The toughest part of Steam sales is separating the signal from the noise. There are so many games on sale at all kinds of discounts. You could go in, spend six months’ pay easily and feel like you could spend just as much over again. But you don’t have to.
There are some truly stellar games on sale for cheap, and with a day left in the sale, there’s plenty of time to grab a few. Here are ten games worth picking up, whether you get them for yourself or as a gift for one of the many gamers in your life, all under $10.
A few you’ve probably heard of, and a few you might’ve missed. Some will have you looking down the barrel of a gun or swinging a sword, while others will have you trying to scratch your brain to squeeze the answer to a puzzle out.
90% off at $1.99
Antichamber will bend your mind long after you’ve figured out puzzles. Like an Escher painting come to life, this game plays with your perception of space, using stark white levels with careful, meaningful application of color to build interesting puzzles. Whether you only get a few puzzles in or manage to finish the game, at this price it’s worth the cost of entry just to see what sorts of things can be done with a first person game when your biggest opponent is your own brain.
Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons
85% off at $2.24
I forgot to put Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons on my games of 2013 list, and it’s something I regret to this day. This weird little game was built by the studio that brought us the amazing Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay, directed by a movie director – often the last person you want helming your game, as the two mediums often do not work well together.
Instead, though, we got an arresting tale of two brothers working together to find a way to heal their sick father after their mother passes away. The game has you controlling each of the two brothers with one of the analog sticks, meaning you can be steering each of the brothers in different directions at different times. It’s confusing at first, but once you get used to it, it feels strange when you lose control of one of the brothers. It still affects me to this day when I think about the sensation, like a phantom limb (or thumb, at least).
Child of Light
75% off at $3.74
Ubisoft simultaneously is responsible for some of the biggest yearly franchises and also for some truly unique art projects. After directing Far Cry 3, Ubisoft’s Patrick Plourde pretty much had free reign to make whatever he wanted next. So he made Child of Light, a rhyming fairy tale of a princess who must save the dream world to save the waking one.
Child of Light is a love letter to Japanese RPGs with its semi-turn-based battle system and focus on leveling, but its art and music are where it really shines. Built in the UbiArt Framework, Child of Light feels like a painting come to life, an illusion that never breaks. Lush, colorful backgrounds give endearing characters an interesting platforming world to navigate and fight monsters in with a battle system just deep enough to support the relatively short game.
75% off at 3.74
Before Telltale Games, there was LucasArts and Sierra. Both studios flexed their muscles this year, in a manner of speaking. Sierra’s King’s Quest series returned for an episodic adventure game along with the blessing of its creators.
LucasArts, on the other hand, is no more. Instead of building a whole new game, Tim Schafer of Double Fine Games wanted to help preserve a fan favorite and one of his best creations, Grim Fandango.
Grim Fandango was one of the last great adventure games before the genre died in the face of unbeatably popular shooters and strategy games, and what a great last hurrah it was. A full 17 years later, the majority of the jokes in the game hold up. The controls have been revised, too, so that you can point and click or use a gamepad instead of using the game’s unbearable tank-style keyboard controls.
The puzzles are still tough, and you shouldn’t feel ashamed for using a guide – this is an old school adventure game right down to the nonsensical game logic. Even with that, it’s worth it to see the incredible Dia de los Muertos-inspired art fused into an art deco film noir world and hear some of the best writing adventure games have seen.
40% off at $3.59
There’s not much a game in Her Story, at least not in the traditional sense. As a nameless investigator, your job is to go through a seemingly endless supply of video footage from police interrogations. A woman is being interviewed after a death. Your job is to try to figure out what happened. That’s it. It’s deceptively simple. The game doesn’t give you any direction from there. You simply search and come to your own conclusions about what happened as a result of what videos you watched and how you assembled the clues in your head.
How do you know when you’re done? When you’re satisfied with your answer, the game is over. No sooner. There’s no big banner to tell you that you’ve won, or saved the woman, or anything like that. There’s no hand-holding here.
Her Story was directed and written by Sam Barlow, the director behind the last good Silent Hill game, Silent Hill: Shattered Memories. That game evoked a similarly ambiguous response despite being more linear than this. Her Story is a true mystery game with no simple answers.
Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes
60% off at $7.99
Few would say that Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain doesn’t have enough to do. Countless side missions, a huge pile of primary missions, and tons of replayability have given some players hundreds of hours since its release in September. Before that, though, was the prequel, Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes. Ground Zeroes sets the stage for The Phantom Pain, but at $30, many viewed the game as a paid demo. Despite having more replay value than many more expensive games, it can indeed be beaten in just a few minutes if you know what you’re doing.
But with all that freedom and so much space to explore, why would you? At such a low price, the game is worth picking up whether you’ve played The Phantom Pain yet or not. It serves as a great demo for the bigger game while having its own satisfying loop.
75% off at $4.99
In the older Tomb Raider games, we knew Lara Croft was a badass because the advertisements and box art told us as much. “You like guns and boobs, right?” it seemed to ask. With 2013’s Tomb Raider, though, we got to actually earn that, and it made for the series’ best entry yet and one of the better open world games that year. With Rise of the Tomb Raider now on shelves for Xbox One and Xbox 360, but not yet out on PC (or PlayStation 4 for that matter), this is a perfect time to get caught up on Lara’s adventures.
75% off at $4.99
Supergiant games hit the scene in a big way with Bastion a few years ago, but Transistor never quite hit the same heights among fans for whatever reason. It’s still worth checking out, though. The visuals and music that made Bastion so memorable are on display once again, but this time instead of a straight action game, Transistor blends action and strategy.
You play as a woman named Red, a young woman whose voice was taken away in an assassination attempt. She comes into possession of an intelligent sword called Transistor that she uses to fight back. If nothing else, this game is simply worth it for the soundtrack.
The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings
85% off at $2.99
You’ve played The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. But did you pick up The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings? The third entry stands on its own as a solid game, but the second game in the series only enhances the experience of playing the third. Even a few years later, the game is still lush and gorgeous, too. It’s considerably smaller than The Witcher 3, and certainly not the same genre, but it’s challenging, fun, and full of those difficult decisions that helped make its sequel so memorable.
Wolfenstein: The New Order
85% off at 8.99
It’s easy to dismiss a Wolfenstein: The New Order game as a sad callback to the greater days of shooters. In fact, its semi-sequel The Old Blood does just that, in a way. The New Order sought to do something different, though. By putting the game in a 1960 setting where the Nazis had won World War II, we get to see a war from the loser’s perspective. Series protagonist B.J. Blazkowicz is back once again, but this time supported by a cast of interesting characters that all bring something interesting to the story.
On top of that, it’s filled with amazing, monolithic structures, appropriately intimidating artwork, and simply excellent twitch-reflex shooting.