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Top 10 Steam Games Under $5

I trolled through my house today looking for loose change. All in all I found $4.82. Not bad. As a kid growing up in the 80’s this would have been a spectacular find. That $4.82 is a sweet, sweet candy stash. Today, not so much. In 2018 this kind of couch change doesn’t have the same kind of impact… however, for under $5 there are a plethora of enjoyable games you can find nestled in the deepest depths of Steam store.

(Before I start a quick note on how I choose these games. Every single game I choose are games that I have personally played and can vouch for. I realize that there are many games out there under the $5 mark that could easily make this list. This is MY list. I did not include games that are Free as that’s a whole other list… I also looked for a plethora of games that could be enjoyed by various audiences and appeal to many types of gamers. That’s that. I hope you enjoy the list and please, feel free to let us know what you favorite $5 and under game is, and if there are any suggestions you may have.)

Organ Trail

10. Organ Trail: Directors Cut. When I was in 6th grade I was introduced to PC gaming by a fun little experience called The Oregon Trail, in which you follow the historic trek many took across our country in a time when dysentery and fording a river were more dangerous than we could possibly imagine. There were hunting mini games and indian attacks. You usually didn’t make it… Imagine that set in the zombie apocalypse, and that’s what Organ Trail is.

Town of Salem

9. Town of Salem. This game is fun… with friends. Please bring your friends. With that in mind Town of Salem is a great time and a ton of fun, and if it tickles your fancy you can look into the tabletop version…

Xcom

8. X-Com: UFO Defense. Sure this game is old as dirt. Sure it has a bunch of bugs. Sure it can make you want to throw your controller through your TV… But, you still love it. It’s charming and horrible and well worth a look if not just to see the origins of the rebooted X-Com series.

PLants v Zombies

7. Plants vs. Zombies GOTY. In which you plant plants to fend of a zombie invasion. It’s fun and addictive, and hard to put down… Tons of game time packed into a charming package. Well worth a look.

Sally Face

6. Sally Face. What a great little game. This horror adventure has a uniquely catered art style that reminded me of classic Nick cartoons like Aaahh!!! Real Monsters. This aesthetic combined with a disturbingly unique story line make this a great pickup.

VVVVVV

5. VVVVVV. A 2D platformer where instead of jumping you control gravity. This colorful masterpiece is simultaneously ridiculous and charming. I don’t recommend this for those that are easily frustrated as each level takes a bit of trial and error, and can be quite rage inducing at times. It’s still well worth the price tag.

Reigns

4. Reigns. Yes or No? As the new king you need to decide what sort of entity you will be. You are presented with requests from your citizens and need to decide what is best for you or your kingdom and impose your will. Reigns is simple in concept but hides a layer of strategy well worth looking into.

Overlord

3. Overlord. You are in charge and your decisions matter. Its hard to deny the surprising charm Overlord brings to the table. Every action you take on the battlefield has lasting effects on the world around you. Command your plucky minions to do your bidding in this quirky adventure. Take them on raids in villages or fight monstrous beasts. What kind of Overlord will you be?

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2. The Binding of Isaac. Roguelikes are a dime a dozen anymore and their influence on indie developers are like a blanket on a hot and humid day. I wish they would go away so we can finally move on. That being said, there are a number of great roguelike games available and few have the draw and prestige of the one of the greatest. The Binding of Isaac is one of the originals and is still loved today.

Superflight
1. Superflight. Wow! That was my initial reaction when I first picked up this game. There is something to be said about simplicity and atmosphere. Superflight is a game about adorning a flight suit and traversing beautiful procedurally generated atmospheres. You can feel the speed as you dip and dive your way through colorful landscapes. Even with the intense feel of falling it is a surprisingly relaxing experience. I was initially gleeful with my experience and was overjoyed to find myself willing to go back and play some more. If you haven’t seen this title, do yourself a favor and give it a solid look.

