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Best Value: Stardew Valley at Steam
"Every farming sim lover’s dream."
Best Online Multiplayer: Rocket League at Steam
"Perfectly suited for multiplayer, and it includes a split-screen mode for up to four players."
Best Challenge: Cuphead at Steam
"The story is charming, but it takes a backseat to tight, satisfying boss fights."
Best Local Multiplayer: Overcooked 2 at Steam
"Turns up the zaniness a couple of notches, ushering in dozens of creative locales and scenarios."
Best New Idea: Undertale at Steam
"Inspired by the likes of EarthBound and Dragon Quest, Undertale’s crafty writing and memorable characters will stick with you long after the credits roll."
Best Atmosphere: Oxenfree at Steam
"The clever writing and high-production voice acting make for an intriguing story, from start to finish."
Best Story: To the Moon at Steam
"To the Moon’s gut-punching conclusion will stir the waterworks of even the most emotionally-resilient players."
Best Puzzle Game: Portal 2 at Steam
"Deservedly recognized as one of the finest puzzle games ever made."
While most people think of Valve's platform at a PC-first storefront, some of the best Mac games on Steam are amazing experiences, and the library is growing all the time. Steam is just as handy and convenient on Mac as it is on PC, letting you easily browse games and apply a ton of different filters, whether you're looking to sort by a specific genre, want to see the best new games, or are looking for the best games for Mac of all time. Valve also does a great job of surfacing sales too, making sure the best deals get showcased right on the storefront.
Individual store pages are also incredibly helpful for evaluating a game at a glance, too. Beyond the tags which indicate genre and features, there are handy galleries of screenshots and videos, a quick summary of user reviews, and in-depth information straight from the developer. Mac games are becoming increasingly more prevalent as the platform matures, and we sifted through a massive assortment of them to find the ones most worthy of your hard-earned cash.
Courtesy of Steam
Relaxing farm/life sim
Incredible amount of things to do
Vibrant, colorful world
Can feel like you're always on the clock
Stardew Valley is every farming sim lover’s dream. Lone developer Eric Barone took the main recipe for Harvest Moon and added combat, mining, and loads of customization options. After your grandfather passes, you inherit the rundown family farm in Pelican Town. It’s your job to restore the farm to its former glory, while also interacting with your quirky new neighbors.
There’s always something to do in Pelican Town, whether it’s donating rare gems to the museum, participating in the game’s many festivals, or romancing your bachelor/bachelorette of choice. Back at home, you’ll grow from having just one chicken, all the way to taking care of an entire farm filled with animals, crops, and flowers. Stardew has plenty of RPG elements, too, as you’ll level up abilities like fishing, mining, and combat.
The “main story” takes roughly 50 hours to beat, but the farming doesn’t stop after the end credits roll. Plus, with the recent multiplayer update, you can live on the same farm with up to three friends.
Courtesy of Steam
Awesome, kinetic action
Great customization features
Limited offline appeal
What if you could play soccer … with cars? That’s exactly the premise of Psyonix’s Rocket League. Since gaining mass popularity after its appearance as a rinky-dink PlayStation Plus title back in 2015, Rocket League’s community has become one of the largest in gaming. Psyonix continues to release new cars for purchase, so you can drive around in vehicles inspired by Hot Wheels, DC Superheroes, and more.
Rocket League was practically built for highlight reels. Throughout each match, there are countless moments you’ll want to share with your friends — whether it's a game-saving block or a sweet shot that went in for a goal. Speaking of friends, Rocket League is perfectly suited for multiplayer, and it includes a split-screen mode for up to four players.
Furthermore, because Psyonix is spearheading an increasingly popular crossplay initiative, if you own it on Steam, you can matchmake with friends playing on PC, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, or Xbox One.
Courtesy of Steam
Gorgeous cartoon graphics
Don’t be fooled by Cuphead’s adorable, 1930’s-style animation — this game is absolutely brutal. StudioMDHR’s run-and-gun title plays out like a vintage cartoon, complete with a film grain effect, muffled voice acting, and a classic soundtrack.
Underneath that unique presentation lies an insanely challenging boss rush, with a few equally difficult sidescrolling levels thrown in. As Cuphead (and his brother Mugman, if you’re playing with a friend), you must defeat the bosses on the Inkwell Isles to pay off your gambling debt with the Devil. The story is charming, but it takes a backseat to tight, satisfying boss fights.
Despite its fairly simple run-and-gun controls, each fight plays out differently in Cuphead. One moment you’ll find yourself flying a plane through a treacherous cavern, and then you’ll be dodging cannonballs on a dock by the ocean. The goal is always the same — defeat the boss in each area — but each fight presents new puzzles and challenges to overcome. StudioMDHR’s ability to consistently introduce new mechanics and scenarios is impressive and, along with the presentation, makes Cuphead a standout title.
Incredible multiplayer action
Zany, colorful graphics
Local and online multiplayer
Not much fun solo
The original Overcooked turned the saying, “too many cooks in the kitchen,” into a video game. Its sequel, on the other hand, turns up the zaniness a couple of notches, ushering in dozens of creative locales and scenarios. With up to four players, you’ll have to cook pizzas, burgers, salads, and more, under the pressure of a strict time limit and crazy obstacles — like a hot air balloon that crashes mid-level or a river raft constantly moving downstream. Ghost Town Games continues to support the game with DLC, which has introduced even more recipes and settings that keep the game alive, even after the credits roll.
