In recent years, games have been trending towards one of two price patterns. Either developers decide on going free to play whilst implementing purchasable cosmetics, or on full blown sixty dollar games (that still sometimes have cosmetics, blah). It seems to be a trend of the past for large games to meet the twenty dollar price mark. Hence, most of the games on this list are from a decade ago or the game is not quite as large as a typical AAA game. As a side note, these games are not what I would necessarily consider the ‘best’ games on Steam at the price tag, but rather the best games within their respective genre that adhere to the price restriction. If it were, the entire list would likely consist of open-world RPG’s as those tend to encompass most assets that make a video game great.
If you’re looking for some fun games that won’t break your bank, look no further! Here’s ESG’s list of the current best Steam games for under twenty dollars (in no particular order):
Ever wondered how you would fare in the movie Castaway? Do you feel like you would have done a better job than Tom Hanks? If so, Raft is the perfect place to prove it. Just kidding, this is a video game and you’d probably die IRL. I would too.
Nevertheless, Raft allows you to explore the open ocean and test your survival skills by maintaining some sense of shelter to survive. You can slowly upgrade your raft by exploring islands and collecting debris from the ocean, as we all know it's chock full of it. There is a storyline to the game, but it isn’t all too impressive. The main highlight of the game is the creativity players are able to express through how they create and maintain their raft. Starting out as a simple wooden raft, players can achieve rafts like the one pictured above (and much better).
“Got the game because it sounded like fun just building a raft while adrift in the ocean. Then you realize there are objectives and adventures. Then you realize it's 3am and you have stuff to do in the morning. Then you play one more hour to get to a good stopping point. Cool game.” - Smokey on Steam
Arguably the best Borderlands of the bunch, Borderlands 2 is a looter-shooter with a great storyline to boot. Couple that with great writing, immersive characters, and a fantastic villain to result in a timeless classic. Having played the most recent release, Borderlands 2 simply cannot be beat (especially by the third).
One of Borderlands greatest strengths lies in its replayability. The weapon system within the game allows for, quite literally, millions of possibilities of weapons (although only slightly different from their base model). This can make playthroughs feel like a brand new game as bosses and enemies need to be defeated through different strategies. Couple that with the different playable characters and their respective skill trees, it makes for the perfectly replayable looter-shooter!
“This game has to be one of the best games ever made. The first Borderlands is good, but this is just in another world. It has action, humor, fantastic writing, a story that keeps you hooked until the end.” - Phsymon on Steam
Gunfire Reborn is a roguelite that understands the appeal of roguelites to most people. Rather than investing development time towards story/lore, the FPS mechanics were flushed out to ensure the game ‘feels’ crisp, and it does. The levels are procedurally generated to allow for never ending waves of enemies and, consequently, never ending build possibilities. The later the game goes on, the crazier it gets.
Personally, I have always used Gunfire Reborn as a fancy aim trainer to warm-up for other FPS’s (mainly Valorant). The aiming/hit-reg in the game feels satisfying and accurate, making it much more interesting to me than running Kovaak’s. The art style is also pleasing to the eyes, making casual runs feel much more engaging.
Co-op mode allows for even crazier builds. The enemies get scaled up based on your party size and four players with a late game build makes for some crazy visuals and intense fights. Not that the game is not fun as a solo, but co-op mode is a must try if you enjoy playing it by yourself. Highly recommended!
“A really fun game with crisp gameplay controls like that of Doom and Quake. All weapon types feel flawless in use, the sound effects are awesome and it's really a near perfect blend of the rogue-like genre with FPS. Co-op is fun as hell and gets really chaotic.” - Fruit.Salad on Steam
While there is much debate as to the best Fallout game in the series, it simply feels wrong to not recommend the more recent version of Fallout (76 doesn’t exist and you can’t convince me otherwise). All of the Fallout games have their own appeals, including the fourth installment.
As did the others, Fallout 4 has an appealing storyline that compels the player to explore the open world. Although the fourth game’s story feels a bit more pushed, there are plenty of side quests, places to explore that aren’t integral to the main storyline, and characters to find and interact with. After all, that is the greatest appeal to Fallout as a whole: the wonderfully crafted worlds teeming with interesting creatures and people.
Fallout 4 also introduces some new changes to the series including a settlement system that allows players to create their own bases and a weapon system reminiscent of Borderlands (as mentioned above). These two changes add some more options for gameplay not present in previous installments.
All in all, Fallout 4 does not disappoint the beloved series, despite the naysayers. That being said, if you haven’t played any of the Fallout games, you may want to play them in order. Not for story purposes, but simply because the older games have their own charms (and they still meet the price budget of this article!).
Oh, and try out some mods for some enhanced gameplay.
“Fallout 4 is not a game where you go find your son. It's a game where you start out looking for your son and then promptly forget about him.“ - J o h a n n on Steam
While many will disagree that this game deserves a spot on the list, I’d make the argument that this game is perfect for players who are looking for the niche it hits. That niche being a fun, semi-competitive time-waster for late night Discord calls with a bunch of friends. After all, there is a reason so many tourist locations are teeming with mini-golf courses, they’re fun to play with friends!
At its core, Golf With Your Friends is a simulated game of mini-golf. The ‘simulated’ aspect allows for much crazier levels that obviously would not be possible in the real world. The powerups that allow you to interact with other player’s balls add a new ‘screw your friend over’ aspect that isn’t allowed in real mini-golf. Even more so with collision turned on. This can turn Discord calls into heated arguments rather quickly, so be warned.
Overall, a fun little time-waster best played with close friends, as the name suggests!
“It’s a great game but don’t play it with friends. If you thought Monopoly was bad for friendships, you haven’t played Golf With Your Friends with collisions on. 10/10, fun time.” TBC | Jashu on Steam
I sincerely hope you found a game that you deem worthy of paying your hard earned money on within this article. While these may not be the best Steam games ever (although I’d argue for one or two on this list), they’ll certainly leave you feeling satisfied with your purchase!
Heading image courtesy of steampowered.com