By Stephan Bazzocchi
With summer in full swing, it’s hard to imagine sitting in front of the computer during this wonderful, albeit too-hot weather. Then you step outside into the soup that is a 100 per cent humidex, and get mauled by the lovely mosquitoes.
Quickly, you hear the voice of reason and bolt back to the miracles of modern technology, namely air conditioning and the loving warm glow of your TV/PC screen. You sigh as you happily sit there with no worries of putting on another layer of sunscreen over the layer of bug spray.
You can keep your melanoma and your malaria. I will take a sedentary lifestyle indoors over Mother Nature on most days. Besides, the best holiday of the year is upon us. The mythical Steam Summer Sale.
It is the height of the PC gamer’s high holidays, leaving one’s bank balance hurting in the same way too much Christmas turkey hurts your waistline. This year, I exercised some restraint since there are still games from the last Steam Summer Sale that I purchased and haven’t installed or played.
This time, I kept the purchases to a minimum. Secretly, I am waiting for The Forest or Spin Tires to go on sale, so I went in with high hopes and a tight wallet. Now that you have read what I didn’t buy, let’s cover what I did.
Being a Minecraft player (addict) and being from the Original Nintendo generation, this one sparked my interest right away. Awesome old-school graphics, mining, exploration and building. All in glorious 2-D with a pretty solid multiplayer.
It has NOT taken over my Minecraft addiction by a long shot, but it’s fun to clink-clink around in with some friends as you try to drown them, bury them, or set it up so the zombies and monsters take them out as you laugh maniacally over the voice chat server. That type of fun is quite the bargain at $4 (sale price).
If blocks aren’t your thing, nor retro-style graphics, but you like the idea of survival games, Don’t Starve might be one to check out. Take the premise of Rust, Minecraft, and all the rest, and apply a Tim Burton-art style to it.
You begin as some little goth-looking cartoon character awaking on an island. You then proceed to collect wood, stone, gold, and most of all, things that are edible. This is one of the few games that takes your mental state into account in a survival situation. As time progresses, you seem to get a little more twitchy and jumpy. Was that a pair of eyes staring at you from the dark? Shadows take on a life of their own, in quite a sinister fashion, but then when you look that way, there doesn’t appear to be anything there.
So now, you have to worry about survival, eating enough food, AND those creepy shadows that seem to actually hurt you when it gets dark or when you are teetering on the edge of sanity.
As you progress, you unlock quite the cast of characters. I made it as far as the pyromaniacal little girl with pigtails and a lighter. Guess when she starts losing her marbles? Yes, it involves setting fires.
Lastly, we have another little gem of retro-style gaming. Papers Please is an odd little game. Done in the style of old Carmen Sandiego games, with less than 8-bit graphics, just four colours including grey, and horrible animation.
In the days of 1080p 60fps and more colours than an art student can dream up, one would think there is nothing other than cons to a rather odd little game. Strangely, they add to the atmosphere.
You are a humble family man, living in a Cold War-era, military dictatorship-style country. You go to work to make money to support your rather large household and try to do the best job you can.
Your job is being a border crossing agent. You inspect passports based on the rules the government sets for that day. You refuse entry and you allow entry. When you make a mistake, you get docked pay.
Docked pay means you can’t buy food, pay for your rent, buy medicine, or pay for heat, so the wellbeing of your rather large family begins to decline. Every day is more challenging. Failure means Gulag and a dead family.
Such is life, but we rejoice! For your suffering is over. No more family, no more job. Or maybe it’s all a hallucination brought on by malnourishment.
Thanks to the Steam Summer Sale, all this fun was had for under $10. Sadly, if these games interest you, they are back up to regular price. Until the next crazy sale.
Till then, start a little slush fund, purely for Steam sales. Unless you suffer from the same Minecraft addiction, then you really don’t need to buy any other games.