Steam Winter Sale Recommendations For You

There are thousands and thousands and thousands and oh God help thousands of games discounted in the current Steam Winter sale. Honestly, it’s ridiculous. Where do you start? Where do you end? How many will you ever really play? How many do you have to buy in order to discover the secret Half-Life 3 release date? Well, we can’t help with the more existential aspects of that, but if you’re entirely stuck on what to get, what we can do is tell you which single game each member of the RPS staff would pick from the vast and endless digital discount shelves.

These, as far as we’re concerned, are the games you must must must pick up in the sale if you don’t have ’em already.

Graham: Spelunky (75%, $3.74/£2.74)

“Spelunky is the best game ever made. I’ve been dancing around saying that for the last seven years of writing about its different forms, but I feel confident about it now. It’s funny when you die from a rock flung by a bounce pad, or because a friend climbed over a ledge and accidentally dropped a knife on your head. It’s exciting when you discover a jetpack buried in the rock at an easily accessible spot. It makes you feel clever when you wield your few remaining resources towards reaching the City of Gold. It is brilliantly designed and I know game designers who credit it with inspiring their careers. And it’s £2.74. The best game ever made for £2.74.”

Alec: The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind (66% off, £6.79/£5.09)

“If you like Fallout 4 but wanted something deeper and stranger, and conversely if you hated Fallout 4 (and Skyrim, for that matter) for being such a murderfest, I can’t recommend Morrowind highly enough. It’s the only Bethesda RPG in which I really felt they built a world, rather than just a toybox. So filled with strangeness, so alien and so packed with discovery, and so gloriously unwilling to hand you anything on a plate. Although a surprise hit on console, Bethesda puzzlingly turned towards the overtly mainstream after this, and much as I generally like what they do now, I’ll always be heartbroken that they abandoned the stranger in a strange land ethos they built in Morrowind, and the often bizarre flexibility built into it in order to ensure you could play on your terms, never its terms. Mods make it ten times prettier if you’re scowling at the graphics, by the way.”

Alice: Deadly Premonition (90% off, $2.49/£1.99)

“Deadly Premonition is not “so bad it’s good” or “like if David Lynch made a video game” or some other foolishness you might have heard. It’s a wonderful, fascinating, clever, odd, and funny ghostmurder mystery RPG, unfortunately with a rubbish wet blanket of a survival horror game thrown over it (and an awful PC port). It remains one of my favourite games. You may well hate it, but you equally might adore it. At £1.99, that’s worth chancing.”

Adam: Risk of Rain (75% off, $2.49/£1.74)

“Risk of Rain captured me, heart soul and body, for a few days when I first played it back at the tail-end of 2013. It’s still one of the smartest of the roguelite sidescrollers that have become part of the gaming landscape in recent years, and although it has perma-death, and randomised levels and powerups, it never conforms to type. In fact, it’s still unusual enough to confound and delight even now, two years after release. And it’s beautifully atmospheric as well.”

Pip: The Talos Principle (75% off, £7.49/£9.99)

“A thoughtful and thought-provoking game with beautifully crafted puzzles. I’m still annoyed we didn’t get it on the best games of 2014 list but I think I was the only one who had played it at that point. Wonderful and (currently) 75% off.”

John: Pillars Of Eternity (60% off, $17.99/£13.99)

“A classic RPG made with a modern mind, 50 hours of engrossing story, companions you’ll (eventually – it takes its time) grow to love, decisions to be made, gods to be worshipped, and enemies to be chopped up in pausable real-time combat. What a treat to fill up acres of Christmas.”

Cool? Cool. Please do share your own tips and highlights below, for the good of us all.

82 Comments

  1. TillEulenspiegel says:

    It’s the only Bethesda RPG in which I really felt they built a world, rather than just a toybox.

    Are you including Daggerfall in that, or just completely forgetting about everything Bethesda did prior to Morrowind?

