Mac gaming is arguably still in its infancy, though our selection of the best Mac games show there is a healthy selection of compelling titles to choose from.
With the rise of the Apple Silicon initiative which aims to equip all Mac with Apple’s own chips, we’re seeing some impressive slices of silicon that have gaming potential if developers can harness Cupertino’s Metal API. And that means the likes of the MacBook Air M2 can actually run games despite its diminutive size and fanless design.
So expect this list to evolve as Mac gaming builds out. But for now read on for our pics of the best Mac games you can play today.
How can I play the best Mac games?
First things first: How does one buy Mac games?
In many ways, the process is similar to buying PC games. Steam, the most widely known online storefront, has a free-to-download Mac client. So does the Epic Game Store, a newer contender in the digital storefront space. If you can’t find the games you want there, you’ve also got GOG, Humble and individual publisher storefronts, such as EA’s Origin and Activision Blizzard’s Blizzard.net.
Finally, Mac users have the option of downloading games right from the App Store, just like they would on an iPhone or iPad. The App Store has tons of free-to-play apps, and can access Apple Arcade games. But there’s also a healthy selection of more mainstream titles to choose from.
There is a pretty major caveat for Mac owners, however. Ever since the release of macOS Catalina in 2019, modern Macs can no longer run 32-bit games, which is why we sadly left classics such as Portal and Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis off the list. There are workarounds, as are there for playing Windows-only games on Mac. But for the purposes of this list, we included only games that you can download and play without any knowledge of Parallels, Bootcamp or similar programs.
Wherever you choose to purchase the best Mac games, make sure that the game is Mac-compatible (check for a little Apple symbol), and will work with the version of macOS your computer is running. The system requirements section on a store page will usually provide this information.
What are the best Mac games?
1. Disco Elysium
Disco Elysium might look like a throwback to isometric classic RPGs of the past, but in reality it’s one of the freshest games we’ve ever played. While the trope of amnesia is leaned upon, this murder-mystery detective noir game is utterly stunning in its use of smart dialogue option, which sees the your character act upon the advice of a myriad of inner voices.
One voice for example, centers around logic, while another represents the lizard-brain like human reaction to danger or revulsion. Rather than beat up enemies with swords and sorcery, Disco Elysium relies on dialogue as its ‘combat’ and it all the more engaging for it.
A great art style bypasses the need for heavy graphics, meaning you’ll easily run Disco Elysium on the likes of the MacBook Air M2. And you really should as it’s an essential game.
2. Sid Meier’s Civilization VI
If you’re looking for a game to sink hundreds of hours into, you can’t beat Sid Meier’s Civilization VI. The latest entry in the long-running 4X strategy series launched in 2016, with the developers at Firaxis supplying a steady stream of content and updates through 2021. In addition to the core game, which has you battling it out with other historical leaders for world domination, there are also expansion packs and DLC, which added dark ages, climate change, the undead and even a battle royale mode.
Civ VI is so satisfying and addictive that you might find yourself saying, “Just one more turn” over and over again. Think about it: Where else can you drop a nuke on Gandhi while defending against French spies and fending off zombies with a giant death robot?
When Hades launched for macOS, Windows and Nintendo Switch in 2020, reviewers showered it with critical accolades and a number of Game of the Year nods. In other words, this isn’t just one of the best Mac games — it’s one of the best games of the last few years, period. This roguelite journey through the underworld is as gorgeous as it is punishing. But thanks to combat worthy of Supergiant Games’ esteemed pedigree, death never feels like the end.
Here’s the thing about Hades: You will die. A lot. Rather than being a punishing, frustrating experience, however, every game over screen feels like a fresh opportunity. Even if you’re not typically into roguelikes, this one is definitely worth it.
