Steam winter sale has started so check our recs

Oh here we go. Now it’s Christmas. Some judge the season by when their advent calendar starts (December 1st), by when their kids wake them up screaming at stockings (5am), or by when the shops start selling chocolate coins (August or summat), and some don’t consider it Christmas until someone on the night bus belts out “FIVE! GOLD! RINGS!” (every day, if we’re lucky). Some even go by the Steam winter sale. That has just started, so jingle those bells and scoff some roasties. The sale is huge but we have picked out a few games ourselves if you want recommendations.

The sale will run until Thursday the 4th of January at 6pm GMT. A million squillion games are on sale so hit the store and get stuck in. Seeing as that’s a great many games, we’ve recommended a few (mostly) less-obvious choices for your convenience.

Absolver – £12.49/€14.99/$14.99 (50% off)

Brendan: THWRCK! That’s the sound of a very fast foot colliding with your temple. BWFH! The sound of two open palms slamming your abdomen. The strikes, parries and dodges of Absolver are part of a satisfying, violent dance filled with sounds like this. On one level it’s a pleasant stroll through a dilapidated and gorgeous landscape. On another, it’s a horrible place full of people who are so skinny it makes them angry. It’s also been updated a lot since release, with fewer lag problems and a better inventory system. But perhaps the best thing is the fashion-conscious citizens, who wear their masks, capes and collars with all the pride of the catwalk, to whom the game is not “Absolver” but “Fabsolver“.

Alice: Oh god, I forgot Absolver this year. I will buy Absolver. Let’s all buy Absolver and slap each other.

Deadly Premonition – £1.99/€2.49/$2.49 (90% off)

Alice: Deadly Premonition is one of the best PC games of all time and I assume that list is 100% official and objective so good, buy this game. It’s a steal at the price. Become an FBI agent to investigate murders, chat to your best friend, eat grave tomatoes, steal cigarettes from a dog, and grow awfully fond of a little Pacific-Northwestern town in this open-world survival horror RPG… thing. Despite aspects being well rubbo (the PC port included), and perhaps even partially because of that tension between the bad and the good, Deadly Premonition is something warm and special.

Dishonored: Death Of The Outsider – £9.99/€14.99/$14.99 (50% off)

John: I’ve only gotten around to playing this recently, still early on, and goodness me it’s good. Well, it’s more Dishonored, so of course it is. But it’s surprisingly different to Dishonored 2’s base game, with new powers and a different approach, alongside the usual sneaking about and making piles of unconscious bodies. And you can listen to the rats’ thoughts. Rats think about a lot.

If you need more convincing, read Alec’s Death of the Outsider review.

Echo – £14.24/€17.24/$18.74 (25% off)

Adam: I only managed to make time for ECHO last week and I’m glad I did. It’s central idea – a stealth game in which you are playing against clones of yourself – led me to imagine it’d be a puzzle game of sorts, but no. It’s a high concept sci-fi narrative set inside an impossible structure, and it feels like Dead Space with a Master of Arts degree. Like me, many of you probably missed it when it came out. Snap it up now.

For more, see The Mechanic’s take on its repetition.

Infra – £11.39/€13.79/$14.99 (40% off)

Alice: Let’s be bold: Infra is the very best first-person adventure game investigating infrastructure damage. The best of them all! It’s a setting I found wholly disarming, having no idea what to expect, and I was delighted. I walked along a river snapping pics of crumbling concrete on bridges, tutted at drips and puddles in a hydroelectric dam, stumbled across an occult murder scene, wandered around a water treatment plant investigating why their chlorination isn’t working, solved all sorts of switch puzzles all over, and puzzled over hints of conspiracy. The final of its three episodes came out a few months back so now’s a good time to get in.

Invisible, Inc. – £3.74/€4.99/$4.99 (75% off)

Graham: In the past month you’ve heard most of RPS rave about Into The Breach, the kaiju-punching mech strategy game from the makers of FTL. You can’t play that yet, so you should play Invisible, Inc. instead. It’s a similar turn-based strategy game about trying to make smart decisions when you know what the consequence of every action is, but instead of defending cities you’re breaking into corporate headquarters, dodging guards, hacking the gibson, and rescuing characters with exciting abilities to expand your crew. It is the best strategy game in years.

