As an introduction to what might be a new column for me – From the Bargain Bin – I thought I’d do a few mini-reviews of games with a regular price on steam of under $5 that I’ve played a not-insignificant amount and that I would absolutely recommend.
Sacra Terra: Angelic Night – MSRP: $2.99 – My playtime: 3.9 hours
I realize that hidden object games aren’t for everyone, and even less so since the better publishers tend to charge $10 or more for a game with less than five hours of playtime. If you’re considering trying out hidden object games, I would highly suggest Sacra Terra: Angelic Night as a good one to start with.
The story is pretty solid for a HoG, but more importantly, the hidden object scenes are straight-forward and fair. Murky backgrounds and lighting tricks can absolutely prove frustrating to even veterans of the genre. There’s some light puzzling, but nothing overwhelmingly difficult (and if you’re into non-hidden-object point and clicks, they’ll probably seem super easy).
Chime – MSRP: $4.99 – My playtime: 8.0 hours
Chime is a fun combination of a packing puzzle and a rhythm game. You’re given Tetris-esque pieces and a flat board, and you will need to make rectangles at least 3 blocks by 3 blocks with them. The goal is to cover as much of the board as possible.
During play, an ambient track plays, and a beatline crosses your board. The shapes you place remix the music. There are a only a handful of tracks, each with three different timed modes (3, 6, and 9 minutes), and an unlockable free play mode. Chime is a nice, chill game when you just need a short break, and it’s pretty much endlessly replayable.
Mosiacs: Game of the Gods – MSRP: $2.99 – My playtime: 8.1 hours
If you like your puzzles a little more straight forward, Mosaic: Game of Gods might be more to your taste. Think jigsaws, but with smooth edges. The game attempts to give you a story, but it’s not the selling point of the game. Putting together 150 mosiac puzzles, however, is a pretty great way to relax.
The beginning puzzles are simple, but they do get more intricate as the game progresses. You have goals to meet (such as no misplaced pieces, or completing the puzzle within a time limit) if you want to chase achievements and challenge yourself, but there’s also a relaxed mode if you don’t want to be bothered with all that. The fact that both game modes are available make this a great pick-up for a wide variety of gamers.
Ghost Master – MSRP: $4.99 – My playtime: 38.3 hours
I feel like I should clarify here – my playtime on Steam is just under 40 hours. This was the very first game I purchased on Steam, to replace an old worn-out disc, and I can’t even begin to guess how many hours I put in then.
This is the only one of my bargain bin titles that’s old enough to be a classic, and the graphics show it. The controls are slightly clunky. It may be less great if you don’t have a pair of nostalgia goggles to wear while playing. Even still, it’s a quirky RTS / haunting sim, and I have yet to find any other game that even comes close to it in terms of pure mischievous joy.
In each level, you control a handful of ghosts, each with their own abilities. You need to scare the people with your ghosts to increase your plasma in order to use stronger abilities. You’re given a main goal, as well as other goals, which usually add more ghosts to your arsenal. Points from each level are available to improve your army of haunters, and some of the challenges are … well, really damn challenging.
I’d recommend it at full price, but if you can grab it during a sale, you might be able to spend less than a dollar.
Mad Bullets – MSRP: $2.99 – My playtime: 54.3 hours
Mad Bullets is an on-rails shooter, deceptively simple, but that gets hard as you progress. There’s no story, the art is simple, and the shooting is satisfying. It’s a game that does one thing, and it does it really really well.
Each round mixes it up just enough to keep it feeling fresh and keep you from playing on autopilot. It’s a rare game that feels like it has way more content than it actually has.
I picked up this game as part of a bundle, and never expected to spend as much time with it as I have. I managed to unlock all but two achievements (have I mentioned I love achievements?), and I feel like I would have gotten my money’s worth at five times the price. How many games can you say that about?
Do you have a favorite game with a bargain bin price? Tell me about it & why you love it!
3 thoughts on “From The Bargain Bin: 5 Under $5”
The mosaic and hidden object games are definitely up my alley! I’ll never say no to some “mindless” yet puzzle content! I tend to do a lot of Kakuro for that purpose because those games are way cheaper than either mosaic or hidden object games (unless they’re bundled).
I probably could have done a top 10 bargain bin puzzle games! There’s so much good stuff out there!
I love digging around in the Steam equivalent of bargain bin games. It’s so fun to find standout gems among the merely decent or perfectly serviceable many. And for very low buy-in prices every half year when the Steam sales roll around.
One Finger Death Punch immediately comes to mind as a classic, elegantly simple mechanics meets stylish design and aesthetic choices. For essentially a game about pushing two buttons, it is amazing how the level design (when and how frequently should one strategically push those buttons?), stick figure animations and sound effects with so much pizazz convey worlds more information to make it a -game.-
My soft spot for interactive fiction makes me want to highlight A Study in Steampunk: Choice by Gaslight as a very approachable example of text-based choice games, as long as one enjoys Sherlock Holmes and Steampunk tropes. Open Sorcery is a bit more esoteric, but I like the clever thought and wordplay behind the concept of a “firewall” to blend both computers and elemental magic into an urban fantasy setting.
Then there’s Tales of Maj’Eyal, a roguelike that ought to be nearing Dwarf Fortress levels of stature by now. The Steam price is a little higher than $5, but that’s kinda a donation price as the game is free to download on its own website. It’s combined so many good ideas from MMOs by now, from the combat UI of skill buttons, the ability to log into a shared chat server for essentially global chat and socialization/advice while doing your own thing in your own instanced world, a degree of map location and level persistence, that make it less diificult to approach from a controls/UI standpoint.