It’s been a while but now I’m back to bring you news of the yearly summer sale and all that it has to offer. As I write this I can already see the tide of regular sales receding as sites like Steam and the Humble Bundle prepare for the biggest sales of the year. Other sites, like GOG, have already started the sales to try and beat the rush that will be upon us in the next few days. In this post I will go about describing some of my favorite summer sale sites, what kinds of sales they feature, and how to make the most out of each sale. So PC gamers sit back, relax, and get ready to watch your gaming library boom!
When it comes to summer sales you cannot beat Steam, they are at the pinnacle of the summer sales market offering some of the best sales on what is perhaps the largest catalog of games. Steam usually starts off its sales by putting a base discount on just about everything in their catalog. Each day they pick a few games for their front page sales. These include their daily deal, flash sales, and community choice deals. Daily deals, like the name implies occur once a day, flash sales last for a few hours, and community choice deals last for a few hours but are voted for by the community. The games that make it to the front page sales are always given an increased discount putting a few up to 80 or 90% off. When it comes to Steam it is important to wait until games reach the front page sales to buy them otherwise you will end up wasting a ton of unnecessarily wasted money. After all the sales are through, Steam will usually have a Best of Sales, where the best sales are repeated for one final time. If you are looking towards buying from Steam remember to wait for games to reach the front page or, if they don’t, buy them the last day of the sale (the day before the last marked sale day). Sources say that the Steam sale will start on the 19th and end on the 30th, but these rumors have yet to be confirmed by Valve.
The Humble Bundle is fairly new to the summer sales ring due to the fact that their Humble Store was only started last November. Because of this, there is little telling what their sales may be like, but it can be speculated that like their winter sale, the summer sale will greatly resemble Steam’s (meaning daily deals and flash sales). When the Humble Store does have its sales make sure to check them out because oftentimes they will compete with Steam for low prices, meaning you might find a game cheaper with them. There is no telling when they might start their sale, but expect it to coincide sometime with Steam’s. (Note: most games on the Humble Bundle are redeemable on Steam only DRM-free, meaning you are buying the game, not just the license, plus they donate a certain amount of proceeds to charity)
Finally we have GOG who started their sales today as I am writing this post. GOG has a cycle of flash sales going on with new games going on sale and going off sale every hour as well as some daily sales. The sales on GOG are ridiculous in how low they are selling games. GOG as I discussed in my post How GOG.com is Saving the Day, features a variety of older games as well as new gems that are available to play on most computers (GOG provides the programs to play older games) and DRM-free. Though they do not have as big of a library as Steam, GOG has it where it counts in the quality of its titles and in its mission to serve gamers. Be sure to give them the love and attention they deserve.
To help you navigate the summer sales I have a few rules to help you get the most out of your money. They’re the same rules I had regarding last winter’s sales, but condensed.
- SHOP AROUND – Don’t rely on any one single site to get you a good deal, shop around and you will find that some sites give better sales than others.
- STAY AWARE OF THE GAMES YOU WANT – Most sites have a feature where if you put a game in your wish list it will tell you when it goes on sale. Utilizing features like this can keep you from having to watch the sales all day long.
- PLAY THE WAITING GAME – Wait to buy until the games you want are the absolute cheapest. This will oftentimes mean that you need to wait until they are featured on a site’s front page as a “special” deal.
- DON’T HESITATE TO BUY – At the same time, every now and again mistakes are made and some games that weren’t meant to go on sale go on sale, or games that were only meant to be 30% off go on sale for 50 or 60% off. If a price seems too good to be true it probably is and it probably won’t stay that way for long so buy it for cheap when you can.
- DON’T GO OVERBOARD – It may seem tempting, but don’t buy a game unless you honestly intend to play it. If you find yourself buying something because you might one day play it, then you probably shouldn’t buy it at all. Buy the games that you’ve wanted to play desperately but haven’t had the money to, games that will last you a while and ignore the temptation of the sale.
