10 Mac Games to Get You Thinking

Are you ever in one of those moods where you want to solve a puzzle, but would rather play a puzzling game? If not, maybe you feel like playing something that will really turn your brain on and exercise it. I’ve been browsing the Mac App Store quite often lately to see if there are any great new games/apps that I’d actually enjoy playing.

Sure, there are a lot great games for this stuff, but the main problem is that there are too many of them. You’re probably looking for a short list of the best ones so that you can spend less time reading the list and start playing. Keep reading for ten great games that will really give your mind the workout that it’s been asking for.



First and foremost, I present to you the best video game that I’ve ever had the pleasure of completing. Our own Kevin Whipps reviewed it a little over a year ago, giving it nine out of ten stars and calling it “a blast to play, but equally frustrating” and believe me, when you play it you will know why. I’ve always loved this platformer for its unique art and gameplay. Instead of the traditional “straight forward to rescue the lady”, Braid takes things in the opposite direction. From the music — which is absolutely amazing, by the way — to the gameplay, Braid is a piece of fine art.

The game is genius. There are so many hidden puzzles and secret achievements to gain that you will probably need a walkthrough or two if you wish to fully complete the game. Sometimes it will drive you to madness, but hey, that’s what makes it a truly great game right? For your time traveling pleasure, Braid is 30% off for an unknown amount of time. Go rescue your damsel at once!

Developer: Hothead Games

Price: $7.99



From the land of myth and mystery comes one of the most beautiful platformers of its time. Trine has some very gripping gameplay, a fun wizardly story and lots of elements ranging from fire and lava to beautiful jungles and swamps. The designers of the world of Trine really had some inspiration in creating the characters and environments. I really love what Ari Pulkkinen has composed for the soundtrack as well — it’s really beautiful.

Even though I’m making it sound like a game that only has amazing graphics and is bare in other areas, that’s not quite true, so let me explain the rest of the elements to you. As a sidescroller, you’d expect Trine to be a lot like Super Mario or something, but it’s much different. All the elements are designed in 3D, even though you can’t really move them in all three dimensions. As for puzzles, there are a lot of them involved in the game, many of which involve using each of the characters to their fullest potential and figuring out how to navigate through a wall by doing so.

Developer: Frozenbyte, Inc.

Price: $.99 for a limited time

Trine 2

Trine 2

It seemed rather fitting to include the sequel to the aforementioned game because of how it took that game a whole step further. The graphics in Trine 2 are astounding, to say the least. In this game, they included spiders and goblins as the main enemies, but I still haven’t finished it yet, so I can’t really tell you all of the enemies.

I’m really enjoying this sequel so far; it does not disappoint, though it is fifteen times the price of its predecessor — this is actually because they’re running a sale on the other one right now to celebrate the launch of Trine 2. Anyway, it has even more improved graphics and better physics than the first. The lighting and beauty of the world is amazing, though it may not perform too well on an older Mac. In addition, this game is much larger than the first.

Developer: Frozenbyte, Inc.

Price: $14.99



Ah, the horror — literally. Our own Scott Danielson recently reviewed Limbo and gave it nine out of ten stars, signifying that it’s a really great game. Limbo is nearly the opposite of Trine. First, it’s a real classic in the sense that it has no color. The entire game is black and white, just like those really old films your parents used to watch.

In terms of story, Limbo’s is sort of like the classic “rescue the lady” routine, though with a bit of a twist. You see, in this version of the damsel in distress, you are rescuing your sister. That’s really all I’m going to say because the rest is to be learned by yourself when playing the game. However, Danielson did say that you sort of figure out the story as you go and there’s no narrator. He also points out that the story is a bit short and you may be wanting more when you’ve finished the game.

Developer: Playdead ApS

Price: $9.99

Cut the Rope

Cut the Rope

Here’s a classic from the iOS platform. It seems that the developers of Cut the Rope for iOS have decided to bring the extremely successful game to Apple’s Mac App Store in hopes of getting a few more players. The game just recently launched on the 22nd and has been doing quite well. I bought it at launch and have really been liking the way they adapted it to the Mac platform. I really think that you won’t want to buy it if you don’t have a MacBook or Magic Trackpad though, because it won’t be too much fun playing it with a traditional mouse. To read my first impressions, head over here.

Anyway, in terms of story, there isn’t one. It’s just one of those continuing puzzle games that is continually updated — they really work hard at releasing updates that contain new levels every few months. As for gameplay, it’s rather enjoyable. Cut the Rope is a lot of fun to play, even on a Mac. It will puzzle you at times because some of the levels really seem downright impossible. I’ve somehow managed to achieve three stars on all levels on my iPad after playing the game a few times a week for a few months — you get the idea.

Developer: ZeptoLab UK Limited

Price: $4.99



This one is very, shall we say, metal. This is an industrial-style point and click game that’s really a lot different from the others that I’ve mentioned. You aren’t using the keyboard to control the character or anything like that, but rather clicking where you want the character to move and then choosing actions from there. The graphics of the game are not the most appealing, but some may love them. It gives of a sort of grunge feel and has many sounds accompanying it that make you feel like you’re really in the world.

