The time of dirt-cheap games is nigh
The Steam Summer Sale is here, and Lord GabeN and his minions are tossing out deep, deep discounts on games left and right. There are flash sales and hidden gems galore, but alas: Only a small proportion Steam's catalog includes Linux support. What's an open-source aficionado to do?
Simple: Dig deeper. Linux gaming is surging more now than ever before, and there are a slew of top-notch Linux games hiding behind Steam's front page. Here are 25 super-fun Linux-compatible games lurking inside the Steam Summer Sale, with dirt-cheap prices lasting through June 30. We'll let you know whether you should hold out for a steeper Flash or Daily deal for each game before pulling the purchasing trigger, too.
XCOM: Enemy Unknown
Let's start with the blockbuster new addition to the bourgeoning Linux legion. XCOM: Enemy Unknown and all its add-ons just became available for the open-source operating system on Thursday, the very same day the Steam Summer Sale kicked off, after its difficult, yet deeply engaging tactical gameplay proved a hit with Windows gamers. Pit your grizzled soliders against marauding aliens, but be careful; death is permanent for your squad members.
XCOM: Enemy Unknown - $7.49 (75 percent off) - As of the time of writing, XCOM's deeply discounted as a daily deal. Hold out for it to hit another Flash or Daily deal between now and June 30; XCOM often makes repeat starring appearances in Steam sales.
The Witcher 2: Assassin of Kings
The Witcher 2's incredibly grimy and downright adult take on fantasy role-playing games captured the PC gaming world's attention with its deep story, skillful swordplay, and astounding roster of beasts, armies, and magical spells. Earlier this year, it landed on Linux, and while the half-native-half-wrapper eON port earned some derision from hardcore Linux enthusiasts, you'll nevertheless want to step into Geralt of Rivia's monster-slaying shoes if you haven't already.
The Witcher 2: Assassin of Kings - $3.99 (80 percent off) - Like XCOM, Witcher 2 is currently selling at an especially steep Daily Deal price. If you missed it, hold out for another chance before buying the game—Witcher 2 usually appeals in several Flash and Daily Deals in Steam sales.
Another Daily Deal on the first day of the Steam Sale, Don't Starve is a beautifully drawn game about Wilson, "an intrepid Gentleman Scientist who has been trapped by a demon and transported to a mysterious wilderness world." The game's all about researching your environment, crafting and farming and hunting and struggling to stay alive—it's fiendishly difficult, but in a good way. Adding another twist: Worlds are randomly generated in this "survival sandbox." Definitely try this indie gem out.
Don't Starve - $3.74 (75 percent off) - That's the Daily Deal price. It'll go up (but still likely be discounted) Saturday June 21, but stay strong: I'd fully expect this game to appear in another Flash or Daily Deal before the end of the Summer Sale.
Oh wow. If you haven't played this gloriously gruesome 8-bit crusade against the Mafioso, buy this game now. Be warned: The action is non-stop and the game is rated M for a reason, despite its glowing neon aesthetic.
Hotline Miami - $3.99 (60 percent off) - Hold off if you want; Hotline Miami is a frequent Flash Deal find, going for as cheap as $1.50. But even paying $4 for this is an utter steal.
Trine 2: The Complete Story
Trine 2 is gorgeous, thoughtful sidescrolling platform game that's chock full of whimsy, fantasy, and brain-tickling puzzles. The Complete Story packs a trio of heroes, 20 levels, and the bonus Dwarven Cavern level and Goblin Menace DLC, all for less than a buck per main character. With gamepad support, Trine 2's a great game to play with kids (I do!) but it's fun for adults, too.
Trine 2: The Complete Story - $2.99 (85 percent off) - Don't wait for a Flash Sale, and don't second-guess this buy. This fantastic game won't get any cheaper.
This reboot returns the Shadowrun universe to its turn-based, isometric RPG roots, after the series took a brief foray into first-person multiplayer shoot-fest in 2007. The game tosses fantasy and mafia elements together, then covers everything in a thick coat of futuristic cyberpunk paint. A mish-mash like that shouldn't work, but Shadowrun Returns' ridiculously compelling writing makes the game shine—and its expansion is even better.
Shadowrun Returns - $7.59 (50 percent off) - Should you wait? Yes. $7.49 is a fine and deeply discounted price for this game, but it's already shown up for $3.49 in a Flash Deal. Or just pay the $7.50 and support this fine, fine Kickstarter-backed, indie-made game.
