It is the Season to be gaming! Now that the Thanksgiving break is in the past- along with its delicious homemade meals, painful table talk about the Presidential Elections, and endless gaming sessions locked in your room trying to escape such talk- it’s time to start gearing up for the Holiday season.
While Steam’s Autumn Sale wrapped up a few days back, they are expected to hold its even juicier annual Winter Sale on December 22nd, heavily discounting hundreds of titles in just time for Christmas. But in the meantime, for those of us that cannot wait that long to plan our end-of-year break gaming, let’s take a look at some fantastic games that you can purchase already at a budget price, starting with our pick for #5:
- South Park™: The Stick of Truth™ (RPG, 29,99€)
Let’s face it: No one does licensed games better than Matt Stone and Trey Parker. From pinball machines, to online games, to this 2014 acclaimed RPG, South Park studios have been successfully translating the animated sitcom’s experience to other mediums better than anyone else out there.
In the epic battle of the 4th grade playground of humans vs elves, it is the prophesized “new kid” who’s farting prowess will forever change the balance in the quest to possess the McGuffin to rule all McGuffins: The Stick of Truth. Play alongside Cartman, Stan, (Princess) Kenny, Kyle and all your favorite South Park characters in a hysterical story that will make you feel like the protagonist of a particularly twisted episode of the beloved raunchy cartoon series.
With its superhero themed sequel “South Park: The Fractured But Whole (snicker) coming out in a few months, there’s no better time to catch up on the game that made IGN pose the question “Could South Park: The Stick Of Truth Be The Best Licensed Game Ever?”.
- Rocket League (Sports, 19,99€)
“So it’s like playing soccer with rocket powered cars???” you might ask with a bewildered look on your face. And yet we dare you to play 5 matches of Rocket League and not find yourself completely addicted to this out of left field indie sports game developed by Psyonix, Inc.
Boasting an advanced physics system that simulates realistic interactions, flying rocket cars withstanding, Rocket League will put you and your friends in the driver’s seat in futuristic arenas where teams of up to 4 cars compete against each other by bumping, jumping, climbing up walls, and outright flying to hit the oversized soccer ball into the goals. Score breathtaking aerials or make epic saves to lead your team to victory against CPU players or against other humans in the immense multiplayer online community.
One of the most rapidly growing new eSports out there, now’s the perfect time to start practicing your aerial skills if you want to make it to the top!
- Firewatch (Adventure, 11,99€)
“The year is 1989. You are a man named Henry who has retreated from his messy life to work as a fire lookout in the Wyoming wilderness. Perched high atop a mountain, it’s your job to look for smoke and keep the wilderness safe.”
If one were to take Firewatch’s premise literally, I think you might rather receive Lee Carvallo’s Putting Challenge for Christmas. But thankfully it’s seemingly simplistic premise is just the setting of one of the most gripping and emotional stories we’ve seen in the modern gaming era. With an absolutely brilliant script from the writers of the acclaimed “The Walking Dead: Season 1” video game, the sprawling, atmospheric story sucks us into a mystery that takes us through breathtaking vistas and into the paranoid mind of our lonely protagonist, Henry, and his burgeoning relationship over radio with his only point of contact for the entire summer – his boss, Delilah.
With fully fleshed out characters and fantastic vocal performances, Firewatch manages to balance fear, suspense, humor and human connection all within minutes of each other- a rather difficult and stunning feat. Ultimately, this game is the type of exercise in storytelling and character study that have led many to declare video games as an art form.
- INSIDE (Adventure, 14,99€)
“Hunted and alone, a boy finds himself drawn into the center of a dark project.”
That is all the information developer Playdead, of the Limbo fame, gives us about INSIDE and there’s a reason to that. INSIDE, touted as a “Masterpiece” by IGN, is not a game meant to be described: It’s meant to be experienced.
Haunting, terrifying and mysterious, INSIDE is at its core a physics based 2D puzzle platformer and yet it manages to transcend the genre with its breathtaking visual and sound design- moody and unsettling.
A worthy successor to its monochromatic predecessor Limbo, INSIDE follows the story of a nameless boy in a red shirt as he makes his way through a dystopia by solving all sorts of puzzles in order to avoid certain death. On the way he will encounter masked guards, parasitic worms, zombified humanoids, lifeless grey bodies and, of course, the evil scientists that made all of this come to be. Every puzzle is timed in a way that makes you feel like you are always barely scraping by with your life, filling you with satisfaction each time you manage to escape to live another day.
If this review, admittedly, isn’t enough to do justice to the immense virtues of this game, perhaps the fact that it got near universal acclaim from all the major review sites in the world will make you a believer. We know we are.
- Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (Action, 9,37€)
And coming in as number 1 on our list, is the blockbuster eSports juggernaut Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, or CS: GO for short. Expanding on the phenomenon that began 12 years ago with the Half Life mod Half-Life: Counter-Strike, CS:GO revamps old content as well as adding new, such as new maps characters and game modes.
As is to be expected, the fourth installment in the series continues the objective-based first person shooter gameplay in which players choose between playing as Counter Terrorism units or Terrorists, who are tasked with completing missions and attempting to eliminate the opposing team. To make matters trickier than other successful first person shooter franchises such as Call of Duty, deaths in CS:GO are permanent, which adds a layer of strategy in which demands utter care and skill.
Featuring 5 modes of online play (The classics – Bomb Scenario & Hostage Scenario, Arms Race, Demolition and Deathmatch), CS: GO is geared to give you endless hours of exciting gameplay, where you’ll learn from your mistakes and evolve to climb up the rankings.
Overall, CS:Go is not reinventing the wheel of its predecessors, but rather upgrading it and adding a few nifty extra features. There’s a reason why CS:GO is a veritable eSports phenomenon and has hundreds of thousands of active players round the globe. If you haven’t jumped on the wagon yet, with a price tag this low it’s the perfect time to discover what the noise is all about.
There you have it, those are our top 5 picks for budget PC games on Steam for this upcoming Holiday season. If you have trouble deciding which one to get for yourself or as a present for a loved one, don’t you worry as there’s really no going wrong with any of the titles on this list. Happy Holidays and happier gaming!