2017 Steam Summer Sale Top Picks

Summer: a time for sitting inside your stuffy apartment, calling multiple HVAC specialists to fix your air conditioner, and, of course, buying lots of video games at unbelievably low prices during Steam’s seasonal sale. We here at Crossfader know the hard way that maintaining an up-to-date video game library is as life-affirming as it is a daunting financial feat, which is why we want to help you unearth the tastiest truffles at a fraction of their actual worth.

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DEADLY PREMONITION: THE DIRECTOR’S CUT – $24.99 → $2.49

Hidetaka Suehiro, AKA Swery65, might not be the most recognizable name in gaming, but he wields a personal brand that rivals even that of Hideo Kojima or Suda51. Swery’s keystone work DEADLY PREMONITION is, among other things, the most critically contentious video game to ever be released. A serial killer is murdering young women in the quiet town of Greenvale, and FBI Investigator Francis York Morgan (but please, everyone calls him York) has to bring them to justice. It’s a premise ripped right out of TWIN PEAKS, but unlike so many other titles that owe their conception to the television phenomenon, DEADLY PREMONITION is much more interested in the surrealism, not the soap, surrounding Laura Palmer’s murder. The fusion of Lynchian imagery with the off-putting, out-of-touch Americana prevalent in Japanese survival horror is as disturbing as it is quirky, trending closer to the new TWIN PEAKS than the original. DEADLY PREMONITION’s idiosyncrasies don’t end with the visuals, however: every minor interaction in York’s daily routine, from shaving each morning to using the turn signals in his car, requires deliberate player input and can yield tangible in-game effects. Calling the gameplay unconventional would be an understatement, but make no mistake: DEADLY PREMONITION is as technically unique as it is flawed. The combat is clunky, environment textures are dull, and the squirrels emit stock monkey noises when shot. Whether those flaws are part of the appeal, however, is entirely up to you. [Ed Dutcher]

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HITMAN GO – $7.99 → $1.99

It’s honestly a no-brainer to purchase HITMAN: GO if you are already a proponent of the game series that spawned it. There’s something endearing about having a pocket app version of the same game readily available at all times, but it turns out that HITMAN: GO is worth your hard earned wads of cash on your desktop computer as well. The charm of the long-running assassin series has always been its cool factor, and what HITMAN: GO may lack in Bond-chic style and the series’s trademark screwball, play-it-straight humor, it more than makes up for in challenging tactical gameplay. It is a quasi-chess game, aptly played on a virtual board game with accompanying figurines. It makes sense too, because HITMAN has always been somewhat of a game of chess. The concept is simple, and the gameplay gets exceedingly difficult, but never to the point of frustration. HITMAN has always been known for being a series that is rather easy to play but hard to master, and HITMAN: GO rolls with this, delivering in-game challenges that ramp up the difficulty level, allowing you to navigate through countless exotic locales, trespassing guards (lethally or non-lethally) and making your way to your final target. It may not be as big or ambitious as the enormous episodic entry that made our Top 10 list in 2016, but for anyone that’s a fan of strategic puzzlers, HITMAN: GO is not only well worth your money, but an experience that will pay off in spades down the line: trust me, being the guy who can solve these kind of puzzles has to pay off in the workforce someday? Right . . . ? Right . . . ??? [Sergio Zaciu]

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LIFE IS STRANGE – $19.99 → $4.99

Where Telltale tightly holds our hands in pseudo-moralistic, paint-by-numbers dilemmas, Dontnod gives us a profound look at what we can and cannot change in LIFE IS STRANGE. Filled to the brim with verisimilitudinous charm, including an undeniably unique art style and the best and worst of contemporary high school life (scenes, memes, and leafy greens), LIFE IS STRANGE puts you into the shoes of the timid Max Caulfield as she returns to her childhood home of Arcadia Bay, Oregon to attend Blackwell Academy before pursuing a college photography major. When witnessing her former best friend-turned-punk rocker, Chloe Price, have her life threatened, Max suddenly gains the ability to briefly turn back time. Even with giving players free reign to navigate high school life with a rewind button and peeling back every last memorable character and social situation to their sincerest core, not every predicament has an easy way out. The game tackles suicide, drug abuse, love, devotion, and loss without providing any obvious answers or an inch of pretension. As one of the most celebrated games in recent memory (including having its praises sung on Crossfader before), LIFE IS STRANGE has clearly touched its audience on an impressively deep level and truly is an experience worth having. No amount of words can do it justice. Even if story-driven games (or games in general) aren’t your thing, life is stranger than you can ever fathom. [Alec Larios]

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MAJESTY GOLD HD – $9.99  → $2.49

