Subject: Son of the revenge of the return of the Steam Sale Thread!
Posted on: 2020-12-28 02:16:09 UTC

Yeah, that's right, the Steam Sale is here again. It'll end around New Years, so if you've got any games you've been eying like a predator about to pounce, now is the time to go get them.

As now seems to be tradition, I'm starting this thread as a recommendation thread for games you all think that the rest of us should check out, which are presumably on sale. Please, feel free to throw stuff out here.

The great thing about steam sales is that the older a game is, the lower its price gets slashed, regardless of quality. The result is that you can pick up simply incredible games that people might have paid $60 for ten or 20 years ago for a fraction of that. In this spirit, everyone's talking about Cyperpunk 2077's recent absolute tire fire of a launch, it's time to talk about a smarter buggy open-world first-person action RPG immersive sim: Deus Ex, currently on sale for $0.97. Deus Ex's cyberpunk future is darker, dirtier, and dingier than Cyberpunk's, and it's an experience that feels more engaged and connected to the world we actually live in, for as much as it's also very much by design a conspiracy-laden fever dream. Despite its graphics (which were already dated on release), it's still absorbing and engaging, and it still has an active modding scene. It's not perfect: it's famously buggy, and while its famous for its freedom, for the fact that you can approach situations the way you want to to the point it's possible to beat the entire game without killing a single soul (although it's not a feat for the faint of heart), some approaches feel more fleshed out than others, which even reviewers at the time commented on (the harshest of which, one Greg Kasavin of Gamespot, also criticized some of the characterization on display. Remember that name, by the way). But it's a classic for a reason and it's absolutely worth checking out.

If hardcore FPS RPGs aren't so much your bag but you still want to get into a good story, you might find the various works of Supergiant Games worth checking out. Everyone's talking up their latest release, Hades, which is fantastic, but if you don't have $20 to spare, the rest of their back catalogue is priced at $2.25 to $5 apiece, and each one is well worth it. From their earliest outing, Bastion, a hack-and-slash that Hades fans will feel very at home with, on through more experimental work like Transistor and Pyre, Supergiant has remained prominent for three reasons: Outstanding art, beautiful music and audio design, and story that blends very well into the actual gameplay. The team over at Supergiant has repeatedly proven themselves incredibly talented in pretty much every aspect, but I feel like I do have to particularly highlight the story, art, and sound, which are where they built their reputations for a reason. Jen Zee's artwork, Darren Korb's music, Logan Cunningham's voice, and Greg Kasavin's writing (I told you to remember that name) have been consistently stunning. I highly recommend picking up Bastion if you're indecisive, but honestly you can't go wrong with any of these.

Do you love America to an unhealthy degree? Check out Metal Wolf Chaos, the most patriotic game about America made by Japanese people. It's also hilarious. This is a game that opens with the president jumping out of the window of the Oval Office in a giant mech suit screaming "LET'S PAAARTYYY!!" with an absurd, ludicrous plot about a military coup headed by the vice president that's sort of maybe kind of supposed to be a parody of Bush-Era American politics (it was released in 2004) but that's also just... absurdly hamfisted and deadpan and it's great. This game is great.

But if you're in the market for something a little smarter (okay, a lot smarter), Disco Elysium is almost 50% off. And Disco Elysium is an RPG that does not have a combat system of any sort. The entire game exists in dialogue and exploration, and half of it takes place inside your own head. Your stats aren't just stats, see: they're characters in their own right, the little voices in your head that embody your desires and thoughts. So if you level up a stat too much, it's just as bad as levelling it up too little: that voice becomes too prominent, and suddenly you've got such a high knowledge score that you're being constantly flooded with extraneous knowledge beyond what you can process. The lead on this game was a writer and it shows: It's dense with characters and set in a world that feels fully realized. And that makes sense too because this game is actually sort of a sequel to a novel that us english speakers can't read yet. But if you like fascinating stories and incredible amounts of player freedom, check this one out.

