It’s that time again. Gabe Newell opens the floodgates and lets loose the sales. Here are some of my recommendations for games I’ve spent a lot of time on in the past year and thought you might enjoy. If you missed my list from last year, check out my Steam Summer Sale 2016 Recommendations for more titles.
You are Captain Flinthook, a space-faring rogue out to for as much treasure as you can carry back to your ship. Using your hook shot, plasma pistol, and slow down abilities you search through randomly generated ship/dungeons, finding gold, gaining upgrades, and defeating infamous villains. If you are a fan of roguelikes and action/bullet hell games, Flinthook is designed to scratch that itch.
Dead Cells is an Early Access title, but one that overcomes the stigma that label can sometimes bring. Like a side scrolling Dark Souls, Dead Cells drops your nameless protagonist in the middle of an island dungeon with no knowledge of how they got there. As you run, jump, and kill enemies, you collect the two currencies of the game: gold and cells. Gold helps you purchase items in the shops and unlock treasure doors during play. The cells are spent at the end of each stage to upgrade and unlock new weapons and abilities. When you die you start over with your primary weapons, but everything you unlock carries over from playthroughs, able to be discovered and purchased. Addictive, smooth gameplay.
I hate driving, and I hate cars. Yet, this game is the most immersive and addictive thing I’ve played this year. It’s less about the cars than it is a sort of meditation. Once you get in the flow of disassembling and reassembling vehicles, your mind can drift off and focus on the simplicity of play.
There is a proliferation of pixel-art and Metroidvania games on the market these days, and more often than not they fail to recapture that sense of exploration from old NES and SNES titles. Owlboy manages to recreate that feeling of wonder. The game also develops a complex lore and world that help explains the main character’s need to explore and upgrade his abilities. This is a labor of love from a director who lets his joy of games shine through his work.
So addictive. Once you get a handle on the core mechanics, you’ll be ready to drop your colonists on a new planet and begin carving out an existence. With a variety of difficulty levels and multiple settings to tweak, there is no end to the gameplay with Rimworld. In a market oversaturated with survival, Rimworld somehow manages to create an intensely emotional experience while using the most minimalist of art direction and user interface. Every day brings new challenges, prisoners to recruit, and colony members who will inevitably fall on the path of progress.
If you know me, you know I love sim games. Most recently Cities: Skylines scratched my itch for the city builder. Project Highrise takes a more micro look by putting you in charge of a single growing skyscraper. Residential and commercial options abound, but each type of resident comes with needs. You’ll find yourself adding restaurants, grocery store, copy services, office supplies, all while monitoring the essential utilities and keeping them at capacity. As your prestige grows so too will your building options. Endless replayability.
Paradox, the makers of Cities: Skylines, present this breathtaking 4x grand strategy game. In the tradition of Civilization, you control an empire attempting to expand throughout the galaxy. You must use diplomacy, resource gathering, and combat to make your way to victory. Your early game is all about exploration and resource gathering, mid game becomes an attempt at diplomacy to stabilize your hold, and late game delves deep into epic crisis events that could topple the galaxy. Even Civilization has fallen victim to the meta-gaming of late-game grand strategy, but Stellaris manages to keep you on your toes to the very end.
You are an astronaut that ends up stranded on an alien planet where an evil entity lives at its core. Now you must work your way across a hostile landscape to jump from point to point and rebuild your ship. The gameplay is rouge-like as it gets, navigating across a hex-grid map, collecting cards that unlock abilities and boost stats based on placement. There is also a day-night cycle that either buffs or nerfs enemy types. Loot Rascals is packed with strategy that rewards a patient observant player over a run and gun type. One wrong step can scrap your plans, but it never gets frustrating thanks to the quirky sense of humor baked into the game.
I remember sharing the N64 with my brother and sisters as we navigated our way through the beautiful platformer Banjo Kazooie. While this type of 3d platformer is not the game du jour it once was, Yooka Laylee is a reminder of how much fun they can be. Personality oozes out of each landscape in the game, and there is a particular type of joy to be found in uncover every secret and collecting side items. There are some issues with the camera at times, one bit of nostalgia that I wish wasn’t present. Overall, this will scratch that itch for old school Mario 64 style gameplay.
So the first my game giveaways for Steam Summer Sale 2017 will be…Superhot! If you haven’t played this first person puzzle game, you are in for one hell of a treat. To enter for my random drawing just add a comment with your e-mail. Have your entry in by June 25th when I’ll be drawing a name.