With each passing season, Steam sales become harder to navigate. Countless new games hit the store every year, and the unbiased algorithms that govern the storefront are becoming less and less likely to show you anything other than the year’s bestsellers. There are a growing number of fantastic games that come and go without fanfare.
Wes Fenlon and his team have already covered the big games you should check out during the Steam Summer Sale 2022 before it ends on July 7 at 10 a.m. PDT. Being the terrible hipster that I am, they let me recommend less than traditional gems that have probably flown under your radar (like gems are used to, being underground in nature), all available at deep discounts.
A cozy, warm blanket of a Zelda-esque action-RPG, set in a living, tactile world made of cozy warm blankets, and populated with moths and rug-dragons. Knit tears into the (literal) fabric of reality and tie up enemies with ribbons. It’s a real feast for the eyes, extremely creative and deserves some time in the limelight.
A hack n’ slash action RPG that isn’t likely to tax your GPU because it has no graphics. Part audio drama, part first-person swordsman, with weapon loadouts, blocks, parries, and even a magic system. Designed to be fully playable even for those who can’t see, those who can stare at a screen will only see a blurry star field and some item stats.
dap | $6.99/£5.49 (50% off)
If you head down to the woods today, you’re sure to be in for a big surprise. Dap takes the slightly unsettling formula of Nintendo’s Pikmin and infuses it with powerful horror and pixel art vibes that I have a hard time even describing. Lead a tribe of little foresters called Daps through an increasingly cursed forest. Huddle near campfires, avoid monsters, and eventually fight back with deadly magic.
Making a good roguelike, shmup, or comedy game is hard enough. The Starship X project somehow achieves all three at once. Battle Zombie Space Hitler, chill out with Cthulhu’s Grandma, visit Space Texas (he’s got guns) and go interdimensional bowling in this weird, funny, challenging and replayable arcade shooter.
Onirism | $9.89/£7.69 (45% off)
An easy recommendation at this price, even in Early Access, Onirism is a wildly ambitious platformer/shooter set in a young girl’s video game-tinged dreams. Fantasy is Banjo Kazooie, Timesplitters and Call of Duty all at once, and much more. The current release features about half of the planned story, plus a mountain of unique single-player, co-op, and PvP scenarios.
Love the concept of Neon White but can’t stand all that excess 90s anime? I do not judge. Well, maybe I am, just a little. Anyway, Lovely Planet Remix is another very tight speed FPS with hundreds of bite-sized levels, but with a soft and squishy Katamari-like aesthetic. It never gets old, constantly mixing up how your weapons and character behave in often silly ways.
No hell here despite the Touhou name, just a relaxing restaurant management game. Part Recipe, part Diner Dash, and with a pinch of rhythm. Gather ingredients by day, stock your menu, and serve evening meals to generic townspeople while creating custom dishes to appeal to named regulars. A hit in Asian territories, recently localized and now rolling out some DLC.
A distinctive yet accessible roguelike, with gamepad-friendly controls. Infiltrate a massive undead fortress while switching between human and vampire forms. One moment you’re hanging out with the local humans, the next you’re dodging the sun’s rays and swallowing blood. A recent beta branch update added more locations, enemies, and secrets.
Retro FPS design meets outdoor art. A long surreal adventure through the incredibly cursed fjords of Norway, full of strange inhabitants and monsters. It’s a constantly inventive, challenging, bizarre and captivating adventure. Northern Journey’s unusual art style is the result of the lack of a lighting engine: every shadow is hand-painted onto the world.
Bungie may be a studio best known for its first-person shooters, but true fans still hold the torch to their Myth series. Simple yet compelling fantasy squad tactics games, pitting a small task force against impossible odds. Nordic Warriors is one of the few Myth clones, delivering familiar thrills to modern audiences, including plenty of quality of life improvements.
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 collect what you can from it. story told without words. Impeccable vibes elevate a simple concept to something transcendent.
A trio of ARG-adjacent investigative adventure games, all set in the same universe. Analyze the data, look for real-world clues on Wikipedia and an assortment of fake websites, and maybe even do a bit of (simulated) hacking as you unravel both international and interdimensional conspiracies. Although closely related, each of the three games has its own feel and internal logic.
FORZA POLPO! | $10.14/£10.14 (30% off)
Inspired by the quirky PS1 FPS platformer Jumping Flash, Forza Polpo is an adorable (but surprisingly hardcore) pastel-hued shooter. Explore a surprisingly cute apocalypse, harvesting pink energy to put the broken world back together. Still in full early access, there’s a lot to like about what’s already on offer.
An infectiously silly platform shooter inspired by Mega Drive classics like Gunstar Heroes, but featuring a legally distinct enough version of Sam & Max’s casually homicidal bunny trick. Besides possibly being a little easy on normal difficulty, it’s 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 years of early access, roguelike shooter Beacon quietly launched late last year. Juxtaposing a crisp, clear flat-poly aesthetic with positively grody body-horror prose, you play as a cloned “survivor” of a shipwreck, with each run splicing new DNA into your next body to create new mutations ( and often horrifying) to help you thrive and escape.