Steam's Summer Sale is here!

Opinion
June 23, 2016 by ZAM Staff

We pick out the best Steam Summer Sale games you actually are likely to play once you buy them.

Valvemas comes but twice a year, as they say, and right now Steam's Summer Sale is lighting up your social media timelines with eager, anxious buyers and more % and $ marks than you can shake a stick at. We've decided to pare the list down to a few choice favorites, the ones we highly recommend you pick up if they aren't already in your library!

Danielle Riendeau, Reviews Editor

Grandia II - (50% off, $9.99)

Danielle says: Grandia II is one of the finest (and most beloved) JRPGs from the Dreamcast era. While the once-innovative combat may not feel as fresh as it did back in 2000, it’s still a colorful, beautiful, rock-solid adventure across a massive fantasy world. We can get into a fight about whether this or Skies of Arcadia was better later -- this game is a steal at ten bucks.

Surgeon Simulator 2013 - (80% off, $1.99, or $2.59 for Anniversary Edition)

Danielle says: Surgeon Simulator will not teach you anything about medicine, but it will teach you EVERYTHING you need to know about Donald Trump’s physical makeup. Ok, you need to spring for the Anniversary Edition for the Trump stuff, but surely, 59 cents is a small price to pay to understand the depressing complexities of American politics in 2016.

But really, Surgeon Simulator is a bananas, goofy, ridiculously fun game that works even better as a spectator sport.

Surgeon Simulator 2013 Surgeon Simulator 2013 doesn't teach you the right way to use a hammer either.

Kris Ligman, News Editor

Danganronpa and Danganronpa 2 Bundle - (34% off, $39.67)

Kris says: Part Battle Royale and part Phoenix Wright, the premise of both Danganronpa games is simple: a class of high school students are trapped and must kill each other in order to escape. But they can’t be caught in the act, or they’ll face trial and execution at the hands of their peers!! Listen, the games are as over-the-top and melodramatic as they come, but the characters are great and both games offer the original Japanese language track in addition to an English dub option. Each Danganronpa is also on sale individually for about $20, but trust me, if you play one of them you’ll want the other anyway.

Saints Row Ultimate Franchise Pack - (75% off, $12.49)

Kris says: If you’ve written off the Saints Row series as just another open world crime franchise, this is your opportunity to make amends. This pack gets you Saints Row 2, Saints Row the Third, Saints Row IV, Saints Row: Gat Out of Hell, and Pretty Much Literally Every Add-on Ever Released For All Of Those, for less than the price of a just-OK sandwich at a greasy diner somewhere. More importantly, however, Saints Row isn’t just some Grand Theft Auto clone with more purple: it’s a thoughtfully constructed reducto ad absurdum of an entire genre of games, delivered with a lucidity and great ear for music most titles can only aspire to. If you don’t believe me, start with the fourth one and work your way back from there. It’s completely worth it. Did I mention you get superpowers, and there's a whole riff on the 1986 Transformers film?

The Saints Row series also has a hella diverse cast and the most character customization options you've ever seen. The Saints Row series also has a hella diverse cast and some of the greatest character customization options we've ever seen.

Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon - (50% off, $7.49)

Kris says: Narratively and thematically distinct from the rest of the Far Cry series, Blood Dragon is basically an eight-hour ASMR trip if you really like neon, synthesizers, and glow-in-the-dark tigers. You play as a Michael Biehn archetype (voiced by actual Michael Biehn) tasked with one-man-army-ing an evil mastermind’s evil island base, and there’s a separate button just for flipping things off with your shiny cyborg arm. If you ever wanted to mess around in a Far Cry engine without worrying too hard about the narrative or setting, this is the one for you.

SOMA - (50% off, $14.99)

Kris says: This is the horror game for people who want more out of horror than blood, guts, and jump scares; the science fiction game for people who want even a sliver of the same thoughtfulness we admire in the best SF novels and films. SOMA is about story, setting, and extrapolating a situation from a specific set of conditions. If you’re no good at horror games, install the Wuss Mode mod to make the enemies non-hostile and explore the game at your own pace -- it’s developer-approved and endorsed! Lead writer Thomas Grip set out to author something that was, first and foremost, a compelling exploration of his themes, with gameplay as a secondary consideration. It’s not for everyone, but if you’ve been looking for something that puts its narrative money where its mouth is, you could scarcely do better.