4. The Sims 4
The Sims 4 didn’t exactly strike a chord with longtime players and reviewers upon its 2014 release, but a lot can change in eight years. Since the latest game in the longtime simulation series launched to middling reviews, developers at EA and Maxis have provided regular updates with countless quality-of-life improvements. They’ve also added a lot of content from previous games that was conspicuously missing, such as the hot tub and the toddler life cycle. It took a while, but The Sims 4 finally feels like a worthy successor to the beloved series.
Although EA has finally made its games library (including TS4 and its many expansions and DLC) available on Steam, you’ll have to use Origin if you want to play this game on Mac. Sul sul!
5. Thimbleweed Park
If you were a fan of the classic LucasArts point-and-click adventure games from the 90s, Thimbleweed Park is a must-play. Created by the game design dream team of Ron Gilbert and Gary Winnick, also known as the visionary designers of 1987 adventure classic Maniac Mansion, Thimbleweed Park puts you in control of five zany characters working to uncover the town’s deadly secrets.
The vibe is “X-Files meets Twin Peaks,” and the gameplay is straight out LucasArts’ heydey. Thimbleweed Park uses classic inventory and verb mechanics for puzzle-solving, but it also feels super modern, thanks to standout voice acting and beautifully detailed environments. Plus, longtime point-and-click fans will find plenty of thoughtful nods to the games that came before. Finally, a use for that chainsaw!
6. Day of the Tentacle Remastered
Speaking of Maniac Mansion (and when are we not?), its 1993 sequel Day of the Tentacle got the remaster treatment in 2016, bringing one of the funniest, most creative games of all time to modern systems. DOTT was widely regarded as a masterpiece throughout the 90s, and unlike many other games from the era, it holds up wonderfully. Time travel? Sentient tentacles? A plan to enslave humans? Making a time capsule with Thomas Edison? Day of the Tentacle has it all.
Bonus: You can even play the original Maniac Mansion on Weird Ed’s computer. Just don’t mess with his hamster.
7. Shadow of the Tomb Raider
Often used as a bit of a measuring stick for gaming performance, at least until more recently, the reboot of Tomb Raider by Square Enix can run on all manner of machines. As the third entry in the rebooted series, Shadow of the Tomb Raider comes with graphical enhancements. But it also brings the trilogy to a neat conclusion to the action-adventure series.
Taking place in Central America and Mexico, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, mixes realistic action with a good dose of fun, all wrapped around a story that sees Lara Croft work to prevent a series of cataclysms, as well as the machinations of paramilitary organization Trinity. At the same time, Croft confronts her own role in solving and preserving the world’s secrets. If you want to get a taste for the full story, have a hunt for the whole trilogy on Apple’s App Store for macOS.
8. Final Fantasy XIV
As far as MMOs go, Final Fantasy XIV checks all the boxes for those looking to disappear into an online adventure. This Square Enix MMORPG, which takes place in the expansive Final Fantasy universe that put the publisher on the map, did what was once considered impossible: knocked World of Warcraft off its throne as the most-played RPG. In fact, FFXIV so popular that Square Enix occasionally has to halt new sales so as to not overwhelm the system.
Final Fantasy XIV didn’t have the most straightforward path to success. Critics despised its initial version, and fans largely ignored it. It wasn’t until the MMO’s 2013 “2.0” patch that things began to improve. Since then FFXIV has become an award-winning behemoth. Get in while the getting’s good; you never know when sales might stop again!
9. The Flame in the Flood
In a world decimated by a post-apocalyptic flood, a young girl named Scout and her loyal doggo must traverse a lengthy waterway in order to find something resembling hope for the future. If this description feels vague, that’s on purpose. Part of the joy of The Flame in the Flood is discovering new things as you go along. The roguelike nature of this indie darling from The Molasses Flood means that starting over is part of the process, but it only makes reaching the end all the more satisfying.
Exploration, crafting, scavenging and resource management are all part of the process, and keeping Scout alive is no easy task. It’s a grueling-but-delightful journey, and it’s got a killer soundtrack, to boot.
