It’s Steam Sale time, boys, girls, and people who don’t want to be gendered according to the traditional binary! While Steam sales have definitely lost a bit of their luster, thanks to a modified format removing the thrill of grabbing a short-time deal at the last minute, as well as just time all but guaranteeing everyone who cares has already snapped up most of the usually-recommended indie darlings, but I wanted to compile a list of great games you can snap up on the cheap. If you’re new to PC gaming, these will be some games that will start your collection off with a bang, and if you’ve been at it for a while, hopefully you’ll find a gem or two in here that’s slipped your attention before.
Fallout: New Vegas – $3.29
New Vegas for this cheap should be illegal. In my opinion this game is the undisputed champion of the Bethesda-style open-world formula, which is unusual since it was actually developed by Obsidian using Bethesda’s tech. As probably the most popular game on this list, you can probably find thinkpieces, reviews, and retrospectives galore on the internet about this game, but if you wanna hear it in my words, Fallout: New Vegas is one of the greatest RPGs ever. The interplay (heh) between the factions leads for a truly open-feeling main quest where you the player get to make important, sweeping choices about the course of the game. Fantastic writing, great characters, excellent quest design, and fantastically open-ended gameplay makes this a game you could easily spend years playing.
Left 4 Dead 2 – $1.99
The odds of you being a PC gamer and not owning a copy of Left 4 Dead 2 at this point are, uh, low, but on the off chance you’ve never played my favorite multiplayer game of all time, lemme give you the sales pitch. It’s a cooperative multiplayer game in which a team of survivors need to run through expertly-crafted levels avoiding hordes of zombies. The gunplay is tight, and the levels are semi-randomized, controlled by an AI “Director” who modifies the difficulty on the fly to ensure players are constantly the perfect degree of challenged, ensuring that every playthrough is unique, while still rewarding repeated play and game mastery. It’s a hell of a lot of fun, and a great way to kill an afternoon with your friends. Highly advise picking this up.
LISA: The Painful – $4.99
Don’t let its humble sprite graphics and obvious “Made in RPG Maker”-iness fool you, LISA: The Painful is a powerhouse of a game. Featuring a unique combat system in which every party member controls in a unique and interesting way, as well as a desolate and bizarre world sort of unlike anything else in games, where LISA really shines is its writing. If you have a bleak, and I mean bleak, sense of humor, I implore you to jump into LISA, a game that’s able to flip between horribly depressing and so-funny-you’re-crying on a dime, with jokes so exquisitely timed you’ll almost feel bad for laughing after some of the stuff you experience in this game. The RNG can be a bit too punishing at times, but this game’s still an exemplary way to spend ten hours, and proof not to judge a game by its engine.
Subsurface Circular – $4.79
It’s hard to refute that you’re not really getting a lot of game for your buck with Subsurface Circular, a game that I easily cleared in about an hour. However, what you are getting with Subsurface is excellent, with a dialogue-driven mystery game in which you, a robot detective, have to interact with other robots aboard a subway in order to solve a mysterious disappearance. The game uses its short run-time to explore the ideas of how robots would behave and really think within the confines of society, and the fundamental ways that interacting with a robot might differ from the way you interact with a living, breathing person. If you wanna play a game and, at worst, go “Huh, neat!”, Subsurface is a great buy at five bucks.
Just Cause 2 – $2.99
In the most complementary sense of the phrase, Just Cause 2 is a dumbass game. Depicting a one-man army’s attempt to liberate a fictional Southeast Asian island nation from dictatorial rule, Just Cause 2 is best described as a “fuck-around simulator”. Drive fast cars, fly cool jets, and blow shit up on this comically large island paradise, and generally just have a ball messing around. Until a Crackdown game comes to PC, Just Cause is my ideal choice of game for just hopping into a world, running around, and being an idiot.
Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines – $4.99
Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines is probably the hardest sell on this list due to its age: the graphics, particularly the UI, have not aged well at all, and the controls and level design are plenty cumbersome by modern standards. However, if you think you can look past it, you’ll find an RPG for the ages, with amazing characters, extremely good open-ended game design allowing you to be as suave or as brutal a vampire as you want, and the sort of fantasy that only a few other games have attempted, with, er, mixed results. If you wanna live out the fantasy of being a lord of the night, Bloodlines is a gem.
Dream Daddy: A Dad Dating Simulator – $7.49
OK, so, I might need to sell you on why you should play a gay dating simulator in which you, a single dad, meet and fall in love with a smattering of other single (mostly) dads. The dating simulator genre is full of pathetic excuses to conceal some softcore pornography, but Dream Daddy, somewhat surprisingly, is fairly wholesome? The characters are excellently written, with each feeling like a real person with a history, their own quirks, and their own stuff to work through. The humor is positively charming, the romance tastefully done, and no matter who you are, there’s a dad in this lot for you (I personally love Mat, the coffee shop-owning hipster of the bunch). If you just want a charming game to put a smile on your face, this is one for you.
Total Price: $30.53
Ah fuck it I was close.