PMG Presents: The Steam Christmas Sale

With this year ending we get the chance to look back at all the amazing games that were released as well as a chance to look to the future at the games yet to come.  It also provides an amazing opportunity for the PC gamer: SALES!  This time of year (along with summer) provides the perfect opportunity to get countless games for near pennies on the dollar!  You will see that games that normally cost $10 or $20 can be bought for $3 or $4 and this often times includes games that were released a week or two beforehand.  It is ridiculous how much you stand to save in these sales!  Now one of the most prominent and I think best sale is the Steam Christmas Sale which I will focus on, but don’t be afraid to shop elsewhere, there are many other websites which offer games (which can be redeemed on Steam) for prices that may be lower than their Steam equivalents.  So I will now go ahead and outline a few little rules to follow in order to help you make the most of these sales.

Rule 1: Shop Around

Steam has some pretty good deals but they will not be the only site with good sales.  Be sure to check Amazon, the Humble bundle, gog.com, and greenmangaming.com.  All of these sites will offer you some incredible deals, some which last only hours, so check often and check regularly for the games you want.

Rule 2: Stay Aware of the Games You Want

It can be a hassle to check sales every few hours especially between midnight and 8 AM, so let Steam tell you when a game you want goes on sale.  To do this add games you want to your wishlist (or Christmas list as I like to call it) and when they go on sale Steam will send you an email to let you know.  This way you won’t miss out on one of your most wanted games just because you were too lazy.

Rule 3: Play the Waiting Game

When the Steam Christmas Sale starts all games on the Steam catalog will go on sale for a slightly lowered price, and you may jump on a game thinking you did a good job and saved a bunch of money, but if you do that you may live to regret it.  Steam features three really big sales which will be advertised on their front page.  These sales are the daily sale, flash sale, and community choice sale.  These games have an additional discount added to them so that instead of being merely 20% off you may find it instead for 80% off.  So if you rush to buy a game that isn’t featured on either the daily sale, flash sale, or community choice sale, you may find that a day or two later it is on sale for half of the price you paid for it (and know that Steam does not give refunds) with no way of receiving those savings.  As an example last year I got deep into XCOM: Enemy Unknown and during the Steam Christmas Sale I looked into buying up the DLC.  I saw that it was all on sale for about $4 instead of $12 so I figured I would just go ahead and buy it, but to my surprise the next day the same games were on sale for about $1.50.  I still found a good deal but if I would have waited one day I would have had an extra $3 to buy another game.

Rule 4: Don’t Hesitate to Buy

There are many sales that will only last a few hours, and these sales are the dangerous ones.  You may see a game that you really want and if you don’t buy it when you see the sale you may miss it entirely which in the long run may cost you because sales don’t always repeat.  Sometimes a game will only go on sale once and if you don’t jump on it you may regret it later.  To give an example of this Civilization V released a great expansion pack this summer called Brave New World.  Initially during Steam’s summer sale the game had no discount at all, but then Civ V and all of its DLC went on a flash sale… Well sorta…  Civ V and all of its DLC except for Brave New World were meant to go on sale, but due to a mistake Brave New World was offered for 33% off.  So many people including me, jumped onto this deal which didn’t last more than a few hours after the mistake had been fixed and Brave New World did not go on sale again all summer.  Since I was so eager in jumping on this deal I saved $10 on a brand new game, which is unheard of throughout any realm of game marketing.

Rule 5: Don’t Go Overboard

Here’s my last rule and probably one of the most important ones.  Just because you can buy 4 games for the price of one doesn’t mean that it’s a good idea.  You should only go after games you have a deep felt interest in playing, if you don’t you will end up with a pile of games that you never get around to playing and only have a lower bank account to show for it.  I’ve made the mistake many times in the past of buying bundles and bundles of games just because they’re on sale and appealing.  Anyway I often focus on just one game at a time, as I’m sure many of you do as well, so don’t rush to buy a game that you only sorta want.  Remember that if it goes on sale once it is bound to go on sale again some other time in the year.  If you can wait on buying it, then do.  Games don’t get less fun the older they get, and you shouldn’t at all start to believe that.

So be wise and have fun during the sale and get yourself a couple of discounted games, to hold you over for a while.  You can expect the Steam sale to start on the 19th (give or take a day) and last well through the New Year.  If you’re looking for daily recommendations on the Steam Christmas Sale (and sales going on in general) then look for Totalbiscuit’s recommendations on his Youtube page (trust me he knows what he’s talking about and often has in depth reviews for the games on sale).  So please have an amazing winter holiday!  I’ll see you next year.