Review: Cursed

Dev/Pub: Jetdogs Studioscursed_1
Medium: PC

I received Cursed and had a hell of a time playing it at first. I was trying to record it for Let’s Plays, but my software wanted NOTHING to do with this game. Finally I was able to stream the game.

What is it?
Cursed is a point-and-click horror type game with a female protagonist. Her fiance has been offered quite a sum of money to rebuild something at a far off estate. It’s odd, but you both want to get married and he takes the job. Off he goes, but it’s been sometime since you’ve heard from him. You do the only sensible thing, you go find him.

What did I think?
Well, that is a complicated answer. I liked and hated this game. It is gorgeously done, the graphics are great. I like the story concept and they added in some great touches. There is a lot to like about the game.

However, it felt disconnected. It lacked fluidity. You were given random puzzles with no inclination of what you were supposed to do. The clues were non-existent. It felt like dumb luck that I figured some things out. There were plenty of instances that it took me longer than it should have to get it, my fault. There were also plenty of times that I was using the hint button over and over because I had no idea what I was supposed to do.

At one point, you need to make a freeze potion to freeze the fountain. Unless I’m the only person who’s never seen an alchemy machine, I was lost. The lack of fluidity made me more frustrated than I would have liked for such a relaxing game. I found myself roaming around trying to figure out what I was supposed to do next. I really wanted to love this game, but I walked away from an anti-climactic ending feeling… meh.

It’s only $5 on Steam so give it a try if you want, but it isn’t one I’d recommend.

Watch Crymson’s stream of Cursed here:
https://www.twitch.tv/realwomenofgaming/v/111729543

Review: Slayaway Camp

Dev/Pub: Blue Wizard Digital
Medium: PC

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My inner horror nerd was squealing with gore-filled joy when I received this game. Of course, I fired up everything and started playing the game. The interior of a 1980s/90s video store popped up in my view. My first thought was, No Shit, well done! I haven’t seen a video store in nearly 10 years and it brought back that nostalgia of going to Blockbuster on Fridays with my parents to rent some VHS tapes for the weekend. Everything from the shelves, the tube tv in the corner playing previews to the cheesy overhead music was amazing. I’m pumped and I haven’t even started playing.

So what is it?
It is a 1980s horror puzzle where you control the killer. Your first killer is Skullface and you have to move around the board and slaughter teens at the summer camp you may have died at. Sliding around leaving bodies in your wake before disappearing into a demonic portal.

What did I think?
OMG THIS IS AWESOME.

The pixel graphics are only making this game more awesome for me. Not only that, it’s hard and easy at the same time. The game itself is easy to understand. Even when they add more elements in, those elements are easy to understand, yet hard to master. Not to mention, there are different types of deaths to be had! Sometimes, when you slide over to that annoying teenager about to have premarital sex, there pops up a cut scene and you are shown a comical and brutal scene THAT YOU PICKED.

You earn coins throughout the game so that you can buy other murderers and ways to die. I haven’t unlocked a lot, but I love the ones I have and am excited to see more. However, sometimes you just slide over and put a butcher knife in their forehead. Clean and classic. I appreciate the simple murders as much as the cut scenes.

It gets super creative. From using bookcases to murder unsuspecting teenagers or just to block the way so you can redirect your murder to his exit hell portal.

I’ve only played through 3 movies and have unlocked very little but I’m not stopping anytime soon. This is provides me with endless entertainment and it’s less than $10 on Steam. I can’t say enough good about this game. Actually, stop reading this and go buy the game and murder some teenagers yourself.

Review: Grim Dawn

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Review: Grim Dawn (7/10)

I don’t know what it is about steampunk and muzzle loader guns that attract me so, but I do love them in an RPG. Grim Dawn (available on Steam) is just such a game.

In Grim Dawn you play one of the Taken, a victim of demonic possession in a world gone to hell. Freed from your servitude at the end of a hangman’s noose, you are left with a connection to those demonic energies. This connection allows you to use Rift Gates as shortcuts to jump to and from the hubs you’ll encounter along the way of the linear story progression.

