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So I’m on a bit of a break right now, but with the GOG sale coming to an end, I thought I’d toss a little something here for everyone to see, with some titles to look at that I’ve played and that I really enjoy after seeing this morning’s Shoestring gaming. These are all titles I have played enough to feel confident in what I’m writing and at least 40% off, so if there are omissions it might be I don’t own it or haven’t played it enough. That does mean my preferences come into effect here, which means there’s a lot of RPGs, Adventure, turn based games, and some simulation/strategy stuff. Not going to be much in the shooter category here because, well, I’m not much of a shooter player.

I’ve pulled out my top 6—a mixture of classics, a great AAA game you can probably guess, and some wonderful indies on a sale that I think are must owns. Why 6? Well we Raptors have 3 claws per hand! I also included 2 other highly regarded classics, that may interest you in a separate category.  

Top 6

The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt $29.99 50% off

Is there even much left to say about Witcher 3? Well actually I think there’s a lot to be said in general and I hope to do some of that in the new year. This game has been somewhat under analyzed for what it brought to the table in setting the RPG market as well as how it handled open world. With only a few slip ups here and there, Witcher 3 showed how to do defined character, dialogue wheels (second best set up I’ve seen), and open worlds in the modern style. Most of the things in the game grow organically from the world instead of being shoehorned in to fill a nebulous quota of stuff to reach that other titles like Fallout 4Dragon Age: Inquisition, and nearly every Ubisoft title of the last few years have struggled with. It also features some of the slickest writing in games and those last two things are where the game deserves a closer look in my opinion, and it’s why in many ways its done so well in my opinion. This isn’t the first time it’s 50% off, but it’s a damn good deal at that price and gives you time to experience it during the holidays.

Renowned Explorers: International Society 40% off $11.99 

If Witcher 3 is the game on this list everyone knows of, Renowned Explorers is the opposite. Launching in early September, it was covered up by the twin releases of Metal Gear Solid V and Mad Max. However, this is a game that is the best unknown game of this year in my opinion and a contender with Rocket League and Undertale for indie of the year—one I’ll be stumping at our internal meetings for sure. I’m going to be writing more on Renowned Explorers, but it is a tough one to write on as it is a game that doesn’t deconstruct well with all the elements being intricately interwoven to create a great rogue-lite, rpg, exploration, turn-based tactics game. It innovates and has good presentation, alongside very good writing, and a lot of hidden depth with the combat mechanics and the skills that it has.

To address something I’ve heard from those who have only done a most superficial look at the game: yes, there are only 11 expeditions, however there in each of those is a mix of situations and encounters that arise, and in each of those there is a lot of variety of outcomes and options based on what skills, perks, characters, and choices you have made. I’ve played about 80 hours in the game, and I’m still running into things on occasion from combinations of skills that open up new situations in the game that are never seen unless you have at least part of what is needed to get it started, or a chance to succeed. It also has received a lot of post release support, adding in an expedition, revamping the tech tree, and balancing out some of the captain perks among numerous other things. One thing that is nice is their approach to balancing things isn’t generally to nerf things but to figure out what neat thing can we add to make this work.

In short: try this game out. If you want to see a video on it, our Shaun Joy made one for his channel on launch, though some things like the UI, difficulty settings, and attack animations have all been tweaked since.

Evoland 2 9.99 50% off 

If Renowned Explorers wasn’t running away with best unknown title, Evoland 2 would be up there for sure. The spiritual successor to Evoland, I reviewed this back when it came out, and it still has some of the slicker writing I’ve seen and some great humor. Few games can pull off the celebration of gaming this does, or the wit it manages to instill while not falling into camp sillyness like the old Batman games. It manages to be smart in how it does it, and has a good variety of gameplay in general – even if the rhythm part irritated me as precision timing is NOT my strength.

This War of Mine $6.69 67% off 

One of the games that has helped show how to mix gameplay with story and messageThis War of Mine is definitely a game worth trying out especially with its post launch support that has included things like mod support. A unique experience that manages to express how bad war is for the people living through the struggle to survive and without being hamhanded in the way of many shooters. 

