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Hidden Gems of the Steam Holiday Sale

Frank Streva
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With all the emphasis on the daily deals, flash sales, and community votes, it can be easy to forget that almost the entire Steam catalogue is also on sale. Indeed, according to a little blurb hidden near the bottom of the front page, some 6200 games are currently on sale. It's with this in mind that I decided to highlight some hidden gems. These are all pretty obscure games and they are all ridiculously cheap, with most of them being under $3. While many of these games are pretty old, the usual caveat of Steam sales still applies: wait to see if it appears on a daily/community/flash deal, otherwise buy on the last day of the sale.




Ring Runner: Flight of the Sages

Price: $2.49, Demo Available


Ring Runner is a sadly overlooked top-down space combat RPG from last year with a surprisingly well-written and funny story. The first portion of the campaign drags on a bit longer then it needs to, but it eventually opens up and lets you explore the galaxy. Besides the story, the game is full of side activities and multiplayer modes, including the Dota-like Space Defense League.




The Puppygames Ultrabundle

Price: $9.99


You really can't go wrong with any game from Puppygames, so buy them all. Puppygames is one of the few indie studios that takes the retro pixel aesthetic and really brings it into the modern era with tons of flashy neon colors and effects. Revenge of the Titans is usually considered their best title, but I'm really fond of Droid Assault myself.




E.Y.E: Divine Cybermancy

Price: $0.99, Demo Available


I've heard E.Y.E. described as Deus Ex's really strange eastern European cousin, and that description is pretty much spot on. It's weird, really complicated, and downright clunky in places, but still incredibly rewarding if you can decipher its arcane mechanics.




Intrusion 2

Price: $2.99, Demo Available


What Intrusion 2 lacks in polish it more than makes up for with character, charm, and really cool boss fights and vehicle segments. I still can't decide if the physics in this game are really wonky or downright hilarious. Let's go with both.




Marlow Briggs and the Mask of Death

Price: $0.99


Marlow Briggs is a B-game that revels in how utterly dumb it is. Even despite being such an obviously low budget title, the combat is surprising solid and responsive with a good variety of weapons, attacks, and enemies. I went through the whole game grinning like an idiot, and it's a travesty that this gem didn't get more attention.




Pineapple Smash Crew

Price: $1.99


Pineapple Smash Crew is a top-down shooter reminiscent of Cannon Fodder with some really great chiptune music by Syphus. The game emphasizes liberal grenade usage as you blast your way through a series of randomly generated derelict spaceships full of aliens and robots. There isn't a whole lot to the game, but for $2 there are certainly worse ways to spend an afternoon.




Unholy Heights

Price: $0.99, Demo Available


A rare example of a Japanese indie PC game being sold in English on Steam, Unholy Heights is an incredibly charming and relatively relaxing mash up of tower defense and management sim. The Devil has retired and spent his savings on a run-down apartment complex for monsters. Build up and improve your apartment while defending against attacks from adventuring heroes looking for glory and loot.




Nation Red

Price: $2.49


Nation Red is easily one of the best horde mode zombie games on the market. The game is still being supported with occasional updates, and over the years it has acquired a gigantic number of weapons and perks. If all you want to do is blow apart zombies with miniguns and explosives, Nation Red needs to be in your game library.




Depths of Fear: Knossos

Price: $2.03


I wouldn't call Depths of Fear a particularly good game, but I somehow found it strangely compelling. It feels almost like playing in a Ray Harryhausen monster movie. The animations of the monsters are hilariously terrible by today's standards, everything feels janky, the bizarre synth music sounds wildly out of place, and the whole game feels like watching a low budget horror movie on SyFy while in a fever dream. Definitely not for everyone, but it has managed to build a small cult following despite its questionable quality.




Space Pirates and Zombies

Price: $1.99, Demo Available


SPAZ is another great top-down space combat RPG set in a randomly generated galaxy populated by various factions you can choose to work with or against. You start with little more than a transport ship and a few mining vessels outfitted with basic weapons and gradually build up a small armada of fully customizable warships and fighters. The sequel is due out in a few months, so now is as good a time as any to give the original SPAZ a shot.




One Way Heroics

Price: $0.87


Rounding things out is One Way Heroics, the cheapest game on my list. Another Japanese indie game, One Way Heroics is a roguelite where you have to keep moving right to keep ahead of a creeping darkness approaching from the left side of the screen. There is also a pretty unique approach to random level generation based on what you name the dimension you choose to visit at the start of your run.


There are so many other cool, obscure indie games being sold at ridiculous prices right now, but sadly I have to stop this list at some point. I highly encourage anyone with a few bucks to spare to do a little digging away from the main page. You never know what awesome deals you'll stumble across for games you may never have heard of before.

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