Start looking through Steam with a few extra bucks in your pocket and before you know it, day has turned to night and your shopping cart is full. It’s that easy to become overwhelmed trying to choose just one game. With so much to pick from, you often end up wandering around the virtual store until you reach an impasse. Eventually you’ll close the window, leaving empty handed, once again defeated by the mighty digital distribution software.
That’s something that we cannot allow. Games must be purchased and played.
To make buying awesome games at reasonable prices easier for you, we spent some time combing through our own libraries, as well as the Steam store itself. We made huge lists of candidates, then crossed some off and replaced them with others. We drank coffee, watched YouTube, bought a few titles for ourselves, then tore it all down and made a new list. Eventually, we came up with what we felt were the 10 best games on Steam for under $25. Some of them are new and some of them are old. Some of them are popular and some are virtually unknown. All of them, however, have something special that we think will make them worth your time.
Also known as Kisima Inŋitchuŋa, Never Alone is a puzzle platform game that follows two characters, a girl named Nuna and her arctic fox. Players can switch back and forth between Nuna and the fox, utilizing each of their strengths to complete the game’s eight chapters. Based on Alaskan indigenous folklore, Never Alone is a game intended to make the player think. When a game can do that, it’s worth every penny.
Switching gears from thinking to simply surviving, Outlast is a game that you may want to play with the lights on, and in a room full of people. Then again, you may not want them to see you in such a sorry state. That, dear reader, is a double-edged sword.
Getting back on track, Outlast is a survival horror video game that will scare you. Players will step into the role of Miles Upshur, a journalist who heads out to a psychiatric hospital overrun by murderous patients. The game is pretty dark, but luckily you are able to use the night vision feature on your camcorder, assuming you find something to power it with. Good luck, and let us know how it goes.
Surgeon Simulator | Buy it on Steam
Surgeon Simulator was developed in about 48 hours, although we’re sure that some additional love and attention was added since its initial release. Either way, it’s a slam-dunk purchase for the amount that it sells for, except for when you smash everything in your home in a fit of rage. If you add the cost of that situation, it might be a bit on the expensive side. What’s the game about? Performing complicated operations on people, relying on your clumsy hand and lack of medical training. It’s the only game that can make you giggle like a fool when you stab someone in the brain with scissors, or accidentally cut out their eyes.
Gone home is something everyone should play. You won’t get a lot of time out of it for your dollar, but the story and experience is well worth the price tag. Players will assume the role of Kaitlin Greenbriar, who returns home to find an empty mansion. By exploring the house and discovering clues, players will piece together the story, which is one of the best that you’ll ever experience. Gone Home lacks violence and confrontation, but more than makes up for it by building an emotional connection.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim | Buy it on Steam
The chances of most people having a Steam account and not knowing about Skyrim are slim, so consider this recommendation more of a reminder that the price is definitely right. This open world action role-playing game allows players to explore the land of Skyrim, interacting with NPCs as they investigate the game’s towns, villages and dungeons. If you’ve been curious about this one for a while but didn’t want to pull the trigger, you can’t go wrong for under $25.
Valiant Hearts: The Great War | Buy it on Steam
We stumbled upon this one when we had a few extra bucks kicking around, and giving it a shot was one of our best gaming decisions in 2014. It’s a side-scrolling adventure game that follows four main characters and their canine friend. Set in World War I, players will have to solve a series of puzzles that will see the journey of each protagonist intertwine, leading to an ending that was far more emotional than we were prepared for.
The Orange Box | Buy it on Steam
Maybe you were late to the gaming party, or perhaps you just never had the opportunity to experience games like Half-Life 2 and Portal. Either way, this bundle is for you. While the Half-Life series contains some of the best first-person shooter video games in history, Portal is a first-person puzzle platformer with the same credentials. You can find them both, as well as Team Fortress 2 when you purchase The Orange Box. Five games for this price is an easy decision, especially since they will give you a lesson in video game history.
This War of Mine | Buy it on Steam
This War of Mine is a fantastic option for the casual PC gamer who may shy away from twitch shooters that require a high level of mouse and keyboard skills. In fact, you only need a mouse, as we’ve yet to touch our keyboard in 20 hours play time. It’s even available to buy if you’re running OS X or Linux based operating systems.
Where most games about war put you in the boots of soldiers, This Ware of Mine is about the civilians and what they must do to survive. It will force you to do things in a video game you couldn’t imagine doing in real life, and it’s all based on the Siege of Sarajevo during the Bosnian War. In other words, this stuff isn’t made up.
Don’t Starve | Buy it on Steam
The action-based survival horror genre is starting to become just a little over saturated, making it tough for gamers to see what is worth their time and what isn’t. Everyone and their cousin is trying to come up with the next DayZ, or even the yet to be released H1Z1.
Don’t starve, on the other hand, was actually released well before DayZ, and focuses on the single-player side of the survival sandbox genre. Players will step into the shoes of Wilson, a gentlemen scientist who doesn’t possess any special abilities, but somehow must survive as long as possible by gathering food, firewood and other materials. If you enjoy it, you can dip into the multiplayer side of things by picking up Don’t Starve Together, although it will exceed our price limit.
The Stanley Parable | Buy it on Steam
The Stanley Parable is a game that, like Gone Home, lacks action or conflict. Instead, players will control Stanley, the game’s protagonist, as he suddenly finds himself in an abandoned office. Players must guide Stanley to make various choices, and a narrator will often predict what Stanley will do next, allowing the gamer to choose between ignoring the voice or doing as it says.
The Stanley Parable was developed with the idea that most video games confine players to a set of rules, and aims to challenge that approach. It’s not a game that you’ll get an incredible amount of time from, but it’s a wonderful game worth trying out.