Do you love video games and have a Mac?
As you likely know, Macs aren’t designed as primary gaming machines — the best rigs are always PCs. But that doesn’t mean you have to miss out on the fun.
Even though Windows is the best platform for gaming (tips for optimizing Windows 10 for maximum gaming performance), that doesn’t mean that there aren’t any great games available on Mac. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.
But getting access to the best Mac games can be expensive, so what if you’re on a budget? Don’t worry, because we’ve just rounded up some of the best Mac games you can get without burning a hole in your wallet.
Portal is a first-person puzzle classic and a game that everyone should have. The original Portal came out in 2007, but still holds up fairly well. The sequel is also excellent.
For those who aren’t in the know, Portal is a puzzle platformer (our top 20 platformers of all time) that is unlike anything you’ve played before. In Portal, players control a character named Chell, who is the test subject of Aperture Science Laboratories. You’re given the “Aperture Science Handheld Portal Device,” which is a gun that can create intra-spacial portals between two flat plane surfaces.
The game consists of players helping Chell solve a series of puzzles using the Portal Device with the natural law of physics. Because you retain momentum through the portals you make, you must be creative in order to solve some levels.
Throughout Chell’s time at Aperture, she’s constantly taunted by GLaDOS (Genetic Lifeform and Disk Operating System). GLaDOS also promises delicious cake after you solve all puzzles, so at least there’s that to look forward to, right?
Portal 2 is the critically acclaimed sequel and retains the same innovative gameplay as the original, with a few new game mechanics and new characters . Unlike the original, Portal 2 includes tractor beams, light bridges, and laser redirection. There’s also gels that accelerate your speed, so you can jump higher or place portals on hard-to-reach surfaces.
And if you enjoy multiplayer games, Portal 2 has a two-player co-op mode. In the co-op, players control new robots Atlas and P-Body, and each has their own portal gun. You’ll have to work together as a team to solve challenging new puzzles. For the creative types, there’s even a level editor.
The Portal games have been around for a long time, but it’s entirely possible that you haven’t played them. And if that’s the case, there’s no better time than now to give the series a try, especially at the price. You’ll fall in love with Portal’s distinctive humor and gameplay.
2. Cat Quest
Do you love a good open-world adventure RPG and cats? Then Cat Quest is the perfect game for you. Cat Quest released in August 2017 but it has already captured the hearts of many.
In Cat Quest, players take on the role of a cat who ends up watching his sister get catnapped by an evil Drakoth. You then end up in a pursuit all over the huge overworld of Felingard in search of your sister, while facing various critters and dragons along the way and learning powerful magic.
What makes Cat Quest so special, though, is how the game’s set up. Everything happens on the overworld, including battle. You’ll see all kinds of creatures and monsters freely roaming around. To engage in combat, just click on your target — you automatically perform melee attacks. You activate magical spells by clicking on the circle around your cat, and then selecting an equipped skill (up to four).
Watch out for higher-level monsters though, because they will attack you when you get close enough. When this happens, just run away! There are also many caves and dungeons to find and explore, and it’s important to do so because you’ll find great loot.
As you defeat enemies, they’ll drop gold and experience point orbs for you. When your cat levels up, his stats get stronger, and you’re able to face off against tougher foes. Use Gold to purchase loot boxes from the cat merchant, unlock new spells, or upgrade existing magic to become more potent.
Running low on health? Just make a dash for the nearest town and take a catnap on the pillow — free heals! Doing this also saves the game, which is convenient.
Cat Quest has a story that reveals itself through the main quests. However, there’s also plenty to do aside from that, as players can take on random quests from villagers and other NPCs. This is beneficial to you because of experience and rewards. And of course, Cat Quest is full of humor and puns, because what kind of cat game would it be if it wasn’t?
Cat Quest is available on iOS if you’d prefer to journey on the go.
Seeking a survival RPG with a lot of sass? Then Crashlands is a must. Even if you aren’t normally a crafting game fan (think Minecraft, which we have a late beginner’s guide for), Crashlands can change your perspective.
In Crashlands, you take control of Flux Dabes, a galactic trucker who just had her latest shipment derailed by the nefarious Hewgodooku. You end up crash landing and stranded on the planet Woanope, where it’s every alien for himself.
Crashlands is well known for having a huge in-game world, and it will take years to discover every nook and cranny of the map for the three biomes. Along your journey, you’ll discover many friendly characters who become strong allies in the fight against Hewgodooku. But watch out, as there are many dangerous creatures who want you dead.