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PMG Presents: A Chucklefish Retrospective

Making good games is an art, and some people are just better at it than others.  Now I’ve already talked about Edmund McMillen and Puppy Games both of which make amazing games, but now I’d like to introduce you to another game studio who’s fairly new and who has already started pouring out a stream of amazing games: Chucklefish.  Now not all of the games I’m about to talk about are out, some are in beta, and some are still deep in development.  I’ve been attracted to them for one reason or another so I hope you can find something endearing in the games yet to be released and something fun and amazing in the ones that have already come out.

I’m gonna go ahead and start off with the games that have not yet come out, and work towards the most recent releases.  So to start off I have Stardew Valley a game still very much in development.  Stardew Valley is a very interesting game of the ‘Harvest Moon’ variety but with a few twists.  Stardew Valley pegs itself as “an open-ended country-life RPG with support for up to 4-player co-op.”  In it you are able to customize your character and your home and, in the style of ‘Harvest Moon’ you can start a farm/ranch and court your neighbors and start a family.  An added feature is a large cave system that you can explore to fight monsters and obtain valuable resources.  Now I’ve always been a big fan of ‘Harvest Moon’ and ‘Animal Crossing’ so this game has a great interest to me.  It looks as though it will be a nice, quiet, little, relaxing game to watch the hours pass away.  As it stands Stardew Valley has been Greenlit on Steam (chosen by the community to appear on Steam).  The game has no set release date or set price, but if you are interested in it you can follow its development on the Chucklefish website.

Our second game, yet to be released, is called Treasure Adventure World and it is a metroidvania-style, sidescrolling platformer where you sail the seas searching for treasure and adventure.  Treasure Adventure World is a remake of a little indie game from 2011 called ‘Treasure Adventure Game.’  The original game featured pixelated graphics and a very simple story about a boy and his bird who search for mystical and magical artifacts to fight a demon that threatens the world.  The remake features redone graphics and soundtrack as well as an improved story and revamped puzzles.  The game has a deep ‘Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker’ vibe from the setting to the gameplay.  Treasure Adventure World has yet to be released, but the free version ‘Treasure Adventure Game’ is available for download.  ‘Treasure Adventure Game’ is a great preview for the game to come and shows just how much potential there is in the final product.  The developers are aiming at releasing the game early in 2014 and will cost $10.  It currently has not been Greenlit on Steam, so if you want to see it appear on the Steam platform please go and vote for it.  This game really deserves it.

Next up on the list is Chucklefish’s first release, a game called Wanderlust: RebirthWanderlust: Rebirth is an “online four player co-op arcade-action RPG.”  There are four premade characters/classes in the game, each with their own controls/abilities, which allow for a very versatile playthrough depending on what kind of gaming you like to do.  The game features nice, little graphics which are very reminiscent of ‘The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past’ with simplified characters and enemies in the overworld.  It’s a neat little game, nowhere near the best but still fun especially with others.  I would have liked it if the characters were able to be personalized, but the fact that they’re not is not a breaking point.  If you’d like to pick it up you can on Steam for $7.99.

To move onto the games that I am very fervent of I introduce you to Risk of Rain and Starbound.  To start off let me tell you about Risk of Rain, a roguelike set in space.  You play as one of ten unique characters with their own abilities and styles.  The game has you go around killing monsters to collect money so you can buy randomly spawning powerups.  As you go you progress through the level to find and kill the giant boss which lies at the end.  If you can do this you go on to the next level.  Now this game may seem pretty conventional and ordinary, I mean what’s another roguelike where you kill monsters and collect powerups, well this game features a twist.  The twist is that the longer you play the harder the game becomes.  This simple addition adds a whole new layer to the game.  You have to weigh the cost of rushing ahead into an easier level against to being well prepared with enough powerups.  It’s a hard decision to make and one that you shouldn’t take lightly because despite being fully prepared, the game ramps up in difficulty like you could not believe.  After my countless playthroughs I still find it difficult to make it past level 2 and that’s often while the game is still on easy.  The art of the game is nothing to amazing.  Everything is pixelated and so small that it is often hard to distinguish one enemy from another or even tell what they’re supposed to look like.  Like most roguelikes progress in a game such as this can only come from luck and skill, though mostly luck.  You will find yourself playing this game again and again hoping for one lucky playthrough where you can make enough money and get just the right powerups to progress quickly and easily.  The game also features an online multiplayer to bring your friends in on the action.  If you want to buy the game, you can pick it up on Steam for the nice price of $9.99.