    • Tacroy says:

      Everything prior to Morrowind was pretty inscrutable.

      It was only with Morrowind that graphical technology got to the point where it could support Bethesda’s vision, and it was also the game where they realized that hand-crafted depth in a relatively smaller area was significantly better than procedurally generated nonsense spread out along a much wider area.

      • RedViv says:

        Aye, I do not see how especially the WORLD bit would be better in Daggerfall. Good grief, we were soooo many generations of tech away from Minecraft.

        • malkav11 says:

          Yeah, if there’s one thing Daggerfall absolutely in no way whatsoever does it’s build a world. It provides a heck of a toybox, but there is zero sense of place and almost no unique locations in the entire game.

      • TheAngriestHobo says:

        The inevitable consequence being that Tamriel rapidly turned into a theme park, where you’re never more than a 20-second walk from the next point of interest.

        One reason that Morrowind worked was because it was the only time that Bethesda found a comfortable balance in terms of geographic scale. Landmarks abound but are nevertheless quite a distance from one another. Moving from one side of the map to the other is a matter of real-time days of travel, not hours. It’s believable that the great Houses would have evolved different cultures, because of the distances and physical obstacles dividing them. In short, the world felt genuine, even if the technology wasn’t hadn’t yet reached a point where it could be visually portrayed as such.

        • Chaoslord AJ says:

          And the lack of quest markers with but a vague description of the way to the objective. One quest in particular for Balmora mages where you’re supposed to collect taxes from mages in a dungeon where the entrance is hidden from side by a rock when coming from the south… Gem of game that.

          • MisterFurious says:

            I went all over the damn world looking for a guy for a quest. It turned out that he was in the hut right across from where I was given the quest. I got mad and uninstalled the game.

    • Grovester says:

      Daggerfall was great if your idea of a world was a world in which you’d regularly fall through the scenery and end up viewing the whole dungeon from about 2 miles away. Upside down.

  2. Drinking with Skeletons says:

    Someone who enjoyed Fallout 4 but who hasn’t already played Morrowind is probably not going to enjoy Morrowind, and certainly not if led to believe they are at all similar.

    You might as well suggest they set their money on fire.

    • Pizzacheeks McFroogleburgher says:

      What if they didn’t enjoy fallout 4, and don’t keep paper money?

    • ansionnach says:

      “Someone who enjoyed Fallout 4 but who hasn’t already played Morrowind is probably not going to enjoy Morrowind…”

      Really? I’d say it’d be more of an unknown as to whether they’d like it or not.

  3. Synesthesia says:

    Kentucky Route 0 is 50% off, I haven’t played it yet but it’s been on my radar for a while. Same for undertale.

    • b00p says:

      kr0 is the absolute bees knees. however the GOG version comes packaged with the 3 free side “games”/tech demos/elaborations that they released, each of which are an hour(-ish) long and expand upon characters, lore, and locations in the actual narrative in ways that to me are significant or at least noteworthy. the GOG release also gives you ben babbitt’s achingly beautiful, minimalist score. these things are all available online as well, but i found it nice to have it all bundled together.

    • Premium User Badge

      DelrueOfDetroit says:

      I bought KR0 last Christmas sale. :/

      Should probably get around to that.

  4. SuicideKing says:

    RPS, please do a post on what on earth a “roughlike” is supposed to mean, or what “roughlike elements” are (perma-death?).

    Sincerely,
    Early 90’s Kid.

    • SuicideKing says:

      rogue*, damn it.

      • Myrdinn says:

        Roguelikes are a sub-genre of role-playing video games, characterized by level randomization, permanent death, and turn-based movement. Most roguelikes feature ASCII graphics, with newer ones increasingly offering tile-based graphics. Games are typically dungeon crawls, with many monsters, items, and environmental features. Computer roguelikes usually employ the majority of the keyboard to facilitate interaction with items and the environment. The name of the genre comes from the 1980 game Rogue.

