The Steam Summer Sale is one of the most anticipated moments for PC gamers.
It may not be an expo teasing new titles…it may not be a series of exclusive talks with the world’s leading designers…but it’s an event where every-day people get to acquire some of the titles they never thought they’d buy.It’s an event of the people.
In its wake, I’ve decided to take a look back and see how the sale went this year, in comparison to years passed. Lord knows there have been some summers that saw me acquire upwards of 20 titles, spending a few hundred dollars that I probably should have. But what about this year? What about Summer Sale 2014?
Sadly, this sale wasn’t… all that. For me at least. A number of titles were mainstream enough, while also being dated, that I owned a good number of them (Bioshock, Witcher, CIV… that sort of thing). The benefit of the Steam Summer Sale, to me, has also been extremely cheap access to games on the cusp of mediocrity. Games that I wasn’t confident enough in to spend $20 on, but that I would absolutely risk $2 picking up.
So here are, in my opinion, the most interesting prospects that came around this year (Aka, what I bought):
State of Decay – $5:
I always wanted a Zombie Sim. Not Dead Rising that focuses on zombie slaying absurdity. Not Left 4 Dead which is a single slice (a very slim, albeit very fun, slice) of the zombie survival experience. I wanted something that emphasized resource management. Safe house fortification. Survivor organization. Ya know, everything that you would possibly conceive as being the stuff that would actually happen, the bulk of the time, during a zombie apocalypse.
To this end, State of Decay looks almost exactly like what I wanted. Yeah, sneak from house to house. You can loot any building you want for food, medicine, ammo, or general supplies. The world looks large and immersive. My only concerns is how much the actual story missions focus on stuff like that, as opposed to GTA style gang conflicts (survivor on survivor violence has always been the most tragic component of zombie stories…).
For me, a game like this does even really need such a straightforward plot. Just ask me to survivor and I’ll do that with a smile…
Guns of Icarus ~ $3:
Actually received this one as a gift from someone who purchased the 4-pack, but it definitely piqued my interests. It seems like an interesting take on dog fighting games. As opposed to some collection of jet powered aircraft a la Top Gun, Guns of Icarus puts the player on what is, essentially, a pirate ship in the sky. Done with a Steam Punk aesthetic, you are essentially a sky pirate. Sign me up.
As opposed to a strategy game, Guns of Icarus seems to demand that players manage resources (as they have to run around their giant Sky Pirate Ship to repair damage, reload weapons, and actually fly the ship), and gun their enemies down at the same time. There is a lot more running around than you usually see in games like this, which I think will impart a pretty unique dynamic experience to the players. Here’s hoping.
Gone Home – $5:
Gone Home is a title I’ve heard a lot about in my line of work. It’s nothing I ever got my hands on, and that’s pretty specifically because of the $20 price tag. It seems, to me, like less of a game and more of a narrative experience. From what I know the point of Gone Home isn’t to “win” has much as it is to “explore and discover”. In that sense I, personally, don’t really call it a “game”. Games have win conditions.
That doesn’t change the fact that I’m eagerly anticipating booting this title up. I’ve heard that the atmosphere is amazing, and that the narrative direction of the game is both gripping and engaging, drawing players in and making them want to figure out what happened. You’ll never see me complain about intrinsic reward systems…
Banished – $10:
This was the most “spur of the moment” game purchase for me this summer, and as such easily the largest risk. I’ve never heard of it before. It was more expensive than the rest. Banished, however, seems right up my alley. From what I understand it is simply a city building / managing game. You control a group of people that have been kicked out of their last township and have to survive in the wilderness by building a new town. That’s it. Organize the town’s layout. Foster the construction of necessary elements (such as farms or walls or other such features). As the town grows, your population will increase providing new challenges and problems.
This may not seem like the most exciting game, but this sort of resource management is my kind of thing. I’ve heard some good reviews of it, so it’ll probably be the game I boot up next (after State of Decay is locked down).
Brothers – $3:
This game looks like a new age Ico. Which is the best way you can vaguely describe a game. I know very little about it, but I’ve heard that it’s quite a good puzzle platformer. I enjoy the art style, as well as the music in the trailer, but these sort of games really come down to how well the puzzles are designed. Though, in fairness, I like the idea that the story revolves around two brothers. That is a non-negligible narrative choice. I love this idea that people get attached to different sorts of companions. Everyone loves Epona in Ocarina of Time, but I haven’t met a single person that sings praise about Ashley in Resident Evil 4. Why do we love some and hate others? Is it because horses are inherently better than kidnap victims? Who knows. That said, I’ve never played a game about two young brothers, and I don’t think enough games these days address the sibling relationship dynamic.
I love puzzles and the narrative angle was enough to get me interested, especially for that price tag.
And that’s it… Those are the only games I got this year, because the rest were either so mainstream that I owned them already, still too expensive for how good they looked (Transistor only being 15% made me cry a little. If it had been 50-75% off I’d have snatched it in a heart beat), or were a member of the dreaded “early access” bunch. That’s a whole different can of worms that I might get into another day, but you’re taking a game which the developers themselves describe as: “Having some of the features and a ton of game breaking bugs” and you’re asking me $30 for it? Time to wake up, some of you indie devs… that will simply never fly.
So this wasn’t the best Steam Summer Sale in the world. It was actually rather lack luster in my opinion. I mean I hardly spent over $25 on only 5 titles. However, I don’t want to seem spoiled. The Steam Summer sale is one of the absolute greatest aspects of this industry, and I can only express my firm opinion that all digital outlets should imitate Steam’s format. I would just gobble up a hypothetical “PSN Summer Sale”…
Till next year, it looks like I’ve got at least 4 new titles to abuse. Not to mention all the games I got LAST year and never had the time to play… (I’m looking at you Amnesia: The Dark Descent).