The long-awaited Steam Summer Sale 2023 has arrived and it's a frugal gamer's dream come true! Brace yourselves for irresistible discounts and get ready to unleash your inner indie aficionado with our handpicked list of must-buy games, from pixelated adventures to enchanting whimsical worlds.
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Gorogoa, developed single-handedly by the talented Jason Roberts over a period of six years, weaves a captivating puzzle. Prepare yourself for a mesmerising adventure as you guide a young boy through a war-torn world, drawn to a mysterious creature. Overflowing with imaginative ideas, this game immerses you in a narrative that compels you to solve its puzzles. The genius at the core of Gorogoa lies in its concept of rearranging panels to influence one another and advance in the game. With every move, a new door opens, revealing the next intriguing piece. Whilst Gorogoa finds its mechanical roots in the adventure game genre, its gameplay experience diverges greatly from the genre's traditional design. Simple in concept yet complex in execution, this game offers a gratifying puzzle-solving journey that will astound you with its artistic prowess and innovative direction. Despite its relatively short duration of two to three hours, the exceptional quality of Gorogoa ensures it's a journey well worth embarking on. Once you start playing Gorogoa, you won't want to stop until you reach its conclusion. Trust me, that's something truly remarkable.
In Other Waters
Embark on a voyage as an AI companion guiding a lost xenobiologist through a captivating and enigmatic alien sea in the remarkable game In Other Waters. This tranquil sci-fi narrative unravels the secrets of an implausible planet's history and ecology, reminiscent of beloved text adventure classics. The vivid descriptions transport you into a realm teeming with extraterrestrial lifeforms. The game's palette of colours paints a breathtaking backdrop, evoking a mood that surpasses the vast majority of open world experiences. Accompanied by Amos Roddy's serene electronic melodies, the music effortlessly complements the unfolding plot, further enhancing the immersive atmosphere. The most significant gameplay mechanic that players encounter, though potentially off-putting to some, is the scanning feature. Initially appearing deceptively simple, it requires careful consideration and decision-making, as each scanned line contributes to the greater puzzle of the narrative. This mechanic adds an intriguing layer of depth and invites players to explore a truly distinctive perspective on exploration and adventure. In Other Waters is a captivating title, promising an unparalleled gaming experience that ignites curiosity and unveils the wonders of uncharted territories.
The Case of the Golden Idol
Looking for a cryptic crossword-like murder mystery experience that will keep you engaged for 3-6 hours? Look no further than The Case of the Golden Idol. A solid choice that weaves together a deftly crafted narrative with macabre pixel art and a foreboding soundtrack. Prepare to be immersed in a Victorian murder masterpiece spanning 40 years and divided into twelve chapters (excluding the epilogue). This game presents a series of deaths linked to a mysterious golden idol, passed from one person to another. Each chapter introduces new characters and a fresh storyline, yet an overarching narrative waits to be uncovered. Explore storage areas, engage in dialogue with each character, and pay attention to their possessions to gather enough information to fill in the gaps. The visuals in this game are captivating frozen snapshots, utilising pixelated graphics that perfectly capture the 17th-century atmosphere. The dark colour scheme complements the macabre storyline, while the music further enhances the immersive experience. Observation takes precedence over traditional detective work; it challenges players with deduction skills that surpass the comfort zone of many similar games.
Trombone Champ is an incredibly approachable rhythm-action game that puts you in the spotlight as a trombone virtuoso, following on-screen cues with your instrument. Unlike other music games, it offers a refreshing twist by emphasising the joy of making music rather than strict accuracy. While Guitar Hero and similar titles focus on rhythm and timing, Trombone Champ takes centre stage with its emphasis on pitch and precision. This game stands out not only for its musicality but also for its delightful humour. With a light-hearted approach, it playfully pokes fun at trombones and brass instruments while weaving an unexpected narrative involving baboons and hot dogs. The game's art style is charmingly simple, featuring Mii-like avatars and a straightforward presentation. Trombone Champ may be renowned as the latest meme sensation on the internet, complete with hilarious fart and honk sounds, but beneath its jocular surface lies an incredibly endearing experience. It's a delightful concoction of fun, wit, and a dash of eccentricity, defying expectations with its silly premise while offering a genuinely engaging gameplay experience.
Step into the world of Loop Hero, a roguelite game that makes you embark on a heroic quest to vanquish an evil Lich who has ensnared the world within an unending time loop. Each run begins from scratch, forcing players to gather power gradually to face the Lich in battle. Should you meet your demise, prepare to start anew without any items. Despite its simplistic visuals, Loop Hero surprises with its profound and intricate storytelling. It delves into themes of life and death, humanity's role in the vast universe, and the eternal struggle between nihilism and hopefulness. Brace yourself for a considerable amount of grinding in Loop Hero. On one hand, it extends the game's content and can easily devour dozens of your precious hours. On the other hand, it can become monotonous rather quickly. Loop Hero boasts mesmerising pixel art that delves into grotesque yet captivating detail, particularly with its enemies and their portraits. It defies expectations and embraces a unique blend of elements: immersive storytelling, interactive exploration, the thrill of looting treasures, intricate world-building, strategic decision-making, and above all, that insatiable urge to embark on just one more loop.