You’ll also be able to wield magical energies, as well as martial, as you level. The combination of two classes (chosen from a variety pack of 6) each with its own multipath of trees to specialize in. The customizations available are vast, and that’s got to be one the things that draws me to this game time and time again.

To date, according to Steam, I’ve logged 97 hours in the game. I still haven’t gotten out of the second chapter, or progressed beyond the mid 20s in level. That’s my fault though, too many creation choices.

The graphics are gory, the sound squishy, and the color scheme of the first areas a tad depressing. It is an apocalyptic setting however, so I urge you to look past that. With only a single body type of each gender to start with, your gear is the sole way to make you YOU. Find a weapon that suits you in all the myriad of colored-fantasy-rpg-rarities, summon your pets, carry a few potions, and by all means loot the bodies. Iron bits don’t grow on trees.

The Aetherials won’t kill themselves. Go face the Grim Dawn.

This Month in Gaming History: September

This Month in Gaming History: September

GamingHistory-Sept

Yes, September is here. The start of my favorite time of the year. If you need something to get you more excited than the start of pumpkin flavored everything, then perhaps a look back on some games that were released in Septembers past will help.

Here is This Month in Gaming History:

Atari 2600

atari

On September 11, 1977 Atari released Atari 2600. It popularized the use of cartridges for storing games. Before then, the games had been stored in the machine, thus bringing some of us the fond memories we have of blowing into the game cartridges of our childhood.

Super Mario Bros

250px-Super_Mario_Bros._box

Nintendo Entertainment System released a favorite game of my family’s. On September 13, 1985, Super Mario Bros was released. In this extremely successful game, the player controls Mario as he moves forward trying to avoid blocks and other obstacles.

Wing Commander

250px-WingCommanderBox-front

Wing Commander is a PC game that was released on September 26, 1990. The player starts off by leaving a space station to fight in a war in space. The player must complete missions to win the game. Wing Commander has proven so successful that it has been remade.

Myst

myst

On September 24, 1993 Myst was released for Mac from Broderbund. It is a puzzle game where the players use a special book to travel to the Island of Myst. The game has multiple endings depending on the choices of the player.

Battlefield 1942

250px-Battlefield_1942_Box_Art

Battlefield 1942 is a World War II first-person shooter game. It was released by Electronic Arts on September 10, 2002. This game was the beginning of a very successful franchise with multiple games and expansions.

Steam

steam

On September 12, 2003 a digital game software was developed that has been a huge deal for many of my gamer friends. Steam was developed by Valve Corporation. It basically provides players with a place to play and save games. Players can also use friends lists, in-voice and chat functions while playing. It has made gameplay much easier and more dependable, since you do not have to be on the same computer every time to log in and play.

Hopefully you don’t have too many blues about the end of summer. I also hope that you will have lots of fun gameplay this autumn. 

Always keep sparkling!

Refunds on Video Games and the No Man’s Sky Debacle

TT_NotTheFandom

Recently, the internet is abuzz with debate over refund policy changes from sellers like Steam in regards to the game No Man’s Sky.  Refunds for games have always been sort of a gray area in the past.  Most of us knew, coming up in the community, that if you bought a game it was pretty much yours unless there was some defect in the media.  Especially when it came to PC games.  You didn’t return a game because you didn’t like it, though in some cases you could get a little cash for it at resale shops and from friends.  Then again, back then games didn’t release with a ton of game-breaking bugs that required several patches just to get them going.  You also didn’t have DRM to worry about that prevents the resale of a lot of games.

That all changed as recently as last year when both major digital game sellers Steam and GoG began offering broader refund options.  Previously, a game had to have some serious issues, and refunds were only granted in extreme circumstances.  So far that I can tell, twice now a game has been made an exception to Steam’s two hour policy, Batman Arkham Knight, and now No Man’s Sky.  Out of the hundreds of games on the marketplace, as best I can tell, these are the only two that have been considered so broken, or so bad, that sellers are offering the customer such a deal.