10. Diablo III
Blizzard Entertainment has long been a Mac-friendly developer and publisher (and hopefully its recent acquisition by Windows-maker Microsoft won’t change that!). As such, it came as no surprise when the long-awaited Diablo III launched day-and-date on OS X and Windows in 2012. Nearly a decade later, the hack-and-slash gameplay is still a ton of fun, especially when played cooperatively with a friend or two. Fire up your Mac and turn on voice chat, and you’ve got a great Friday night ahead, running and looting your way through the dungeons of Sanctuary.
Oxenfree is many things: a coming-of-age story, a mystery, a graphic adventure and a weird-as-all-get-out game in general. The indie title from Night School Studio follows a group of teenagers on an overnight island campout, which should alert you to the fact that things are about to go terribly wrong. There are paranormal forces at work on this island, and protagonist Alex needs to uncover its confusing landscape if she wants to have any hope of surviving until morning and making it back to solid land.
Like Stardew Valley, platformer Celeste is the recipient of a Take This Dr. Mark Award for its thoughtful portrayal of mental health issues. Unlike Stardew, however, Celeste could hardly be described as chill or Zen. It’s a brutally challenging platformer, in which many of the obstacles represent mountain-climbing heroine Madeline’s internal struggles. Those who struggle with anxiety and self-doubt will find Madeline’s journey relatable, and the game handles those serious issues with care. And even though you’ll die — a lot — the next chapter never feels impossibly out of reach.
Uber-challenging games aren’t for everyone, so if “Zen” and “chill” are more your speed, you should absolutely take a look at Unpacking, one of the best games of 2021. Unpacking is exactly what it sounds like: You’ll unpack boxes in a series of homes, organizing their contents in cabinets, shelves and closets. With every article of clothing, every poster and every stuffed animal you unpack, you’ll learn more about the person whose contents you’re unpacking, even if you never see them.
Unpacking is a phenomenal achievement in video game storytelling, and shows that there are still new ways to unravel a narrative. We’ll forgive you if you overlooked this gem when it came out last November, but don’t sleep on it any longer.
14. Graveyard Keeper
Imagine Stardew Valley, but instead of a farm, you have to maintain a graveyard. There’s still plenty of crafting and agriculture involved, but your responsibilities also include embalming and burying (or cremating) corpses before they decompose. Oh, and you’ve also been thrust through time after being hit by a car, and find yourself in a vaguely medieval world. The only way to get home is to be the best gravekeeper you can be, while befriending the villagers, leading church sermons and researching new technology.
Despite the grim subject matter, Graveyard Keeper really hits the same soothing sweet spot as other farming sims. Unlike other open-ended simulation games, this one has a story that fully wraps up, although we won’t blame you if you don’t want to go through that portal, and instead remain among the corpses.
15. Gone Home
It’s 1995. It’s late at night, and you’ve just returned from your trip abroad to find your family home empty. Instead of watching My So-Called Life or playing Super Nintendo, you realize that your sister is gone, and your parents are nowhere to be found, either. This first-person exploration game manages to be creepy as heck, despite not having any combat, and with every dark room and secret compartment you explore, you’ll find more pieces of the puzzle.
It’s best to go in knowing as little about Gone Home as possible, and the whole thing takes only about two or three hours to complete. The story, however, will stick with you a whole lot longer.
With visuals inspired by the golden age of American animation, Cuphead is easily one of the most stylish games of the last five years. But just because it’s cartoony doesn’t mean it’s easy. In fact, Cuphead’s hectic run-and-gun gameplay and epic boss battles have earned it a reputation for being quite difficult in the near half-decade since its original release. With the long-awaited expansion pack The Delicious Last Course dropping later this year, now is the perfect time to catch up — provided you’re looking for a challenge.
17. Cities: Skylines
In the beginning, there was SimCity. Since 2015, however, a different city-building sim has reigned supreme, and that’s Paradox Interactive’s Cities: Skylines. In the process of building up blank plots of land into thriving metropolises, you’ll have to manage budgets, electricity, plumbing, public transportation, housing availability and more. Keeping your citizens happy is key, of course. No one is moving in or opening a business in a place with terrible traffic management or totalitarian taxes.
