Steam sale wrap-up post

Posted by raddevon (437 posts) -
Steam sales make me fall in love with PC gaming all over again. This most recent sale was no different. I acquired 21 new games, 17 of which were for myself. Steam has a way of making you feel like a real asshole by suggesting for each purchase that you could give it as a gift. I digress. 
 
I'm going to wrap-up the sale with a silly (and hopefully fun) list of awards. Enjoy and please add your own in the comments. 
 

Most fun indie game I discovered during the sale but otherwise has nothing to do with said sale: 

       

Desktop Dungeons

Derek Yu has a way of taking a simple concept and layering in cool unlockables and fun things to discover to really make it an experience to be savored. If you played Spelunky you know what I'm talking about. (If you haven't played Spelunky and own an Xbox 360, you will soon have an opportunity to experience it for yourself!) Desktop Dungeons is a roguelike mated with a puzzle game. In terms of appearances, it resembles a roguelike in nearly every way. You start with a top-down view of a a randomly generated dungeon. The only part of the dungeon you can see are the tiles immediately adjacent to your starting position. You proceed to uncover the remaining dungeon along with the loot and monsters therein. You must seek out monsters close to your level to avoid being killed and to advance in level so as to have a chance at killing the higher level monsters in the dungeon. Each dungeon has a boss monster--a level 10 baddie who must be killed to finish the dungeon. 
 
Late game in a dungeon 
Each dungeon is very compact--much moreso than a typical roguelike--which plays directly into the puzzle aspect of the game. Health and mana are restored as you uncover previously dark tiles of the dungeon. The player must carefully manage how much of the dungeon has been explored to allow for health regeneration in the late game. 
 
The player will also find spells throughout the dungeon. They come complete with clever names like lemmisi (let me see), the spell which reveals three random tiles in the dungeon. These will also play heavily into the strategy. The game employs some other elements as well which I will leave for you to discover. 
 
Games last about 15-20 minutes and most end with the death of the player character. Those which end in completion of the dungeon are rewarded with cool unlocks. The game is free and is a great way to burn a couple of minutes here and there or to cleanse the palate between more robust gaming sessions. 
 
Official homepage 
 

Most disappointed purchase (despite being incredibly cheap)  

The graphics are serviceable. The rest... not so much. 

Gothic 3 

There were several disappointments coming out of this sale. Most of them were daily deals and were picked up on impulse (the idea not the service ;). Among these, the most disappointing game was, by a nose, Gothic 3. The reason this was more disappointing than the two Painkiller games I bought or Flatout: Ultimate Carnage is that I believed Gothic 3 had a chance to be something. The reviews weren't all that bad. Also, it was born of a highly regarded PC RPG series. In the very recent past, I have become enamored with the PC RPG or, to be a bit more contemporary, the Western RPG. It is a genre I couldn't wrap my mind around for a long time due to being funneled through stories for many years by Japanese RPGs. The breadth of possibilities was paradoxically crippling! No more though. Now, I count this as possibly my favorite genre. I have gotten much fun and play out of Fallout 3, Oblivion, Dragon Age, another game to be named later, and others. Gothic 3 had that spark... in my mind, at least. I'll admit to playing very little of the actual game. The few minutes I tried were a terrible 3D fantasy beat 'em up. Click to swing until the enemy falls down. Repeat until all enemies are down. *Yawn* 
 

Former Steam purchase not made during this sale but re-discovered during it nonetheless  

 The Witcher does a great job capturing the desperation of the commoners.

The Witcher 

The Witcher and I have a tumultuous relationship. We've had two false starts which is usually enough for me to stop trying. However, I felt strongly there was still something there. Now, we are in the honeymoon phase. The only reason I can muster for my lack of interest previously is that I never actually made it through the opening part of the game. (Yes, I know I have a short attention span.) Once you get through the tutorials and the first mission, the game opens up and stops holding your hand. You are thrown into a much larger region with plenty of quests to complete, people to talk to, and things to discover. The rhythm-based combat isn't perfect, but it becomes more satisfying as you learn spells ("signs" in the game's parlance). I strongly prefer it to the combat of Dragon Age (which admittedly is not saying much). Character advancement is very rewarding, and the story is adult in a way that makes even Dragon Age seem a little silly. I'm at about 15 hours currently, and I can see The Witcher and I going the distance. 
 