In Crashlands, players will need to collect resources to build their home base on each biome. There’s hundreds of different recipes to collect, which provide you with home furnishings, armor, and weapons of different rarity. And if you’re worried about inventory space, don’t worry — Crashlands has a smart self-managing infinite item stash, so you can carry as many resources as you find.
Combat in Crashlands is similar to Cat Quest, where everything happens on the overworld in real time. Click to select your target, and Flux begins auto-attacking. Use your gadgets and gizmos for stronger attacks. You can also augment your attacks with effects from weapons (like burning, poison, and life drain). There are also pets to tame and use as help in battle, so find those eggs!
Crashlands provides hundreds of hours of humorous entertainment, even if you don’t usually play crafting RPGs. Crashlands is also available on iOS and Android.
4. Slayaway Camp
Are you a big ’80s puzzle and horror game fan? If you answered “yes” to both of those, then Slayaway Camp is the right game to add to your collection.
Slayaway Camp features a voxel art style that you’ll recognize from Minecraft, so it’s lovable from the get-go. Even though you take control of the terrifying Skullface, who can resist his cute voxel charm? Since the game resembles ’80s horror movies, it’s packed full of vintage VHS tapes and effects throughout the game menus, giving it an authentic feel.
On top of the great graphics, Slayaway Camp has a synth-infused metal soundtrack that goes so well with slasher films. To top off the audio, excellent voice acting and sound effects, such as slashing and screaming, add the icing on the cake.
In Slayaway Camp, players go through a series of scenes in a movie, with each videotape serving as its own chapter in the game. The scenes are puzzles where you must kill everyone and then make your escape through the portal, then go on to the next scene.
Some stages are a bit more complicated, as you must kill and escape within a certain number of turns. Others have tricky floor layouts, so you have to watch out for hazards like bonfires and holes.
When you move your killer, he’ll keep moving until he hits a wall. As you land in a spot adjacent to an innocent victim, you’ll kill them in comical fashion, depending on the killer you’ve chosen (there’s more than Skullface).
But again, watch out for natural obstacles, like rivers, because you don’t stop until you run into a wall or person. You can kill police too, but don’t approach them head-on, as they’ll capture you.
After successful scenes, you get a bonus kill opportunity. Clearing this also nets you bonus coins. You can spend these coins on new killers or Gorepacks, which are entertaining ways that your killer can perform kill scenes.
If you love puzzles but want something that’s unlike anything you’ve played before, then Slayaway Camp does the trick. It’s also available on iOS and Android.
Have an itch for a fantasy action RPG? Then Bastion is right up your alley. It’s the indie game that put Supergiant Games in the spotlight, and for good reason.
One of the most appealing aspects of Bastion is the hand-drawn environments. Players travel through luxurious isometric landscapes that float in the sky, which form paths as you move forward. The art is full of vibrant, eye-catching colors and the way the levels come together is seamless.
Another special thing about Bastion is the fact that the game features dynamic voiceover from a mysterious narrator. The voiceover reacts to whatever the player does, so it’s not just a plain old script. The voice itself is also rather deep and rich, making it quite soothing to listen to.
In Bastion, you’ll control “the Kid” as he embarks on a journey to collect special rock shards. These shards power up a structure called the Bastion, after the apocalyptic Calamity occurs.
Bastion is a level-based adventure RPG. Each stage features gorgeous fantasy environments that reveal paths as you near the edge of the world. The Kid carries two weapons at a time (both ranged and melee), which you’ll use to dispatch a wide variety of enemies. Arsenals available at specific locations throughout the game provide you with more weapon choices.
As you play through Bastion, you’ll discover that basic attacks are your main method of eliminating threats. However, the Kid has the ability to perform a special attack if you’ve acquired it. Special attacks are represented by black tonic items that drop in levels or when slaying enemies, and only last for three uses
Between levels, the Kid hangs out in the Bastion. You can use collected fragments (currency) to buy materials and upgrade weapons to become stronger. When you have cores, you may add a new structure to Bastion, like a Distillery or Armory.
If the regular adventure isn’t enough for you, Bastion also has the Proving Grounds, which are challenge courses. The objectives in these differ depending on what weapons you’ve found and are using. These will reward players with different levels of prizes.
Even though Bastion is several years old, it still holds up incredibly well. It’s one of those titles that you should not miss. Bastion is also available on Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, and iOS.
Succeeding Bastion, Transistor is the second hit from Supergiant Games that satisfies those who prefer sci-fi over fantasy.
As with Bastion, the developer delivers another knockout with Transistor in terms of visual and audio design. Transistor features beautiful sci-fi inspired environments and characters, all in an isometric point of view. Narration comes through Transistor, the sword that the main character, Red, uses.