Some in the community are happy with this, glad that a developer is finally held accountable for how they market a game and what they charge for what many are saying is a broken game missing many of the features originally advertised.  Others were upset at how massive the media hype was, only to find out how disappointing the reality is.  There’s a few who aren’t happy, however, one of them being former Sony employee Shahid Ahmad, who called those getting a refund after 50 hours of play thieves.

<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-lang=”en”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>If you’re getting a refund after playing a game for 50 hours you’re a thief.</p>&mdash; Shahid Kamal Ahmad (@shahidkamal) <a href=”https://twitter.com/shahidkamal/status/769882257964294144″>August 28, 2016</a></blockquote>
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Honestly, 50 hours seems like a lot of play time to then get a refund, but not if you consider this player most likely got more than two hours in before they realized the game wasn’t what they expected, and may have played it further knowing they were stuck with it.  Once it was announced they could get a refund, they jumped at the chance.  Some people have also pointed out that with the size and scope of the game, it could have taken that long for a player to realize that the game wasn’t going to live up to expectations.

Other developers have made comparisons to art, and stating developers deserve to be paid for their work.  First, yes games are art.  Second, yes artists should be paid when people collect their art.  The problem here is there’s one more caveat that isn’t being talked about.  Games are also a product that has to be experienced after they are purchased.  Imagine if you were told you were going to get a beautiful painting of a Greek Goddess, complete in classical style, exquisite frame, hand-painted in traditional oils.  You like the sound of that and you like the small samples of the artist’s work, so you buy it.  Then when the painting is delivered you find that it’s actually a puzzle depicting a Greek Goddess, glued to cardboard and in a metal poster frame.  Then imagine you justifiably ask for a refund, and the artist calls you a thief for demanding your money back for his ‘art’ that is not representative of what was promised.

That’s what it boils down to for a lot of gamers on this.  There are the bugs, many of which still haven’t been fixed, but more importantly are what are being seen as broken promises based on media and marketing hype leading up to the release.  Cymen90 broke a lot of it down on reddit with links to interviews and articles from the developers about what we could expect.  It’s probably one of the reasons other developers don’t talk about features for games until they are confirmed as part of the final release.  When you are creating a product, even as art, that people really only experience after they pay for it, you need to deliver what you advertise.  No one wants to see a great action trailer for a huge blockbuster movie, only to show up at the theater to get a mashup of Spongebob and Teletubbies.

What’s the final word from this guy?  Well, if you like the game awesome, you keep on playing what you enjoy.  Has this refund debacle started a precedent?  Yes, and I think it’s a good thing.  For so long, we’ve had developers, AAA and indie, banking on the fact that they can put out a product that doesn’t meet consumer expectations and once they have your money there’s little recourse for the purchaser.  Sure, you can avoid buying their next game, but how many times do we see a developer continue to cheat the gaming community time after time?

People have short memories, new gamers coming into the scene don’t always know a developer’s history, and let’s face it, our gaming media has been doing a terrible job informing us about the market.  Hell, even after Tim Schafer made off with millions, breaking promises and essentially scamming gamers, people still gave him another 3.8 million for Psychonauts 2.  This sends a clear message to developers that they need to start releasing quality product, not rush to market and promise fixes and updates down the road.  They cannot promise features and cut them out unexpectedly, or not put them in at all.  No more counting on our addiction to games to slip one by us.  You can return just about anything else that doesn’t live up to expectations.  There’s no reason video games can’t be part of that model as well.

Free Game Spotlight: Brawlhalla

Dev: Blue Mammoth Games
Platform: PC (Steam)
Release Date: November 3rd, 2015

bhlogohome

If you’re a Steam user, you’re probably aware that there are a number of free games in Steam’s vast library. While free games can often be something of a gamble when it comes to quality, there is a gem hidden among Steam’s free to play games: a 2D platform fighter called Brawlhalla. Read the rest of this entry