You can play Overcooked 2 alone, but it’s much better to play with friends. Playing with others, however, will result in excessive screaming and laughter, especially when someone mistakenly sets the kitchen on fire. Luckily, it’s easy to play together in Overcooked 2 thanks to the introduction of online multiplayer. Local multiplayer still leads to the best time, but online is a viable option if you can’t get everyone together in the same room.
Novel gameplay systems
Fascinating, layered narrative
Undertale dominated the conversation when it launched in 2015, and for good reason. Toby Fox’s experimental RPG begs the question, Why is there so much unnecessary killing in video games?
In combat, you can choose to spare every single enemy you face, but there’s a catch — it’s much more difficult (not to mention time-consuming) to play the pacifist route. This leaves you with a choice: Do you A) get through the game quicker by sacrificing lives or B) take the more inconvenient path and spare every life you encounter? It’s a difficult question, and the unique design will make you question the excessive violence in other video games.
On top of the experimental gameplay, Undertale fully embraces its own, quirky style. Inspired by the likes of EarthBound and Dragon Quest, Undertale’s crafty writing and memorable characters will stick with you long after the credits roll. Undertale has one of the most active fan communities in gaming. Experience it for yourself, and you’ll see why.
Beautiful, mysterious world
If you love horror-infused coming-of-age tales, Night School Studio’s Oxenfree is a must-add to your Steam library. Its premise is classic and campy: A group of rebellious teenagers decides to take a weekend excursion to an abandoned island, and things go terribly wrong. Without spoiling anything, there’s plenty of teen drama and a heavy dose of paranormal activity. Plus, the clever writing and high-production voice acting make for an intriguing story, from start to finish.
Oxenfree thrives thanks to its eclectic cast of characters. Each of your friends on the island has their own, unique plot to unravel. You'll spend most of your time walking and talking, as you explore the island and engage in meaningful conversations with the other characters. Your decisions will actually matter, as there are multiple endings to Oxenfree, and some are much happier than others. It only takes about four and a half hours to complete one playthrough, but, rest assured, you’ll find yourself wanting to go back to secure the best ending.
Cool throwback presentation
Are you ready to cry? To the Moon’s gut-punching conclusion will stir the waterworks of even the most emotionally-resilient players, quite a feat for a game that lasts only four hours. In To the Moon, you work for a “wish fulfillment’ company, manufacturing memories so the elderly can experience their greatest wishes before they pass. The story focuses heavily on death and touches on themes of regret, longing, and desire. It’s a lot to take, we know. But any gamer that appreciates proper storytelling ought to experience To the Moon.
As far as gameplay, To the Moon consists of a lot of walking and talking. You won't find branching narratives or multiple endings. In other words, you’re really just along for the ride. With little emphasis on gameplay and a heavy focus on plot, To the Moon almost plays out more like a movie than a video game. But, if you have a free afternoon, and are in need of a good cry, To the Moon is the perfect remedy.
Amazing puzzle design
Portal 2 has everything you could want in a puzzle game: an epic, mind-boggling single-player campaign, a fully-featured co-op mode, and a robust level editor for you to flex your creative muscles. Valve’s ability to take a simple concept — placing two portals and teleporting between them — and continue to expand it throughout a roughly 10-hour campaign is astounding. The puzzles become deeper and harder to solve. That said, Portal 2 strikes a healthy balance between ramping up the complexity and introducing new mechanics.
Storytelling in Portal 2 is dark, funny, and self-aware, and the developers clearly cared about giving life to a charming world in addition to its intricate puzzles. The story references Portal 1’s story quite often, but even if you've never played the original, there is still plenty to enjoy. After the main campaign, a cooperative mode introduces more new ideas tailor-made for multiplayer. Plus, a level editor lets you try your hand at creating Portal puzzles for yourself. Packed with high-quality content, Portal 2 is deservedly recognized as one of the finest puzzle games ever made.
If you're looking for an amazing time sink in a living, clockworld world, Stardew Valley is an incredible option, one of the best "life sims" ever produced, blending farming with mining, RPG elements, and even a relationship system. If what you crave is an incredible multiplayer game, endlessly replayable and often breathtaking, Rocket League is one of the best ever made.
Logan Plant is an established tech and games journalist with experience at major outlets in both categories. He's been surrounded by games his entire life, and hosts a number of podcasts and radio shows, several with an exclusive focus on gaming.
Genre - One of the single most important top-level considerations when choosing any game is genre, and luckily Macs have been getting a broader and broader variety of games in recent years. It doesn't matter how great a game is or how well polished its systems are if the basic genre just doesn't appeal to you.
Gameplay - Games are first and foremost meant to be interactive, it's how the medium distinguishes itself from more passive pursuits like books and film. Gameplay is thus absolutely vital, though with that in mind, sometimes you may be in the mood for a less intense experience, something like a visual novel or adventure game (To the Moon from our list is a great example).
Single vs multiplayer - While games have across the board been creeping further and further into the online space over the last decade plus, there are still plenty of singleplayer stalwarts out there who are mostly interested in playing games alone. For those that do get the most out of games when they play with others, there's the further consideration of whether a game features local or online play, or both (sometimes blended together).