Tuesday, March 15, 2011

5 Good Games off Steam for under 15 bucks.

So, you've got only a bit of money left, and you are wondering what game you can buy?

Well, here's a list of games off steam that are all under $10 to $15 USD, and are so well worth the money you'll wish you paid full price.  Some are shining examples of what an independant game development team can do, others are sweet sweet deals from bigger corps who've decided to cut in on the "smaller, but cheaper" game making budgets.

All are guranteed to be the same quality as some triple AAA $50 games, and maybe even surpass some of them in fun factor.  Enjoy, and happy shopping!

Beat Hazard

Music powered duel stick shooter.  Comes complete with Co-op and VS on the same PC, assuming you've got two controllers to play with.  The controller config is designed to support just about any two stick controller, myself I prefer some PS2 controllers with USB adapters.

You can load up any music you have on your PC, as well as audio cds(not sure if audio cds will save your scores, I have all mine ripped to my PC).

It's very graphically intense for a 2d shooter, so if you're prone to flashing lights like in rock concerts, be warned it has many similar graphical effects.

See shots of it in action, and grab a copy for yourself from the below URL.  You can also check out a demo, limited in plays and tracks, to test out if it will work on your system and get a taste of the gameplay.



Breakout game with real physics, gravity, interconnected pieces, and lots of good old-school chaos.

This one is worth the price of admission for the soundtrack alone, but it's also a very solid breakout game with a few twists.  Thanks to it's varied gameplay and well designed stages, it doesn't get old, and is fun to replay as well. 

One might also be surprised to find it has a storyline, loosely and minimally told, but it's there and a good one.  It's also got a couple 2 player Co-op modes, but the meat of the game is the single player story mode.

If you want some old school action with some new fancy physics and really cool effects, Shatter is a sure fire bet.  It's a work of art.

For those on PS3, there is a version of Shatter for the PS3 network.  I prefer using the mouse control on the PC version to a controller, but rest assured both versions have the same modes.

No demo, but the video does a good job showing you what to expect from the game.  Rest assured, you'll feel like you should have paid much more then the 10 bucks.


Toki Tori

A beautiful puzzle/platformer with a heavy emphasis on planning ahead as you use tools and Toki-Tori's very simple movement to collect all the eggs.

To put it simply, this game is so well polished and has so many fantastic, devious, yet well designed levels, it should be a 20 dollar game.  It'll charm you from beginning to end, and each world has it's own little twist that reworks how solving the puzzles in that world feels.  The difficulty goes from rather easy to brick hard rather fast, while never feeling unfairly complex.  All the levels have some trick to them that once figured out, makes solving the level a joy.  I always felt a sense of satisfaction that I solved the puzzle, and rarely felt "cheated".

Oh, and Toki-Tori is like the cutest fellow ever.  I really doubt anyone could look at him and not smile at the way he wobbles about the levels and cheers when you finish them.  Simply adorable.

One bit of warning:  A couple of the levels require you to quickly use your tools, or use them with careful timing.  Thankfully this is the exception, but sadly it means that players slow on the trigger probably will need help from a friend later on to finish the game, as at least one of these type of levels is required to be finished in the main storyline puzzles.

Grab the game demo from here to try it out, or purchase the game from Steam for a measly 5 bucks.  That's less then a dinner out for a game that will entertain and puzzle you for at least a good 20 hours.


Puzzle Dimension

Pure puzzle game.  The demo doesn't do it's difficulty justice, rest assured the full game makes much deeper use of the puzzle elements and unique spacial properties of the game.

Not a single timed section, you always can sit there and plan out your next move.  Even the "crumbling paths" only crumble once you decide to move off of them, serving their purpose of being one way while not making you rush over them.  There is no "monkey ball physics" or "elements of chance/skill" involved.  Instead, all the puzzles rely on your abilty to grasp the spacial design of the level and plot out a path that won't drop you off the edge.

This is the kind of puzzle game you can sit down and just stare at a puzzle for hours, solving it in your head without worry about time running out or not having the skill to roll the ball along the route. 

Only 100 puzzles may not sound like much, but once you see the scope and complexity of the later stages, you'll understand why they didn't make any more complex ones.  The game cuts off well above the "Genious" level of puzzle solving, becoming more of a Zen-like game.  You'll find yourself haunted by the last puzzle's layout you didn't solve, spinning it in your head at work/school as you suddenly comprehend a path you missed that makes everything click. 

One other thing that really makes it stand out is the atmosphere of the game.  When you start a puzzle, the music is like a chiptune and the graphics are very retro(in a stylish way).  As you roll the ball by tiles, they "upgrade" to their higher definition modern graphical standard look.  As the level is "depixelated", the music magically blends into a more modern mix.  The effect is that as you solve the puzzle in your mind, the puzzle visually and audiably "solves" itself, becoming more clear.  The sweet thing is that no matter which form the tiles are in, they are very recognizable, so this becomes a beautiful reward for exploring the puzzle completly without ruining the pure puzzle solving gameplay.

I can't recommend it enough, for 10 bucks it's the best spacial/logic puzzle game I ever bought.  Oh, and one more thing, it's for Mac too(and looks just as beautiful there)!

Get the game, check out the demo, and see a video of it in action here:


Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light

Fully co-op, fully single player, top isometric shooter/action/puzzle/adventure game. 

The puzzles change between co-op and single player modes.  This game is basically one of the best Co-op games ever.  Both of you have different skills, and the puzzles are much more complex then just "this is for player 2 to solve while player 1 stands there".  They almost all the time require both of you to be working at once to solve the puzzle.

Add in some of the sweetest co-op battles and action sequences where you both have to think to look out for each other as well as survive yourself, and you've got a recipie for a beautiful Co-op experience.  It's also got a good storyline to boot.

I want to say setting up the controls is a bit confusing since the control setup can't be done in mid-game, and doesn't do a good job telling you what the buttons will be used for.  But this game is well worth the 15 minuites setup of controllers.

If you want to skip out on the controller setup, you can also get it for X-Box360, off the marketplace there.  I can't speak for if that version is better or worse then the PC version, but it does have the full co-op and single player gameplay.

Oh, and for those wondering if the character packs are worth it, yes, they certainly are.  It's much more then a character swap, they redid all the voice acting for the game to be the new characters, and even added a few new voice triggers to the puzzles.  The result is downright hillarious.  It makes replaying the levels to get all the artifacts pretty funny, but do make sure to play the game normally first, as the normal game is a work of art in itself.

Check out a demo, or buy the full game from steam for a mere 15 bucks.


And with that, this is Gawain, signing off till next post.  Enjoy!

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