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In a world so full of games, it’s hard for us as enthusiasts to decide what to spend our hard earned cash on. With every AAA title out there costing us $60 plus a fee for a season pass or premium content, you end up only being able to buy one game at a time, and if you hate it you’re out of luck until your next paycheck. That’s why with a little help from the internet, I can give you a great list of games that won’t break your wallet, while at the same time giving you that fulfillment from gameplay and story that you always want in your next gaming endeavor. Here are some Damn Good Deals for your gaming pleasure.

 


 

FTL banner

Price: $9.99 (USD)

FTL is one of those games that just keeps you saying “one more time and I’ll have it!” This 2-D top-down space ship simulator really is something special. It lets you pick your ship, your crew, your weapons, and many other minor (yet still important) details, and go on a mission to outrun the rebel fleet in order to deliver vital information to your allies. You must travel through several sectors, each one randomly generated, sometimes fighting bandits to rescue allies, and sometimes flying through dangerous nebulae in order to slow down your pursuers. Each time you die (and you will die a lot), you learn something else about the game that you didn’t know before, and that really allows you to come up with an infinite number of usable builds for your ships, each one better than the last.

Boarding parties can really be a pain!

Part of the beauty of this game is that you are in complete control of your crew and your ship. Is there a fire in the engine compartment? Get your crew out of there, shut the doors, and vent the air to put out the fire. Cant vent the air because someone sabotaged your door controls? Leave your crew in and order them to douse the fire, while the rest of your men try to battle off the boarding party that just beamed into your shield control room.

These kinds of scenarios are what makes FTL special. If you come up to a store that is selling the weapon you’ve been wanting, you must first have enough scrap to purchase it, then you have to ensure that you have enough excess power to even make the weapon fire. If not, don’t worry. You’ll probably come upon another store later, if you aren’t blown to bits before then. If you are a fan of space combat, heavy strategy, and dying a lot, this game is definitely a game that you should consider picking up for $10.

 

Now available on Steam!

 


 

papers please

Price: $9.99 (USD)

“Congratulations. The October labor lottery is complete. Your name was pulled. For immediate placement, report to the The Ministry of Admission at Grestin Border Checkpoint. An apartment will be provided for you and your family in East Grestin. Expect a Class-8 dwelling.”

As you can see, the paperwork gets… intense.

Glory to Arstotzka! Who would have thought that I would absolutely love a game about doing paperwork? I know, I know, it sounds too good to be true, but it isn’t. Papers, Please is a wonderful title that takes time, patience, and a good eye. The country of Arstozka is finally allowing people across the border, and you are in charge of checking their papers. Families are being united and people are coming to make new lives for themselves, but not is all as it seems. There are those who wish to do harm to your glorious motherland, and there are even those who just don’t seem to have their papers in order. You want into the city? Denied! You need to have your passport ready. You are here  because you want work to support your family? Denied! This photo doesn’t look like you. You are here to meet your daughter whom you haven’t seen in twenty years? Denied! Your identification card has a typo.

Papers, Please gameplay

Someone is trying to bribe their way in. With boobies!

Situations like these are not uncommon in Papers, Please, and the real fun comes when you have to deal with your own family. Every person you correctly allow into the city gives you money to support your family at home. You have to pay for food, shelter, and medicine so that they can stay healthy. If you incorrectly allow someone into the city, you will be given a warning and if you do it too many times, you can be terminated.

While all of this seems like it would be incredibly boring, what really makes this game great is the underlying stories of those coming into the city. One of the toughest moments for me was when I passed through an elderly woman who had all her papers in order, and then the man behind her (her husband) had a discrepancy on his passport. Now, allowing him through would result in a pay cut for myself, and with a sick and dying child at home, I desperately needed medicine for him. At the same time, this old man obviously had no intention of causing any harm in the city, and his wife was already through the wire and waiting for him. I finally had to decide that my child’s life was more important than his and I denied him. He turned and left without a word and I didn’t see him at the station again. A bit dark, but a good source for the feels, if you ask me.

