Depressed by its bleak perspective, alone and freezing in the digital marketplace, Don't Starve survives solely on mystery and cheek. The first self-released offering from developer Klei Entertainment – best known for attractive consoles side-scrollers like Shank and Mark of the Ninja – Don't Starve drops the player into an unforgiving boot camp in wilderness readiness.
Everything about Lego Star Wars: The Yoda Chronicles -- from its overhead camera to its unit building mechanics -- resembles a real-time strategy game. The adorable characters and familiar Star Wars iconography could have made this free-to-play affair a worthwhile introduction to the genre for newcomers, but for a game with all the trappings of a strategy title, it curiously lacks any real strategic decision-making.
Angry Birds Friends brought the fowl-flinging sensation to Facebook, and unsurprisingly, it proved hugely popular in that format. Now the socially-connected spin on the franchise makes the return trip to iPhone and iPad while maintaining the distinct, free-to-play approach that defined that browser-based take. On a platform that already hosts five distinct Angry Birds games packed with several hundred total levels, the prospect of playing in one six-stage tournament per week may not seem remarkable, but it's the competitive aspect that puts an interesting tweak on the usual formula.
Though it draws heavy inspiration from a particular sci-fi franchise well known for boldly sending a spaceship full of uniformed crew where no one has gone before, Star Command doesn't fiddle around with any namby-pamby prime directive. The galaxy is full of danger and backstabbing aliens looking to get a piece of your sweet tech. Sure, diplomacy is sometimes an option with the strange crafts you encounter in this slick pixel-based quest, but it's just way more fun to blow your adversaries out of the stars or die trying in an often intense and chaotic adventure through the cosmos.
In preparing this year’s 20 Under $20 list, we loved the idea of presenting 20 killer Mac apps you might not know about — 20 is such a round, pleasant number, and would hopefully let us find something for everyone. But $20 per app might not seem like the bargain-basement price that it used to, even just back in the summer of 2011 when we did our last 20 Under $20 feature.
But guess what? Most of these polished, stable, user-friendly, and utterly useful applications don’t come anywhere close to a full Andrew Jackson, anyway. Four of them are free, and only two cost over $10. We thought about calling it “18 Mac Apps Under $10 and Also Two That Are More Than $10 But Still Less Than $20, and By the Way, Four Are Free,” but that’s just too long, wouldn’t you agree
Resurrecting a beloved old gaming franchise for a modern audience seems like a challenging, thankless task. Even if you succeed in making something great, you run the risk of alienating existing fans if you stray too far from the original formula. When the alien-fighting strategy revival XCOM: Enemy Unknown was released last year on PC and consoles, however, it accomplished something we thought was impossible: It made just about everyone happy.
On consoles, The House of the Dead: Overkill took one of the most well-trodden premises imaginable – shooting zombies in first-person, on rails – and used it to create one of the most memorably over-the-top games of all time. Taking tropes from grindhouse horror movies and cranking them to ridiculous levels, HotD:O was gruesome, hectic, and – as its characters awkwardly shoehorned f-bombs into nearly every sentence – so deliberately crass that it was impossible to see it as anything other than a comedy. The iOS version, subtitled The Lost Reels, scales all that back considerably.
Storm Raiders is the best entry yet in the Sky Gamblers aerial-combat franchise, sending you soaring through two separate World War II campaigns—the Battle of Britain and Asia-Pacific War—packed with diverse missions, intense action, and impressive visuals. Even more notable are the eight-player dogfights, which span a large number of play modes (like team deathmatch and capture the flag) and deliver ample competition whenever you want it. The Mac version doesn’t control quite as comfortably as the iOS version, but it’s still plenty enjoyable.
Getting from one place to the next is trickier than it seems in Hairy Tales, a colorful Mac puzzler that finds you moving and turning various tiles to send the hero safely toward a goal. Initially, this means little more than evading hazards and creating a safe path forward, but as the 70-plus stages progress, you’ll encounter new obstacles, like enemies and fixed arrow tiles. It’s solidly smart and only occasionally frustrating, though the samey puzzles turn a bit monotonous before too long.
Finding your way through elaborate and impressively rendered mazes is the goal in each of Shardlands’ atmospheric stages, and you’ll do so by clicking to make heroine Dawn move to a location, as well as dragging movable panels into position and clicking buttons. There’s a nice puzzle-solving aspect to the navigation, as well as a bit of action, as you’ll have to avoid hazards plus dispatch enemy beasts using your surroundings. But the thankfully deliberate pace lets you consider each move before you make it.