We here at The NYRD are big gamers, in that we mostly just play Candy Crush and Angry Birds when our slave driver of a boss unchains our ankles from the computer and let’s us step away for a few minutes to remember what sunlight feels like. However, when word leaked out two days ago about the upcoming Steam Summer Sale, we got so excited that we almost snapped a few of our vitamin D deficient bones while clapping through our manacled hands. So in preparation for the happiest time of the summer our staff got together to give you our recommendation for what you should be playing instead of going to the beach, or hanging out with friend. Play them well. Play them for us.
Let’s start out this list right by bringing up one the best games ever made, and we’re not just digging our own grave either by making that boast -See what we did there? Shovel pun- It doesn’t get much better than Shovel Knight. It doesn’t matter whether you grew up mashing buttons on an old Nintendo or while mashing keys while playing some “classic” games on Mod for the PC. Shovel Knight is a true testament to the old 8-bit retro gaming aesthetic while still managing to bring in a new flair that’s all it’s own. This game is a platformer, but don’t let that scare you away. You will be amazed by the its beauty, awesome soundtrack, and seamlessly fun gameplay. The difficulty, though not overwhelming, still offers a good amount of challenge to keep you interested, and at $14.99 on Steam it is a real steal. We promise you will not be disappointed. In fact, we think you’ll really “Dig it.” -Get it? It’s another shovel pun-
We have talk Darkest Dungeon before, but it is so good, we thought we would bring it up again, like that annoying cousin who will never stop telling you about that time he met Ewan McGregor. “We get it, Greg. You know he’s not really Obi-Wan, right? That’s Sir Alec Guinness.” However, Darkest Dungeon is worth bringing up again. One of the New Yorker’s Best video games of 2015, this game has all the macabre turn-based action you could hope for. A true love letter to Lovecraft and video games geeks alike. It is equal parts frustrating and entertaining. Each time you enter into a dungeon you will never know what might happen, who you might lose, or who might just go plain mad. As much a work of art as a video game, the aesthetics will really draw you in, but it will be the challenging gameplay that will make you stay. It is $24.99 on Steam and now with new updates, characters, and dungeons, Darkest Dungeon is even darker than before… but watch out for the pig vomit.
Stick of Truth
We usually try to stay away from reviewing big console games that have been ported to the PC, but our next two entries are going to be the exceptions to that rule. The Stick of Truth is everything you could hope for in a South Park Fantasy game. In fact, this might be the game you don’t even know you want. Coming in at $29.99 on Steam, it is well worth the price. South Park has been a mainstay of humor and culture for almost two decades and Stick of Truth proves their staying power. One part parody and one part kick-ass fantasy game it encapsulates all the humor and greatness that is the Comedy Central series without overstaying its welcome. Whether you like Game of Thrones, Lord of the Rings, or just a really good RPG game, Stick of Truth is no laughing matter. We recommend you check it out.
Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor
Not only is this game the second major developer game on our list, but it is also the second game adapted from a larger franchise. Lord of the Rings is a phenomen and it seems almost impossible that a video game could enter into the world of Middle Earth and even come close to being worthy of the books of JRR Tolkein or the Peter Jackson movies. Yet, Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor is damn good at proving that point wrong. A unique story with interesting characters it works well to keep our attention storywise, but that is not where it really shines. No, the true genius of this game is in its gameplay mechanics, specifically the Nemesis System that allows you to conscript your orc enemies into working for you. Even better the enemy AI means that orcs have a hierarchy all their all their own, and your enemies will change and grow over time. It’s a little pricey at $49.99 on Steam, but well worth your wishlist. Hey, that’s why Eru Ilúvatar created the Steam Summer Sale.
Crusader Kings II
More Game of Thrones than Lord of the Rings Crusader Kings II, is a grand strategy game taking place in the late Medieval period. This game focuses on raising a family from nothing to become powerful emperors, until you lose it all again when you decide to sleep with your brother’s wife. You can bribe your way to power, assassinate your way to power, or just become a good old fashioned conquer, the possibilities are endless. Crusader Kings II will let you turn history on its head all while sucking up your own time in the process. Admittedly the game is not without its flaws, but they are ultimately forgivable in the end. A slick looking map and the ability to play multiplayer -and assassinate your friends- goes a long way to endearing Crusader Kings II. Currently $39.99 on Steam, we definitely recommend you put this one on your list, because in the game of thrones you either buy now or you wait for the Summer Sale.