In Transistor, players take on the role of a singer named Red as she travels through the futuristic city of Cloudbank with the talking sword, Transistor. While the sword was intended for Red’s assassination it instead was buried into the chest of a man. Now his consciousness and voice get absorbed into Transistor, along with Red’s voice. She’s on the run from the Camerata, who want Transistor for themselves.
While Red is on her mission, she encounters enemies known as the Process and must engage them in real-time combat. What makes the battling in Transistor unique is the frozen planning mode called Turn().
When you use Turn(), the action bar drains but refills after a short delay. Until it’s full again, Red cannot use Turn() or other special abilities. The system takes a bit of getting used to, but it works well once you understand it.
Red earns experience points after battles and may find new powers, called Functions, from fallen Process. Red can have up to four Functions equipped as techniques. These can enhance another Function, add a new technique, or act as a passive.
Transistor has an interesting battle system and a deep storyline. And like Bastion, the soundtrack is superb. It’s a must for your Mac, and it’s also available on PlayStation 4 and iOS.
7. Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions Evolved
Many of the games we’ve discussed are RPGs or puzzles. If you want some arcade shooter action, get ready for Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions Evolved.
For the uninitiated, Geometry Wars is a dual-stick shooter that involves a ton of vibrant neon colors, sparkling explosions and particle effects, and geometric shapes. All of the games in the Geometry Wars series oozes retro charm, and it’s hard to put down once things get hectic.
Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions Evolved features an all-new Adventure mode. In this option, there’s over 100 levels to power your way through, including 40 completely new stages not seen in Geometry Wars 3. Each level has various objectives to complete before it’s cleared, such as getting a total number of points, surviving for a certain amount of time, or defeating a boss.
If you’re seeking more traditional arcade shooter fun, Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions Evolved has you covered too. All the classic game modes return in the Arcade: Pacifism, King, Survival, Time, and Claustrophobia. On top of these, Dimensions Evolved gives you four extra brand-new modes.
A new feature in Geometry Wars 3 is the inclusion of companion drones for your ship. These drones can attack, collect geoms (increase your multiplier), ram into enemies, and more. It’s a fun addition to the already hectic shooting action.
For the purists, there’s a Hardcore game mode that leaves out drones and super attacks, so it all comes down to only your skill. Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions Evolved even has local and online co-op, so you and a friend can enjoy explosive geometric shooting action.
Regardless of how you choose to play Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions Evolved, there’s something here for everyone, from casuals to hardcore arcade shooter fans. It’s also on PS3, PS4, Vita, Xbox 360, Xbox One, iOS, and Android.
In the mood to unwind after a long day? Then FEZ is a great way to do so. If you enjoy shifting perspective, optical illusion style puzzles like Monument Valley, then FEZ is a must, as it pretty much started the trend.
FEZ features a beautiful 2D pixelated art style. The environments are bold and exuberant, and cute critters fill the world. But the magic about FEZ is the fact while it appears 2D on the surface, it actually takes place in a 3D setting.
How does this work? The main character in FEZ, Gomez, is living peacefully until he finds a red fez one day. The discovery of this simple red fez leads to him witnessing the breakup of a giant hexahedron. It tears through the fabric of space and time, revealing a third dimension.
Now, players are able to rotate through four 2D views of the 3D world, like a cube. As you shift and rotate the stages, new paths reveal themselves, allowing you to get to spaces that were previously impossible to reach.
FEZ is definitely one of those puzzle games that gets your brain working. The main objective of the game is to collect cubes and cube fragments, which you need to restore the universe. FEZ has no enemies, bosses, or even penalties for failure, so there’s no stress. If you fall to your death, Gomez just quickly respawns — no harm, no foul.
There’s more to FEZ than just a puzzle game. For those who like to investigate, FEZ has some exploratory elements as well. There’s arcane codes and glyphs that you can attempt to decipher, treasure maps and chests, and even secret rooms. There’s no guidance when it comes to these optional parts of the game, so it’s all up to you to find and unravel the mysteries of the ancient civilization.
FEZ is a surreal puzzle platformer experience, and one of the first games to popularize the optical illusion genre. It’s an essential for anyone who likes challenging puzzles to solve. Along with Steam, it’s on Xbox and PlayStation.
What Are Your Favorite Bargain Mac Games?
Even though most people think of Windows before Mac for their PC gaming needs, there’s still plenty of fun games on Mac for you to enjoy. Plus, you can try emulators that let you play old PC games on your Mac. We’ve barely scratched the surface of great games you can get, and these will only cost you less than $20.
What are your favorite inexpensive games available on Mac? Did we miss any of your favorites? Let us know in the comments!