I'm still trying to wrap my mind around the bizarre card-collecting sex mini-game. 
 

Most pleasant surprise  

Sam and Max: The Devil's Playhouse  

This shouldn't be a surprise as Telltale is at the top of their game. The point-and-click adventure genre hasn't had it this good since the '80s. Everything I have purchased from them has been a delight, but this latest season of Sam and Max is even a cut above the fantastic games they've been turning out for years now. It has a level of cinematic polish that caught me off guard. It would be redundant to say a Sam and Max is funny, but this one is especially so. Despite my rabid Monkey Island fandom, this has trumped even Telltale's Tales of Monkey Island as my favorite adventure game. 
 
 

Most bizarre game purchased  

 Part of the game involves drawing symbols on the screen with your color. I have never done this successfully.

The Void 

All I know about The Void is contained in this alarmingly short paragraph. You are dead. You are collecting hearts which will convert the color (which you must also collect) into a kind of color you can use in the world to either kill things or bring them to life. Also, all the characters appear to be nude and may be at least partially anatomically correct. It's twice as creepy as all that makes it sound. Enjoy! 
 
 
 
 
 
Please feel free to leave a comment and tell me about the awesome, terrible, and/or bizarre games you picked up from the sale!
#1 Posted by raddevon (437 posts) -
Steam sales make me fall in love with PC gaming all over again. This most recent sale was no different. I acquired 21 new games, 17 of which were for myself. Steam has a way of making you feel like a real asshole by suggesting for each purchase that you could give it as a gift. I digress. 
 
I'm going to wrap-up the sale with a silly (and hopefully fun) list of awards. Enjoy and please add your own in the comments. 
 

Most fun indie game I discovered during the sale but otherwise has nothing to do with said sale: 

       

Desktop Dungeons

Derek Yu has a way of taking a simple concept and layering in cool unlockables and fun things to discover to really make it an experience to be savored. If you played Spelunky you know what I'm talking about. (If you haven't played Spelunky and own an Xbox 360, you will soon have an opportunity to experience it for yourself!) Desktop Dungeons is a roguelike mated with a puzzle game. In terms of appearances, it resembles a roguelike in nearly every way. You start with a top-down view of a a randomly generated dungeon. The only part of the dungeon you can see are the tiles immediately adjacent to your starting position. You proceed to uncover the remaining dungeon along with the loot and monsters therein. You must seek out monsters close to your level to avoid being killed and to advance in level so as to have a chance at killing the higher level monsters in the dungeon. Each dungeon has a boss monster--a level 10 baddie who must be killed to finish the dungeon. 
 
Late game in a dungeon 
Each dungeon is very compact--much moreso than a typical roguelike--which plays directly into the puzzle aspect of the game. Health and mana are restored as you uncover previously dark tiles of the dungeon. The player must carefully manage how much of the dungeon has been explored to allow for health regeneration in the late game. 
 
The player will also find spells throughout the dungeon. They come complete with clever names like lemmisi (let me see), the spell which reveals three random tiles in the dungeon. These will also play heavily into the strategy. The game employs some other elements as well which I will leave for you to discover. 
 
Games last about 15-20 minutes and most end with the death of the player character. Those which end in completion of the dungeon are rewarded with cool unlocks. The game is free and is a great way to burn a couple of minutes here and there or to cleanse the palate between more robust gaming sessions. 
 
Official homepage 
 

Most disappointed purchase (despite being incredibly cheap)  

The graphics are serviceable. The rest... not so much. 

