Steam's Autumn Sale has begun, and slashed prices litter the ground like so many soggy fallen leaves. It's sales season from now until the middle of January, and our wallets are under siege. RPS is here to help pick out the best of the bunch, and without leaving your bank account completely pillaged. You can find the official list of games on sale here, ranked by how well they're selling. There'll be more picks to come later, but for now, I've got a handful of personal recommendations for you all below, plus some tips on where to look outside of Steam.
As we're in the run-up to Game Of The Year ceremony season, Steam are assembling their user-generated nominations. Every game's page on the store provides the choice to nominate it in a variety of categories, listed here. I'd not be surprised to see the likes of Warframe or No Man's Sky in the Labour Of Love category, but I'm most curious what VR Game Of The Year turns out to be. I've got some unusual picks for this year's best, but you'll have to wait a while longer to hear those. But until then, here's some budget-priced picks to start you off, most of them off the beaten path.
The Void Rains Upon Her Heart, by Veyeral Games - 35% off, £3.76/5.19/$5.19 - Don't let the flowery title and talk of solving your problems with love put you off. This is a bullet hell boss-rush shmup with light roguelike elements, adaptive difficulty that should scale down even to genre newcomers, and an intriguing story about alien fairy-things with depression. Can't get more indie than that. It's still technically in early access, hence the relatively minor discount, but it has more bosses and features than many other 'complete' shooters thrice the price.
Battlestar Galactica: Deadlock by Black Lab Games - 60% off, £11.99/€14.79/$15.99 - worth a nod as a labour-of-love in my opinion. This Battlestar Galactica strategy game was a little lightweight at launch, but multiple expansions (the most recent not discounted yet) and major patches adding game-changing new elements on the regular has made this the best BSG game available. Granted, there's not too many good ones out there, but it's just about muscled out the fan-made Diaspora as my favourite.
The Magic Circle by Question - 75% off, £3.74/€4.99/$4.99 - I was late to the party on this one (it came out in 2015, my backlog is the stuff of legends), but at this price it's hard to go wrong. A clever, introspective look at game development, wrapped up in a pseudo-immersive-sim puzzle format. Your goal is to help save a vaporware game from its developers own egos by usurping them with the help of an entity from within the game itself. It's all a bit Reboot meets The Beginners Guide, but with some entertainingly free-form puzzles to solve by assigning stolen traits to NPCs.
Deep Sixed by Little Red Dog Games - 40% off, £6.17/€6.78/$7.79 - Become captain of the galaxy's worst spaceship, on a barely-funded suicide mission to pay off your own debt or die trying. Part roguelike, part point-and-click puzzler, part crisis management simulator. You dash around the various chambers of the ship (presented almost like scenes from a later Space Quest game), fixing systems, tuning lasers, trying to complete missions and avoiding getting humped to death by space-whales. It's like you're really Miles O'Brien, Star Trek's most long-suffering engineer.
That'll get you started. Our Katharine - unstoppable bargain-hunting fiend that she is - has already assembled some great deals over in her big Best Black Friday PC gaming deals mega hub. I notice that Assassin's Creed Odyssey is significantly cheaper there, along with a lot of other big-ticket games. Far Cry 5 is a couple quid cheaper outside of Steam, Monster Hunter: World too. Still, Steam is far ahead of the competition on some games - Valkyria Chronicles 4 for £25/€30/$30 catches my eye. Shop around - with so many stores jockeying for position, a little virtual legwork goes a long way.
Happy bargain-hunting, folks, and remember: Limit your budget. Don't impulse buy. Don't hoard games for a 'rainy day' that will almost certainly never come (or you'll end up with a backlog like mine), and share any particular gems you find, eh wot?
The Steam Autumn sale runs until Wednesday, November 27th at 6pm GMT.