As a final note do your homework on games you’re looking at buying. Make sure you’re getting what you think you’re getting. No matter how cheap the game was, you will always regret buying a bad game. Check reviews by people who care (I recommend folks like Yahtzee Croshaw and TotalBiscuit for honest reviews on games of all shapes and sizes) or even reviews I’ve put out in the past. Developers will keep making bad games if they think people will buy them. Oh, and also avoid buying the Sims 3, no matter how appealing the sale may be (EA is releasing the next installment of the Sims and will most likely cut all support for the Sims 3 as soon as it is released, leaving the game largely unplayable). Until next time I have been the Poor Man’s Gamer wishing you a fun and game-filled su
Welcome back to the third installment of my look at strategy games. This week we are taking a look at a personal favorite of mine, a game that I’ve meant to write about for a while now. The game in question is XCOM: Enemy Unknown.
I first came in contact with the XCOM series a few years back when I discovered UFO: Enemy Unknown (1994), the first game in the XCOM series. I bought it on Steam and for a few weeks during Christmas break I tried my best to play through it (it is ridiculously hard and it lacked an intuitive interface, because of which I never got very far at all). Around the same time XCOM: Enemy Unknown a remake of the original game was released with improved graphics and simplified gameplay. I picked it up a little while later along with Civilization IV and V as part of a bundle on Amazon. I instantly fell in love.
XCOM is a turn-based strategy game where you play as a group of soldiers sent out on dangerous missions to stop invading aliens. You control a squadron of customizable soldiers who you can name, customize, and give different power-ups. The game switches between two different setups of gameplay. In the first you control your squadron as you hunt down and kill aliens, in the second you manage your base buying facilities and choosing what to research/build. Through proper coordination of your efforts you can build up a nearly unstoppable team of juggernauts who remain miles in front of the encroaching alien menace. If you are not lucky you will find that your soldiers almost consistently die on you, making the game nearly impossible to win.
The game is made to be addicting, especially when you start building up your forces. As you progress you will start to feel a bond with all of the members of your squad and you will be devastated whenever one of them dies from a stray shot from an enemy’s weapon (it doesn’t help that the game gives them all nicknames).
The game features a pretty good variety of different levels and enemies and a great story mode. In my opinion the way to play XCOM is on “Ironman” mode which makes it so you cannot reload past save files meaning that once one of your squadron die, they are dead for good. This is closer to the way the original game played and lends itself to a deeper and more strategic way of playing.
There are three sets of DLC for XCOM: The Slingshot Pack, The Elite Soldier Pack, and Enemy Within. The Elite Soldier Pack is a purely cosmetic DLC that gives you new options for customizing your soldiers. The Slingshot Pack adds a few new story missions to the game that add a little bit of variety, though not that much. Enemy Within is the big set of DLC for XCOM and it adds all around additions to the original game. Enemy Within adds more and more of what makes XCOM a great game. It adds new weapons and technologies, new maps, new resources, and small additions to the gameplay in general.
XCOM: Enemy Unknown is available for $29.99, The Elite Soldier Pack is available for $4.99, The Slingshot Pack is available for $6.99, XCOM: Enemy Within is available for $29.99, and the original UFO: Enemy Unknown is available for $4.99.
Welcome back to part two of my ‘Strategy is Key’ series of games where I will take through a series of my favorite strategy games. Next up on our journey is Rymdkapsel a real-time strategy set in space.
Rymdkapsel is Swedish for space capsule and in many ways this title does a very good job at explaining the game for the most part. You play as a group of spacemen sent out to explore and study monoliths in a deep, dark, forgotten region of space. You accomplish this goal by gathering resources to extend your space station and recruit more units to your cause. As you do this you will start to encounter more and more frequent waves of hostiles coming to murder your entire crew. Once you have researched all four monoliths your job is simply to survive as long as possible. Death is inescapable.
The game has a very unique and attractive minimalistic graphics style where most units and resources are expressed as simple 2D polygons. You expand your base through a series of tetrominos that form your corridors and rooms.
