With each passing season, Steam sales get harder to navigate. Countless new games are launched in stores every year, and the down-to-earth algorithms that rule the storefronts are increasingly unlikely to show you anything other than the year’s bestsellers. There is a growing number of great games that come and go without any fanfare.
Wes Fenlon and his crew have already covered the big names you should check out in the 2022 Steam Summer Sale before it ends at 10am PDT on July 7th. Being the horrible hipster that I am, let them recommend some less-than-mainstream gems that have probably flown under your radar (as gems are common, as they are naturally underground), all available at steep discounts.
A cozy warm blanket of a Zelda-esque action RPG, set in a vibrant, tactile world made of cozy warm blankets, and populated by moth people and carpet dragons. Knit tears together in the (literal) fabric of reality and tie up enemies with ribbons. It is an absolute sight to behold, extremely creative and deserves some time in the spotlight.
A hack n’ slash action RPG that probably won’t tax your GPU as it has no graphics. Part audio drama, part first-person swashbuckler, complete with armor, blocks, parries, and even a magic system. Designed to be fully playable even for the sightless, those who can look at a screen will only see a blurry star field and some item stats.
Dap | $6.99 / £5.49 (50% off)
If you go to the forest today, you are sure to get a big surprise. Dap takes the slightly disturbing formula of Nintendo’s Pikmin and immerses it in some powerful horror vibes and pixel art that I can hardly even describe. Lead a tribe of small forest peoples called Daps through an increasingly cursed forest. Crawl close to campfires, dodge monsters and finally fight back with deadly magic.
Making a good roguelike, shmup or comedy game is hard enough. Project Starship X somehow takes out all three at once. Fight Zombie Space Hitler, relax with Cthulhu’s grandma, visit Space Texas (it has guns) and do some interdimensional bowling in this weird, funny, challenging and replayable arcade shooter.
Onirism | $9.89 / £7.69 (45% off)
An easy recommendation at this price point, even in Early Access, Onirism is an insanely ambitious genre-splitting platform/shooter set in a young girl’s video game-tinged dreams. Onirism is Banjo Kazooie, Timesplitters and Call of Duty all at once, and much more. The current version contains about half of the planned story, plus a ton of solo, co-op, and PvP one-shot scenarios.
Love the concept of Neon White but can’t stand all that ’90s anime excess? I don’t judge. Well, maybe I am, kind of. Anyway, Lovely Planet Remix is another tightly wound FPS with hundreds of bite-sized levels, but with a soft and squishy Katamari-esque aesthetic. It never gets old, constantly mixing up how your weapons and character interact in often silly ways.
No bullet hell here despite the name Touhou, just a relaxing restaurant management game. Part Recettear, part Diner Dash, and with a pinch of rhythm. Collect ingredients during the day, stock your menu, and serve evening meals to the generic townspeople while creating custom dishes to please named regulars. A hit in Asian territories, recently localized and now some DLC rolled out.
A distinctive yet accessible roguelike, complete with gamepad-friendly controls. Infiltrate a vast undead stronghold as you switch between human and vampire forms. One minute you’re hanging out with the locals, the next you’re dodging the sun’s rays and guzzling blood. A recent beta branch update added more locations, enemies and secrets.
Retro FPS design meets outsider art. A surreal and long-lasting adventure through the incredible Norway’s cursed fjords, full of weird locals and monsters. It is a constantly inventive adventure, challenging, strange and compelling. Northern Journey’s unusual art style is the result of the lack of a light engine: each shadow is painted on the world by hand.
Bungie may be a studio best known for their first-person shooters, but true fans still hold a torch for their Myth series. Simple yet immersive fantasy squad tactics games, pitting a small task force against impossible odds. Nordic Warriors is one of the few Myth clones out there and delivers well-known thrills to a modern audience, including many improvements in quality of life.
Venineth | $7.99 / £5.99 (60% off)
A ball-rolling exploration platformer where every frame looks like a 90s ray-tracing showcase. Explore strange alien landscapes full of abstract shapes and strange devices, and combine what you can from the wordlessly told story. Impeccable vibes elevate a simple concept into something transcendent.
A trio of ARG adjacent research adventure games, all set in the same universe. Analyze data, research real-world hints on Wikipedia and an assortment of bogus websites, and maybe even a little (simulated) hacking as you unravel conspiracies, both international and interdimensional. Though closely related, each of the three games has their own distinct feel and internal logic.
POWER OCTOPUS! † $10.14 / £10.14 (30% off)
Inspired by the quirky PS1 FPS platformer Jumping Flash, Forza Polpo is a cute (yet surprisingly hardcore) pastel shooter. Explore a surprisingly cute apocalypse, harvest pink energy to glue the broken world back together. Still deep in Early Access, there’s a lot to like about what’s already on offer.
An infectiously silly platform shooter inspired by Mega Drive classics such as Gunstar Heroes, but starring a legally distinctive take on Sam & Max’s casually murderous rabbit thing. Besides being maybe a little easy on the Normal difficulty, this is a quick little ride with great music, surprisingly funny writing and voice work, and tons of weird space monster bosses to zap.
beacon | $11.99 / 8.99 (40% off)
After many long years in Early Access, the roguelike shooter Beacon quietly launched late last year. Combining a sharp and crisp flat-poly aesthetic with a positively grody body horror prose, you play as a cloned “survivor” of a ship crash, with each run splicing new DNA into your next body to create new (and often horrific ) create mutations to help you thrive and escape.