PixelJunk shooter isn't a great game, but it's a damned good one, with appealing cartoon-like graphics and gameplay that's an intriguing blend of platformer and puzzle. Navigating your spacecraft though the title's underground caverns is a blast, and the soundtrack's great, too. But its price during the Steam Summer Sale is even better.
PixelJunk Shooter - $1.79 (80 percent off) - Don't wait, buy it now.
It's Worms, but on Linux. These comical strategy games featuring bloodthirsty cartoon worms are popular for a reason. A $5 entry fee makes Worms: Reloaded even more appealing, especially if you haven't experienced Worms' multiplayer madness yet. You won't regret it.
Worms Reloaded - $4.99 (75 percent off) - Don't wait, buy it now.
Euro Truck Simulator 2
Euro Truck Simulator 2 is exactly what you'd expect: A sim that tasks you with driving trucks from European city to European city. It sounds simple, and it is, but taking various jobs, saving up experience points to upgrade your truck, and just plain driving is relaxing fun. Even better: The game includes support for the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset.
Euro Truck Simulator 2 - $6.24 (75 percent off) - ETS2 is another frequently highlighted find in Steam sales, but you won't be sad if you snag this for the stock 75 percent off that it's selling for during the Summer Sale.
This evocative first-person game from late last year was bathed in accolades and awards for its gentle exploration of a circa-1995 Portland family home, but you'd be forgiven for not wanting to spend $20 on a two-hour game with gentle, low-stakes storytelling. Now you don't have to. Try it out—Gone Home is one of our favorite games from last year.
Gone Home - $4.99 (75 percent off) - This is already a steep discount for a great and relatively recent game, though there's a teeny-tiny chance Gone Home could show up in a Flash Deal for a buck or less less.
You remember the old movie Wargames? It was great, wasn't it? Defcon is basically Wargames in videogame form, playing off 1980s Cold War paranoia and slathering the globe in nifty neon graphics. Forming quickly broken alliances and nuking the world into oblivion has never been so fun—just be sure there are a few irradiated survivors left in your own country when all is said and done.
Defcon - $2.49 (75 percent off) - Don't wait, buy it now.
To the Moon
Video game stories are mostly crap. The industry as a whole hasn't exactly mastered the art of spinning a tale in an interactive medium yet. Ask around for great video game stories, though, and you'll hear To The Moon come up time and time again. I don't want to spoil things, so here's the basic Steam description:
"A story-driven experience about two doctors traversing backwards through a dying man's memories, in order to artificially fulfill his last wish."
To The Moon - $3 (70 percent off) - Don't wait, buy it now.
Monaco: What's Yours Is Mine
Another one of PCWorld's favorite indie games, Monaco: What's Yours is Mine is quirky, fun, multiplayer heist game that puts you into a key role for various thieving tasks. You'll have eight characters to choose from, each with a wonderfully cliche skill right out the heist movies like Ocean's 11. You'll find more details in our review of the game.
Monaco: What's Your is Mine - $4.74 (67 percent off) - That's a steal already, but wait this out. Monaco will be featured in plenty of Flash and Community Deals for even less.
Damn, this game--a classic "Psychic Odyssey Through the Minds of Misfits, Monsters, and Madmen" from industry legend Tim Schafer and Double Fine Productions--is trippy. Saying anything more would be a crime—just buy it. (Don't let the lack of Linux tech specs fool you; the game supports Linux, though it doesn't support Steam Cloud or achievements.)
Psychonauts - $3.39 (66 percent off) - Don't wait, buy it now.
Dust: An Elysian Tail
Whoa: This is a Microsoft Studios-published title that runs on Linux. Whoa. Dust: An Elysian Tail is a Metroidvania-style side-scroller rife with RPG elements and a lush, hand-drawn look. Between the compelling characters and the deceptively deep gameplay, Dust is definitely worth picking up for less than the price of a Big Mac meal.
Dust: An Elysian Tail - $5.09 (66 percent off) - That's already a steep discount, but Dust may pop up in a Flash Deal at a slightly lower price over the next couple of weeks.
Super Meat Boy
Another indie gem with an old-school vibe, Super Meat Boy drops you in the role of, uh, an animated fetus trying to save his girlfriend from a fetus in a tux. Seriously. More importantly than the backstory, Super Meat Boy's tough-but-always-fair platforming hearkens back to the 8-bit days of old, when you'd get so frustrated with a game that you'd chuck your controller into a wall and love it.
