What I Picked Up During the 2014 Steam Holiday Sale

This War of Mine – $14.99

This War of Mine completely slipped under my radar until I saw it on James Chats and then it immediately had my attention. Described as a kind of State of Decay meets Call of Duty, you play as a civilian during a modern military siege trying to survive the war in his bombed-out city. During the day you make repairs and fortify your home and each night you go out into the city to scavenge food and supplies for your group. It has a sad somber tone and takes on the subject of war from a much different perspective than most games. This is untapped territory in gaming so far and it’s terribly exciting.

Mercenary Kings – $6.79

Maya Angelou said that people won’t remember what you tell people or what you do to people, but they’ll remember how you made them feel. Well Mercenary Kings, I have no idea how I heard about you or what I heard about you but I distinctly remember thinking “hell yea!” So I hopped on it when it popped up during the steam sale. The visuals and gameplay remind of Metal Slug, a series I love, and the local co-op looks like a blast, although I do have my reservations about it being split screen.

Shadowgate – $4.99

I didn’t realize Shadowgate was a remake until after I bought it but I didn’t find that surprising in the least. The old school sensibilities are obvious at a glance. I sort of got a Myst meets Legend of Grimrock vibe when I checked it out. Ultimately the creepy fantasy vibe of the art and a sudden panging for an old-fashioned sold me on it. From what I hear about its difficulty, I’m sure it’ll burn going down just fine.

A Bird Story – $2.49

To the Moon has been sitting in my library for some time. I saw the accolades, heard it was an emotional rollercoaster and immediately sought it out. Now what I’m sure have been years later, I still haven’t gotten around to To the Moon, but that didn’t keep me from wanting to pick up the developer’s next project. A budget piece of short interactive fiction, A Bird Story looks like an interesting little experiment.

Super Time Force Ultra – $5.09

They already have an ultra version of this? I saw it several years ago on the showroom floor of Pax East and thought it looked interesting but didn’t get a chance to play it. I spent plenty of time watching others play it though. I always trust Double Fine to make something interesting and once again they’ve delivered. The main mechanic is that you can rewind at any time back to any point during a level but once you do that a clone of yourself goes through the motions you just did before you rewinded. The thing is, these clones will accumulate every time you rewind so that by the time you’ve died your hundredth time, you’ll be joined by a veritable Super Meat Boy-esque tsunami of zombie clones to fight with you when you respawn. They took an old familiar mechanic and turned it into a very clever system for automatically adjusting difficulty.

Shovel Knight – $10.04

I had a friend rave to me about Shovel Knight. But he left me with one warning, it’s meant to be played on the 3DS. Throwing caution to the wind, I leapt on it when I saw it on sale on steam. I’m not sure what to expect except something decidedly old-school and fundamentally silly. I think they go for a metroid-vania style of play with a healthy dose of challenge but I won’t really know till I try it. From what I’ve gathered it’s just an exceptional platformer.

Abyss Odyssey – $7.49

You don’t see many games made in Chile so I was curious what kind of game they would produce. How do Chilean sensibilities translate into the medium of video games? Probably a question far out of my depth seeing how I don’t even have any idea what Chilean sensibilities are in any other context. I don’t think about Chile much, nothing personal Chile, there’s a lot of countries out there. I don’t really know how I feel about the art style, it feels a little off or something to me. It sort of has the feeling of a collage, it’s different. Only time will tell if it grows on me or not. I heard it plays like a side scrolling version of Super Smash Brothers, which is enough to get me to check anything out.

Gods Will Be Watching – $2.49

A dark pixelated point and click adventure game designed to test the limits of your morality. I believe it’s intended to be played through multiple times and is supposed to be quite intense and depressing. How delightful ^_^.

Talisman Digital Edition – $1.49

I had a friend who had the board game back in high school. He only pulled it out on a few occasions but I still remember how beautiful the box and pieces were. The game was pure fantasy and imagination. At first it seems like regular sword and sorcery fare but I think I remember him pulling out an expansion that allowed players to travel to the moon and deal with chainsaws and the like. There were so many different classes and items in the deck it always felt like there was a sense of discovery when we played. I think at the time the game was out of print but I remember seeing a new edition of it on the walls of my local game store a while back and smiling. The board game was something like $70, so that just wasn’t going to happen, but I’ll gladly drop a dollar for the digital one.

Hero Siege – $1.49

It looks like a rogue-like twin stick shooter. I got hints of Hammerwatch when I checked it out which was an interesting enough experience. I was curious enough to throw in a dollar for it.

Never Alone (Kisima Ingitchuna) – $10.04

The first game made by a native owned development studio, Never Alone is groundbreaking not only for its setting but its role as a cultural ambassador. The game directly explores the folk lore of the Inupiat people, borrowing directly from the original illustrations of their spirits for the art style. Through-out the game the player is shown clips of the modern Inupiat people explaining their culture, forming a very unique edutainment experience that goes far beyond the previous more tone-deaf game design efforts would-be educators have attempted. Everything else aside, the game just looks beautiful.

Hack ‘n’ Slash – $4.54

I love a good pun, but Hack ‘n’ Slash has more going for it than just a clever title. A slick cyber punk environment makes for a clever hack ‘n’ slash experience with an emphasis on the hacking.

TowerFall Ascension – $11.24

I’ve written about this one in a previous article here. Hands down one of the best local multiplayer games I’ve played in a long time, this game was absolutely worth it. It’s fast. It’s tense. It’s a blast.

Vlad the Impaler – $1.99

I normally don’t play too many interactive graphic-novels, but I really loved the dark gothic etchings and I’m a little intrigued by them implementing a stat system in the genre.

What did you guys get? You digging it so far?


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