It’s the most wonderful time of the year. No, not Christmas. It’s Steam sale time!
Valve actually holds multiple sales on its digital PC games store a year, but the holiday event is one of the biggest of year. New and old games alike are available for huge discounts. Of course, Steam has a huge library of games. That’s why some of our staff has come together to recommend our favorites available in the sale.
Managing editor Jason Wilson’s picks
Price: $26.97 (50 percent off)
BioWare’s Baldur’s Gate is one of the best sagas in gaming’s history, the story of how the Bhaalspawn (that’s you, essentially the child of Bhaal, the deceased god of murder) learns not only of his heritage but puts an end to two significant threats to the Forgotten Realms (the Dungeons & Dragons campaign world that serves as the setting here). The Enhanced Editions from Beamdog not only clean up the old code and make them look better, but it also brings an all-new chapter to the fate of the Bhaalspawn (that’s you): the Siege of Dragonspear, which takes place between the first and second games. The package brings you back to the days of 2nd Edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons rules (all hail THAC0!), and the blend of real-time+pause combat that BioWare introduced way back in 1998.
Price: $12.50 (50 percent off)
One of 2016’s best role-playing games is also one of its most stressful. Combining the turn-based RPG and roguelike (which has mechanics such as permadeath for your characters), Darkest Dungeon has you clearing out your ancestral home of Lovecraftian horrors. But in true Lovecraft fashion, it also incorporates … your sanity. As your characters explore this deathtrap, they can lose their mind — either suffering maladies or benefiting from a courageous surge. It requires a lot of patience and plotting to survive this Darkest Dungeon.
Price: $18 (60 percent off)
Obsidian is on a roll. One of the masters of RPG design, this studio released Tyranny this fall. It’s pretty good, casting you as the servant of a brutal warlord. But it’s missing that fantasy element, something that abounds in Pillars of Eternity. This was one of my Games of the Year in 2015, and it enables you to control six players at once (Tyranny is just four). So if you prefer your monsters to beasts over men, you might want to check this out over Tyranny.
Price: $24.99 (75 percent off)
One of my favorite games of 2013 is even better with all its DLC in one package. From the masters of grand strategy gaming at Paradox Interactive, Europa Universalis IV is all about making smart decisions while city states and empires are scheming to put an end to your reign. It can be confusing, but in that “What the hell just happened!?” sense that leaves you just as impressed as your are clueless. It will challenge and engross you, and you’ll find that it has just the same “one more turn” appeal of another big strategy game out there.
Price: $19.50 (35 percent off)
Looking for a Japanese RPG that offers interesting turn-based combat with a strong story — and doesn’t overflow with whiny teens or over-the-top drama? Trails in the Sky surprised me a few years ago when I played it on my PlayStation Vita for its mature, optimistic story in a JRPG adventure. The bonds that grow between the main characters feel real, and you find yourself rooting for this young men and women and hoping that their story turns out well.
Community manager Mike Minotti’s picks
Price: $20 (67 percent off)
Doom is one of the best games of the year, and it’s almost crazy that you can now buy it for just $20. This first-person shooter ditches modern mechanics like cover and regenerating health. Instead, it encourages you to run around and shoot everything you see, making it a faster, more energetic shooter than just about any other modern shooter.
Price: $10 (34 percent off)
A lot of games try to go for the whole retro thing, but none nail it better than Shovel Knight. This pixelated side-scroller has aspects of 8-bit classics like Mega Man, Duck Tales, and Castlevania. But it never feels derivative, with the game finding its own identity thanks to its funny characters and memorable bosses. If you love a challenging platformer, you have to own Shovel Knight.
Price: $10 (50 percent off)
Metroidvanias, games that encourage 2D exploration and platforming, are some of my favorite experiences. I love the classics, like Super Metroid and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, and Ori and the Blind Forest belongs in that tier. It’s beautiful animation makes it feel you’re playing a living cartoon (like a Disney or Miyazaki … you know, good stuff). Ori is a memorably journey that’s easily worth $10.
Price: $2.50 (75 percent off)
You! Yes, you! Have you still not played Knights of the Old Republic? What is wrong with you?! It’s one of the best role-playing games ever and the best Star Wars game ever. Do you have three singles in your pocket? Than you can afford it! You’d even get change!
Price: $3 (80 percent off)
Castle Crashers hearkens back to the four-player brawlers I grew up playing in arcades, like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, X-Men, and The Simpsons. It’s a great game to play with friends, and its unlockable characters and weapons give you a good reason to beat the campaign multiple times. It also has a deer you can ride that propels itself by pooping, so that’s great.