If you happen to be reading this post on the day or week of its release, then you may know about the recent release of the Starbound beta.  Starbound is a game I have been fervently awaiting for about a year.  It is a spiritual successor to Terraria, though it includes vast improvements in the game’s overall feel and replayability, but I’ll get to that soon enough.  Starbound is a 2D action platformer in the survival/building genre of games.  In it you play as one of six customizable, playable races: the Apex, a cross between Star Wars’s Empire and the gorillas from Planet of the Apes; the Avians, a race of wingless bird-people; the Floran, carnivorous plants; the Glitch, robots who are stuck in medieval times; Humans; the Hylotl, a race of amphibious creatures that have an oriental vibe; and the Novakids, bandits composed of the plasma of stars.  You start off the game stranded on a spaceship high above a lone planet without any help and only the most basic of tools.  With this you are let loose onto the universe, free to do whatever you want.  If it’s your first time playing you can follow the tutorial and make your own little camp on the planet and build bigger and better weapons/armor.  All of this leads to the point where you craft a beacon and things get serious.  The world of Starbound is very similar to that of Terraria where the world is randomly generated along with all of the treasures within it.  In ‘Terraria’ you could generate a hundred different worlds and despite some minor changes they would all feel very similar: forest, desert, snow, corruption/crimson, jungle, ocean.  Starbound takes random generation to the next level by randomly generating everything from planets, biomes,  monsters, weapons, day/night cycles, weather, gravity, size; the world in Starbound is just shockingly vast and intricate and unique.  In each world you will find all sorts of unique little things.  My first planet was purple with trees and giant mushrooms and herds of strange orange and yellow pig people.  On the other side of my planet there is a big glitch castle full of knights deadly knights and peasants and deep underground I keep finding lush cave systems.  The world is enormous and I cannot say that I’ve even scratched the surface of what all this game has to offer, but I do see that this game has quite a lot of potential.  So this leads quite nicely to a major point I have to make, being that this game is still in beta.  Starbound for everything it can be, and one day will be, know that as for right now, it’s not all there.  There’s lots that the developers are still working on, things that have not been finished or implemented in the game yet like a full questing system or even smaller things like the Novakids or pets or fossils.  Still this game is gonna be amazing once it gets all the bugs worked out and everything implemented and optimized.  If you want to take a look at Starbound, and I truly recommend it, you can do so on Steam for $14.99.

On a final note with the encroachment of the winter holiday I will be taking a brief hiatus from posting until 2014 rolls around.  I will however try to put out a post on the Steam Winter Sale, to help guide your buying in the winter season.  Happy Holidays!

PMG Presents: Controller Support

Well as a few of you may know this past week has offered video game sales far and wide.  I, for one, have been glued to Steam’s Autumn Sale and I have bought and gone through a whole mess of new games, so I’ve thought long and hard about which games I’d like to cover this week, and since I’m still playing through a few of the games I bought, I thought I’d instead talk about a couple of games I’ve had on my plate for a while now, games that require controller support.

It’s a very interesting thing that games like these exist in the first place.  Many of them are ports from consoles, but a few games originated on the PC with the need for a controller.  Why is it that a device that relies so much on a keyboard and mouse should require a controller to get a better experience?  Well most of these games require controllers just because of the fact that arrow keys do not provide enough maneuverability or poor button placement on the keyboard impairs one’s enjoyment.  As I’ve discussed earlier, one of the reasons why ‘Super Meat Boy’ becomes such a better game with a controller is because it becomes so much easier to control and maneuver about the tight environments.  This is readily the case with these four games.  They require quick movement and maneuverability that a keyboard just can’t support.  Well let’s jump into it.

First on our list is a little game called SpelunkySpelunky is another roguelike dungeon-crawler where you play as an archaeologist who ventures off to discover riches and women (or hunks/dogs depending on the settings) in a series of always shifting underground caverns.  Spelunky began its life as a small indie game which is still available for free download on the Spelunky site.  Then a revamped version with improved graphics was released for the Xbox Live Arcade, but was then ported to the PC and PlayStation.  In the game you run around killing monsters, collecting treasure and women, and progressing further into the caverns.  You start the game with a small sliver of life which can rapidly be taken away from careless mistakes (a single attack can take off one of four original hearts, and a fall or shot can take away two, three, or even four).  The only way to get truly far in the game involves more luck than anything else.  As you progress you get the chance to unlock numerous other characters and get upgrades to ease your adventure.  This game is incredibly fast paced due to the ease of death,  and can easily play through 8 or 9 times in the span of a few minutes.  Spelunky has a great little cartoony art style with blocky landscapes that you progress through.  This game is nice and easy because you can pick it up for a few minutes without getting invested in it, though you can play it for hours when you devote yourself to progress in the game.  It’s a fun little game to pick up and to be perfectly honest it doesn’t even really require a controller to play.  So if you want to pick it up, you can find it on Steam for $14.99.

