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Budget Gaming: PC List #1

There has always been an argument over the value of a game.  Do you justify the value based on how long a game kept you busy, or the level of enjoyment you had during those hours?  What’s more valuable, a game that can give you hundreds of hours of enjoyment, or one that gives you just a few hours of the best experience you’ve had in awhile?  Well, that’s a matter of opinion, and varies from person to person, today we’re just going to look at what good games you can get on the cheap.  More specifically, games under thirty dollars, that are worth picking up on the PC.  These games are not listed in any particular order, and Free to Play games will not be listed as they deserve their own list.

10) FTL (Faster Than Light) / $9.99

Though this game can be purchased across multiple platforms, it originated as a Kickstarter project on the PC.  Faster Than Light is a rogue-like, tactical, space game where you are an omniscient captain in charge of your own ship.  The game picks up with you on the run from a rebel armada who want you dead before you can deliver “key information” to your fleet and save your homeworld.  FTL features simple yet deep mechanics that compliment a game that is far from easy.  You can quickly find yourself being blown to bits and back to the start even on the easiest difficulty but the game design is so well done that even after a tragic defeat you’re going to want to go back and try again.  Typically a playthrough is under two hours but the goal of the game isn’t so much to beat it but to go back again and again and see if you can do better than the last time.

9) Game Dev Tycoon / $9.99

Who knew making games could be so fun?  This business simulator puts you into the shoes of an independent game developer in the 1980’s.  Start with a shoestring budget in your garage with just a basic understanding of what it takes to make your first game and work your way up to the level of a big time developer similar to the likes of Valve.  Game Dev Tycoon features simplistic controls involving just a couple clicks or dragging some bars up and down to allocate your team’s resources and make your next game.  It isn’t so much about the specific details of making games that would bore most people, but the effort to find what your audience is and what they like.  What genre of game do you want to make?  What platform(s) is it going to be on?  Do you have to be a set age to play your game and what did you focus on in the development?  With each new game you’ll want to experiment and try to find the best way to make the most money with the least amount of investment while still making sure your fanbase is happy and growing.

8) Orion: Prelude / $0.99

Dinosaurs and guns, need I say more?  Orion: Prelude is an FPS based around shooting dinosaurs and though it may feature your traditional team deathmatch and similar modes they’re not the enjoyable part of this game for most people.  Instead it’s the the two horde modes, survival and conquest that are worth trying this game.  In survival you protect a generator for ten waves while purchasing weapons and upgrades, while in conquest you do the same thing but after each ten waves you move to the next location with each location allowing you to purchase different vehicles as well as weaponry.  Overall though the game doesn’t bring anything really new to the genre of horde based games it does it just as well as the others and only cost a very, very small fraction of the price.

7) Risk of Rain / $9.99

A side scrolling, action platformer, Risk of Rain is one of those games that can be fun and challenging for solo players but an absolute blast for a small group of friends!  You start out with a single playable character, the Commando, and your goal is to make it to your crashed ship.  You have to find a teleporter and clear the map of enemies before moving on to the next zone and the longer you take the more dangerous the enemies become.  This provides the constant struggle of, “Should I blast through this as quick as possible to keep the enemies weak, or do I take my time and try to find and purchase as many upgrades as possible?”  You’re going to die a lot in this game and have to start over and because the order of zones in which you visit is random, you can never be 100% prepared for what’s next.  However as you start to understand the layout of each zone and start unlocking more and more characters you will start to find yourself being able to beat enemies and bosses you were once having a lot of difficulty with and make it to the end more easily.

6) Towerfall Ascension / $14.99

Towerfall Ascension is a good way to make or break friendships.  This single-screen, platform-brawler, puts up to four players head to head in towers (hence the name) where the combat is all about jumping around and trying to make sure the few arrows you have hit their mark.  The mechanics are almost perfect and the gameplay is enticing.  One moment you’ll be accidentally shooting yourself with your own arrow and the next you’ll be jumping off the couch after bouncing an arrow across the map three times and into your target/friend.  It’s a lot of fun and a reminder that games don’t have to have much story or fancy graphics to be enjoyable, they just need to be good games.

5) Infested Planet / $14.99

Starship Troopers the video game.  This indie strategy game puts a few soldiers and a small base under your command and it is your job to push the enemy back, capture bases, and kill thousands upon thousands of alien bugs.  The gameplay is simple but gives you enough options and challenges to constantly keep you looking for the best tactic in any given situation.  If you enjoy facing difficult odds and finding a way to come out on top Infested Planet is for you.

4) Cities: Skylines $29.99

With the closing of Maxis Studios there was a large possibility that city builders would never be the same again.  Luckily Colossal Order was up to the massive task and delivered Cities: Skylines.  Functioning very similar to Maxis’ latest city builder, Cities: Skylines is the Simcity everyone wanted with the online features stripped away and a focus on single player mechanics.  On top of the usual city builder game mechanics Colossal Order introduces several micro management tools such as designating districts and setting policies as well as specializations.  Want to make sure an industrial zone takes full advantage of the woodland area?  Set the district to be forestry focused.  Want certain zones to have recreational use of Marijuana?  You can do that too and collect the taxes from the new industry.

3) Child of Light / $14.99

A beautiful game made within the UbiArt Engine, Child of Light is an RPG, platformer that follows a young princess on her adventure through a fantasy world on her quest to save her home from an unstoppable flood.  Though the platforming within the game is very straight forward the combat can be quite challenging and enjoyable on higher difficulties.  With the introduction of a time based, turn based, combat system it is not just a matter of doing damage to your enemies but making sure you can stop their attack before they stop yours.  The combat can also go quite in depth with the building of team members, their skillsets, and the Oculi (augmented crystals with buffs) that they use.

2) The Banner Saga / $19.99

A tactical RPG that follows a Viking-like tale where the sun has stopped moving and the Gods have died.  The world plunges into chaos and you must lead your caravan to safety.  Your choices will often decide who lives and who dies, typically without you being able to see who exactly will be the ones making it out alive on your first playthrough.  The combat is intense where your health is also representative of the damage you can do so the more you and your team get beaten down the less you can fight back.  You will get attached to characters and you will do everything you can to keep them alive and despite how hard you try, some will still die.  The Banner Saga is an epic tale you simply must experience and some of the best tactical combat created in years.

1) Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons / $14.99

Perhaps the only game on this list that highly recommends you play with a controller.  Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons is an emotional rollercoaster of a puzzler with a control scheme that will make the simplest of puzzles challenging, in a good way.  You play as two brothers, hence the title, who are on a quest to retrieve medicine from a magic tree in a far away land in order to save their dying father.  If played with a controller the brothers controls are split on either side meaning that one brother is controlled with the left side of the controller and the other brother is controlled with the right.  With this schematic you have to run, climb, build, and fight your way to your father’s cure.  Throughout the entire experience you will go through events meant to make you either feel proud of what you’ve done or very bad and this happens constantly.  Though the game is only about two hours long and offers very little reason to play the game again outside of achievements, the game is well made and well written despite the characters speaking a language you will at no point begin to understand.

Conclusion

Did you like the list?  What do you think about the games on it?  What do you want to see in the next one?  Let us know in the comments below and stick with GamerBolt for all your gaming news, reviews, and more.

Dakota B.

Dakota Barrett is an indie game developer and journalist. His goals are to create high quality experiences and supports those that do as well.

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