So, the annual Steam Summer sale ends soon. Like tomorrow soon. I’ve certainly bought my fair share of games that are doomed to join the eternal purgatory of my gaming backlog. But if you have been saving up for the right deal, then look no further! If your wallet has yet to take a beating, I think it’s time to get him out once more! Here are a few hidden gems you might’ve overlooked in the Steam Summer sale- these aren’t to be missed!
To The Moon
Starting with the saddest game on this list because why not. To The Moon is a cute little adventure game created by Kan Gao. It was created with fourteen year old Michael’s favourite software, RPG Maker for Windows XP. It’s about a corporation that can create artificial memories and thus offers a “wish fulfilment service” for those on their death bed. Employees (and doctors) Eva and Niel are contracted to fulfill the dying wish of the elderly Johnny Wyles, who aspires to go to the moon.Thus, the doctors enter Johnny’s memories Inception style and attempt to alter his life’s course. He sneakily affects his key life events so that a younger Johnny ends up pursuing his career aspirations as an astronaut.
Without getting into too many details beyond this intriguing premise, To The Moon ruined me. Ugly crying at the ending kind of stuff! How this average looking, clunky mess of a game evoked such a strong response is a testament to just how strong its writing and music is. Very moving stuff. Easy recommendation for those looking to experience a short but powerful narrative experience to play over a quiet weekend.
Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath
Remember Abe everyone? Y’know, the face of everyone’s favourite Playstation 1 title, Abe’s Oddysee? No? Oh…
Goofs aside, Abe was a bit of a PS1 underdog. He developed a cult following behind the likes of Spyro and Crash due to his puzzler platforming duo of games on Sony’s first foray into video game console development. Its story that revolved around the working class, slavery and capitalism clearly struck a chord with the people that played it. From there, a third person puzzle platformer titled Oddworld: Munch’s Oddysee was developed for the original Xbox (which I didn’t care too much for to be honest).
And to swerve directions once more, there was a close following fourth installment of this truly bizarre game series! Oddworld takes things to the wild west with Stranger’s Wrath. Considering narrative has always been the strongest part of the series, it was this game’s story and how it directly integrated into its game play mechanics where Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath differentiates itself from its fellow first person shooty brethren. Despite existing as an outlaw, the shooting here isn’t mindless slaughter. You can’t rely on the old spray and pray to get it done. Also, your ammo also takes the form of the game’s wildlife (goopy little bugs ‘n slugs) which Stranger must gather to use with his crossbow.
This game’s atmosphere is also a highlight. Traversing the dried up, dead wasteland as a bounty hunter and entering town only to be greeted by the squinted eyes of its residents who are highly suspicious of your motives, evokes serious Red Dead vibes. If you’re dedicated to first person shooters, but want something with an entirely different flavour from the usual angry army man whose wife has died storyline, Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath is worth a look in.
Jet Set Radio
Super edgy teens rollerblading around Tokyo, doing sick tricks and grinds. Spraying graffiti and tuning in to the funkiest radio station in the city. What’s not to love?
Simply, Jet Set Radio remains an assault on the senses. Releasing in 2000 on the Sega Dreamcast, the games’ slick cel-shaded art style has meant it has aged like a fine wine. (The fact the Steam version is also a HD remaster doesn’t hurt either). Obviously, the standout here is the game’s soundtrack, composed by the legendary composer (and now infamous Twitter memer) Hideki Naganuma. It just has such a bombastic energy and remains the perfect backing track to your ruffian, street gang behaviour. Making whatever you’re doing infinitely cooler.
The game centreson rival gangs lobbying for each other’s turf, all while avoiding the watchful eye of the cops. I’m reminded of why I fell in love with this game in the first place every time I revisit it. And I’m gonna be real. If you’re not even slightly interested in checking this one out after reading about it, I’m not sure we can be friends.
Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons
Another emotional, narrative driven game. Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons is a heartfelt attempt at telling a story about brotherhood. A fascinating insight into the camaraderie and turbulence that often surrounds the relationships between boys. As two young gentlemen traverse across a Scandinavian inspired environment to find the Tree of Life. Its water resource acting as the cure for their bedridden father’s illness. As someone without any brothers, I was still able to get something out of this story.
Another potential barrier of entry here is the intuitive control scheme. Each of the brothers are controlled via the thumb sticks on the controller (which is required if you wish to play it on PC!). So, while a lifetime of playing games with the right thumb stick controlling the camera, it throws you for a bit of a loop to now be controlling a second character with it. The game’s level design requires you to essentially multitask, as you guide both characters through separate paths to complete unique tasks at the same time. It’s a short little experience that stayed with me long after I completed it way back when, so be sure to check this one out while it’s still cheap!
In the aptly named ULTRAKILL, you do the violent murder. Stylish, exuberant, in your face killing. I’d seen it described as Quake meets Devil May Cry, and after playing it earlier this year, yeah that’s exactly what it is. Fast paced, nonstop sliding, jumping, and shooting within extremely claustrophobic corridors against enemies trying to eat your face. Flawlessly flowing all these twitchy movements into the next to create a seamless gameplay loop that revolves entirely around style. I mean there’s a gun that’s secondary fire is you flipping a coin in the air. If you manage to pinpoint shoot the coin, your bullet will reflect off it and hit any enemy within the room with perfect accuracy! You don’t even have to be looking at them!
The game even has a letter grading system that ranks how cool you’re being in real time. And with a banging rock, metal, synth and drum & bass style soundtrack, it’s impossible to feel anything other than that while playing. If you’ve seen any gameplay footage of it, the other thing you’ll have also immediately noticed is the game’s art style. This is reminiscent of the height of the late 90s FPS craze that dominated the landscape of PC gaming. So, if you are one of those people who’s getting the itch to return to the glory days of single player Quake & Duke Nukem 3D, then do yourself a favour and experience what I consider to be the natural evolution of the genre, ULTRAKILL.
So, that just about wraps up my list of games to check out before the Steam Summer Sale ends!
Quickly! Scurry over there now, ya little raccoon. If I missed any other Steam Summer Sale gems, be sure to let me know in the comment section below!