My childhood! While browsing through Steam the other day I was struck with a sudden extreme sense of reminiscence, and somehow managed to pull the name MAJESTY out from deep time and space in the shattered mires of my mind. The original game released nearly two decades ago in 2000, I became acquainted with MAJESTY GOLD EDITION, which included “The Northern Expansion” pack, around 2004/2005. A child of parents staunchly reticent in their stance towards video games, whenever I could sneak away to the computer, MAJESTY would occupy my time, and booting the ol’ girl up proved to be an enjoyable trip down memory lane. And a larger sense of appreciation for what it was! MAJESTY combines real-time strategy, construction and management simulation, and elements of role-playing games for an immersive fantasy experience. You play as the omnipresent Sovereign, given several different scenarios for which you’re tasked with ensuring the continued well-being of your kingdom. The interesting and somewhat innovative part, if you ask me, is that the game is narratively sound enough to have the scenarios feels like storylines more appropriately suited for a traditional RPG. I still remember to this day quests such as “Elven Treachery,” where a staggering sense of moral ambiguity pervades as you’re tasked with essentially committing a genocide of the elven race after a perceived political threat. However, since your only ability is to choose what kind of buildings to construct where, an undercurrent of unique strategy is developed as to what theoretical type of settlement will produce the autonomous units that are most likely to do your bidding the best. As a wee lad I remember just spamming cheat codes I copped from a nascent Yahoo search bar to make myself unstoppable, but as an adult, I was impressed with the level of challenge presented, never enough to make things frustrating but always enough to keep things interesting. For the price of an extra-large soda, I would highly encourage you to join me in my rediscovery of the realm! [Thomas Seraydarian]

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TUROK: DINOSAUR HUNTER – $20.00 → $5.00

First person shooters are filled with superhuman gunslingers, but Turok defies belief. He can survive 1,000-foot drops, hold his breath underwater indefinitely, and careens through the world with such incredible speed that he controls more like a race car than a man. TUROK: DINOSAUR HUNTER released on the Nintendo 64 back in 1997, and just like that year’s GOLDENEYE 007, concessions had to be made for the FPS to function on consoles (remember, this was a time before the advent of dual analogue sticks). Turok automatically “aims” at the nearest enemy, meaning all the player has to worry about is continuously running and gunning. This was a necessity for TUROK to even work on the N64, but with Night Dive’s recent HD remaster, which can be played with mouse and keyboard, the game takes on an entirely new life. TUROK is even more blisteringly fast than ever, even putting last year’s adrenaline-pumping DOOM remake to shame. And what places your speed will take you! TUROK’s stages are sprawling mazes filled to the brim with secret stashes of guns and powerups, and it’s always a thrill to blast apart waves of velociraptors and cyber-barbarians with your explosive shotgun as you literally drift through the jungle. Also, the continuously looping, tribal MIDI woodblock in the background is one of the most mindlessly serotonin-inducing shooter soundtracks I’ve heard, mutating seamlessly to reflect the different environment types Turok will bound through in any given level. This bonafide blast from the past not only holds its own with the “old school” revival in modern shooters, but surpasses them. [Ed Dutcher]

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THE TYPING OF THE DEAD: OVERKILL – $20.00 → $3.99

Bless RESIDENT EVIL 7, but it wasn’t the first Japanese zombie franchise to get a grindhouse reboot set in Louisiana. HOUSE OF THE DEAD: OVERKILL brought light gun arcade cabinet shooting to the Wii in 2009, and it has only gotten better with each re-release. TYPING OF THE DEAD: OVERKILL includes all of the content from the PS3’s EXTENDED CUT, but recontextualizes the point-and-click gunplay as a MATH BLASTER-esque typing challenge, with each zombie assigned a “killphrase.” It’s a silly and satisfying mechanic for a silly and satisfying game. OVERKILL’s brutal stupidity is its greatest strength, a parody of itself and the infamously poor English dubs of its predecessors. The writing is about as sharp my apartment’s lumpy loveseat, the presentation is an obvious ode to PLANET TERROR, and there are more F-bombs dropped in the approximately four-hour-long experience than in Quentin Tarantino’s entire filmography, but OVERKILL’s earnest parody of arcade game cinematics of yesteryear is delivered with such ceaselessly endearing candor that it is impossible to hate. Truly outrageous dialogue supported by stellar voice performances help make the otherwise threadbare story one to remember. A trove of bonus features and modes come attached with OVERKILL, and the sheer spectacle and randomized gameplay provide plenty of replay value. And how many other games can claim to be good for developing your WPM? You can thank me when you get that desk job. [Ed Dutcher]

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UNDER NIGHT IN-BIRTH EXE:LATE – $29.99 → $7.79

Looking for a fast-paced, niche, inexplicably oddly-named anime fighter that isn’t GUILTY GEAR XRD? This could be it! Much like developer French-Bread’s Melty Blood series, UNDER NIGHT IN-BIRTH EXE:LATE (please just take a deep breath and call it UNIEL for short) features sharp 2D sprites and animation as well as aggressive, technical gameplay. Despite a relatively barebones presentation, UNIEL manages to impress with a diverse cast of characters. From cerebral, trap-reliant Byakuya to straightforward, sword-wielding anime protagonist Hyde, no two characters feel like cheap knock-offs of others, so choosing a new fighter almost feels like playing a new game. On top of that, UNIEL is fairly easy to learn, with many basic combos reduced to a few simple button presses and an emphasis on aggressive tactics. If even that proves too difficult, UNIEL features the single-button auto-combo mode that’s becoming increasingly ubiquitous in fighters, so even complete neophytes have a chance to unleash devastating damage on their opponents. The game’s visual novel-style story is shades of the aforementioned Guilty Gear’s story mode, but it (like many other fighting game plots) is negligible. It’s worth noting that an updated version of the game is coming to consoles next month, so it might also be worth giving it a look and getting some practice in beforehand.  [Angelo Rivera]

Crossfader Staff

The good people of Crossfader Magazine.

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