See Quinns’s Invisible Inc. review and the RPS verdict for more.

Metal Gear Solid V: The Definitive Experience – £16.74/€20.09/$20.09 (33% off)

Graham: I think about The Phantom Pain every week and have done since its release. It’s an open world stealth game in which you can complete missions violently or silently or by firing a single missile from a distant hill or by dressing up in a cardboard box with a poster on the front or by causing a car crash with horse poop or by riding around on a skating robot or by just asking your dog or sniper buddy to do all the work for you. Its sneaky infiltration missions are fun enough that I’d love the game even if it was as straight as Tom Clancy’s laces, but that you can also ride to those missions in a pink helicopter blasting “Maneater” makes it a strange gaming bliss unlikely to ever be repeated.

Alice: I’m revisiting this myself right now and yup, it’s still astonishing as an open-world stealth sandbox. Despite all its faults, MGS V is quite wonderful.

If you’re new to MGS, fellow newcomer Alec’s MGS V diary might interest you.

Necrosphere – £1.99/€2.49/$2.49

John: A full 2D metroidvania, somehow delivered with only two input buttons (beyond directions, obvs). It seems like it should be far too limited, but is in fact superbly complicated and well-delivered. It doesn’t live and die by its gimmick, but rather makes a solid and slick platform game around this self-imposed limitation.

For more, see John’s Necrosphere review.

Rain World – £5.99/€7.99/$7.99 (60% off)

Brendan: The survival platforming of the Slugcat disappointed me. But this bestial world of predator and prey is still filled with so much that fascinates that I still think it deserves an end-of-year mention. The dark, gargantuan creatures that lurk in the oceans. The otherworldly beings who offer something mystical and unspoken in the far reaches of the world. The spiders, holy god, the spiders. I don’t take back any of my criticisms about its difficulty or control scheme (although it has added an easier mode since my review) but I would regret all those criticisms if it scared away even one person who would fall in love with this massive land of fearful and beautiful wildlife.

Read Brendan’s Rain World review and do check out his GIF bestiary.

Stories Untold – £2.37/€3.39/$3.39 (66% off)

Adam: Already so cheap that I’m cross that you haven’t bought it, this is a deliciously dark anthology of stories that play with the possibilities of limited movement and a first-person perspective. I want Stories Untold to run for years and to be my own interactive Twilight Zone, or Tales of the Unexpected.

Adam also gabbed about it on the RPS podcast and John reviewed it too.

Subsurface Circular – £3.83/€4.79/$4.79 (20% off)

Katharine: Subsurface Circular is the perfect game to play over Christmas. It’s short, wrapping up in roughly two hours, and the fact you don’t move from your seat on a subway train means you don’t have to feel quite so bad about stuffing yourself silly with turkey all holiday. In all seriousness, though, Subsurface Circular is a lovely little text adventure that sees a robot detective quiz fellow commuters about their lives as they try to unravel a series of suspicious events taking place in the world above. Its observations about the highs and lows of public transport are also absolutely spot on, and there’s even a brilliant bit of dialogue where you can recite the entire chorus of Les Miserables’ ‘One More Day’ as you try and converse with a headphone-wearing toolbag. It’s the most fun you’ll get from a stationary protagonist all year.

Subnautica – £15.59/€18.39/$19.99 (20% off)

Alice: Christmas is all about traditions, and one RPS Christmas tradition is that Pip recommends you buy Subnautica. Acting as a proxy Pip, I propose the same. As myself, I second it. This underwater craft-o-survival game is such a pleasant place to explore and build, aside from the vast horrors and alien mysteries lurking in the depths to ruin you. But maybe you’re into that too.

I still really like Pip’s tour of her undersea volcano base.

