The Steam Summer Sale is finally over, the red team dominated the Steam Summer Adventure, and all the event badges have been crafted. While we let our wallets recover until the dreaded Steam Winter Sale in December, gamers can take a sigh of relief and enjoy the calm while it lasts. Though we mourn our wallets or celebrate our resolve against tempting online deals, many have new games to tide them over. Though, no matter how good a deal is, sometimes you just can’t commit to purchasing until you’re sure you’ll like it. So here are a few titles I picked up during the sale that may prepare you for winter.
While I snagged this one shortly before the sale started, I couldn’t resist this indie survival horror. Though the game is still in alpha, I’ve already lost 15 hours to barricading doors, scrounging for food, and fighting off armies of the undead. When you start up this gem in progress and you jump in, you’re greeted by a message telling you that this is how you died. Pretty bleak to start, but as you get by, the game only gets harder. If you aren’t smart about your first week or two, then you’ll discover that you have to resign to being a very thirsty vegetarian. Despite the difficulty, this is a great game alone and with friends as you can set up your own private server in a feeble attempt to find safety in numbers. Now not all features in the single player mode work in multiplayer, though having someone to talk to in the zombie apocalypse is well worth it.
Sometimes, you just want to get a crew together and plunder all the pixelated gold coins you and your friends can carry. With a number of different roles to unlock and choose from, you make your team of up to four people in an adventure to get in, get out, and get rich. This game is a lot of fun for its very simple style. The characters are identified more by their color than their looks as they are just a blob of pixels. Each level has more obstacles with many different ways to complete your mission depending who you’ve brought with you. Though my only complaint is with the multiplayer. It’s very difficult to just set up a game with three of your friends as it uses Steam to populate the game without option of inviting friends first. You have to close down any extra slots then invite your friends using Steam outside of the game. Though once you’re set up, get ready to start rolling in those golden pixels.
How to Survive
I picked this up because it appeared to be like Project Zomboid but with better graphics. How wrong I was. If you’re looking at a single player run through zombie island, this is for you. There seems to be no randomly spawning zombies and when night falls, you have to fight off the undead as well as something I can only speculate as being the Rake from creepypasta. For those who like a bit of multiplayer, How to Survive limits you to two player challenges only and if you can trick it to allow co-op, expect the first few missions to be rather one sided. Since the only way to get a weapon in the beginning is by doing the story missions, the game’s host is the only one to get the rewards. So, player two gets stuck following the host in hopes that they don’t draw the attention of the zombies. Even more frustrating is the experience system. As is common in RPG style games, you kill an enemy and you are rewarded in experience and sometimes loot. Many games split the experience when in co-op mode. Though, in this case, player two is stuck with no weapon and being starved of experience. So once you finally get a second weapon, the host is already a level ahead and player two is walking zombie bait on a stick that the first NPC was so kind to provide. Really though, if you think this game is even slightly interesting, you are better off buying Project Zomboid. It’s a bigger world, larger adventure, and enough zombies for everyone to kill.
I never thought I’d have so much fun with parkour. Initially I was skeptical about a game built entirely around running from rooftop to rooftop. Though I can’t deny the fact that they created a visually striking world that explains the main game mechanic rather well. Unfortunately due to some frustration with the game, I haven’t gotten very far. Though the cutscenes between missions are beautifully animated with fluid motion and very stylized. As for how well the parkour mechanic is design, it takes a bit of getting used to. It can get very easy to forget what button you should be pressing and even easier to loose track of where you are supposed to be going. Thankfully they have a hint action which will show you where you need to go should you get stuck and while I usually don’t approve of a game holding the hand of the player, it’s almost necessary here.
They Bleed Pixels
A wonderful blend of Lovecraft and 2D platformer, this game paints a captivating narrative using only pixel art. You play as a young girl who has just arrived at the Lafcadio Academy for Troubled Young Ladies and it’s only a short while before she starts having nightmares. Though as these night terrors continue, they start to blend with the waking world as you start changing into the dark form you dream of. Gameplay in this one is really simple and focuses more on how creatively you can defeat your enemies rather than your skill. Though along with your enemies are a number of traps throughout the stages and the only way to reach a checkpoint is by creating one yourself.