Don't worry, SOMA's plenty spooky even without hostiles. Don't worry, SOMA's plenty spooky even without things trying to kill you.

Laura Michet, Editor in Chief

Darkest Dungeon - (40% off, $14.99) 

Laura says: You’ve probably had this one recommended to you before, since all games writers love it to death, but Darkest Dungeon is a genuinely wonderful turnbased RPG where you spend your vulnerable miserable party-members like human garbage in an attrition-based assault on a number of truly horrible dungeons. The art looks like someone kidnapped Hellboy creator Mike Mignola and forced him to draw all my favorite shit. This game has incredible style and is incredibly challenging -- and it’s rewarding as hell to slowly, slowly figure out.

Banished - (60% off, $6.79)

Laura says: Banished can get hard. It’s a city-builder, but instead of building a sparkling metropolis, you will build a town full of dirt-farming medieval peasants who must claw themselves back from the brink every time the snow falls. Banished is about survival, not triumph -- though on some difficulty levels you will find it quite easy to make a sprawling town that actually feeds itself. I love Banished for the moments of survival-zen you get when things go your way -- but I also love it for the soul-crushing way it punishes my peasant hubris. (Tip: try actually growing enough food to feed people. It is a major advantage to have food, turns out.)

Don't Starve Together: it's like Tim Burton, with less twee Tim Burton shit. Don't Starve Together: it's like Tim Burton, with less twee Tim Burton shit.

Don’t Starve Together - (35% off, $9.74, or $15.90 for the Mega Pack) 

Laura says: You may be aware that Klei’s Don’t Starve is a super duper great 2D survival game. Don’t Starve Together is the multiplayer co-op version. It’s a very, very, very good multiplayer port. If you get your shit together, explore fast enough, choose the right resources to exploit, and avoid getting your ass kicked by all those scribbly monsters hiding in the woods, you and your friends will feel like God Damn Geniuses. (There’s a Don’t Starve Mega Pack on sale right now which actually has every flavor of/expansion to Don’t Starve in it for only $15.90, which is only $0.91 more expensive than regular base-game singleplayer Don’t Starve outside of a sale. If Don’t Starve Together looks cool to you, or if you’re buying the game for a buddy so they’ll play with you, I’d spring for the big pack.)

Battleblock Theater - (80% off, $2.99)

Laura says: Battleblock Theater is a singleplayer and co-op platformer from Behemoth, the folks behind Castle Crashers. It is such a profoundly bizarre and frenzied pile of eccentric mechanics, animation, and voiceover that I really can’t describe it to you in just a paragraph, but take my word for it: it’s brilliant, and the Voiceover Guy who narrates the entire game to you is kind of worth the price of admission on his own. I played this game immediately after it came out, and back then it had terrible netcode. I haven’t checked up on it since, but at $2.99 and with the option for local co-op up to 4 players, this game is so much of a good time for so little money I can hardly believe it.

The Beginner’s Guide - (40% off, $5.99) 

Laura says: The Beginner’s Guide is an extremely short game that tells an extremely good story through a series of experimental games. They’re all described with detailed, personal narration provided by “Davey Wreden,” a person who claims to know the secretive developer who developed these games. “Davey Wreden” is also the name of the developer who made the game The Beginner’s Guide. When the game came out last year, some players raised an uproar because they could not decide whether the story is real or not. Look: TBG is definitely a narrative experiment, and it’s quite interesting. If you’ve ever wanted to see a good storyteller use level design in fun and useful and brain-expanding ways, check this out. (And now that it’s discounted to only $6, this ultra-short game might now seem a lot more appealing to extremely cash-strapped players.)

The Beginner's Guide is worth a second look now that the hot takes have cooled off. The Beginner's Guide is worth a second look now that the hot takes have cooled.

What are your favorite finds from the Steam Summer Sale? Tell us in the comments below!