The 10 best new Mac games of 2015

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Simply the best.
Simply the best.
Photo: Stephen Smith/Cult of Mac

Cult of Mac's Best of 2015 Mac games aren’t as numerous as iOS games, but they tend to be a bit more expensive, making impulse purchases a rare thing. How do you know which ones to spend your money on?

If you’re looking to stuff your stocking with the finest of games for our favorite platform, look no further. We play them all so you don’t have to, and we tell you which are the best ones to grab.

These are Cult of Mac’s picks for best new Mac games of 2015.

Heroes of the Storm

Heroes of the Storm found a way to be strategically deep without being too precious with its complexity. One of the many massively online battle arenas available for the Mac (like League of Legends or Defense of the Ancients 2), Heroes of the Storm pits two teams of players against each other to battle for supremacy across various maps. What Heroes does differently is to eschew the direct battle approach of the other games, instead creating specific objectives for each map that allow teams to direct their energy in different ways. It makes for a much more varied, yet not super-complex, experience. Add to that the ability to play with hero characters from popular Blizzard franchises like Starcraft and Diablo, and you’ve got a compelling game for fans of the genre that newcomers can enjoy equally. —Rob LeFebvre

Download: Heroes of the Storm (free)

Her Story

Spending time with Her Story is like having a word on the tip of your tongue. You feel like you can almost figure it out, this murder mystery. It’s recounted to you through short video clips of a woman who’s interviewed seven times by the police. She wears seven different (very early ’90s) outfits, and speaks in an affected way. You call up video clips with keywords: Want to hear every time she mentions “murder?” How about “attic,” or “Hannah?” Just type these words — and more as you hear the clues — to get her story. As you listen, you’ll catch other clues and type them into the 1999 Windows computer that forms the interface for this who-done-it mystery. Will you get the full story? Will you ever find out who this woman is and what she’s done? It’s up to you, your deductive logic, and the way the developers have mastered telling you a story in bits and pieces. This is a brilliant game and everyone should try it. —Rob LeFebvre

Download: Her Story ($5.99 from Steam)

Undertale

Naturally, when confronted by monsters in a video game — even one as classically sparse as Undertale — you end up battling them. Typical RPG games let you upgrade your weapons and stats so you can kill ever-stronger monsters and get even better loot. Undertale upends all that and allows you — no, encourages you — to spare the monsters and let them live. Doing so earns you friends and helps you find clues to figure out who you are and why you were left with a strange rabbit of a mother in the underground caves. If you want the latest photorealistic visuals, look elsewhere, but if you’re intrigued by a game that disrupts everything your video game-loving self knows about how to play an RPG, do yourself a favor and try this one out. —Rob LeFebvre

Download: Undertale ($9.99 from Steam)

Savage Lands

You awaken in a wild landscape with only your bare knuckles to help you find resources like wood, stone and fire to survive the cold days and long, creepy nights. Other players who have built up weapons and armor will hunt you down and try to either help or kill you (usually the latter). Creatures and beasts come after you as well, making everything even harder. Survival horror games like Savage Lands, riding high on the indie buzz of 7 Days to Die and Rust, are like Minecraft on steroids; you’re going to die a lot. Savage Lands takes this concept and runs with it on the Mac, with a weird, compelling world filled with bears and deer, but also skeletons and evil imps. You can run a server on your own and have your buddies team up with you to build your own crazy fortress and gather materials. I spent a good long time running around with my friend in Savage Lands, and I’m willing to bet you’ll have a blast doing so, too. Did I mention it’s drop-dead gorgeous? —Rob LeFebvre

Download: Savage Lands ($14.99 from Steam)

Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime

Most multiplayer video games focus on competition either against each other or against other teams of players. Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime aims to do something different with a bright, colorful arcade game that fosters cooperation instead of competition. You and a friend will take control of one of two characters in a spaceship. The spaceship must move, defend against and combat aliens, and upgrade its systems. The trick is that only one thing can happen at a time. You’ll need to work with that other player to move about the cabin of your cute little ship, communicating about who’s going to do what and when. It’s both a fun game and a true test of friendship; you haven’t lived until you’ve crashed your ship into an oncoming wave of enemies while you’re trying to move the little laser gun around the hull while shouting at your friend to move the shield already, dammit. —Rob LeFebvre

Download: Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime ($14.99 from Steam)

Tengami

Do you know what’s great about Tengami? Everything. It’s a beautiful, stylish, almost meditative puzzle title that immerses you in a gorgeous pop-up-book world and lets you wander around in it. Even better, all the complicated constructions the developer created for it are actually buildable in real life. The story is a bit minimal — you’re trying to restore life to a mystical and therefore important tree — but you’ll spend most of your time in awe of the craftsmanship and relaxing to the super-chill music. They could have taken the puzzles out and made it into a meditation app, and I still would have spent hours with it. —Evan Killham

Download: Tengami ($9.99 from the Mac App Store)

Minecraft: Story Mode

I’ve played maybe 20 minutes of Minecraft, the cultural phenomenon that inspired this episodic title from developer Telltale Games, but I get the basic idea: You build things out of blocks so you can explore further into the world and build even better things out of blocks. And somehow, Telltale has taken that incredibly bare framework and built one of the cutest and most entertaining titles of the year. It includes a great cast including comedians Patton Oswalt and Brian Posehn, my Goonies crush Martha Plimpton and, somehow, Paul Reubens. It’s hilarious and fun without being precious, which is a pretty big achievement considering all the characters are adorable (and the game is about people stacking blocks). —Evan Killham

Download: Minecraft Story Mode ($24.99 from Steam)

You Must Build a Boat

One of the most addictive games I’ve played on Mac (or iOS) this year — and by far the most unique — You Must Build A Boat cleverly fuses a match-three puzzle game with an endless runner for surprisingly spectacular results. Matching tiles helps guide your character through each level, and knowing which tiles to match at the right time will get you to the end faster. Matching swords and staffs helps you take down enemies, matching keys will open treasure chests, and matching shields makes it harder for enemies to hold you back.

You’ll take on quests before each level and collect rewards for completing each one. As you progress, your boat will become bigger and you’ll recruit monsters to help with tasks. Increasing the size of your boat ensures you can power through the strong currents and make your way through the map. You won’t have played anything like You Must Build a Boast before, and if you’re anything like me, you’ll become hugely addicted to this charming, wonderfully simple, yet incredibly challenging puzzle game. —Killian Bell

Download: You Must Build a Boat ($4.99 from Steam)

The Silent Age

It’s 1972, and you’re a janitor who stumbles upon a gateway into the future as well as a murder mystery. You’ll need to flip back and forth between two times to solve these environmental puzzles as well as who done it and how. The Silent Age was a huge hit on iOS back in 2013, but developer House on Fire updated it with HD graphics for bigger Mac screen this year. It’s a fantastic noir- and retro-tinged adventure for the point-and-click crowd as well as the rest of us. Do yourself a favor and grab this game when you’re ready to do some stylish sleuthing on your Mac. —Rob LeFebvre

Download: The Silent Age ($9.99 from Steam)

Trove

This free-to-play action MMO looks a lot like Minecraft with its voxel-based graphics, but it’s much more goal-oriented and social. You’ll still need to manage your own plot of land on one of the various official and unofficial servers, but Trove lets you level up your character with gear and quests just like an MMO does, while still remaining pretty accessible to gamers of all ages. It’s a ton of fun to romp through the various worlds looking for monsters and loot, then craft your own armor and weapons to go after bigger baddies just over the next hill. There’s a lovely sense of presence in Trove, and it’s a great way to spend hours with the kids. It’s brightly colored, adorably fun to play, and will keep you questing through the infinite realms long into the evening. —Rob LeFebvre

Download: Trove (free from Steam)