Kerbal Space Program
With the mass of lackluster simulators made to be purposefully bad for comedic effect, Kerbal Space Program stands above the rest. Before you start playing, I advise you take most of what you know about physics and throw it out the window. I’ve found that while playing, some things that may seem stable in fact end up something held together with ductape and hope. Though you may think that you can make a Firefly class ship that functions on the love of it’s crew, you’ll be sorely mistaken. I haven’t spent any time in the campaign mode of this game out of a need to jump in and start creating. Yet each ship I make can only grace the limits of earth’s atmosphere before plummeting back down so I can start again. I can’t get enough simply for the enjoyment of trial and error. Everything in this game is meant to be silly and borderline crazy. Most of your parts are junk or little “happy accidents” from the R&D team and your available crew is far from ideal. Every astronaut at your disposal have two stats, courage and stupidity, and you always have to trade one for the other.
A lovely little game based on deception, you are a passenger on a cruise ship. You must carry out your day to day needs while you enjoy some shuffleboard and the crisp sea air and plot the murder of your next target. As the game progresses, you can find weapons in the most unusual places as you stay a step ahead of your quarry and three more head of your hunter. So while you’re always after someone, someone will always be after you. Though you can’t just murder everyone recklessly. There are a number of witnesses, guards, and security cameras in your way and one wrong move will send you to the brig. The Ship is best played multiplayer and even better with friends, though it does have a single player option.
As creative games like Minecraft go, if you’ve played one then you’ve nearly played them all. Get resources, build stuff, and explore. Space Engineers is kind of like that but, as you can guess, in space! Everything is randomly generated as you try to survive the cold black. You can encounter random ships that may carry something beneficial to you or simply exist to make your life a little more difficult. The main attraction is really building your very own ship and drifting through space, hoping you don’t run out of fuel or encounter someone more dangerous than you. Though if that’s not hard enough, you can always turn on apocalypse mode and hope you can survive the frequent meteor showers.
Fistful of Frags
A free first person shooter on Steam set in the wild west, you choose your weapon and your perks to fight against players and bots alike in this multiplayer game. The game is pretty simple compared to most shooters. You get a gun and shoot the other guy. Though this gets more complicated with the painfully slow reload times of an old peacemaker. Though this is the wild west, so we don’t just stop at the six-guns. You have everything from your coach gun to hatchets, TNT, and even a bow and arrow. Each weapon takes some getting used to. Then there are the perks that can give you secondary weapons like knives, full out perks like being able to throw your gun or boots that make you kick harder, or rules that make your day just a little harder with the gentleman perk. Honestly, gentleman has been my favorite so far as you can only fight with your bare hands, with someone facing you, and only if they shot first. Though if you break these rules, you loose points instead of gaining them for being “ungentlemanly.” So good luck taking on Han Solo, face to face, with fisticuffs.
Fast paced with neon colors and a 1980’s feel, you might as well be the meaning of dirty deeds done dirt cheep. The entire game revolves around a lot of wet work done as fast as possible, for if you hesitate for even a second, you’re dead. Each mission is a new building, more goons, and bigger weapons while you’re equipped with a number of animal masks to choose from at the beginning of each level. The story tells like a bad acid trip with a dose of multiple personality disorder as a number of masked people talk like they know you rather well. During my quick attempt at the game, I found the controls a little clunky which is why I stress that you can’t hesitate one bit. Hotline: Miami can easily sit on a fine line between rage game and an after work stress reliever with a lot of violence.
I’ve seen people play Outlast countless times and was never really impressed. Like most horror games, I have a hard time letting them mess with my head and usually the jump scares become predictable. Then I actually sat down, alone, and played it. Parts that I’d seen before countless times startled me and an eerie silence left me paranoid. Filled with a lot of graphic imagery, Outlast is about a reporter investigating the Mount Massive Asylum, a mental institution deep in the mountains of Lake County, Colorado. Tipped off by “a whistleblower,” you seek out the hospital to research the claims of inhuman experiments being done on the asylum’s patients. Usually I’m very unimpressed with crazy as a source of horror, though sometimes the unpredictable is just what you need to scare the pants off of someone.
As video games go, your mileage may vary. Though I love playing video games and enjoy sharing the ones I like. Steam, for those who don’t use it, can be a wonderful tool for managing your games and a great way from preventing yourself from loosing them should you buy them through Steam’s service. Maybe when December rolls around, you’ll be there with the rest of us, surviving the next sale and hopefully you’re now more prepared.