The 2015 Steam Summer sale is under way right now, and, early pricing hangups aside, it is a great way to get some terrific games for a great price. However, among the pile of triple A titles, there are a bunch of classic and indie games that are totally worth your time and money. In that respect, here are my picks for games to pick up during the sale, which runs through June 21st:
Rollercoaster Tycoon (1999, Chris Sawyer Productions)
Who doesn’t love this classic? Playing Rollercoaster Tycoon for hours on end is one of my strongest memories from my childhood. It’s a testament to how excellent this game is that it’s held up so well in 2015, and moreso than the other simulation/tycoon games that dominated my youth (looking at you, every SimAnything-But-City game). It’s also incredible that just three people built the entire game in an era where such a small team was unthinkable: Simon Foster did the art design, Allister Brimble the sound, and Chris Sawyer everything else.
Rollercoaster Tycoon’s gameplay is simple, even if you didn’t play it obsessively like some of us back in the day: you build your own theme park, complete with rollercoasters and flat rides, and try to complete scenario objectives that range in difficulty and often challenge your creativity. It’s an easy game to pick up and play, and the financial aspects of the game shouldn’t be too crippling to those that known their way around these type of games.
There hasn’t been an HD remaster to the game just yet, but the graphics look just fine on modern PCs and it also runs like a charm. I can’t stress enough how relieving that last point is for a game from the CD-ROM era. I’ve had to deal with many turn-of-the-millennium games from Steam or GOG that have struggled to run on Windows 7, and I’ve subsequently had to dig through menus or toy with compatibility modes and command strings (hi SimCity 4, hi Freedom Force). But Rollercoaster Tycoon? If you are reading this sentence on a Windows PC, chances are your computer can run the game with no problems.
Its two sequels are also available on Steam: Rollercoaster Tycoon 2 adds more rides and scenery, some graphics improvements, and something close to a sandbox mode, but at the expense of the challenging and inventive scenarios that were a major part the first game. RCT3 actually added a bona fine sandbox and included some interesting scenarios, but the game’s 3D graphics are love-or-hate for fans of the series, and there’s a nasty file size bug that prevents your park from being too filled with stuff.
All three games are worth your while, but if you have to choose to one, you should grab the amazing original while it’s dirt cheap
Really Big Sky (2012, Boss Baddie)
If you’re looking for a game to scratch your shoot-em-up itch, you could do worse than Boss Baddie’s kinetic, lightning fast Really Big Sky. The game sets itself apart from other twin stick bullet-hell games with its impressive graphics and cheeky sense of humor. Its planet-drilling and spin aspects add to its fresh take on the genre, and they are sure to provide a ton of entertainment, either in short bursts or in a long-haul session.
Grim Fandango (1998, LucasArts/2015, DoubleFine)
As one of the last games released by LucasArts before the company stopped producing its inventive adventure titles to cling for dear life to the Star Wars cash cow, Grim Fandango holds a spot as one of the most beloved and innovative PC titles of the 90s. The game’s blend of dark humor, neo-noir, and Mexican Day of the Dead lore has won legions of fans over the decades, and the recent remaster from Double Fine Games is absolutely worth the wait. Double Fine, run by original Fandango writer/project leader Tim Schafer, has updated the graphics to high definition, and the game runs beautifully on newer PCs. Other cool adventure games to check out during the sale are Double Fine’s 2005 cult favorite Psychonauts and LucasArts’ 1990 classic The Secret of Monkey Island.
Super Hexagon (2012, Terry Cavanaugh)
Available during the sale for just a little over $1 is Terry Cavanaugh’s spellbinding, addictive arcade throwback Super Hexagon. It’s a simple concept–control an arrow spinning around a hexagon, avoiding incoming spinning walls–but it may become a serious time-suck if you’re not careful, convincing yourself that you’re “just this close” to getting to the next level. Trace similarities to the 80s classic Tempest aside, Super Hexagon is one of the most original arcade PC games to come out this decade. If you’re looking for more twitch arcade action, I suggest checking out Shawn Beck’s Velocibox and Ian MacLarty’s Boson X.
Hammerwatch (2013, Crackshell)
Hammerwatch is a top-down dungeon crawler that I first discovered when I bought a Humble Bundle about a year ago. That Bundle included some killer games, but Hammerwatch was my runaway favorite. The game plays out somewhat like a love letter to games like Gauntlet, Dungeon Master and the 2D Zelda titles, it’s definitely worth a look for fans of the dungeon crawler genre.
For another RPG suggestion, you should take a look at one of my favorite games of all time, Baldur’s Gate, the 1998 D&D title that made Bioware a major player in the video game world and is now available in an excellent enhanced edition from Beamdog. I’d also recommend checking out some of the other games I grabbed in that Bundle, such as Pocketwatch Games’ co-op stealth title Monaco: What’s Yours Is Mine and 3909’s critically lauded and breathtakingly original Papers, Please (which, despite being my favorite game of 2013, was a little too on-the-nose for me to spotlight in depth here).
Got your own suggestions for games to check out during the Summer Steam Sale? Let us know in the comments!