The time of reckoning is upon us
Steam's annual Summer Sale kicked off Thursday and runs through June 30th, bringing a bonanza of deeply discounted game sales every day throughout. While the front page is the place to find great time-limited deals on hot new titles or popular favorites, there are still a bunch of sales on lesser-known or older titles sitting in the background that are also on sale, but not advertised on Steam's front page.
We plowed through Steam's catalog and pulled the best non-Daily, non-Flash deals for your convenience. Remember—there's always the chance these could go on sale for cheaper later, so either wait until the last day of the sale or buy at your own risk.
Far Cry 2
Far Cry 2 takes place in Africa, and there are some really annoying mechanics—malaria—that others contend make it the best in the series. Others say it's unfair and too hard. I'll let you decide, especially when the game's going for less than a Big Mac.
Pac-Man Championship Edition DX+
I know what you're saying. "Pac-Man? Really?"
Yes, really. Pac-Man Championship Edition DX+ is the best Pac-Man since Ms. Pac-Man. It's Pac-Man on hallucinogens, with a fantastic soundtrack to boot.
Bully: Scholarship Edition
Forget about Grand Theft Auto V finally coming to the PC—Bully is already here, and it's the best game Rockstar ever made. (Okay, Red Dead Redemption is also amazing, but it never came to PC so does it really exist...?)
Ride around on your bike, shoot rocks at people, and terrorize your tiny prep school, or go to class like a nerd. It's your call.
Audiosurf has a sequel in Early Access, but I still find myself going back to the original on a regular basis. The adaptive puzzle racer builds its tracks out of your music library, so it's a great way to listen to an album and de-stress at the end of a long day while still doing something interactive. Alternatively, throw on some dubstep and watch the track turn into a crazy rollercoaster experience.
For only two dollars, this is a steal.
You—yes, you—could play the game that made parents and government officials worldwide wet their pants when it was released in 2003. Postal 2 is one of the most calm, placid games you'll ever play—if you're a good person. Otherwise it is one of the most sadistic murder simulators of all time. Here's a snippet from a Steam review: "You can unzip your pants and pee on priests." You can also fight and slay Gary Coleman, as played by Gary Coleman, if you'd like.
Enough said. Enjoy. Or don't, and write angry letters to your favorite Senator.
Like Audiosurf, Dyad is a crazy audiovisual arcade experience. You're flying down a tube, Tempest-style, with all sorts of particles flying at your face, and you just have to avoid crashing into them. You'll also get extra speed and other bonuses for "hooking" them.
None of this is apparent to someone watching you. It looks like gorgeous abstract art, or like an incredibly complex screensaver. Meanwhile your face is melting off. It turns out Dyad is what they found inside the Ark of the Covenant.
DMC: Devil May Cry
Forget any arguments you've heard about whether the Dante in DMC, last year's series reboot, is better or worse than the Dante of old. If that argument's holding you hostage, you're missing out on one of the best action games of the past few years.
The story in DMC is nothing to get excited about, but the level design is incredible. Stages reassemble themselves on the fly, and novelty levels (like one that takes place inside a TV) are the most creative I've seen since Psychonauts.
To The Moon
When it comes to stories, video games are pretty bunk. We haven't exactly mastered the art of telling a story in this interactive medium yet.
Ask around for great video game stories, though, and you'll hear To The Moon come up time and time again.
Okay, so maybe you were intrigued by Gone Home's environmental storytelling and exploration last year but had reservations about paying $20 for a two-hour game. I know how it goes.
Well, if you're still interested you can now pick up the game for just five dollars. (And you should.)
So you watched EA's E3 press conference this year and saw five minutes dedicated to this Mirror's Edge 2 game. What's that all about?
Mirror's Edge didn't sell a ton of copies on release, but it's about as cult-classic as games come. You play as Faith, a "Runner" who carries messages for the local underground resistance movement. It's basically a parkour game played in first-person, as you leap from rooftop to rooftop and clamber over obstacles. Keep a bag nearby in case you need to get sick.
If you tried the recent Battlefield: Hardline beta and found it a bit too "military" for your tastes, maybe give Payday 2 a shot. It's a much more realistic heist game, and the recently released 'Big Bank' DLC even adds a planning phase to proceedings so you can work more tactics into your criminal proceedings.
Warning: The game is multiplayer-driven, and is best experienced with friends. Playing by yourself or with strangers is rarely a great experience. Talk your pals into picking this up, too.
Sid Meier's Pirates
Up until last year I would've said Sid Meier's Pirates was my favorite pirate-themed game of all time. Then Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag released, and now I'm torn.
Regardless, Sid Meier's Pirates is a classic and still holds up even today. For best results, play while wearing an eyepatch and an enormous hoop earring.
If you like your shooters incredibly difficult and stylish, with a side helping of copious dick jokes, Shadow Warrior is calling you.
The game is a reboot of the classic (and pretty racist) 1997 shooter of the same name, and developer Flying Wild Hog managed to keep a lot of the nineties twitch-shooter feel intact while making a game that a modern audience can also enjoy.
SpaceChem tricks you. It starts out easy: You synthesize a few chemicals for the fictional space corporation that employs you. Then suddenly it's four in the morning and you're pulling out your hair trying to figure out how to just make the stupid chemicals go together the right way.
SpaceChem is one of the most difficult puzzle games I've ever played, delighting in tormenting you as it teaches you rudimentary chemistry knowledge and programming.
Retro/Grade is like a shoot-em-up combined with a rhythm game, except everything moves in reverse and you can play it with a Guitar Hero controller. It's really something you have to experience to understand, which probably explains why this incredible game didn't sell more copies at release. You can't go wrong dropping a single dollar to pick this up.
Spec Ops: The Line
On the surface, Spec Ops: The Line looks like any other dude-bro military shooter. Dig in, though, and you'll find this is actually one of the best Heart of Darkness adaptations of all time, and full of intelligent discourse on moral relativism and the American military presence. Someone even wrote a book about it.
Max Payne looks a little long in the tooth these days, but the game is still just as fun to play. Matrix-style bullet-time dodge your way through environments, killing enemies with style while looking like a complete and utter moron. This is a piece of history, and perfect if you jumped into PC gaming recently and missed out on some older titles.
If you're not willing to deal with the lackluster graphics, you can always pick up Rockstar's Max Payne 3, which is also discounted by 70 percent during the Summer Sale. Be warned, though: It's a much different (I'd say less "fun") type of game.
Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines
Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines is one part action game and one part deep, story-driven RPG. Outside of some bugs (many of which are fixed by an all-but-mandatory fan patch) this is one of the most critically acclaimed games of all time and constantly crops up on recommendation lists. The graphics are a bit dated, but don't let that cheat you out of this experience.
XCOM: Enemy Unknown
Don't do it. Don't buy XCOM: Enemy Unknown. If you do, there's a high likelihood you'll start pulling all-nighters, directing your troops around miniature battlefields, cursing and slamming your fist into your desk at every lost soldier, weeping as your well-laid, turn-based plans fall apart. You'll lose your job, your house—everything is disposable as long as you can keep playing XCOM.
Don't say I didn't warn you.
(Bonus: The same day the Steam Summer Sale kicked off, a Linux port of XCOM: Enemy Unknown and all its add-ons became available.)
Okay, so Fallout's discounted only a measly 50 percent right now (barring a Daily or Flash Sale later on), but it's also special. Steam and other online retailers like GOG.com were forced to yank Fallout from sale in January, when the franchise rights shifted hands.
The games just went back on sale Thursday, so hooray if you never experienced the 2D CRPG predecessor's to Bethesda's first-person reboot, Fallout 3. This game is a legend for a reason.