Once upon a time a dude with a PC rig laughed at a Cupertino enthusiast. His sleek and beautiful Apple iMac could do a lot of things quickly; but none of that power amounted to a hill of beans when it came to games. Simple fact was that publishers didn't have a powerhouse digital delivery pipeline... Until now, that is.
Valve put on a big show Wednesday afternoon with the launch of its Steam platform for the Macintosh, revealing a staggering 63 games that Mac owners could buy on the first day of its release. That's a lot stuff to sift through. No worries, though. I did all the hard work and plucked out ten games that you simply must have among the impressive list of launch titles.
'And Yet it Moves' ($9.99)
"And Yet it Moves" might have a protagonist ripped straight out of that one A-Ha music video, but that's sort of the point. The game's art style draws inspiration from ripped and crumpled paper. Yet, "And Yet it Moves" is more than its visuals, as it offers a deep, unique, and non-linear puzzle-platforming experience courtesy of its physics-bending "tilt" mechanic.
"Loom" is an old LucasFilm Games' (now LucasArts) adventure title that merges adventure mechanics with exploration and discovery. What makes "Loom" special is its dismissal of traditional "verb" mechanics and its focus on tone (in more than one respect, interestingly). Instead of picking at a list of verbs, you'll play music to activate the uses of objects. Some call this odd and frustrating, but I think it's glorious and different.
'Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis' ($4.99)
The second entry in a LucasFilm Games adventure series starring Indiana Jones, "Fate of Atlantis" is a wonderful romp. It's as complex and challenging as it is witty and charming. Consider it the mechanical antithesis of "Loom," but a shining example of the entertainment a traditional Lucas pick-the-verb game can provide.
'Tales of Monkey Island' Series ($29.99 bundled)
You may be sensing a pattern, but I assure you it stops here with Telltale Games faithful continuation of the LucasArts "Monkey Island" series. All five episodes of "Tales of Monkey Island" are rife with quirky narrative, characters, and places. And the games' puzzles are more than rewarding. Expect numerous callbacks to the source material as well as tons of fresh content to explore. You can't go wrong with this series.
'Peggle Nights' ($9.99)
It doesn't get much simpler than PopCap Games’ "Peggle Nights," a stand-alone expansion to the original "Peggle." This specific title ushers in new faces and powers, but most importantly, “Nights” serves up dozens and dozens of new cocaine-laced peg boards to smash with metal balls. Call me a simple man, but I can spend hours with this every afternoon.
'Portal' (free until May 24th)
Valve's first-person puzzle title "Portal" is straight quality. The core puzzle mechanic -- the inter-dimensional portals that you can throw at will -- is the definition of compelling and unique play. And while the cruel AI GLaDOS might steal the show, there's something to be said about the way Valve designed each level to be challenging, yet never frustrating. Plus, it's free. Go get it.
'World of Goo' ($19.99)
2D Boy's "World of Goo" is a delightful, low-impact physics-based puzzle game that has you assembling little balls of goo into wiggly skyscrapers. The goal is to use as little goo as possible and funnel unused goo balls into a pipe at the end of every level. Each of the game's five worlds has a different art style, but the charm and easy-to-grasp mechanics remains the same between.
"Braid" is the little indie title that could. Its innovative twist on game narrative and fascinating time mechanics have thrilled critics and users alike, amassing the game serious cred across all of its available platforms. If you're in to getting your mind blown while having a good time, this is definitely up your alley.
'Machinarium' ($19.99, pictured above)
Amanita Design's point-and-click adventure title "Machinarium" is kind of like a modern day "Loom." It features an experiential no-dialogue story and nearly zero puzzle backtracking. It also constricts you to one zone at a time, thereby dodging most adventure game pitfalls. Oh, and the art looks fabulous on top of the game being rad.
'Torchlight' ($9.95, usually $19.99)
Runic Games channeled the original "Diablo" with "Torchlight," and I've always been fine with that. This point-and-click dungeon crawler is an experience almost solely focused on the loot, quest, and experience grind. It's unapologetic about it, offering little in the way of narrative. But don't let that get you down: if you want a game that will consume you in an instant, don't even think about passing "Torchlight" up.