With gas prices nearing the double digits in some parts of the United States, many people are looking for some easy ways to save money. For gamers, this can be a tricky situation considering you never really know how much you will enjoy a game until you play it. This is especially true for the $60 AAA titles that are, most of the time, non-refundable. Thankfully, Steam has the solution.
Steam offers both a wide variety of cheap games and a refund system if you are unhappy with your purchase (with the stipulation of needing to have less than two hours of total in-game time). Sure, there are plenty of free to play games out there. However, these often fall into a couple of lack-luster scenarios. Either they end up being pay to win or they are simply multiplayer games with no real essence of story or care put into them from the developers (along with having the dreaded loot box system). To combat this, I have compiled a list of some of our favorite titles that fall under the $10 price tag. Not all of these are going to be for everyone, but with the help of the refund system you’ll be on your way to finding the right game for you in no time. Without further ado, let’s explore our top seven picks found on Steam for $10 or less, including:
The first of the series of two (so far), Dishonored introduced the concept of creative assassinations to the gaming world. Think of the Hitman games but with a bit more flare and a monumentally better storyline. Even if you beat the game fully, there are so many different approaches to the missions that multiple playthroughs can be completely unique. Despite the fact that the story is based around an assassin, you could complete a pacifist run (there’s even an achievement for it) or the complete opposite. No matter how you choose to play, you’ll be sure to have a great time.
“Good game. I never thought that the game of 2012 would be so smooth with good graphics. Even with 3 endings. You can enjoy this game as your own wish.” - Ash on Steam
Don’t Starve is a survival game with an extremely unique art style. However, do not let the cute, hand-drawn look fool you. This game is brutal. A skilled player can survive for a very long time but newer players will definitely struggle starting out. I find that difficult games like this provide the most in terms of total entertainment as you spend half the time just learning how to ‘get good.’ Before you know it, you have 100 hours in the game before you have any sort of confidence of survival. If this sounds up your alley, try out Don’t Starve or Don’t Starve Together (although the multiplayer version is $15).
“Best. Game. Ever. I seriously cannot express how awesome this game is. Whether it be the overall gameplay, the lore, the deaths, the nomming, the insanity, or having your base burnt down because of one lightning strike in Spring, the game delivers on all of what it promises and more. Buy this game and you will not be disappointed.” - The Silver Bisexual on Steam
Counter-Strike: Source is, for many, the game that started it all. It is the forefather of FPS gaming that made the genre what it is today. At its core, CS:S is a 5v5 competitive shooter revolving around teamwork, aiming, and communication. Nowadays, however, many people play CS:S for the fun community servers with a ton of different game modes ranging from superbly casual to frustratingly competitive. Even if you don’t end up loving the game, you’ll get access to the textures for GMod (a Steam necessity, imo).
“Let's see... where do I begin? I absolutely enjoy this game. I have had Source since it came out, my son got me hooked on it. It still IS the game to beat.” - OldManEdge on Steam
Saints Row 3 was the first game “recommended for those over the age of 18” that I’ve played in my life. Admittedly I was only twelve at the time, but that only added to the fun. I can vividly remember my father walking into the room while my character wielded “The Penetrator” (just look it up) and questioning the purchase he made for me. Ten years later and I’m still having just as much fun as I did back in the day.
The best way I could describe Saints Row 3 is if GTA was developed by an arcade studio with a genuine sense of humor. It has a pretty good storyline complemented by even more interesting gameplay. There are so many actions to do, side quests to complete, characters to interact with, accessories to find, etc. I can’t think of a better purchase in terms of bang for your buck than Saints Row 3!
“Probably the best game I ever played in my life. Saints Row: The Third might look like other open world games but it has much more fun, possibilities, jokes, customization, and it also gives you the feel of power and control more than every other game of its kind. The missions are always surprising, you'll never know what's next: Helicopter flying, exploding things with a tank, shooting, hiring h*****s, etc. Just buy it and play, totally worth it.” - Fox Mulder on Steam
Faster Than Light is a rogue-like game often praised for its genius game design despite having a smaller budget. You’ll play as the captain of a ship with complete control over many different aspects including the ship itself, where you go, who you interact with, and what you decide to upgrade. You’ll be heavily punished for your mistakes, but this only makes the better runs feel that much more rewarding. If you enjoy difficult rogue-likes that rely heavily on skilled decision making, FTL is the game for you!
“FTL is the type of game where it seems impossible to win on Easy mode, at first, then you play a bunch of times and learn and realize that Easy mode is too easy. Then you try it on Normal mode and it seems impossible again, then you play a bunch of times and realize that normal is too easy as well, and then you've played hundreds of hours. It's a great game with great music and sufficient difficulty to keep you coming back for more.” - 123phillipg on Steam
Although this game’s base tag is fifteen dollars, I have often found it on sale for much less. Fundamentally, SpeedRunners is a party game in which players race around a map as fast as they possibly can. If they manage to get so far ahead that the other players fall off screen, that player is out. It sounds simple enough, but keeping your character’s momentum can prove extremely difficult. This results in a noticeable skill gap for newer players, so I’d recommend either playing with a party of all beginners or all experienced players for the most fun possible!
“Honestly, don't buy this game for full price unless you intend on learning it. SpeedRunners is one of the games where the excuse "You don't like it because you're bad" is actually valid. That being said, it's a fantastic party game to play with three other friends to just waste some time and kill boredom, until one of your friends gets better at it than the rest. Then no one wants anything to do with them ever again.” - Clementh Percival Buchanan on Steam
The Binding of Isaac (and its sequels) are rogue-like games set around randomly dropped loot to upgrade your character as you traverse many different rooms in search of a boss. There are a ton of different items with different drop rates resulting in some really crazy runs. It has a depressing (in a good way) storyline and even better visual flare. There is a good reason it is one of the most popular rogue-likes out there!
“This is definitely one of the greatest games I have ever played, the replayability is incredible, I've never had the same game twice, can't wait for rebirth.” BulletBarry on Steam
There’s no reason to spend sixty dollars on a game if you don’t want to and I hope this article has proved that. All it takes is some dedicated developers, thoughtful game design, and a solid concept. If none of these games struck your fancy, check out some of the other articles on ESG revolving around budget games!
Heading image courtesy of rockpapershotgun.com