Super Meat Boy - $5.39 (64 percent off) - Hold off on buying SMB until later in the Summer Sale. It's virtually guaranteed to appear in multiple Flash and Community Deals.
Amnesia: The Dark Descent and Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs
Both Amnesia: The Dark Descent and its sequel, Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs, have you play as an amnesiac trying to make sense of your past and the dark and horrible environments you've inexplicably been cast into. I can't say too much without giving things away, but both titles made PCWorld's list of the best PC horror games around and leave you imbued with a slow-boiling, ever-creeping sense of horror few games can match.
Amnesia Collection (both games) - $15.74 (55 percent off) - Be patient here. The duo's selling for just $6.99 through June 22, and will likely pop up in other Flash or Community Deals. If not, it's still worth snagging at $15.
Papers Please was PCWorld's favorite game of 2013, and you can get it cheap during the Summer Sale. Enough said. (OK, you can check out Hayden Dingman's Papers, Please review if you want to hear more details—you play as a border guard at a checkpoint in a communist state, deciding the fate of lives with your passport stamp.)
Papers Please - $4.99 (50 percent off) - That's a stellar price for a stellar game already, but you can probably find it for a few bucks cheaper if you hold out for the game to appear in a front page sale.
C'mon. It's Portal 2, and now it's on Linux—kind of. You see, support for the open-source OS is still in beta, and the game's listing doesn't mention Linux support. But it's there if you know how to activate Linux support, and you're able to buy it cheap during the Summer Sale.
Portal 2 - $9.99 (50 percent off) - Don't pay $10 for Portal 2. This game is guaranteed to go for less in a Daily, Flash, or Community Deal.
Universally hailed as a platforming masterpiece when it was released in 2011, Playdead's Limbo plays on the relationship between light and shadow as a boy journeys into—yep—Limbo to learn the fate of his missing sister. It's simply sublime, and if you missed it, a Summer Sale is the perfect time to check the game out—especially with another Playdead game now barreling down the pipeline.
Limbo - $4.99 (50 percent off) - This game will be available for cheaper during various deals during the Summer Sale, mark my words. Or, er, don't—in case I'm wrong.
Europa Universalis IV
Paradox Interactive makes games designed to appeal to PC gamers, and Europa Universalis IV is no different. This grand strategy game is set in the historical era and tasks you with reshaping history the way you see fit. This virtual sandbox is a game about colonization, enlightenment, overthrowing tyranny, religious upheaval, nation-building, mercantilism, piracy, feuding monarchies, and political intrigue—or none of that, if you'd rather do your own thing. It was one of PCWorld's favorite games of 2013.
Europa Universalis IV - $19.99 (50 percent off) - Be patient; this game will likely be discounted even more in a spotlight Deal between now and the end of the Summer Sale.
This utterly charming game puts a 3D spin on 2D platforming with the help of the namesake magical fez, which allows the hero to rotate the 2D work on the 3D plane to gain a new perspective on his surroundings. It's a blast, and another fun one to play with kids (though they may need help with some of the puzzles if they're especially young).
Fez - $4.99 (50 percent off) - Be patient! You'll very likely be able to buy Fez for less than that at some point during the Summer Sale.
I don't know what's more compelling: Teslagrad's mysterious story, which slowly unfolds over the course of the game with nary a word of narrative being uttered, or its downright fun puzzle platformer gameplay, which relies on magnetism as its gimmick. The game can be a bit tricky at times, but it's always worth your time.
Teslagrad - $4.99 (50 percent off) - Wait and see if this gets discounted further in spotlight Deals. If not, pull the purchasing trigger by June 30.
This interesting little game puts an intriguing twist on randomized, "Rogue"-like gameplay by adding a genealogical element. Every time you die, one of your (adult) children steps in to fill your shoes, and when that child dies, one of his children carry on, and so forth—and every child is his own unique character. The game's full of monsters, class to play, and procedurally-generated environments that make each and every castle different from every one that came before it. Rogue Legacy has insane replay value.
Rogue Legacy - $7.49 (50 percent off) - You'll want to pick up Rogue Legacy during the Summer Sale, but wait a bit—I have a hunch this game will be available for less at some point down the line.
This is Civ freakin' V, and it's only been available on Linux for a couple of weeks. Buy it.
Civilization V - $14.99 (50 percent off) - But don't jump the gun. Civ V is always available in spotlight Deals during Steam sales, going for as little as $7.50.