Vlambeer specializes in twitchy, arcade-style games that get really hairy (while remaining plenty fun) in a hurry—like iOS greats Super Crate Box and Ridiculous Fishing—and its latest Mac entry, Luftrausers, certainly maintains that philosophy. You'll pilot a tiny plane as enemy craft and carriers launch a barrage of gunfire, zipping about and laying waste to foes while trying to maintain a score-boosting combo streak. And much as the combat itself proves entertaining, it's matched well by an awesome customization system that allows you to swap various parts to create the fighter of your dreams.
Compared to most popular collectible card games, Blizzard's Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft is relatively straightforward. Simple rules make it incredibly welcoming to new players, but they also allow for elegant strategies and varied tactical possibilities. Unfortunately, as a free-to-play game, Hearthstone runs into the same problems that have long plagued tabletop card games: it's hard to get worthwhile new cards without breaking the bank.
If the goofy portmanteau of a title—plus the sight of a masked wrestler pummeling demonic creatures—didn't make it clear, then let us assure you: Guacamelee! is indeed a very odd, offbeat game. Styled after Metroid and the modern Castlevania games, this side-scrolling adventure finds you accruing various powers and abilities as you explore its interconnected stages. However, it does so with a ton of humor and panache, and the end result is an entertaining and challenging game that succeeds in part by not taking itself too seriously.
The nuances of Formula One racing are mostly imperceptible to the layman. It's all angular momentum and downforces; a system of geometry, physics, and engineering in which minute adjustments have outsized effects. As a result, a game like F1 2013—the latest of Codemasters’ annual racing series, brought to Mac by Feral Interactive—tends to require technical precision and strict execution.
Octodad: Dadliest Catch reconstructs the tried and true gaming tradition of inescapable challenge in a new, orange cephalopod body – and a three-piece suit. It's exactly as endearing as it sounds, occasional irritating objective aside, delivering a pleasantly confounding stumble through mollusk fatherhood.
The heroes of The Banner Saga, the debut effort from a three-man upstart called Stoic, are rarely heroic: one is dashed against an outcropping of boulders after he falls off a cliff, while another assaults a young girl and takes an arrow through the eye for his trouble. The backdrop of The Banner Saga may be Armageddon — or Ragnarok, in keeping with the game's Norse theme — but its characters are merely, tragically human.
Known simply as XCOM when it was first unveiled in 2010, The Bureau: XCOM Declassified is a strange creature. Now on Mac (following a late summer launch on other platforms), the 1960s-set adventure — loosely related to the more strategic XCOM: Enemy Unknown — is at once an attempt to do something new and interesting with the franchise and a bid to capture mainstream success with a focus on action. It doesn't quite succeed at either of these, but it tries hard, and patient players will find that battling an alien invasion during the height of the Cold War can be immensely fun. It just takes a while to get to that point.
Spec Ops: The Line thrives on colorful, deliberate level design; its self-conscious take on the shooter genre (by way of Apocalypse Now), and its reversal of traditional player incentives. Originally released in June 2012 on other platforms, Spec Ops' recent release on Mac captures every concept from the original for better and worse. It's as well-built a package as any modern AAA shooter — crisp, quick, and brutal — albeit saddled with some stop-and-pop repetition and decrepit multiplayer modes. However, for all the game does well, the Mac port unfortunately limps along with sluggish and inconsistent performance.
Running a clandestine agency devoted to fighting diabolical alien invaders is tough, but as XCOM: Enemy Unknown taught us, it gets a lot easier if you can steal things out of the enemy's playbook. And when those things include extreme genetic modifications and hulking robot exoskeletons — two of the biggest features introduced by the Enemy Within expansion — the fight doesn't necessarily get easier, but it does get a lot more interesting.
When it came to Mac in August, BioShock Infinite represented a huge change for its venerable franchise. It switched up the combat, trading bizarre weapons for conventional guns and frenetic pacing; it gave players a constant sidekick, Elizabeth; and most strikingly, it moved the action from the undersea nightmare city of Rapture to the (deceptively) sunnier, airborne steampunk metropolis of Columbia. Burial at Sea — Episode One, Infinite's first story-driven add-on, represents a step back on a couple of those points, the biggest being that the setting is once again Rapture — although we get to see it as a gleaming objectivist utopia, before everything really goes crazy.