        Currently, one of the most accepted interpretations on /vg/ is that a game is a roguelike if and only if it has these 4 elements:
        Permadeath – Might be optional or have ways to cheat (eg. Wizard mode), but it has to be a core element of the game.
        Turn Based – Roguelikes are about thinking, not about quick reflexes.
        Grid Based – Everything happens in a grid, where every element of the game use a set space, usually one tile, although some games have multi-tiled monsters or structures.
        Randomly generated content – Since (perma)death is so common in roguelikes, every new game has to be different to keep the gameplay from becoming repetitive.

        Pulled that from reddit. But, as with most (all?) genres, the seperation with other genres is thin and fans can spend years debating on what is and what is not in the genre. Plus a lot of games have ‘roguelike elements’ which can be one of the four bulletpoints above, or a variation of those.

        A lot of people argue that essentially every RPG is ‘roguelike’ in some fashion, etc etc.

        hope that helps!

        • Cronstintein says:

          That was a very thorough and correct reply. These days it seems the death-thing is enough to call it rogue-like.

          Rather than having save-points, when you die, the world is generated anew and you start over.

          • frymaster says:

            The first game that I noticed being called “rougelike” in contradiction of the above guidelines was FTL. It’s probably worth pointing out that that’s not something the dev’s labelled the game as; they used the term “roguelike-like” which I thought was pretty good. The game evokes the mindset and a lot of the ideas of roguelikes without actually being one itself

          • Philotic Symmetrist says:

            “These days it seems the death-thing is enough to call it rogue-like.”

            And then there’s Rogue Legacy, which if anything has the opposite of permadeath (and no actually meaningful randomisation); even Roguelite seems a strange term for that one.

        • MattM says:

          For roughlikes I think it’s plermadeth, turn baised, gird based, and randmo generation.

        • roothorick says:

          I like that definition. It pretty closely echoes my own sentiment. Procgen and permadeath does not a roguelike make. Hell, that’s not even a genre. It’s just two supporting mechanics that require the structure of an ACTUAL genre to be a game at all. The RPG supergenre provides that structure, and the grid-based turn-based nature refines that broad scope into the unique experience of a roguelike game.

          I like the /vg/ definition for two reasons, one, because it’s a real genre definition. On one extreme, is e.g. Rogue Legacy a platformer or a roguelike? It’s clearly the former. On the other, a number of games I unambiguously consider roguelikes don’t fit even half the Berlin Interpretation.

          Two, it’s not exclusionary. It captures the core essence of roguelike gameplay, and nothing more; it’s a framework within which there is a great deal of room for creativity. It allows for games like One Way Heroics, which diverges in a lot of ways from the likes of Nethack while still clearly falling within the category.

        • AngoraFish says:

          If only journalists, bloggers and developers would actually use this definition instead of simply throwing around the term as if it were synonymous with permadeath.

    • B1A4 says:

      Roughlike sounds nice. I am going to use that.

      Rough-like.

    • flibbidy says:

      meanings change – now it suggests permadeath, procedurally generated levels, probably some kind of branching or varied upgrade system.

  5. pepperfez says:

    Morrowind is $.10 cheaper at GOG right now and comes with Daggerfall, if those things are worth more to you than cards and achievements.

    • ansionnach says:

      Daggerfall is free anyway and has been repackaged by the community in the form of DaggerfallSetup, which sets it up with whatever fixes you want in a handy installer.

  6. wonboodoo says:

    Agree that Spelunky is the best game ever made. It’s perfect.

  7. kud13 says:

    In terms of new-ish stuff, Age of Empires II HD with both expansions is 65% off. It’s a good deal if, unlike me, you don’t already own the base game + The Forgotten expansion. The new Expansion Pack African Kingdoms is only 20% off and it’s making the whole thing more expensive.

    Tons of fun to be had with this, as I’ve rediscovered recently. Got re-hooked around mid-November, and to date I have put over 110 hours into it, without even touching the multi-player

  8. Ejia says:

    I find I don’t really like roguelike-likes/roguelites after all, but my the music in Risk of Rain is lovely.