Gothic 3 

There were several disappointments coming out of this sale. Most of them were daily deals and were picked up on impulse (the idea not the service ;). Among these, the most disappointing game was, by a nose, Gothic 3. The reason this was more disappointing than the two Painkiller games I bought or Flatout: Ultimate Carnage is that I believed Gothic 3 had a chance to be something. The reviews weren't all that bad. Also, it was born of a highly regarded PC RPG series. In the very recent past, I have become enamored with the PC RPG or, to be a bit more contemporary, the Western RPG. It is a genre I couldn't wrap my mind around for a long time due to being funneled through stories for many years by Japanese RPGs. The breadth of possibilities was paradoxically crippling! No more though. Now, I count this as possibly my favorite genre. I have gotten much fun and play out of Fallout 3, Oblivion, Dragon Age, another game to be named later, and others. Gothic 3 had that spark... in my mind, at least. I'll admit to playing very little of the actual game. The few minutes I tried were a terrible 3D fantasy beat 'em up. Click to swing until the enemy falls down. Repeat until all enemies are down. *Yawn* 
 

Former Steam purchase not made during this sale but re-discovered during it nonetheless  

 The Witcher does a great job capturing the desperation of the commoners.

The Witcher 

The Witcher and I have a tumultuous relationship. We've had two false starts which is usually enough for me to stop trying. However, I felt strongly there was still something there. Now, we are in the honeymoon phase. The only reason I can muster for my lack of interest previously is that I never actually made it through the opening part of the game. (Yes, I know I have a short attention span.) Once you get through the tutorials and the first mission, the game opens up and stops holding your hand. You are thrown into a much larger region with plenty of quests to complete, people to talk to, and things to discover. The rhythm-based combat isn't perfect, but it becomes more satisfying as you learn spells ("signs" in the game's parlance). I strongly prefer it to the combat of Dragon Age (which admittedly is not saying much). Character advancement is very rewarding, and the story is adult in a way that makes even Dragon Age seem a little silly. I'm at about 15 hours currently, and I can see The Witcher and I going the distance. 
 
I'm still trying to wrap my mind around the bizarre card-collecting sex mini-game. 
 

Most pleasant surprise  

Sam and Max: The Devil's Playhouse  

This shouldn't be a surprise as Telltale is at the top of their game. The point-and-click adventure genre hasn't had it this good since the '80s. Everything I have purchased from them has been a delight, but this latest season of Sam and Max is even a cut above the fantastic games they've been turning out for years now. It has a level of cinematic polish that caught me off guard. It would be redundant to say a Sam and Max is funny, but this one is especially so. Despite my rabid Monkey Island fandom, this has trumped even Telltale's Tales of Monkey Island as my favorite adventure game. 
 
 

Most bizarre game purchased  

 Part of the game involves drawing symbols on the screen with your color. I have never done this successfully.

The Void 

All I know about The Void is contained in this alarmingly short paragraph. You are dead. You are collecting hearts which will convert the color (which you must also collect) into a kind of color you can use in the world to either kill things or bring them to life. Also, all the characters appear to be nude and may be at least partially anatomically correct. It's twice as creepy as all that makes it sound. Enjoy! 
 
 
 
 
 
Please feel free to leave a comment and tell me about the awesome, terrible, and/or bizarre games you picked up from the sale!
#2 Edited by Jams (2960 posts) -

I've had about 3 failed attempts with The Witcher. I just can't get into it. I wanted to get into Gothic too, but the game mechanics are a little too difficult and unpolished to where I can't enjoy the game. The Void has piqued my interest though... Gonna check that out. 
 
I bought the THQ pack and the id complete pack over this sale. I must have acquired almost a $100 games that way. And spent less than $100 too.

#3 Posted by raddevon (437 posts) -
@jams: Those big packs are always fantastic deals.
#4 Edited by ArbitraryWater (11626 posts) -

Thankfully, I wasn't at home for most of the sale, otherwise my wallet would probably be a lot more empty. I bought X-COM apocalypse (i.e. the not so good X-COM game), Thief: Deadly Shadows (i.e. the not as good as the other two thief game), Heroes of Might and Magic V: Tribes of the East (despite the fact that my computer can barely run it with 512 MB of RAM), Star Wars: Empire at War (which is surprisingly good.) and Civilization IV Complete (Which is what it is. However, it has Leonard Nimoy, so it's easily superior to most other games of its type.) 
 
I also wanted to pick up King's Bounty: The Legend, because that was dirt cheap and it bears similarities to HOMM, but there is no way in hell that it would ever run on my 7 year old computer.

