(?? WordPress is uploading this in Korea-time rather than EST like I have it set to do, and I’m not sure why…)
So it’s that time of year again. Shortly after E3, which was mercifully disappointing this year, comes the far more conniving, more brutal Steam Sale. Unless you stay vigilant, you’re probably going to get sucked in and bled dry. This year, I’ve decided to be smarter about things, and that is by buying games by proxy.
That is to say, I will convince other people to buy games so that I feel a second-hand satisfaction. Someone on Tumblr asked me for game recommendations, so I felt that I might as well share them over here too:
- The Stanley Parable – Featuring the best narrator since the A Series of Unfortunate Events novel, this game is close to my heart. There’s not very much gameplay at all, but at the same time, it is far more than a walking simulator. A brilliant game that is more of an experience and really questions the nature of choice. The game is less than $4 right now, but there is also a free demo.
- Night in the Woods – You’ve probably seen the fanart around, but if you’re looking for a nice 2D exploration game with a story and memorable characters, this is it. The music is nice, the dialogue witty, and the game is utterly charming. A gently morbid game for the young adults. Unfortunately, it’s still brand new, so there’s no sale.
- 80 Days – Around the world in 80 days, but which of the oh so many ways? A text-based choose-your-own-adventure-esque game, but it’s quick, slick, and terribly immersive. You work in the service of the eccentric Phileas Fogg. What happens to the both of you, only you can decide. It’s only $4 so take a look!
- Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons – One of my first steam games and it remains one of my most beloved; it is the first game to teach me, long before Undertale, that game mechanics can be influential to narrative. Unless you have a friend though, you’ll have to play two characters at once, so hopefully you have good hand-coordination or a controller! It’s literally less than $2 right now, so grab it while you can!
- INSIDE – The successor to LIMBO was smoother and more engaging to me than its predecessor. Side-scrolling puzzle platformer with a lot of environmental storytelling. A little eerie. The game is still relatively new, so the sale isn’t as good as it could be. If you want to give it a few more years to age, LIMBO has similar gameplay and is only $2.
- Never Alone – A game made in collaboration with the Iñupiat people of Alaska, it is a refreshing and insightful story that allows the player a glimpse into another culture. Some people are a little disappointed by the gameplay side of things, but I loved the atmosphere, the art, and the things that I learned. Besides, on sale it’s only $3.
- Stardew Valley – You probably know it, a Harvest Moon-esque farming simulator, except unlike Harvest Moon, you can date both men and women with one character. Heartwarming, peaceful, and surprisingly addicting. Well worth your money if you enjoyed the Harvest Moon franchise, like I did.
- Sunless Sea – I am in love with this game, honestly; a text-based RPG with a sailing portion where you try to live the most of your life in a world of vaguely Lovecraftian horrors that’s trying to kill you. Note that it is a Roguelike game, but if you’re like me, you’ll have fun invented elaborate histories for your sea captains and their successors. Be a treasure-hunter, or establish the best trade route, or just try your best to survive. Also, they wrote the game in such a way where you can play as non-binary too, which is great. It’s on a 70% sale, which is a steal!
- Hello Charlotte – A short but wonderful game made by @etherane on Tumblr. Simple but engaging, with lovely art. It is atmospheric and a little eerie, but it has memorable characters, a thoughtful story, and quality dialogue! Episode 1 is available as a pay-what-you-want here, so give it a shot. I think Episode 2 is well worth the money!
- Undertale – I know, I know, you’re probably sick of hearing about it. I know the fandom’s gone way over the top. However, if you haven’t played it yet, if you’ve somehow avoided knowing what the game is about, it’s a delightful journey, one that I still cherish. I honestly resent how popular it’s gotten because the fandom scares off more people from playing the game… but also, I literally played it before it was cool, when it was but a wee little demo, so I’m biased.
- OneShot – I played this when it was but a wee, free little indie game! It was fantastic then and with additional content and more polishing, it’s even better now! But be careful with your choices because, unlike Undertale which remembers your choices, this game you can only play once. Get it for $6 now!
- Aviary Attorney – Watch out, Phoenix Wright, there’s a new bird-brained lawyer in town. I honestly can’t think of a better pitch than its actual synopsis, so here you go: “The hottest bird lawyering game to come out of 1840s France! Join Jayjay Falcon and his witty apprentice, Sparrowson, as the two take on clients, interview witnesses, collect evidence, and deliver justice to the guilty.“
- Subnautica – You’ve crash-landed on a planet that’s mostly water and now you’ve gotta survive. It’s lovely and intense and a lot of fun! I would say more, but I am honestly not that far into it yet… an open-world survival game, early access, available for $10.
- The Last Door – Engaging. Eerie. About $4 for the collector’s edition. I avoided this game for the longest time because of its heavily pixelated aesthetic, but I purchased it last night, played it, and it is heavily unnerving and I love it.
Also, if you want some bonus recommendations unavailable on Steam Sale, here you go:
- Ghost Trick (DS) – What I would argue to be the best DS game; clever incorporation of the dual screen in a puzzle game medium with a funny, remarkably unexpected story, and the best animation I have seen of a DS game to date and will ever see from a DS game since they don’t make DS games anymore…
- Persona 3 Portable (PSP) – I shouldn’t be saying this, but I realize that the other Persona games are expensive, and though I highly recommend them, P3P is, well, a PSP game and, therefore, easy to emulate. If you want a taste of the Persona style to see whether you want to give the other games in the franchise a try, this one’s a good test run. I preferred Persona 4 and Persona 5 though, ahaha.
If you play any of the above and enjoyed it, help a poor college student out and tell me about it, whether you like it, hate it, etc. I’d love to hear your thoughts!