  9. All is Well says:

    Any AEGOD fans here who could tell me which one of Revolution under Siege and Alea Jacta Est I should be pressing the big green button on?

    • All is Well says:

      *AGEOD, obviously

    • teddystalin says:

      Partly depends on your preference in time period, but…

      AJE simplifies the military affairs compared to other AGEOD agames, removing the interesting divisional/corps structuring of their other games but also the oft-befuddling supply system in favor of a simpler method (also used in Birth of America.) The base game probably has the most interesting scenarios, but they can be more overwhelming in scale than the smaller ones found in Birth of Rome. BoR (haven’t played Hannibal or the Parthian Wars yet) has more local, asymmetrical conflicts, but I don’t find them as well-balanced as the main game. Spartacus is quite fun and the Cantabrian Wars are a slog on either side.

      RuS is probably the better game…and the difficulty curve is a pain if it’s your first AGEOD game. The full supply chains and division/corps organization systems are here in full force. Still, it’s one of the easier AGEOD titles to get into. Battles are fairly frequent and bloody, and the action is centered around rail lines (which make the map much smaller in practice than in reality.) The factions also ease you into the game – the Western Whites expose you to basic troop management, the Eastern Whites to region management, and the Reds make you juggle it all.

      Yeah, I would go with RuS. I recommend running the Finnish Civil War until you get the hang of it before moving into the Western White campaign (the first time I played, I forgot how to order reinforcements and still bumbled my way to Moscow vs the AI.) Good AARs are also a nice alternative to the manual:
      link to forum.paradoxplaza.com

      • All is Well says:

        Many thanks! I was sort of leaning towards RUS (clever titling, that) so that’s probably what I’ll go for. I do enjoy managing command structures.

  10. kwyjibo says:

    I went for Transistor – which at £2.99 is the lowest it has ever been on Steam.

    link to steamprices.com

    • Zekiel says:

      Ooh I’d recommend Transistor. No spoilers, but its worth being prepared that the quality drops off a bit towards the end, which is a shame. But its still well worth playing – interesting gameplay mechanics, interesting world and a LOVELY soundtrack.

      • AngoraFish says:

        Great game, but so tantalisingly short of being a genuine classic that it does ultimately leave one feeling a little bit hollow.

        It’s as if all the fantastic setup and world building were stripped right back sometime early on in development when they realised how much cash their original vision would actually take to produce properly.

        Best game sound track ever, however, and that’s well worth a purchase in its own right.

  11. LionsPhil says:

    You can get all the Hitmen for £4.90, or pay a small premium to avoid Absolution for £5.46.

    It’s been so long since I played the first that Contracts feels pretty fresh.

  12. Chaoslord AJ says:

    Somewhat disappointed with the lack of flash sales so far which means we’re getting fewer of the good discounts (“daily” or “flash”).
    Also the activity feels like work this time: hitting “not interested” and “next” thirty times a day…

  13. Premium User Badge

    Aerothorn says:

    As someone who already bought Deadly Premonition and keeps meaning to get around to playing it – is the Durante fix still necessary or were those issues fixed in a patch?

    • Procrastination Giant says:

      Durante’s patch is still very much required, sadly. Even with that patch it’s still a crapshoot whether the game wants to play nice or not and it’s quite likely that it’s going to be a rather miserable experience from a technical perspective (crashes, random fps drops that require complete reboots to fix and such). It’s ultimately worth it, though, since it honestly is a truely special game.

  14. jtron says:

    The delightful pinball/RPG hybrid Rollers of the Realm is $2, which is an utter steal.

  15. undef says:

    If you’re into difficult, trippy rhythm games, you should check out my game : ().

    It’s also open source and has workshop support!

    Merry Christmas!

    • undef says:

      Oops, obviously I’m not a web developer, too bad I can’t edit/delete my post.

