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Steam Summer Sale 2014 Wrapup

I guess this is what you get instead of my "A Jaded Look At Recent Steam Games" feature when Valve is too busy having a blowout sale for all but a foolish few to dare release anything new on the Steam platform.  Yet, in a way, this is even better: I'm putting my money where my mouth is.  What does a jaded gamer actually get around to buying?

I'm weak.  Despite laying out the rules perfectly clearly, I violated the cardinal rule about saving money during Steam sale and bought more games than I possibly have time to play... especially whilst ensnared in a quality MMORPG such as WildStar.

In addition to those already mentioned, I bought:
  • Banished - As is usually the case, that which is a featured item on a Steam sale has made a triumphant return, and I snapped up this indie city builder game for ten bucks instead of the usual twenty.  What's the big deal about Banished?  Well, there's certainly better city builders out there, the Tropico series among them, but I guess the compelling thing about Banished is that there's greater focus on the smaller details of the simulated world that lends further to its believability.  This is why it gets compared to Dwarf Fortress, despite playing a lot more like Tropico.
  • Blockland - One of the many games that would really like to be making as much money as Mojang is with Minecraft, Blockland has fallen off the radar for most.  I honestly can't see anything wrong with the game, but I suspect the lack of virtual world features might be why it has not garnered as much attention.  Blockland does not try to be a world, just a cool game about building and doing stuff.
  • Pixeljunk Monsters -  Just when the tired old tower defense genre was well on its way to getting on everyone's nerves, Pixeljunk Monsters stepped up and showed that the genre can still be interesting if you give it a cool theme (in this case somewhat Tiki) and an interesting spin (you are a single character who can dance next to his towers to upgrade them).
  • Pixeljunk Shooter - Pixeljunk certainly knows how to make fun little games, and Pixeljunk Shooter is basically a top-down free scrolling shooter that takes place inside of alien cave systems with you (and optionally a friend) piloting capable spaceships and rescuing miners.  This time, there's a lot of deformable terrain involved, with simulated water, lava, and interesting alien life adding a great deal of spunk to the usual Pixeljunk gameplay cleverness.
  • Steamworld Dig - To simply call this a side-scrolling mining game would be doing it a disservice.  Steamworld Dig is a game about being a robot in a world where robots live, uncovering ancient mysteries, and having an unusually great freedom of movement while doing it.  One reviewer gushed, "SteamWorld Dig is an utterly phenomenal video game, with layer upon layer of remarkable gameplay to be found."  I'd probably be more excited about this getting game if I didn't already own it on the 3DS, but hey, it was just $2.50.
  • Far Cry 3 - Blood Dragon - Far Cry 3 was an incredible open world first person shooter that allowed you to wander freely over a huge tropical archipelago, defeating tyrannical militants while installing your own.  Far Cry 3 - Blood Dragon takes much the same gameplay, and replaces it with a 1980s cartoon backdrop of being a cyborg in the future putting down evil multinational terrorists, a bit G.I. Joe meets Cyborg.  Though a little smaller than the original, result is deliberately cheeseball and tongue-in-cheek, and that probably makes it a bit more fun!
  • Long Live The Queen - A game very much in the vein of the Princess Maker series, you're put in charge of the daily routine of a cute 14-year-old anime girl who is to be thrust into a leadership role in a mere 40 weeks.  Under your guidance, will she become a powerful ruler, or will she be offed by one of the dozens of bad ends awaiting her?  Her destiny is in your hands, but hey, no pressure.  Honestly, I don't expect this to be a good and balanced game, as it's probably overly focused on arbitrarily guessing which skill need to be incremented ahead of time, but it is at least reasonably unique in that I've yet to bore of games like it.
  • Sleeping Dogs - Another one of those 3D, open worldy, runny around, shooty, drivy games, the backdrop in Sleeping Dogs is that you're an undercover police officer walking the knife's edge of infiltrating triad gangs while being tempted to fall in with them.  Not only is this game old enough to be fairly affordable now, but the developers did a good enough job to up the ante in open world games.  Between this and Saints Row IV, I probably own a copy of the best open world games there are, and even the recently-released Watch Dogs by AAA powerhouse Ubisoft is compared unfavorably to Sleeping Dogs.
  • FEZ - While it's unfortunate that the creator of FEZ reacted to the press being overly sensationalist by canceling FEZ 2, I hear FEZ itself is a pretty darn enjoyable game.  It involves a little white humanoid in a 2D platforming world who obtains a magical fez that allows him to access the mysterious third dimension!  Naturally, it's a puzzle platformer, but it's clever and cute as a button.
  • Shadowrun: Dragonfall - A DLC expanded campaign to the recently released Shadowrun Returns game.  I think this is probably the most respectful treatment of Shadowrun pencil and paper games that has ever graced an electronic medium, even if it's not the most faithful representation of the ruleset.  (Which, to be fair, would undergo radical revision from edition to edition even in its paper and pencil form.)
  • The Guild II - Remember when I was saying The Game I Want To Play Isn't Out Yet?  Well, it still isn't, but I have The Guild II pegged as one of the games that got close.  This is a combination of a life simulator and economic strategy game that puts you as an aspiring ruler in the Renaissance period.  Playing a bit like a top down real time strategy game, you can actually start a dynasty of several playable characters in your bids for wealth and power.
  • Age of Wonders III - Though no game has quite managed to capture the original charm of the Master of Magic series, which is basically Civilization with magic and a focus on military domination, the Age Of Wonders series got closer than most.  Much to my relief, this Indy-developed revival of Age of Wonders has been met with good reviews, which made it worthy of purchasing even though it was a mere 50% off.
  • Creeper World 3: Arc Eternal - Never heard of the Creeper World series?   That's a pity, it's actually a pretty cool game concept.  It's a one-sided real time strategy game of you versus a nasty world-consuming blob that spreads over the map in a valuely cellular automata manner.  It's a fun and relatively unqiue game experience.
  • Frederic Bundle - These two games are actually interactive comics about Frederic Chopin coming back from the dead in a futuristic environment in order to lay down the beat on various musical misfits.  They're also rhythm games.  Great bargain on a Steam sale.
Between this entry and the last, I have tithed about $155 to the mighty Gaben in order to buy games that I'm not entirely sure when I'll ever have time to play.  I'd probably feel worse about that if I wasn't about to witness people burning money openly in the streets during the pending Independence Day celebration.  Say what you will about wasting your money on computer games, the pixels on a properly functioning monitor can make a worthwhile spectacle for a much longer period than burning gunpowder can.

I'd probably have bought even more if some of the top games on my wish list were discounted further than they were.  33% does not an adequate sale make, Might & Magic X, Space Engineers, Dark Souls II, Infested Planet, and Broken Age.   Maia was a mere 25% off, and Transistor hardly on sale at all. Neo Scavenger, indy-developed flash game being sold on Steam, would not back down from its $10 full price.  In the end, only Age Of Wonders II and Banished came off the top of my wish list and into my collection, regrettably only at half off.  The rest of the games were quite a bit further down on the wish list.  Oh well, the ones that got away will just have to wait until the next Steam sale, probably in Fall.

As for WildStar, I barely have time for anything after work, but I'm now sitting at the foot of five days off.  Will I actually manage to bring one of my characters above level 20?  Will I be able to avoid the temptation to consign any of my existing characters, one of each class, to the bottomless void of the bitbucket?  We shall see.

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