Next on my list is a game that was gifted to me by a friend by the name of Foul PlayFoul Play is, put simply, an old-school style beat-‘em-up/combo competition.  It follows Baron Dashforth a fantastically moustached daemonologist and his spunky sidekick Scampwick as they hunt demons and beat them to a pulp.  The game takes place as a play where you play the actors and beat up monsters in acts and scenes for the enjoyment of the audience.  The game is not hard, mostly because there is no life bar or health to worry about.  The main focus of this game is racking up enormous combos and subsequently more points.  The game features a prominent two player mode over local connection or on the internet.  It’s a fun little way to hang out with a buddy in a cool and unique game, though it’s not necessarily high up on my list of fun games, though that might just be because I’m not very into beat-‘em-up games.  If you’d like to take up the role of Dashforth or his companion, you can get it on Steam for $14.99.

The next game I have to cover is another roguelike, this one even has “rogue” in its name.  Rogue Legacy is a platformer where you go around collecting treasure and defeating monsters.  Each time you play the castle where the game is set is randomly generated and filled with different monsters and chests.  The game has a very Castlevnia-like feel  in that the game is very open and there is no one set path to follow, though there are hard areas that initially you might not be able to get through without a good deal of luck and skill.  The game has a very interesting difficulty curve in that each of the different levels has a constantly high difficulty.  The first few dozen times you play you will die and die quickly but as you go you will be able to purchase better armor, spells, and classes, as well as improvements to your health, which will help you get farther and farther.  In between each playthrough you are allowed to pick a heir who will be your character in the next game.  Before you enter the castle you are allowed to buy powerups and spend your money with the condition that you will lose any money that you don’t spend.  An additional feature is that your heirs will gain certain medical mutations such as dwarfism, gigantism, OCD, color blindness, and a variety of other disorders.  Each area of the castle has a boss that guards it.  When you defeat a boss it will remain dead throughout the rest of your playthroughs, giving you easier access to the final boss.  It’s a fun game that can be very enjoyable though very frustrating.  In all my times playing it though I have come across one small problem.  On my computer I have found certain moments when the game will slow to a crawl for no apparent reason.  I’ve found that I can avoid this by not choosing heirs who have complex graphical filters due to their genetic disorders.  There’s a lot of fun to be found in this game and hours of play.  You can pick Rogue Legacy up on Steam for $14.99.

To wrap up this article let me talk about one of my new favorite games: Guacamelee!  Guacamelee! is a metroidvania style of game  where you go around a large open world picking up powerups and fighting bosses, so that you can access new areas of the map.  What makes Guacamelee! so interesting and unique is that it is themed after Mexican Luchadors.  You play as Juan, an agave farmer who one day is forced to assume the masked role of a luchador to save the woman he loves from an army of the undead.  The game features a colorful cast of characters including a strange little goatman who teaches you how to be an expert luchador, a witch who plies you with constant sexual innuendos, a jaguarman warrior, and a bandit with a flaming head who shoots first and always forgets to aim.  As you progress you can upgrade your health and abilities, eventually discovering the power to travel between the worlds of the living and dead, as well as become a chicken!  You fight with a vast arsenal of lucha libre moves as you pile drive and throw enemies at each other.  The game has a pretty good story and gives you the thrill of a classic Nintendo game in the modern age.  On top of that Guacamelee! features a local co-op option if you have an additional controller.  This game is awesome it is funny and exciting and the gameplay seems original without being counterintuitive.  The game has that great combination of uniqueness while hiding countless mementos to other games within it (one of my favorite is a stylized grumpy cat picture).  Of all the controller support games, I have covered here today, I definitely put Guacamelee! one step above the others and if you have to play just one, play Guacamelee!  If you choose to pick it up, you can do so on Steam for $14.99.

I started this post in order to help people find games that are cheap, fun, and playable on most every computer, and these games definitely aren’t the cheapest, and the need for a controller to play them makes them all that much more expensive, but they can offer something special and unique not found in most other PC games.