But if you're tired of reading and still want to immerse yourself in a setting and world that have been consciously designed by an incredibly talented group of people... well, that's Cyan's wheelhouse. Cyan Worlds has been making adventure games since before the explosive popularity of their first effort targeted at adults, Myst. I wouldn't say they're the best adventure game creators, but their particular sort of adventure game is unique, and they are by far the best at what they do (...unless you count The Outer Wilds, which is sort of its own thing). And while their most recent effort, Obduction, is generously discounted, it's a little bit harder to recommend on account of performance issues that might turn the game into a slideshow if you're operating on lower-end hardware. And so I must once again recommend one of my standbys: Riven. Riven is one of the finest adventure games made by anyone. It's set in a world that feels immersive and fully realized, and the puzzles feel less like puzzles and more like slowly understanding the world and the people who live there. There is an entire constructed language for the people in this game, that is how far the developers took it. One of the puzzles in this game involves learning a foreign numbering system. That's the sort of game this is.

If you just want something super cool to play with your friends, however, go ahead and instead pick up a nice copy of Worms: Armageddon. W:A is to my mind the fullest incarnation of the game you might perhaps know as "Scorched Earth", "Shellshock", "Artillery", "GORILLAS.BAS", or "That tank game". Whatever you call it, W:A is a version of it that's been around for more than 20 years, and it recently got a fan-created, officially-endorsed patch that substantially improves it on modern systems. It's packed with options to customize the game, and you can play around a computer, over a screen sharing system like Steam Remote Play Together, or though true networked multiplayer (provided you can handle the fiddliness of opening ports...). You can learn the basics in five minutes, and it's so, so much fun.

Maybe Platformers are more your speed. If you're of a 3D persuasion... just... go buy Psychonauts already. It's a smart, charming, funny, endlessly inventive game that has been on the list of the absolute classic 3D platformers for as long as any such list has existed. If you've already got Psychonauts, think about A Hat in Time.

But if 2D platformers are more your speed... oooh boy. I've already talked up Sonic Mania as being the best Sonic game (which it is) and having killer level design, art design, and an incredible soundtrack all created by a tireless team of incredibly talented and passionate fans who are doing the work that Sega either won't or can't do themselves (which it does), but if your personal nostalgia is more for the Blue Bomber than the Blue Blur, you're still covered because even though Mighty No 9 crashed and burned in a way that might make you cry like an anime fan on prom night (I still cannot believe they actually wrote that line and put it in an ad), Megaman 11 dropped and holy hell. This game is... well, it's more Megaman. And if, like me, you like Megaman, and you want more Megaman, this is more Megaman. Are you tired of me saying Megaman yet? Okay.

If your 2D platforming tastes are a little more modern, perhaps a hardcore platformer might interest you: games dedicated less to the standard attack-enemies-jump-avoid-attacks loop, and more to the act of platforming itself. For a long time, Super Meat Boy held the crown here, but Celeste knocked it off its throne, and it's easy to see why. Celeste is one of those rare games that almost anyone can agree is amazing. It has a wonderful story told from the perspective of a transwoman that anyone who's struggled with mental demons and identify with and lovely, memorable characters. But if you don't care about any of that, the gameplay is rock-solid, with weighty, satisfying, challenging platforming that feels just as fair as it is brutal. However, the game is structured so that you can choose your own level of challenge: The more optional collectables you go for, the harder the game becomes, because the most challenging platforming sections are centered on those collectables. But you don't need any of those collectables to experience the story itself. However, if you're going in the other direction, Celeste is extraordinarily accessible, careful to tune its difficulty curve for people who aren't so challenge-oriented and even providing a wealth of accessibility options that ensure that even people with motor disabilities that might prevent them from experiencing a game like this can see what it has to offer. It really is the full package.

You might think I've lavished enough love on Platformers. Nope. At $25 even on sale, Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove is a bit of an ask, but it's honestly some of the best value-for-dollar of any platformer out there. You get four campaigns, each with a different protagonist and a different set of mechanics, a simple, smash-bros-like fighting game thing as a party mode, Co-op and body swap mode (allowing you to change the pronouns and gender presentation of any major character in the game) for the first campaign, and a full-on collectable card game which you can play against a friend in King Knight's campaign. It's insane. It's charming. It's wonderful. I love it so, so much. But if that price is scary to you, every part of the bundle (except Specter of Torment, frequently seen as the weakest campaign) is available separately. So you can buy the parts you want, or get in with a sample before diving in all the way. If you have to get one campaign, the original (Shovel Of Hope) is probably the way to go, but honestly all of the content here is excellent.

And that's all for now! Please, provide your own suggestions below.

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