Altogether Rymdkapsel is a very, very simple game. Beyond what I’ve said there’s not much to it. In a way I think this is part of its appeal. It is a very easy game to pick up play for a few hours and then set down without having a long-term commitment to some overly complicated story. In many ways the gameplay reminds me of Dungeon Keeper except simplified which is in no way a black mark on this game, if anything it is an accomplishment worthy of merit. Rymdkapsel is good for a few playthroughs perhaps a few more if you are one of those people who cannot help but go back to try and beat your old high score. If you are interested in picking it up you can do so for $7.99.
When I was a kid I got into chess for a little while, I was never any good at it, but whenever I got a chance to I would play it just for the fun of it. As I got older I fell out of this phase, but deep down it instilled a love of strategy in me. Strategy games can be ruthless in their difficulty and the learning curve required to play them, but there are countless games that go beyond this to achieve gaming that is not only fun but also addicting. Over the next few weeks I will be exploring some of my favorite strategy games and sharing them with you. To start off here’s a fairly new game.
A few weeks ago I finally got around to indulging myself in The Banner Saga, a turn-based strategy game set in a Norse fantasy world full of horned giants (Varl) and shadowy, armored creatures called Dredge. In it you play through a set of different storylines as you investigate the never setting sun and the unexpected resurgence of the wicked Dredge. The game takes place through two main parts: an action-filled fighting part and a party management part. You change between them as the story progresses keeping your heroes properly outfitted for the ensuing battles.
The Banner Saga has a wonderful art style and story; both are prominent and unique in the current world of gaming. The art style is in the form of 2D animations reminiscent of Don Bluth-era Disney (Sleeping Beauty, Robin Hood, The Rescuers, The Fox and the Hound, and The Black Cauldron all fall into this era). The story borrows lightly from Viking lore and takes place in a fictional land covered in snow. The game’s story is deep and branching, engrossing from the beginning. As you progress in the game you are given different choices that affect not only the story but also your party and your future potential.
As I said before this game is a turn-based strategy. You take turns moving and attacking with a team that you develop throughout the story. As you progress you face incredibly harder enemies and hordes as you risk your heroes to try and destroy the Dredge. The game takes a few missions to get a good feel of the mechanics and a little while longer to understand how each character works best in conjunction with the others you happen to pick up.
Apart from the main story and playthrough, The Banner Saga also offers a free multiplayer mode called Banner Saga: Factions, which implements the games great strategy gameplay in a way that you can enjoy with others.
The Banner Saga puts together a fun and vibrant world full of exciting battle and gripping story. The Banner Saga is a game that you should not pass up. You can pick it up for $24.99.
Throughout the wide and vast world of PC Gaming you will find games aplenty, some are big and some are small, some are good and some are bad, but they all provide the same thing: the extension of an idea into an interactive medium. Today I’d like to take the chance to talk to you about four little Indie games that have caught my eye. These are games that have not gone onto Early Access, instead choosing to work towards a finished project before presenting the game to the world. Some of these games are still so deep in development that the only information on them exists in development blogs, FAQs, and design notes; one of these games is in the middle of its own open beta as it works towards creating a better game; and one game has just made it through the development process with the hopes that it may soon be picked up by large online stores like Steam.
The first game I’d like to talk about is Mother 4. For those of you who don’t know the Mother series is a series of games put out by Nintendo primarily in Japan. The series yielded a single US release called Earthbound which was released for the Super Nintendo to great acclaim. The series follows a group of children (different in each game) and explores their encounters with aliens and mad scientists and strange psychic powers in strange and mysterious lands. For those of you who are big fans of the Super Smash Bros. series, Ness and Lucas are characters from the Mother games. Mother 4 is an unofficial addition to the series made by fans for the PC. The game follows the traditional Mother system of distorted RPG in an abstract America and follows the tradition well but with the addition of a new and original story. The game is set to be released in winter of this year and is currently set to be free.