Online
#5 Posted by Teirdome (262 posts) -

Wound up spending around $70 during the sale, the majority of that really on Global Agenda, Bioshock 2, and Mass Effect 2.  The Void looked really bizarre and I'm a bit disappointed that I didn't pick it up.   
 
The first act of the witcher is just so slow, and once you hit the first city I was too bored to continue.  Glad you were finally able to get over that hurdle though.  I guess I prefer immediacy of choice to discovering I made a bad decision 4 hours ago.  The greatest irony of the witcher, and perhaps this is a clever part of the lore's design, is that one of the most consequential actions a person can do has absolutely no negatives for Geralt.  No chance of pregnancy, not possible to contract disease, there is literally no consequence to having sex for Geralt which stands in sharp contrast to the rest of the game's choices.

#6 Posted by raddevon (437 posts) -
@ArbitraryWater: Sounds like time for an upgrade, my friend! ;-) 
@Teirdome: I've seen you online playing Global Agenda quite a bit. What's it like? 
I can understand being turned off by The Witcher in the early game. Each of my other two attempts, I was swayed by some other game promising instant gratification. And, yes, the sex is oddly trivialized. I hadn't considered the stark contrast of the relative gravity of your other decisions. Good point!
#7 Posted by CompleteInanity (41 posts) -

I bought quite a few games over the course of the sale as well.  Half of them I haven't had the chance to try yet. 
 
My biggest disappointments would definitely be Indigo Prophecy and Zeno Clash. Indigo Prophesy annoyed me with it's illusion of choice, when you're really forced to do exactly what the developer wants you to, and in the order the developer wants you to do it. The story also went completely off its rails about halfway through, making me pretty apathetic about finding out what was going to happen. Zeno Clash was disappointing because of awkward, clumsy controls, difficulty that ramped-up way too quickly, and a nonsense story. I know people have raved about both games, but I honestly didn't enjoy them at all.
 
I bought Dead Space and Mirror's Edge and enjoyed both of those quite a bit (although I think they were the week before the Summer Sale).

I picked up The Void as well ... I'm on my 4th or 5th restart. I think I'm finally getting the hang of it. It's definitely difficult, and not a game that's really possible to wrap your head around during the first (second, or even third) attempt. Here's a PDF guide that is extremely useful (unless you prefer restarting over and over -- I've heard that's "part of the experience," but after a while that gets tiring): http://faqs.ign.com/articles/105/1057960p1.html  The "donor glyph" is a bit of a pain to draw. Basically, you have to make the tails long, and the loop kind of small (ignore the example video -- the tails also need to start higher and end lower than the loop (if that makes sense).

#8 Posted by Teirdome (262 posts) -
@raddevon: I'll write up a review once I progress a bit further and experience some of the end game.  I really enjoy Global Agenda, but there are times when I wonder if it is a Jeff Canata "more fun than it is good" game.  It's certainly not for everybody.  If you're interested, I would wait for the Free Trial to start back up before buying to make sure it's for you.
 
At its core it is a deep third-person shooter running on unreal 3.  The studio that made it is pretty small and it shows a bit in some of the artistic design (sparser environments highlight this the most).  The PvE is a linear dungeon crawl and fun if a bit repetitive.  PvP is where the game shines for me as it is fast-paced and team-oriented.  For me it is a wonderful departure from the stat-greed oriented MW2 and BFBC2.  There's still plenty of people looking out for #1 first, but most realize that if the team doesn't win they loose.  It's also a Guild Wars "always instanced" MMO and not a WoW MMO.
 
All that said, it's got its hooks in me hard.  For the first time in months it's not the loot, leveling, social obligations, or story that is drawing me back.  I'm playing Global Agenda because I find the way it plays so enjoyable.  
#9 Posted by raddevon (437 posts) -
@CompleteInanity: I will definitely check out the PDF. Thanks for that and the glyph tips! 
I hate to hear that you didn't like Zeno Clash. I have to admit the sheer bizarreness of it was probably all I needed to like it. I also had trouble getting into Indigo Prophecy despite loving Heavy Rain. I'm in full agreement on both Dead Space and Mirror's Edge. 
 
@Teirdome: I will keep my eyes open for a trial. I'll also be looking for your review!

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