Another perk of Machinarium is mini games, which can be quite puzzling at times. As our own Matt Reich points out in his review of the game, the entire game is really just a bunch of puzzles that are to be solved. Within some puzzles, others reside. He says that the puzzles aren’t extremely hard to complete, but if you don’t play puzzle games very often, then they can become a bit difficult — which means this is the game to challenge your skills.

Developer: Amantia Design

Price: $9.99

World of Goo

World of Goo

This one can get a bit sticky. It’s a real classic that will keep you thinking and also make you want to throw your computer out the window. (If this really does happen, then we recommend that you please remain calm and take a walk.) World of Goo really does have a creative and interesting story with some very involving gameplay.

In World of Goo, gooballs are living all around. You must use them to create bridges over gaps, to escape the perilous depths of caverns deep and wide, and then to just use your imagination. This is the game where it all comes to life with crazy characters and beautiful design.

Developer: 2D BOY

Price: $9.99

LEGO Star Wars Saga

LEGO Star Wars Saga

I remember playing the original LEGO Star Wars games on my GameBoy Advance, back in the day. Then the game came to PSP, but I don’t have that anymore. And then, just last year, LEGO brought the entire Star Wars saga to the Mac and I said “It’s time to spend a few dollars at the Mac App Store.” The game really is great. There’s a lot of intriguing elements in the gameplay and the graphics are beautiful. The soundtrack is just a bit more John Williams, which can never hurt.

I would always recommend this game to anyone who loves an adventure game and wants to be entertained for hours, because it’s all of that and more. The game will literally last you at least a few weeks. It takes quite a while to play all the levels and once you do, there are still a bunch of achievements to be conquered.

Developer: Feral Interactive

Price: $29.99

4 Elements II

4 Elements II

This is kind of a different genre of puzzle game. It’s still very mind boggling at times, but it’s also a lot like Bejeweled in the sense that there are lots of precious and shiny objects within the game. Then again, there are also a lot of cards in the game, so it might just fall into the card game genre.

Whatever the case, 4 Elements II has a very interesting twist to it. For starters, the goal of the game is to restore the “book of magic”. The entire world has apparently been overcome by darkness and despair, all because of a “careless charm made from the formerly wondrous ancient world overcast”. While this story may not sound original, the game is quite addicting and challenging. It’s definitely worth a try and will surely entertain you longer than any non-puzzle game.

Developer: Playrix

Price: $6.99



Lastly, we have another new addition to the Mac App Store. Spirits was a very critically acclaimed game on iOS and now the developers have brought it to the big screen for even more players to enjoy. The game is all about moving the spirits to the portal-like terminus that resides in each level.

Spirits has a lot of creativity and beautiful graphics involved. Within each level, there is a different way to help the spirits exit it through the portal and you must solve this to win the level. There are only about 42 levels in all, which doesn’t seem like a lot, though it may seem more challenging once you get started. In addition, the game supports resolutions up to 2560 x 1440 for perfect graphics on nearly any display.

Developer: Spaces of Play

Price: $7.99


So, you’ve had a chance to see what I’ve deemed the best puzzle games on the Mac, but you might disagree. If so, what are your favorites? Maybe they’re not even on the App Store at all?

  • EC

    Looks like they bumped the price of Trine back up to $9.99 – although it still says it’s 90% off… hmm..

    • http://papermail.me Jacob Penderworth

      Darn, it was $.99 when I wrote this. Sorry about that.

  • http://www.goncalorodrigues.com Gonçalo Rodrigues

    Cut the Rope is awesome on the iPhone.

  • Yaro

    Cut the rope on the Mac is plain stupid… it’s not the same.

  • Andrew D

    World of Goo is awesome and never gets old.. but I still wish they’d make a v2

  • Raj Shah

    What about Portal and Portal 2????

    • http://papermail.me Jacob Penderworth

      I completely forgot about those! I think it’s because I tried to get all the games from the Mac App Store and not other sources. Sorry about that.

  • Quine

    I bought trine and played it with some friends and was *amazingly disappointed.* The physics were exceptionally imprecise and the jumping was laggy (it was definitely not the computers, as we all had recent MBPs that run starcraft 2 on high or ultra).

    The biggest letdown, though, were the puzzles. Almost every one of them could be solved by having the wizard levitate people over on objects. Also, as the ninja/sharpshooter character, I was able to fling myself past entire puzzles because the designers put way too many rope-attachable areas.

    I would strongly warn anyone considering trine 2 to try the first one first (I didn’t play it but I’m guessing it’s similar, so if you find it disappointing you will have only spent $1, rather than 15).

    I hate to write such a critical response to trine 2, as I highly respect frozenbyte and like a lot of their other games, but it really was an unenjoyable piece of crud to me.

    Braid was INCREDIBLE and is a game everyone should play. I just bought limo recently and I’m very excited to play that!

    I know it’s not a puzzle game, but Binding of Isaac has some pretty great strategic elements and might be worth an honorable mention here.

    • http://papermail.me Jacob Penderworth

      I’m sorry about that. Did you try tweaking the settings or anything? You definitely don’t want to play it on a MacBook because the trackpad just doesn’t do for that sort of gameplay. I’m using it on my MacBook 13-inch — which is the latest model — and it works perfectly fine, so I’m not sure why you had such a problem with it.

      That’s really surprising that you didn’t like it, because most people do. Braid, of course, is the best.

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