Next up is a game that I am awaiting with much anticipation. If you’ve been reading my posts for a while you will know what a huge fan of Edmund McMillen I am, well McMillen’s next project is a game called Mew-Genics and like always it is a strange and dark and twisted and full of childish wonder and fear, so nothing new for McMillen and Team Meat. Mew-Genics is self-described as “a cross between The Sims and Pokemon with a sprinkling of Animal Crossing and a dash of Tamagotchi.” In this game you raise, breed, and fight cats to create strange and interesting mutations and deformities. You can care for your cats in any way you see fit and after a while evolve into their adult forms which can bring on a whole world of new surprises. As of right now there’s still a lot of mystery shrouded around Mew-Genics. As it stands there is no set release date or price. There are a few comics up on the website and a lot of development screenshots, personally I already have high hopes for this game, though it may just be that I’m biased.
The next game I want to talk about is a game that’s been in beta for a while now. It’s not available on Steam’s Early Access, though it has been greenlit on Steam. The game I’d like to talk to you is called Broforce. In Broforce you play as a mercenary fighting your way through a level towards a helicopter. In the game the terrain is completely destroyable and explosions and gun shots are plentiful in the action (much to your own demise). You play as one of many titular “bros” who take their appearance and inspiration from eighties action movies. For example you can play as characters such as Rambro (Rambo) or the Brominator (Terminator) as well as a bunch of awesome and amazing characters like Walker Texas Ranger, Neo, Will Smith from Men In Black, McGyver, Robocop, and Mr. T. The game allows for four-player co-op which is simply loads of unrelenting fun. More often than not you just end up killing each other by accident, but you will just keep trucking on and playing for the fun of it. As I said before the game is still in beta and being worked on and there hasn’t been an official release date for the game yet, but from what I have seen Broforce is a wild and out of control take on Metal Slug, it’s truly game worth not missing. If you are interested in buying it you can do so for $15.
The final game I would like to talk to you about is one that I literally stumbled upon just about a week ago. It is the game that sparked my interest in doing a post on my self-coined “Super Indie” games. I found the game while rummaging around the Humble Store for any good sales and I picked it up almost immediately not knowing exactly what I was getting into. What I ended buying was a game called Retro Game Crunch. What Retro Game Crunch manages to do so well is mimic the style and feel of classic NES games with original storylines and mostly original gameplay. The game comes as a bundle of 7 separate games all of which include their own stories and play styles as well as ideas and graphics. In one you play as a robot trying to kill yourself, in another you are a strange creature trying to evolve your way towards progress, in another you find yourself in a strange cross between the metroidvania genre and Ocarina of Time. Additionally there are a few multiplayer games ranging from classic beat ‘em ups to shoot ‘em ups (…I feel like there may be a better way to phrase that…). I’ll be honest I haven’t had a chance to play through all of the games to the end, but what I’ve seen has left me very satisfied, these games accomplish what they set out to do flawlessly. Any of them could have lived and prospered in the 8-bit era and now they serve as a gateway back to that nostalgia. You can pick up Retro Game Crunch for $15.
In these four games I see hope for the gaming industry far away from the halls of EA and other AAA developers, away even from the grasp of distributors like Steam, in these games I see promise that gaming can thrive without big names and without help from publishers. To make a good game you simply have to go out and make it.
There’s a small but powerful genre present in modern gaming that has been able to put out a very powerful repertoire of games. These games focus on a simple but strange theme of science testing. These games place you as the test subject in an oftentimes wacky and twisted world of scientific discovery gone wrong. In this genre you can find games full of humor, unique gameplay, and a deeply meaningful works of art.