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What can I tell you that hasn't been already said? Supergiant's incredible rogue-lite action title, Hades definitely lives up to the hype! Delivering an exhilarating experience packed with fast-paced combat, a delightful Boon system, and a captivating storyline that weaves seamlessly into the gameplay. While it may seem complex, Hades manages to strike the perfect balance, ensuring it remains accessible and enjoyable. Get ready to be enchanted by its epic soundtrack, top-tier voice acting, and breathtaking artwork and locales. Once you start playing, time slips away unnoticed, as a quick session easily turns into an hour-long adventure. One of the most impressive aspects of Hades is its staggering amount of dialogue. Rarely will you encounter the same lines twice, and what's even more remarkable is that the game adapts its responses to your actions, adding context and depth to your interactions. As you progress through the game, you'll find yourself measuring success not only in terms of escaping to the mortal world but also in uncovering the intricacies of the plot.
Cult of the Lamb
Creepy but cute, bloody but wholesome, Cult of the Lamb merges the roguelike genre with the art of cult-raising. Right from the moment you wake up, you find yourself lying on a sacrificial altar. Don't worry, though - the ritualistic executioners promptly dispatch you, but fear not, "The One Who Waits" brings you back to life. And just when you thought things couldn't get any weirder, this deity hands you a crimson crown and commands you to build a cult in their divine honour. What's truly remarkable about this game is the way it effortlessly weaves together dark and colourful elements, creating an enthralling story that keeps you hooked, even after hours of performing similar tasks - and trust me, you'll enjoy every single minute. The core gameplay loop is immensely satisfying. Starting from scratch at your new home base, you'll engage in a plethora of activities: gathering resources, constructing buildings, tending to crops, blessing individuals, delivering daily sermons to your followers, and conducting rituals, just to name a few of your overseer duties. Furthermore, the ability to customise the appearance of each follower adds a personal touch, making every cult member feel truly unique.
Against the Storm
Against the Storm emerges as a refreshingly pragmatic twist on the city-building genre, combining dark themes with roguelike elements. While other city builders focus on the grandeur of civilisation, this game challenges you to make difficult choices in order to simply endure. The world is trapped in an eternal, magical downpour that steadily engulfs and erodes everything, except for the resilient Smouldering City perched atop a volcanic mountain. With its exploration depth and robust building mechanics, fans of 4x games, such as Civilization, will find themselves right at home. Meanwhile, enthusiasts of roguelikes will appreciate the game's innovative approach. Your endeavours are driven by three main factors: ensuring basic survival, fulfilling the queen's orders, and maintaining the happiness of your citizens. Balancing these diverse goals becomes a highly addictive gameplay loop as you strive to earn reputation and avoid the ignominy of failure. Against the Storm compels you to make tough decisions and navigate a treacherous path. Brace yourself for an immersive experience where strategic city-building meets the relentless pressure to survive.
Neon White, a first-person shooter and puzzle-platforming game, offers a captivating blend of style, speed, and strategic shooting, immersing you in a visually stunning anime-inspired world. You assume the role of Neon White, a deceased assassin summoned from Hell for a divine competition. The hyper-stylish character designs and vibrant aesthetics of the Neons are simply breathtaking. Tasked with cleansing the overrun Heaven of demons, you must race through celestial arenas, armed with a variety of heavenly guns. The goal is to gather Soul Cards for offence and traversal, eliminating demons and reaching the finish line as quickly as possible. The faster your time, the higher your rating, unlocking more challenging missions. The addition of Soul Cards brings a refreshing twist to the gameplay, altering your movement mechanics. Mastering the flow of each level feels empowering, and boss fights add exciting variety.
Card Shark takes the traditional card game formula and turns it on its head. Set in 18th-century France, this game goes beyond simply learning the rules and hoping for a win. Instead, it immerses you in a world of rule-bending and strategic manipulation. As you play cards with the rich and wealthy, you'll discover the art of sleight of hand and put it into practice. Initially starting as a servant pouring wine, you'll soon find yourself peering over shoulders, gathering valuable information, and signaling your findings to the cunning Comte. From there, the game expands, teaching you various underhanded techniques such as shuffling, cutting, and dealing cards, marking cards discreetly, and even swapping out packs of cards. Executing your manoeuvres flawlessly makes you feel like the cleverest person in the room, raking in more and more money from unsuspecting aristocrats. The tricks you'll learn go beyond the card table, extending to swordfight victories and framing others with well-aimed card flicks. The witty dialogue and occasional appearances of historical figures like Voltaire add depth and immersion to the experience. Prepare to be captivated by Card Shark, where every hand dealt holds the promise of triumph or downfall.
Edited by Barney Nuttall, Deputy Editor in Chief