      Anyway, the game is called quadrant.

  16. Kitsunin says:

    I’d have to recommend War of the Human Tanks (66% off/$3.30). Yeah objectively it’s not the best in many ways, but its gameplay is like a tactical Battleship and it has a story which branches based on whether you win or lose battles, which are both pretty dang neat things. Picked up the sequel for 33% off during this sale and having more or less the same experience over again is just as fun as I hoped.

    And did I mention human tanks? That aspect of things is kind of so stupid it’s great.

  17. Premium User Badge

    teije says:

    Just a few good ones that haven’t been mentioned so far –
    Portal 2 – 80%
    Civ 5 – 75%
    Anything Star Wars 70%
    XCOM Enemy Unknown 75%
    Cities Skylines 60%

    But best of Roller Coaster Tycoon 2 at 60% is 4.39 (CAD). At that price, everyone should spend a rainy afternoon with it – such a lovely way to spend a few hours.

  18. ansionnach says:

    Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis is pretty cheap, as it was in the recent gog sale. It’s my top game of all time and certainly worth a go for adventure fans. Too bad nobody has the floppy version, which is better than the CD one.

  19. Pazguato says:

    Alice wrote: “Deadly Premonition is not “so bad it’s good””

    True. It’s just bad. So bad (so bad written, so bad designed) that I can’t really understand how a discerning person (a critic maybe) can recommend this awful pastiche. To each his own, though.

    • Pazguato says:

      Oh, one thing I would love to read: Deadly Premonition John’s review.

  20. Horg says:

    I was intending to buy DS2 complete edition this sale, but after reading some of the steam reviews it seems like Namco Bandai have been a little too liberal with their application of the banhammer. I’d expect some cheaters in a DS game, but there are reports all over the internet about people being soft banned for fairly harmless reasons, such as using the DS2Fix mod or the auto hotkey work around for the double click attack mouse problem. As BN have shown no interest in fixing some of the control issues and bugs in the game, but are more than happy to soft ban mod users trying to fix those issues from the co-op experience, it’s put me right off buying the game.

    • meepmeep says:

      Seems like a somewhat niche justification for avoiding a game.

    • Horg says:

      After doing a bit more research I found out that From Soft patched in an option to turn off the double click attack, as well as let you rebind the ”right hand strong attack”, so the auto hotkey work around is no longer required to eliminate mouse input lag.

  21. J. Cosmo Cohen says:

    I see that Satellite Reign is pretty cheap. What’s the consensus? I missed Syndicate so I have no preconceived notions about how similar or not they’re supposed to be; just wondering if it’s a fun game.

    • trn says:

      I enjoyed it, imagine Syndicate crossed with a Ubisoft game (e.g. Towers, big checklists and no penalty for dying). Trouble was it got boring after about 5-6 hours. If the price is right for a couple of days of gentle fun, give it a go.

  22. Premium User Badge

    gritz says:

    The Stanley Parable is 3 bucks!

    • caff says:

      This is probably the best thing to get, for those that haven’t played it already.

  23. Catchcart says:

    Thank you saying it for all of us, Graham. I feel validated and whole, now. Also, I feel like a round of Spelunky.

  24. thebigJ_A says:

    ANd just when watching a LP (sorceredave is the fellas name) of Morrowind was half convincing me to drop the other games I’ve been playing (Pillars of Eternity and Fallout 4) for another run in Vvardenfell.

    Is there an up to date mod guide about you guys and gals recommend?

  25. TheAngriestHobo says:

    There wasn’t much that appealed, but I decided to grab Doorkickers on a whim. I see what all the fuss is about.

  26. Morcane says:

    I’m using the sale to pick up the assorted bits and bobs I’ve ever thought of buying, but never really pulled the trigger on.