The Evil Within 2 – £19.99/€29.99/$29.99 (50% off)

Adam: I liked this gory sequel rather than loving it, but if you’ve already met the Bakers in Resident Evil 7, this is a fine addition to any horror gaming collection. The open world parts aren’t as distracting as I thought they might be, though they’re not quite as exciting as I hoped they might be either, but there’s a really solid, spooky, schlocky game in there. And one of my favourite subversions of a stealth takedown ever.

See Adam’s The Evil Within 2 review for more.

Virginia – £0.69/€0.99/$0.99 (90% off)

Katharine: Lo and behold, Virginia is reduced to a mere 69 pence once more. At this sort of price, it would be rude not to buy it in a way, as Virginia’s a lovely little gem that takes the walking sim and does something bold and a bit different with it. Its story about the rise of an FBI internal investigations officer goes a bit haywire at the end, but it’s worth experiencing all the same for the way it dramatically cuts between different scenes and uses the language of cinema to play against our game-y expectations.

See Paul Dean’s Virginia review for more.

So very many more games are on sale. What do you want to nudge everyone towards, gang?

Oh, and voting is open for this year’s Steam Awards.

50 Comments

  1. phrozen64 says:

    Deadly Premonition on PC is not stable and crashes for me. For some reason, playing it on Windows 10 makes it unplayable because it soft crashes on Chapter 2.

    • basilisk says:

      The game has a very bad memory leak and will slow down and become more and more crash-prone as you play. It’s necessary to quit and restart the game roughly every 45 minutes or so, if you can get to a save point in time (which is sometimes difficult). Play for more than an hour and it is inevitably going to crash to desktop sooner or later.

      I adore the game, but yes, it’s basically broken.

  2. Grizzly says:

    So this is christmas…

  3. ginge121 says:

    Excellent misspelling of Virginia there.

    • Alice O'Connor says:

      I put that in as a test, obvs.

    • caff says:

      I feel like Virginia was massively overlooked. It has the jump cuts of Thirty Flights mashed up with Twin Peaks. It’s superb and I urge anyone with any taste to go and buy this.

  4. Lars Westergren says:

    I got Infra, Norwood Suite, Valley, Homebound, Grow Up and the LA Noire VR Casefiles.

    • caff says:

      Good choices. Norwood Suite is amazing. I wish I could re-live that experience. It’s just sublime.

  5. Kingseeker Camargo says:

    So, are we ever gonna get a WiT for Echo or what?

  6. monkeymcnugget says:

    £20 for wolf (again) got to be worth a punt. Hitting lots of GOTY lists etc.
    £5 for Elite? Worth it just to be 100% sure I don’t have time in my life for it…

  7. BooleanBob says:

    In my cart:

    Armed and Dangerous (£1.62)
    The Vanishing of Ethan Carter (£2.99)
    Kingdom: New Lands (£3.29)
    The Black Mirror trilogy (£3.99)
    Has-Been Heroes (£7.49)
    Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun (£17.49)

    • gabrielonuris says:

      Wait wait…. Since when is Armed and Dangerous digitally available??!!

      It doesn’t matter, to my backlog off you go, NOW!!!

  8. GernauMorat says:

    Do please get ECHO. It oozes Iain M Banks at every pore, and is a great experience.

  9. Neurotic says:

    Thirding Subnautica. It really is excellent.

    • MiniMatt says:

      We miss Pip, but a good supply of backup proxy Pips is some compensation.

    • Megatron says:

      Subnautica is spell-binding. A little grindy, as all crafting games are, and still rough around the edges graphically (though they’re being smoothed off as we near the 1.0 release – that last update worked wonders for the framerate) but the locales, fauna and sense of place are breathtaking. Nothing else feels like it, sounds like it or looks like it. Even the story is decently written, engaging and well-voiced (for the most part).

      Be prepared to hate the lack of in-game map, though, and to start taking decent notes as to where things are. You’ll get lost A LOT.

      • Nauallis says:

        There’s a story? I haven’t played it in about four months, but I never got to a point where any sort of narrative began, aside from some disjointed text logs.

        I hope the shonky controls have been improved as well, especially for a controller. This is the only game I can think of that has ever pushed me back to kb&m after trying a controller.