We move now to another grand strategy game, Stellaris. The latest in a galaxy spanning tactical genre, this game distinguishes itself on several notable points, not the least of which is its customization. Stellaris allows your to design your starting species, homeworld, traits, and even emblem. This game is also incredibly vast in scale, and with an infinite variety. Solar systems and stars are randomly generated so each game is going to be slightly different than the last. However, it is the Pops mechanics where this game truly shines. Introduce new technologies to your empire and your people and you could face unexpected consequences. The game is by no means perfect, there are some AI and UI bugs that need addressing, but don’t count this one out. We talked about StarDrive 2 in the past, and Stellaris managed to take all the good of that game and increase it by ten fold. if you like games where you need to manage entire galactic empires, than we highly recommend you check out this Stellaris. It is currently $39.99 on Steam.
Can we get weird for a minute with you? Because we want to talk about Garry’s Mod, an incredibly strange but strangely incredible game that you can download for only $9.99 on Steam. This game is a physics sandbox. It has no goals or predefined rules, other than physics. You cannot win but we promise you will not lose either. With thousands of ready made physics objects that you can spawn and use to create everything form a jet to a jet boat to a jet footstool, the limits of this game are endless. You can create and play and just get as weird as you want, either by yourself or with your friends. Maybe you’re not creative, well don’t worry. There are millions of already user created content in this game that you can simply grab and paint red or add antlers to or just have fun with. How will you ever be bored again?
Divinity: Original Sin: Enhanced Edition
Despite the overabundance of colons in the name Divinity: Original Sin: Enhance Edition, delivers on its promises. Gamespot named it PC game of 2014, and it has received over 150 awards and nominations. if you like playing classic RPG fantasy or like playing Dungeons and Dragons, than this game is right up your dragon-infested alley. An open world RPG experience, you can design your characters, collect your party and interact with everyone you meet. Best of all the “Enhanced” in “Enhanced Edition,” means that everyone you meet is fully voice-acted. You can fight, cheat, lie, steal, and make decisions that affect not only you but the world at large. Still, what sets this RPG apart from others in the genre is its insanely fun combat system. An innovative turn-based mechanic, it allows you to control the action and effortless micromanage your group and your combat strategies. Even better, if you get lonely, you can play with a friend. At $39.99 on Steam it is well worth the price.
Of all the games on this list, Pixel Piracy is the lowest rated, but at 71% it is still well worth your time. A 2D simulator you will get the chance to design your own pirate ship, recruit your own crew, customize, and sail the seven pixelated seas. Falling somewhere between beautiful, simplistic, and brutal, Pixel Piracy is the kind of smooth running fun game that can eat away your hours. It is a simple game to learn, but that does not mean it is simple to master. You will need to manage resource and your crew while you raid other ships, plunder islands, and explore a two-diminsional world. This pirate RPG is not perfect, but if you are looking for a little piracy in your life we highly recommend it. Also, there is a lot of opportunities for poop jokes, and at $9.99 on steam, who can resist that?
Homeworld Remastered Collection
Rounding out our list is a classic video game, Homeworld. You command the helm of a massive mothership in this real-time strategy game. With your world on the the brink of disaster, you are the only thing left to protect and guide the last remnants of your sleeping people as you desperately try to find a new home. Hauntingly masterful and with a story that will live on in your memory, the original Homeworld, came out in the 1999 and was a triumph of gameplay for its time. Now it has been remastered with new graphics and updates including enhanced audio and cinematics. For $39.99 on Steam this package contains remastered editions of Homeworld and Homeworld 2, as well as the originals. If you were a fan in the past, or even if you have never heard of these games, we cannot express enough how much you need to play this RTS. It is not always an easy game, but always highly enjoyable. This needs to be on your list.
Now that you have our recommendations for the upcoming Summer Sale, we want to hear yours. After all, we are always looking for new games too, assuming our boss ever opens the food-hole in our cell doors wide enough so we can escape. So let us know what’s on your wishlist in the comment section below, and happy gaming.