So it’s time for this year’s Winter Steam sale, and that means that every gaming magazine on the internet is rushing to tell you what they think you should buy. The point of these articles has always been something of a mystery to me: why should I tell you that Shadows of Mordor is 25% off on Steam when you’ve almost certainly already seen it for yourself. (Don’t buy Shadows of Mordor at anything less than 75% off, by the way. It’s a lousy Batman clone, and the much-vaunted Nemesis system is overrated nonsense that adds nothing to the gameplay but headaches.)
So Reaxxion will be doing something different. Since none of us have expensive sinecures as HR managers or “diversity consultants”, unlike our counterparts on the anti-Gamergate side, I’m guessing a few of my readers are tight on money right now. But just because you don’t have cash to burn doesn’t mean you have to spend the New Year playing free flash games and emulated ROMs.
Here are five hand-selected games from the Winter Steam sale, each of which can be purchased for under a dollar. That’s right, you can get everything on this list for less than the cost of a Big Mac meal, and give yourself hours of high-quality gaming enjoyment. All of these sales last until 10:00 AM January 2nd.
Marlow Briggs and the Mask of Death (99 Cents)
A hilariously awesome God of War clone with amazingly high production values for something so low budget. The combat rivals God of War, and is better than a lot of triple A titles (I’m looking at you, Remember Me). The game is gorgeous, with lush jungles, rolling mining machines the size of entire cities, and huge, multi-stage bosses. The game is based off of South American Mythology, and is actually reasonably faithful to it.
You play as the titular Marlow Briggs, a man who’s… well, I’ll let the game’s steam page explain it:
A new breed of WARRIOR returns, committed to destroying the enemies of FREEDOM
When ONE angry man, has a world to protect – There is only ONE future – HIS OWN
No-nonsense hero Marlow never shied away from danger or trouble. But now he faces his ULTIMATE challenge. After crash-landing in Central America, he has an industrial evil to defeat whilst bound to an ancient Mayan Death Mask who’s had no-one to talk to for 2000 years. Another day at the office only this time Marlow is PUSHED TO THE LIMIT, his sweetheart has been abducted, the bad guys are making up their own rules and only one man can judge them – and EXECUTE THE SENTENCE.
Bonus: Since the hero is a man rescuing his helpless girlfriend, every time you play it, Anita Sarkeesian cries.
One Way Heroics (87 Cents)
Amazingly deep Japanese game about a party of heroes trying to save the world from a rapidly encroaching darkness. The darkness is swallowing everything up from the left, and so you’ll constantly be running to the right, trying to build levels, find equipment, and gain new party members before the world ends.
It’s a procedurally generated rougelike that for some reason never got the level of fame as other games like Rogue Legacy. It shares elements with that game, as well as with Dungeonmans: each failed run through the game gets you currency that can be used to buy things like new classes and better starting starts.
Unholy Heights (99 cents)
Another strange Japanese game, Unholy Heights has you play as the last boss of an RPG, who is now the manager at a small apartment complex. Unholy Heights plays like an anime-style cross between Sim Tower and Dungeon Keeper. Heroes will come to kill you, and you’ll bring in monsters as tenants to fight them off. Each monster has a name, a class, and a personality of his own, and you’ll have to upgrade their rooms to keep them happy. Don’t be fooled by the cutesy look, the game quickly gets very challenging.
Gunman Clive (99 Cents)
A minimalistic Old Western platformer with beautiful music. You start on the left side of the stage, and you’ll run to the right. Bad guys appear, and you’ll shoot them. Bottomless pits will appear, and you’ll jump over them. Occasionally a boss will appear, and you’ll shoot it a bunch of times (it will then die).
In terms of complexity, Crusader Kings 2 this is not. But the gameplay is exquisitely balanced, not too hard for a beginner and not too easy for a veteran. Even on the highest difficulties, the process is designed to be low-stress; when you die you’re simply teleported back to the last checkpoint. There’s no life system, and when you die there’s no scream or jarring sound effect like you find in most platformer games. The music doesn’t even cut out. You just start over and try again.
And the music is wonderful.
Bad Rats (19 Cents)
Let’s get this out of the way up front: Bad Rats is an evil game. It’s a sadistic variant of the old Lemmings puzzle game, but instead of trying to reach a level exit, your goal is to solve a physics puzzle and brutally murder a cat. To do this, you’ll use a variety of rats like the suicide bomber rat, the bulldozer rat, and the rocket and cannon rats, most of whom will die horrible deaths as soon as you start the level. When you solve the puzzle, the cat will die in some horrible way, either via exploding, impalement, or being sliced in half by a guilottine.
The graphics are mid-2000s level, and the gameplay is iffy: there’s an element of randomization when you start each level that makes it difficult to determine if you’re failing because you’re doing something wrong or because the random number generator has it out for you.
So why pick it up? Well, it’s nineteen cents, for one thing. It’s one of the only games on Steam you can literally purchase with the money from your couch cushions. It also holds the unique position of being the only game that it’s possible to turn a profit on: buy it for nineteen cents, leave it running for a few hours to collect some Steam trading cards to sell, and you could make up to twenty five cents profit. That’s a 130% return on investment.
By way of comparison, most stock market indexes last year returned about 15%, which means that investing in Bad Rats will give you eight and a half times better performance than traditional hedge funds! Move your entire portfolio into Bad Rats trading cards, and by this time next year you could be retired and living on the beach in Tahiti.
Also, this guy liked it enough to spend 12,254 hours on it.
So those are my picks for the best cheap games from this year’s Winter Steam sale. What are yours? Is there anything really good I missed? Leave your answer in the comments below and let us know about it.
Don’t Miss: 6 Ways To Spot A Bad Steam Game