        That said, agreed that it’s a pretty great experience. I have a degree of thalassophobia, and this plays on that heavily, especially every time another mode of travel/basebuilding is unlocked. And that first time leaving the escape pod… I almost noped right out of the game.

      • Rainshine says:

        Or, be a terrible person like me and just use the console for coordinates. If the compass wasn’t something you had to make and then carry I might not have minded, but the beacons being a bit iffy when last I played didn’t help either. And there is a story, but it’s rather buried to find unless you’re very thorough, and don’t have problems with letting things chomp on you.

        But get Subnautica. If you already have Invisible, that is, because Invisible is the best game on this list.

      • Crafter says:

        I started playing and had a lot of fun.

        Maybe too much, suddenly I had to run in order to craft water and avoid dying of thirst.
        I failed, died and reappeared in my habitat ?

        That was so weird it threw me off.
        Should I just restart the game from scratch in this case ?

        In a survival game, it feels very weird to respawn without consequences.

        • Lars Westergren says:

          No need to restart. The only consequence is that you lose some of your current inventory. But if you want more hardcore you can play with permadeath.

          Great game.

          • Crafter says:

            After giving it some thought :

            – If I die during a firefight in an action game. It feels normal to restart this same fight. Depending on the style of the game it can feel a bit unfair to know the positions of my ennemies but not too much.

            – if I die during a survival game, well, I have failed at survival. Why bother collecting resources for food if it has no consequence on the gameplay ?

        • Megatron says:

          It’s a very gentle experience in a lot of ways. I like that it doesn’t punish you for dying, I think because it knows it’s tough on you in other ways.

          And I play without survival mode on. Having to feed and water my character always feels like pointless busywork to me unless survival is the absolute main focus of the game, which in Subnautica it doesn’t have to be. I just presume he is eating, drinking and pooping while I’m not playing and get on with enjoying the game’s exploration and crafting.

          Though WHERE he’s pooping is something I don’t want to think about.

  10. Blowfeld81 says:

    A few years back, the winter sales were a big thing, this year, after what has felt like non stop sales, winter sales are just:

    browsing my 100 items on wishlist…

    mhmm…again 50%….again 30%….

    ok….

    whatever…don’t need this.

    Let’s wait for the next sale, still enough to play.

    • GeoX says:

      I had exactly the same experience. This is just underwhelming as heck. But really, that’s a GOOD thing. I hardly need a bigger backlog.

      • Cyrus says:

        Underwhelming is definitely the word here. I will probably pick up Tomb Raider since it’s so cheap. Other than that, nah.

    • satan says:

      Yeah I’ve got my eye on The Long Dark, but besides that there aren’t many deals that scream out to me.

      • funderbolt says:

        Do it. I’ve never had so much fun huddling by a fire eating dog food with no pants on, because a wolf ate my pants.

      • TeePee says:

        If you’re looking at the Long Dark, if you pick up Humble Monthly this month, it’s £12, but you get The Long Dark to play immediately, and also get Dawn of War III and Quantum Break right away and a few other mystery games in early January.

  11. jakedrake says:

    Cool list, I hadn’t heard of 1/3 of these. Thanks, tempted to pick up Echo.

  12. Vandelay says:

    No Nier: Automata on sale? Disappointing, as it was one of the few games that I was likely to actually pick up. Also strange being that it has had deals in previous sales.

    Less surprising, but disappointing is no sale on Fallout 4 VR. As the regular game is only £10, an extra £30 for the VR-ed versions seems kind of ludicrous.

    • stringerdell says:

      I think they’re assuming that any early adopters of VR are rich, which does make sense as a good kit costs an obscene amount of money

  13. dethtoll says:

    I judge Christmas by how soon I’m over it. It’s usually around mid-October these days.

    All I want for Christmas is January 1st.

  14. Crafter says:

    I got :
    Dead Cells, Absolver, Ronin, wuppo and songbringer on GOG.

    Tempted by a couple more games but in all fairness I already have more games than I can play to and Doom (switch) occupies my evenings

  15. R. Totale says:

    Bah, sale fatigue.
    Some of the Steam award categories this year are hilariously vague.