To start off I would like to talk about the most well-known series in this genre, one that was developed by Steam’s own parent company: Valve. That’s right I would like to take the chance to talk about Portal. Portal began its life back when the Half-Life series was in full swing, back when Valve was busy focusing on the adventures of Gordon Freeman and not Steam Machines and DOTA 2. Back then Valve was concerned with making games and they were at the top of their game. They had just finished up the first episode of Half-Life 2 and were busy working on the second episode, though not as quickly as the fan base would have liked. As a bit of fan service and as an apology for releasing part two so late, they released ‘The Orange Box,’ a compilation of Half-Life 2 and its two expansions as well as two other games: Team Fortress 2 and Portal. Episode two was considered to be a great game and a great addition to the Half-Life series; surprisingly the two add-on games were received with equal, if not better, reception, which caught even Valve by surprise. Portal was never meant to be anything spectacular; it was a short game that explored an interesting mechanic from a much earlier title, Narbacular Drop. For those of you who don’t know, Portal is a game where you are a test subject in the Aperture Science Testing Facility. You explore testing chambers and solve puzzles using the aid of a ‘Portal Gun,’ a device that allows you to build doorways between two separate points. Along the way you are guided by the strange and mysterious GLaDOS, an artificial intelligence obsessed with testing and progress. Throughout the game you discover the terrible secrets of Aperture Science and its testing facilities in a world full of dark and twisted humor. Portal was widely received as the best game of the year and one of the best games of all time with its unique story and gameplay. Four years after its release, Portal received a sequel with a new story and the addition of multiplayer and level creation. This sequel, while not as well received as the original, was still thought by many to be an altogether great game. There are so many elements that contribute to Portal’s success from the unique story full of humor and mystery to the unique gameplay that is not found anywhere else in the vast history of gaming. Now I’m sure many, if not all of you, have heard this speech countless times before, but if you haven’t than you deserve to try the Portal series because these games will have you smitten from the very beginning. You can pick up Portal for $9.99 and Portal 2 for $19.99 or together in a bundle for $24.99 on Steam.
The next game I’d like to talk about is perhaps the least known of all the games I’m going to cover today. Q.U.B.E. is a game that once again takes place in a testing facility. You play as a silent, unnamed protagonist who wields a magic glove that lets him alter the environment through a variety of different colored cubes. The levels involve puzzles where you must make your way to an exit or guide a series of spheres into colored holes. This game benefits from a unique set of game mechanics in an interesting environment, though unlike Portal it lacks the humor and personal element that helps you connect with the characters and the game. So while it lacks a lot of spirit, it is still an interesting game that you could do a lot worse than in the oversaturated game market. It is available on Steam for $9.99, though I would recommend that you wait for it to go on sale before you buy it.
The last game I have for you is perhaps one of the most strange and original games I have ever seen. It is a game that takes the commonalities that most gamers take for granted and turns them around on the player. The game I’m talking about is Antichamber and it is unlike anything you’ve ever seen. In Antichamber you are immediately given free roam of a world with a time limit of just 90 minutes to do what you will. In Antichamber you are given free roam of a seemingly simple world with secrets hidden everywhere. To play this game you must throw out everything you’ve ever learned about gaming. You learn things like sometimes the most progress is made by taking the time to go backwards as counterintuitive as it may seem and that things are not as they always appear. Antichamber takes traditional physics and geometry and throws them out the window. You will find stairways that lead nowhere and walls that don’t really exist on top of that you will find doorways that lead you on endless loops through impossible architectures. This game changes the way that you look at everything and says that everything you know about gaming and how games are supposed to work is a lie that many have simply chosen to accept. Though you are only given 90 minutes to complete the game you will find that you explore it for dozens of hours more in a strange attempt to discover every single little secret held within this game because it is highly satisfying to find something you hadn’t seen or noticed before even though it may not contribute to your progress in the slightest. When Portal first came out many people said that it revolutionized the way that people thought about conventional gaming, well Antichamber does this as well but it does so magnitudes of power more. Antichamber can be bought for $19.99, which I consider a bargain for what this game offers.
I have by no means covered all the games that exist in this genre but merely covered a few of my favorites. Take from these games what you will. Be sad at the fact that these games explore impossible scientific discoveries, but be glad that we live in a world where such severe and darkly comedic testing does not take place.