Steam Holiday Sale: The Honourable Mentions

360_limbo_shot9STEAM Sales. It’s every PC gamer’s dream. Lines upon lines of cheap games right at your fingertips, both indie jewels and retro diamonds, at prices most high street shops wouldn’t dare put up.

But as with all good things, it can sometimes be too much, which leads to many a gamer having a “pile of shame”; a collection of games that you will most likely never play, simply because it looked good and played bad. And so, many wonderful games get undeservedly overlooked.

So with the Steam Holiday Sale of 2013 over with, here’s a list of games that may have gone past your radar. Watch out for these gems on the next sale, or you’ll be missing out on a wonderful bunch of time-wasters.

Papers, Please

If you think writing dissertations is painful, try being an immigrations officer for the glorious socialist country of Arstotzka, providing for your family with your meagre salary at the end of the day. Believe it or not, everything in this game, from the dreary 8-bit interface to the very characters you’re screening for entry into the country, is geared for immersion. With a multiple array of endings to aim for, every choice you make affects your life, whether immediately with a bomb going off in the gate or in the long run when you end up having to work twice, maybe four times as hard simply to get enough wages to live. And it’s not just immersive, the very task of screening individuals for entry is an intricate puzzle in and of itself. Grim and compelling, Papers, Please will keep you locked in for hours.

Limbo

Continuing with the trend of dark and immersive games, Limbo lets you play as a little boy and drops you into this macabre, 2D world of shadows and gore, not unlike waking up from an intense, confusing dream. The game is perfectly ambient, often playing on the silences to create tension and put you in that uneasiness. This uneasiness also comes from the mechanics, or the lack of it. All you get is an action button, a jump button and the analog stick to move. And the puzzles don’t rely on any fancy mechanics or moves, it’s pure simple logic. Limbo is a solid five hours of horror. Not the usual jump-scares or gorefests, it’s intelligent and will suck you right into this awful world with The Boy.

Crusader Kings II

If you enjoyed grand strategy titles such as Civilisation V, but thought it a bit shallow, this game is for you. Crusader Kings II is extremely deep, putting players in the Dark Ages from 1066 onwards as… anyone with power. Fancy ruling Western Europe as William the Conqueror? Go ahead. Wanna be a teeny tiny duke in a teeny tiny patch of land in the wastelands of Siberia and conquer the world from there? Why not. And this game isn’t just a power trip either, every decision you make, as insignificant as it seems, will affect the world. You control every aspect of your patch of land, from finances to religion and everything in between. The only problem with the game is that its learning curve may as well be a cliff. But once you get over that and get to grips with everything, you will lose days, maybe months to this game. Guaranteed.

Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons

Normally, when a game is described as a piece of art, often the visuals are praised, and the criticism lies in the gameplay. Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons is nothing like that. You follow the tale of two brothers as they set off to cure their ailing father. What’s interesting is that you control both brothers, adding the need for a controller. Well, two sticks and two context-sensitive buttons. And that’s where the beauty of it lies. The relationship of these two brothers is reflected in the gameplay itself. The challenge of the puzzles is not in how intricate they are, but how these two brothers will help each other to get through often disturbing and violent areas. This game is for those who believe that video games are just as capable of pulling emotion and thought out of an audience as any film or painting.

And there we have it. This is just a sliver of the great games in the Steam Holiday Sale, so watch out for them once the next sale hits. Happy gaming!