    – Mass Effect 2 – I’m one of the rare people who haven’t really played beyond ME1, but sofar I’m enjoying this a whole lot more than I can remember enjoying ME1.
    – Super Mega Baseball: Extra Innings
    – System Shock Enhanced
    – Life is Strange
    – Crypt of the Necrodancer – my daughter is going gaga over this one.

    And..probably a few more will follow.

  27. Beefenstein says:

    link to youtube.com

    stratO is half price, is intriguing.

  28. Vickers says:

    I’ll wait on Pillars of Eternity, the DLC is prohibitively expensive (and part 2 not even out yet).

  29. Blastaz says:

    I bought hegemony 3 which is a series I have been meaning to play for ages. A strategy game where they actually make a thing out of logistics! There’s a thing…

    I also got undertale for the backlog finally as it is very cheap and just gets glowing reviews.

    Then I bought the remake of raven’s cry as the pirating always looked quite interesting and supposedly it has now been sort of fixed.

  30. Slabs says:

    Grim Dawn is €15 and content complete as of yesterdays patch. Thoroughly recommended if you enjoyed Titan Quest or Diablo 2 or Path of Exile etc. etc.

    • Minglefingler says:

      Completely agree, it really is a joy to play if you like these sort of games.

  31. kashwashwa says:

    Tex Murphy: Pandora Directive is $2.49. I recently finished Under a Killing Moon, which I’d been meaning to get around to for the last 15 years. Pandora Directive is better in every way, and is almost free.

  32. Zafman says:

    Terraria is £2.37 at the moment. It’s such a gem, I absolutely love it.
    Also, Arx Fatalis for £0.74 anyone? Can’t argue with that price!

  33. A Gentleman and a Taffer says:

    All 3 Hexcells games for £1.99 purchased here. Smashed through the original in a drunken couple of hours the other night, it’s a great listening to Spotify game. Glad I’ve got more to come

  34. bonuswavepilot says:

    …and once again I try to decide whether to get Crusader Kings II. It is 75% off, and the ‘collection’ with a bunch of DLC doesn’t seem too costly, but I always have trouble with CK2 deciding how much of the good stuff is in DLC (not all of which are actually included in the collection). I generally avoid DLC, games as storefront can go and fuck off as far as I’m concerned, so the question is whether the ‘collection’ includes enough of the DLC to be worthwhile. Any thoughts RPSers?

    • bonuswavepilot says:

      Argh, worded that badly. What I mean is, does the ‘collection’ include enough DLC to be worthwhile *presuming that I do not buy any extras after initial purchase*. Ridiculous this lack of editing situation. Do you want some help RPS? Seriously, I am a web application dev, just give me a shout.

    • rabbit says:

      i’ll start this off by saying i feel *very* similarly to you on the topic of DLC. CK2 is also a game which has … a lot of DLC.
      that said, i started out with just the base game & had an absolute BALL with it. spent dozens of hours just with base game and didn’t even remotely feel like i was getting short-changed in any area of the game. i can’t speak for the collection as i don’t have it (i’ve just bought various DLC seperately) but i’d personally really, really recommend picking it up if it’s on offer. the base game is much more than enough to get you going and there really is no other game that scratches the same itch. i’ve broken what’s more or less a rule of no DLC with CK2 and have never regretted it. it’s a truly brilliant game, stands up perfectly well without any DLC, and the devs in my opinion have more than earned the right to charge a bit more here and there for some of the extras.
      i say get it.

    • indigochill says:

      Depends if you want all the cultural units, portraits, and music. If so, then definitely pick it up. I don’t really care, so I pick up the expansions individually when they’re discounted and ignore the little unit/portrait/music DLCs.

      I consider the main expansions to be pretty essential. CK2’s base game is phenomenal and gets free feature updates with every expansion (for instance, retinues and I think better rebellions were added for free alongside the Byzantine expansion), but the expansions open up completely unique options like playing as Muslims/Jews/Indians/Vikings/Republics

  35. Fungaroo says:

    Someone’s mentioned that Witcher 3 is 50%? off right ? At least in US