On the 30th March last year, I started Cheap PC Gaming. There have now been 39 instalments in the series, which means I missed 13 weeks but hey, it’s difficult to find a game that I can play over the weekend every week. The column has spanned old and new, indie and published, unknown and renown, there were even browser games involved at one point. I’ve covered FPS, point and click, platformer, puzzle, strategy, RPG, music games, and even at one point a whole gaming platform in the form of OnLive.
That’s a lot of games. I’m also aware that it’s no longer ‘Cheap PC Gaming’ if you go ahead and buy them all so, to help out and to celebrate an entire year of CPCG, I’ve put together a top ten of all the games I’ve covered so far. This is the best of the best so far, each of these have my own personal seal of approval (or they would if I actually had one) and come as close as possible to guaranteed fun (allowing for your own personal preferences, of course).
10. Dwarf Fortress
Were it a perfect world, Dwarf Fortress would have a stellar interface, advanced tutorials to help newcomers into the game and it’d be further up this list. This, however, is a flawed world, so DF has a rather strange, awkward UI with which you must, at first, struggle to achieve the results you desire – up to and including using the likes of Dwarf Therapist to make controlling your dwarves that much easier.
Regardless, DF is one of the most in depth, complex and rewarding strategy games to ever see the light of day. Taking indirect control over a group of dwarves, you must build, maintain and protect a fortress, tackling problems like alcohol drought, necromancer invasions and monsters made out of vomit. Spend the time learning how to play the game and you’ll get many times that back in gameplay. The recently updated adventure mode is a unique take on a roguelike and a great diversion, too. Oh, it’s completely free and still subject to content updates for the foreseeable future, just don’t forget; losing is fun!
9. Recettear: An Item Shop’s Tale
Part dungeon crawler, part item trader, all Japanese, Recettear is a thoroughly strange and unique game. Mostly a trading game, you’ll be spending your time trading, buying and looting items in order to turn a profit so you can pay back the debt left to you by your apparently financially retarded father. As anime as a game can get without a filler episode every 40 minutes, Recettear is certainly not for you if you’re not a fan of the style.
The price point is perhaps a little steep at £13, but it’s on sale every once in a while and all elements of the game are great fun provided the anime aesthetic and capitalism is your kind of thing.
8. SuperCrateBox[drop]SuperCrateBox is a fast-paced arcade game that revolves around you picking up crates (or boxes, not sure) whilst shooting and avoiding a load of walking skulls. True to its arcade aesthetic, it’s a game clearly aimed at earning high scores and mockingly comparing them to your friends’ high scores. A cheesy line I recommend is ‘I said high scores, that’s a medium score at best.’
Coming with numerous characters, weapons, stages and a mode to unlock, there’s plenty of content if unlocking is your fetish. Personally, I prefer laughing at my friends’ low scores, but whatever works for you. It’s just a shame it’s so expensi-no wait, it’s completely free on Windows and OSx. Excellent. It’s also available on iOS for £1.49 if you want to play it whilst you’re on a train or something.
7. Jolly Rover
Jolly Rover is a pirate-based point and click adventure filled with dry humour, brilliantly written dialogue and the strange puzzles that are indigenous to point and click games. I enjoyed Jolly Rover purely due to the entertainment value. I laughed out loud a few times, I rolled my eyes at bad puns but still guffawed like an idiot, and I chuckled at the few treasured double entendres that cropped up. The dialogue is top notch all the way through the game and the puzzles are exactly what you might expect from the genre – that is, utterly nonsensical.
Thankfully, you’re given a rhyming parrot that will happily give you hints in exchange for a cracker or even spell out the answer if you’re persistent. This gave me a free pass when I needed it (crackers are ridiculously easy to find) to simply carry on and smile at Jolly’s dry observations as he almost breaks the fourth wall. The game is £3.99 and took me 4 hours to get through it. There’s a lot of stuff to collect if you’re into that and I didn’t even come close to finding it all. I could say ‘you’d be crackers to miss it!’ but then I’d probably have to walk the plank.
6. Kerbal Space Program
Space is a source of wonderment for me and a very large chunk of the population, from young children to scientists. Whilst those scientists have very powerful telescopes and lots of funding to look at space, however, all I’ve got are my glasses and it doesn’t matter how long I hold them like binoculars, the effect just isn’t the same. Thankfully, Kerbal Space Program lets me go into space on my computer, flying the rocket myself and, perhaps even more exciting, build it, too.
And that’s pretty much all I can say about KSP. That’s all it is right now – you build a rocket (in a pseudo-realistic manner) and fly it into space. You can land on the moon, go into orbit, explode violently, whatever you like. The game is still in alpha-funding at the moment and at around £10 (it’s $15) you might consider the price to be a bit steep, but the game is being updated constantly and you get to build a rocket and fly it to the moon. Sinatra would be ecstatic.