Arcanum of Steamworks and Magica Obscura 75% off $1.49

From a game that helps move the medium forward in a modern day, we go to one of the flawed classics of the RPG genre. Arcanum is one of three games made by the short lived Troika studios, which managed to create in its life 3 great but very different RPGs in this, Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines, and Temple of Elemental Evil. Of them, Arcanum focuses the most on story and world building, featuring a unique steampunk and magic world where magic is enforcing the will of the user on the world, while technology reinforces the physical laws of the universe. The combat in this game, though, is a weakness as the choice to go with both real time and turnbased as toggable between meant it wasn’t great at either and the balance issues are the other big flaw, especially for technologists unless you know precisely what to do. However, if you like branching stories, a well built world, and a place to get lost for a ton of time, this classic is worth your time, especially for under $1.50 with GOG’s money back guarantee.

King of Dragon Pass 75% off 1.49 

King of Dragon Pass is one of those games that is tougher to pigeon hole because it does so much with so very little. A huge world with tons to explore in different matters with a lot of replayability, it is a game that everyone should spend some time with. While the presentation shows its age and there are aspects that aren’t the most intuitive, this is a pretty unique title that does a lot of interesting things.

 

Classics

Knights of the Old Republic 2: The Sith Lords 60% off $3.99

Knights of the Old Republic 2 only doesn’t rate higher because well, I assume almost all of you have heard of it, and you may not know the two above by some chance, as well as being more expensive. KOTOR 2 stands as the best work Obisidan has done and one of the feathers in the illustrious Chris Avellone’s hat with his brilliant deconstruction work on the Star Wars universe. 

Anachronox 75% off $1.49

Back when Eidos was allowed to actually make new IPs, Tom Hall created Anachronox. Something of an odd duck, Anachronox is in many ways a “western jrpg” with the menu based combat, the byzantine story, and defined player character those were more known for in the day. Playing as detective Sly Boots, you get to explore a rich setting and have a chuckle at many of the good jokes that the game comes with at a discount.

The Rest

Dreamfall Chapters season Pass 60% off $13.99  – Disclosure: I backed this on Kickstarter

Oh joy, more writing I need to get back to! I reviewed the first episode of Dreamfall Chapters back when it came out, and we recently had the release of the fourth and well … I’ve fallen behind reviewing them. It is quite good though on the whole, a worthy continuation of the Longest Journey franchise, and the best implementation of the dialogue wheel I’ve seen by using the characters thoughts so you have a better idea of what will be said without repeating dialogue as studios are afraid of.  They recently updated to Unity 5 on the past chapters, and chapter 4 was fully made in it, improving running issues and the graphics got a notch upped as well. It retains more of the point and click roots than Telltale games, so if you are interested in the series, do check it out.

Not a Hero 67% off $4.29 

Watch out Bunnylord, more people are coming to help punch in the face! Yes, political satire, guns, and a style of game that is taking the OlliOlli simplification to the shooter with a bastardization of Hotline Miami and BroforceNot a Hero has it all. I reviewed it back when it came out, and not much has changed since then really, other than it’s under $5 now.

Mount & Blade: Warband – Viking Conquest Reforged Edition 75% off $3.79

Brytenwalda, upgraded to DLC. Well, there’s more to be said about Viking Conquest, but if you want it as short as possible that is essentially what it is. The people behind the Brytenwalda mod made this with Talesworld, and it turned out pretty good after some fixes over a rocky launch that happened. 

Hand of Fate 50% off $12.49 

Hand of Fate is a really neat game that used card mechanics to get a nice mixture of CYOA, free flow combat and deck creation. It’s gotten some good post-launch support, which has helped add more diversity to the game.

Sunless Sea 50% off $9.49 

Sunless Sea is another rogue-like there that came out earlier this year and while the combat for it can be a bit clunky, it is a game that is very well written with a rich world and well implemented Lovecraftian elements. There’s a lot to do in this world and all sorts of different ways to do things in the game with a lot to explore that has added in new things since it was launched.

Alright, I’m approaching 2k words here and before our Editor in Chief kills me, I’ll just post a list of a few other games that are worth a look that I have played:

I hope you enjoyed this and share with us what games you picked up if you want.


Don Parsons

News Editor

I've been a gamer for years of various types starting with the Sega Genesis and Shining Force when I was young. If I'm not playing video games, I'm often roleplaying, reading, writing, or pondering things brought up by speculative fiction.