I’m one of those people who didn’t get Grand Theft Auto V. Yeah, I haven’t played it yet. Or any other GTA game, period.
Instead, I’ve been randomly downloading greenlit Steam games for my PC. They take up less space and hurt less when I fork over my hard-earned cash. Interesting, Innovative, and in some cases, 1/50th the price of an AAA game, they are worth a look, should you be so inclined.
Are you one of those detail-oriented, anal people who derive deep pleasure from isolating people’s typos in Facebook posts or killing time with those “what is different about these two pictures” games on the internet? Well, Papers, Please puts you in the seat of a Communist border-crossing agent who is tasked with keeping out unsavory types using a series of increasingly complex documents and policies handed down by the powers-that-be.
The game’s graphics are simplistic but are true to the early 1980’s and the storyline is interesting to follow. It also boasts something like 20 different endings depending upon your choices in the game. The game goes for $9.99 on the Steam store.
(Also worth noting, this was one of those games that I made everyone buy before I even started it. That’s how excited I was for it.)
Newer to the game is The Stanley Parable, billed as the game about nothing, yet about everything. This game reminds me a little of Portal without the puzzles and without a portal gun. You’ll need to play it to find out why.
It makes you constantly consider different decisions as you progress, leading you to almost limitless endings. (And an almost infinite number of “What the ****” moments to match. Like a picture of someone holding a gun to the head of a panda in a version of the boss’ office.)
I can’t say too much about it, because that would be giving too much away (or giving away nothing), but right now it’s intriguing me enough that I fire it up for twenty minutes just to see what endings I get. In fact, a friend and I have been texting each other to figure out what endings we’ve both gotten.
The Stanley Parable is $14.99 at full price, also on Steam. There is also a free demo if you’re not yet ready to commit.
I’ve rage-quit this RPG-inspired adventure more times than any other game in my life. The concept is straight-forward, you’re an adventurer who destroys monsters, discovers towns and crawls through dungeons while also unlocking the features that make modern RPG gaming tolerable.
If you’re a relative n00b to RPGs as I am, it’ll take you a little while to get used to the mechanics until you start earning fancy features like save games and being able to use your mouse. The explorable world is full of fun easter eggs and references to other games of the genre. And things that will kill you. Lots and lots of things that will kill you.
All of this can be yours for a mere $9.99.
Support Your Indie Studios
These are but a mere fraction of the great indie games that are popping up all over the place. Honorable mention goes to Game Dev Tycoon, which lets you pretend to be a blossoming gaming powerhouse. The game was infamously known for the developers leaking a version to torrent websites which causes your profits to hemorrhage significantly as you grow due to, you guessed it, illegal downloads. The game was greenlit at the end of the summer and is now available on Steam.
I’ll only mention Super Amazing Wagon Adventure because it cleverly blends Oregon Trail with a side-scrolling shooter. I can’t get past the machine-gun wielding bandits, so I have no idea what it’s really like to set out towards the wild frontier. It’s also wicked cheap, retailing for less than $3. (It’s also the only game on this list only available for Windows-based machines. The rest are available via SteamPlay, which enables play on both Windows and Mac-based systems.)
There are many more that I haven’t yet played, so get out there and discover some. Then you can say that you knew some of these studios before they hit it big and sold out to The Man.