There are many robust systems at work in Cities: Skylines. The game can feel overwhelming at first, but when it clicks, you’re hooked. Plus, with around a dozen expansion packs available, you’re not likely to run out of things to do anytime soon.
18. Her Story
Created by developer Sam Barlow, who was previously best known for his work on the Silent Hill series, Her Story is an outstanding achievement in interactive storytelling. Using full motion video clips and a search engine-esque interface, the player must piece together testimony and resources in order to learn the truth behind a difficult mystery. The gameplay is unconventional, but it works. You’ll have to pay close attention to each interview clip if you want to learn the whole story, and that’s all we can really say without spoiling anything.
19. Papers, Please
What if you needed to escape your country to save your family’s lives, but you didn’t have the legal means to do so? Papers, Please is a harrowing look at the realities of immigration, with the fictional dystopian nation of Arstotzka standing in for the hostile border environments found all over the world.
As an immigration officer, you’ll need to carefully examine passports and identification papers of people hoping to cross Arstotzka’s border, with failure resulting in grave consequences. However, these decisions aren’t always black-and-white, so you may have to weigh your fear of getting in trouble with the needs of your fellow citizens. It’s a good reminder that what’s legal isn’t always what’s right, and sometimes, breaking the law is the ethical thing to do.
Limbo makes impressive use of a grayscale color theme to create its expansive environments, but that’s not the only reason this platformer is so haunting. Much of Limbo’s story is open to interpretation, but loss is one of its major themes: both losing those you love, and finding yourself in unknown, dangerous territory.
Now over a decade old, this indie hit remains a sterling example of how minimalism can serve video game design. Not everything has to be over-the-top and explosive. Likewise, not every plot point needs an in-depth explanation. If nothing else, Limbo will make you think, and leave you grasping to understand its hidden meaning.
The first thing you’ll notice about Gris is that it’s absolutely gorgeous. Over the course of this thoughtful indie game published by Devolver Digital, you’ll slowly bring vibrant hues back to the watercolor-style environments that serve as Gris’ backdrop. The more you play, the more you’ll realize that the game’s beauty runs more than skin deep. Each puzzle solved is an opportunity to learn more about the title character, and these revelations are at turns heartbreaking and inspiring. Apple even named it the top Mac game of the year for 2019, calling it “a soul-stirring work of digital art.”
22. Donut County
In the colorful, quirky Donut County, you play as a hole. Yes, you read that right: You are a hole, creating chaos and swallowing homes, vehicles, livestock and the animal inhabitants of a town that’s been taken over by raccoons. You know what? We don’t think any further information is necessary.
23. Game of Thrones: A Tale of Crows
Game of Thrones: A Tale of Crows is an Apple Arcade exclusive, and is a pretty unusual game compared to those on this list. That’s because it’s a so-called ‘idle game’ whereby you do a few tasks in the game and then wait to see their results.
Frame around the tale of a Lord Commander looking after the Night’s Watch at Castle Black, at the foot of GoT’s The Wall, these updates come in the form of messages that give you an idea of how various mission are progressing beyond The Wall.
Presented in scratchy colored sketchbook style graphics, A Tale of Crows lets your imagination fill in the gaps, with it conveying a sense of dread as a crow caws or a horn blares, mixed in with small glimmers of hope from the odd slither of good news. Put this game on in the background on your MacBook and you have the perfect thing for the odd break between work and emails.
It wasn’t easy narrowing down our list of the best Mac games, but we tried to encompass a wide range of genres, art styles, and difficulty levels so that there’s something for everyone. Of course, this list isn’t exhaustive. Contrary to popular belief, there are plenty of worthwhile video games to play on Mac, so what are you waiting for? Happy downloading!