Papers, Please is a really fun title, and it really is very challenging, especially in the later stages of the game. While unconventional, it’s worth checking out, especially for only $10.

Now available on Steam!

 


 

To the Moon banner

Price: $9.99 (USD)

While most games favor fast paced gameplay and Michael Bay explosions to the max, To the Moon is a title that follows a very different path. I understand that many gamers are very turned off by the idea of “artsy”  games or story driven games, but this one is something that I think every gamer should at least try.

The artwork in To the Moon is beautiful

A man’s dying wish is to go to the moon. For us this sort of thing would be impossible, however there are people in this game world who can use a very handy machine and change someone’s memories just before death in order to “grant a wish” of sorts, thus putting a person at ease before their dying breath. The journey from beginning to end is filled with exploration, joy, and heartbreak. While I did wish for a bit more of the “red pill, blue pill” discussion from this one, it does a good job of helping you understanding that the story is about this man’s choice and what he wants, not whether or not the player would make the same decision. Coming from a very manly man, this game has all the feels and then some. With less action and more story, for $10, To the Moon is an experience that you won’t soon forget.
Also, if it doesn’t make you cry you are completely and utterly heartless and I pity the black hole that it your soul.

Now available on Steam!

 


 

Price: FREE (USD)

Strike the earth! Dwarf Fortress has been around since 2006, and since then it has been an absolute favorite of mine. With a steep learning curve and an unforgiving landscape, this game can really throw you for a loop on your first time around, but once you get the hang of it, the possibilities are limitless.

The default tile set can be tough to learn

While immensely difficult, it is also immensely immersive, and gives the player almost total freedom to do as he or she pleases. Dwarf Fortress, which is available for free, is a lot like an RTS version of Minecraft, though DF was released in 2006. You are the pseudo-leader of a group of dwarves who have set out to establish themselves in their new home. In a massive randomly generated world, complete with historical events, figures, and locations, the possibilities of where you could end up are limitless.

Now I realize that I said “pseudo” commander, and here’s why. Each dwarf in the fortress (of your design) has their own set of emotional profiles, feelings, thoughts, wishes, and even fears. You may designate for a tunnel to be dug in order to create a lavish hallway in which your royalty will live, but the dwarf in charge of mining might be in the middle of a personal project that will literally drive him insane if he doesn’t complete it, and he’ll get to your tunnel when he damn well pleases. It’s a game where you are in control, but you almost kind of aren’t at the same time. It’s very unique.

Custom tile sets are available to look pretty!

At one point I had a massive titan attacking my bad-ass mountaintop fortress (as opposed to a bad ass-mountaintop fortress). My guards were still wounded or dead from a recent goblin invasion and were in no shape to fight, so I began preparing for an evacuation of the fortress. When I was about to begin the exodus, a lone war-dog who was chained up outside the gates broke free and assaulted the titan in defense of his home. After a long hard battle, the dog miraculously emerged victorious and the titan fell. The canine limped inside the gates and joined a pack of his fellow hounds, blending in perfectly. He was never to be found again.

I began immediate work on a statue to commemorate his bravery, and it was to be placed on the highest peak of the highest mountain. The interesting thing about artwork like statues and carving in this game is that you have no control over what the statue is of. It could literally be of anything the game decides it wants it to be. My statue? From gold, the image of a lone wolf, standing victorious among fallen foes. Now that was awesome.

dwarf fortress blood

All that red? Why yes, that is blood. When goblins attack!

All of this is completely random, mind you. When I say anything can happen, I really mean that anything can happen. The graphics leave a lot to be desired because of the hardware intensive background calculations, but you can always download tile sets to make it look prettier if you want.

If you are interested in playing something truly fun and having endless possibilities at your fingertips, this is the game for you. Keep in mind, however, that this game is very difficult, and is not for the faint of heart.

Download it for free and start digging!

 

About John Mann

is a 22 year old student at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. With a major in English and a minor in Secondary Education, he will one day teach the next generation important skills for life. His roots are in his two favorite systems, the SNES and the N64, though he plays most games on his PC. John is married and lives in Jacksonville, AR with his wife Rachel.

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