  16. KingFunk says:

    Finally did as I was told and picked up Stories Untold at a pinch. Just finished the first two episodes and rather enjoyed the creepy IF vibe. Now I remember why I stick around here – so I’m encouraged to put epic fantasy aside every now and then and try something pleasantly alternative.

    A bit like that time I ended up playing for hours and blew my mind…

    EDIT: Oh I so failed at XHTML. The game was Save The Date but I think the link works…

    • caff says:

      Good choice on Stories Untold. In fact, it’s the best choice here. Do not stop playing until you get to the end, there’s a reason for it all!

  17. Darth Gangrel says:

    Only really want Deus Ex: Mankind Divided (and loads of other games, but they can wait), but I saw that it’s cheaper at greenmangaming than Steam, even despite (or because) Brexit.

    Shame that I can’t take part of their “new customer, 25 % off with code NEW25” offer or their “Holiday sale, 17 % off with code GMG17” offer for that game, since I’ve already bought a game long ago and thus ain’t a new customer anymore and the GMG17 code isn’t valid for DX: MD (“exclusions apply” and all that jazz).

  18. Cronstintein says:

    I opted for:
    Dark Souls 3 $14
    Salt and Sanctuary $7.19
    Supreme Commander: Forged Alliance $3.74
    And by far my most questionable choice: AssCreed Unity $12.

    • Crafter says:

      I hope you can find buddies to play with, SupCom is just awesome !
      I wish there could be a modern remake with some convenience (like automatic handling of the engineers .. who cares about managing those ? )

      I won’t question you for buying an asscreed game. I kinda like them. Enough to buy them when they are cheap enough a couple of years after their releases (the last one I played was the age of piracy one).
      If only Ubi could get the story together and learn some stuff from BOTW (actually a lot of stuff), they could be great games

  19. Person of Interest says:

    PuzzleQuest, John’s fourth favorite puzzle game of all time, is the cheapest it’s been in years. I think it’s 69p/99c.

    • TeePee says:

      Man, I remember Puzzle Quest. Amazingly fun little game, but one of the most egregious examples of cheating AI I’ve ever seen. Definitely worth sacrificing a mars bar for though.

  20. Kollega says:

    I want to nudge everyone towards X-Morph Defense. It’s a novel genre hybrid: mostly tower defense, but you can also use an aircraft in a twin-stick shooter fashion to defeat the enemies who got through. And the enemies will get through – the game isn’t easy at all. Each level requires a few tries before you can beat it. And the physics engine is simply amazing; you can collapse massive buildings and have them break apart procedurally, altering enemy attack paths, and when the action starts up, it’s just complete chaos (in the sense that planes falling out of the sky and crashing into gas reservoirs that go boom is an ordinary event). And the story/voice acting is just so wonderfully cheesy – like a version of Michael Bay’s Transformers that’s actually fun. I had tons of fun with it, and I’m pretty sure that others might, too.

  21. CMaster says:

    Infra is really neat, but it’s also quite odd.

    It’s clearly very, very inspired by Half Life. The sci-fi and shooting stuff gets replaced by conspiracy and taking pictures, respectively. But other than that it’s the same “wander through semi convincing locations with a clear purpose, solving somewhat ridiculous environmental puzzles to make your way forward”. Also, while chapter 1 is pretty good and varied, and Chapter 3 cranks up the drama, chapter 2 really outstays its welcome, being fairly long and *entirely* spent in underground tunnels with the same reused assets again and again.

  22. Bobtree says:

    Rogue Islands is $5. RPS review: link to rockpapershotgun.com

  23. abobo says:

    The Logic Puzzle Pack with all the ‘cells’ games (Hexcells, SquareCells, CrossCells) in it is on for peanuts — best puzzlebang for your puzzlebuck.

  24. Don Reba says:

    My wishlist is more a list of games I want to remember to play at some future point when I exhaust my backlog enough, and not games I would buy given enough incentive. So, I look at the 60% sale and shrug — I still have Hellblade , TToN, Road to Gehenna, and Fallout: New Vegas to finish.