Get some great Mac games for the holidays (and save money, too)!

Many of us have some time around the holidays to just relax and have fun. What better way to do it than to kick back and play some awesome games on your Mac? Wether you're buying for yourself or outfitting a new computer for a friend or family member, here's a roundup of the best new releases for the Mac.

I've linked specifically to games on Steam, which I prefer to use compared to the Mac App Store. They're the same games you'll find on the MAS, but using Steam often gives you the benefit of being able to play cross-platform (if you also have a PC), store saved game data in the cloud and have a better social experience by unlocking achievements and comparing your scores to your friends on Steam too.

What's more, there are some terrific holiday deals on Steam right now too. Where they've discounted (typically through January 2nd), I've noted the sale price. So you can save some cash too - up to half off, in a few cases.

Some of these games are also available on the Mac App Store, if you feel more comfortable sticking with Apple.

Elegy for a Dead World

Elegy for a Dead World encourages you to write the script: In fact, it's essential. You're a space explorer who finds dead worlds populated by long-forgotten civilizations. But you supply the narrative. You actually write stories about what you've found, then you can share those stories with other players. It's an adventure game that puts you in control of what happens in a really unique, creative way, with beautiful graphics and sound to boot.

Game of Thrones - A Telltale Games Series

Telltale Games has distinguished itself as the premiere publisher of serialized point-and-click adventure games based on existing properties. They've done Jurassic Park, The Wolf Among Us, and, perhaps most famously, The Walking Dead. Now they're turning their attention to the enormously popular HBO TV series (and book series) Game of Thrones. This story follows the travails of House Forrester, which you won't see in the show or read much about in the books.

LEGO: The Hobbit

Feral Interactive has brought forth a Mac version of LEGO: The Hobbit, which came out earlier this year for PC and console. Based on the movie trilogy (and the book, of course), LEGO: The Hobbit lets you play as Bilbo, Gandalf, Thorin, and his company of Dwarves as they travel Middle Earth to recapture the Lonely Mountain. Cooperative drop-in, drop-out multiplayer action and downloadable content to continue the adventure as well!

The Talos Principle

The Talos Principle is first-person puzzler from Croteam, the developers of the Serious Sam series. You're an artificial intelligence, and you've awakened inside a simulation of mankind's greatest ruins. They're linked together by puzzles that you have to solve to unravel the mystery. The Talos Principle touches on some pretty heavy metaphysical concepts, and it's stunning.

This War of Mine

A city has been besieged by warring factions, and you're caught in the crossfire. No, you're not an elite soldier with killing skills. You're a group of civilians trying desperately to survive — struggling with lack of food and medicine, in constant danger from snipers and scavengers. Do what you must to live. A gripping, dramatic new indie game that will change the way you look at war games forever.

Total War Shogun 2 - Fall of the Samurai

This strategy game is actually the expansion to the original Shogun 2, but it doesn't require the original game to play — it's a complete deal, a standalone package. It's set in the mid-19th century, as feudal Japan transitions into the modern age — the arrival of America, Britain and France incites a ferocious civil war that pits the traditional samurai against modern weaponry. Feral has been really busy recently: Not only did they release LEGO: The Hobbit this month, but also released the Mac version of Fall of the Samurai in December.

7 Days to Die

I'm reluctant to recommend Early Access games on Steam, because they're still being developed and getting stable, feature-rich releases can be a bit of a crapshoot. But I'll make an exception for 7 Days to Die, a zombie survival horror game in which you can scavenge your ruined world to gather raw materials to build tools, weapons, traps, fortifications and shelters. Imagine Left for Dead 2 with Minecraft and you're on the right track.

Peter Cohen