app purchase scheme. There are free heroes to try every week, and you can actually earn enough in-game currency to purchase the ones you want to continue leveling up past the free period, though it’s surely faster to pay directly. Solstice Arena is a fine way to spend an afternoon, moving your hero to and fro with two other real-world players, trying to take down the enemy towers and ultimately the opposing base altogether. There’s an engaging flow to the game play that will keep you going back for more. Grab it for free on the Mac App Store now, and maybe we’ll see you online.

It's good to be a god.

It’s good to be a god.

Pixowl’s The Sandbox may have originated on iOS, but the creativity-enhancing world-building game really comes into its own on the bigger screen of the Mac, not to mention with the newly enabled keyboard and mouse controls. Some of the buttons and such on the iOS version can be darn fiddly; the mouse is much more precise. Work your way through the various challenge missions and tutorials, or create a blank slate upon which you can make gadgets, original works of art, or even your very own games. The Sandbox not only gives you a great gaming experience, but the tools to create your own, which can then be freely shared with a vibrant and prolific community online. It’s free in the Mac App Store right now, so head over and download it today.

Indie Hits

A disturbing tale to tell.

A disturbing tale to tell.

Gone Home has gotten a ton of buzz since its release this past September on Mac and PC. The Fullbright Company boasts a highly-qualified group of developers and storytellers, including lead designer Steve Gaynor, the man who wrote the “Minerva’s Den” expansion for 2K Games’ Bioshock 2. Gone Home’s story focuses on a story about a young girl learning about her family and her own growing sexual identity. It’s told through a series of found objects, including letters, images, and home movies. It’s compelling stuff that most video games don’t focus on, so be sure to grab the $19.99 Mac version today from the Mac App Store and see what all the hubbub is about.

Burn, baby, burn!

Burn, baby, burn!

Little Inferno – From the team that brought you World of Goo, this gem of a fireplace game came to the Mac platform in August of 2013 for ten bucks, and it was worth every penny. It’s a meditation on our consumer, increasingly isolated culture, and it makes its point with a wicked sense of satiric humor. Burning toys has never been this fun, or made you think this much. Grab it now in the Mac App Store for $4.99; you’ll be glad you did.

Point, click, solve.

Point, click, solve.

The Cave – Originally released in February of 2013 for $14.99, The Cave is a quirky little point-and-click adventure puzzle game from Ron Gilbert, the mind behind hits like Monkey Island. It’s currently $2.99 in the Mac App Store, so get on over and check it out. There’s a grand story, delightful visuals, and the ever present smart, tongue-in-cheek humor Gilbert is known for.

Psychedelic, man.

Psychedelic, man.

BIT.TRIP Presents… Runner2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien – This mouthful of a gaming title pertains to a very odd, very fun endless runner game that began on consoles, then came to the Mac just this month, in December 2013. It’s a psychedelic, rhythmic zen-like experience to play, and totally worth the cost of $14.99 in the Mac App Store right now.

We don't need no stinkin' badges.

We don’t need no stinkin’ badges.

If you have a chance, be sure to spend some time with Papers, Please, a little game that puts you in the shoes of an immigration document processor in a fictional soviet-style city. You’ll have to scrutinize people and their documents to meet an ever-changing set of immigration rules while hoping to save your own family from a slow death in poverty. It’s an experience that wears you down–even though you know it’s “just” a game. Be sure to grab this one on Steam for a (currently) easy price of $6.69.

Seriously, get yourself a sammich.

Seriously, get yourself a sammich.

Also on sale at Steam as of this posting is the creepily compelling Don’t Starve, by the developers behind last year’s indie-hit, Mark of the Ninja. Don’t Starve is all about survival in a creepy wilderness using magic and science. You’ll play as Wilson, a Gentleman Scientist trapped by a demon and dropped into a forest with nothing but his wits and a logical mind to help him stay alive. You’ll forage for food, set up torches to keep the evil at bay, and–hopefully–make it out alive. Don’t Starve is available on Steam for $8.99, so be sure to give it a shot.

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  • MacGamerHQ

    Cool round-up Rob, I saw all of my favorites in there, so I can’t complain (except maybe Max Payne 3 but that one was such a technical mess I can understand why you didn’t include it)! I also appreciate the lesser known indies and/or crossovers from iOS. I ended up discovering a couple of games thanks to you!

    I think it was a tough year to do a Best of list, there were just so many great games released on 2013. From the top of my head, there was also Rayman, Dota2, Sonic & Sega All-Star Racing, Sega Superstars Tennis, Grid, StarCraft 2: Heart of the Swarm, etc. But a problem I don’t mind having, too many good games to chose from :)

    I did have one question though, why did you chose Borderlands 2? Wasn’t it released on 2012?

    Cheers man!

    Ric

  • ikir

    Nice article!

About the author

Rob LeFebvreAnchorage, Alaska-based freelance writer and editor Rob LeFebvre is Cult of Mac's Games and Tips Editor. He has contributed to various tech, gaming and iOS sites, including 148Apps, VentureBeat, and Paste Magazine. Feel free to find Rob on Twitter @roblef

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