Planet Explorers

Planet Explorers is an open world sandbox game set on another planet. You have a cool backpack and also a jetpack to fly around in. It also uses what the devs call a “new OpenCL calculated voxel system” which basically means that you can build stuff like in Minecraft only more complex, less blocky things. Do you like sandbox games? More specifically, do you like Minecraft? If you like the idea of open world exploration, mining and gathering resources for survival, and then building stuff, well then this could be the game for you.

There are a few huge things that set Planet Explorers apart from Minecraft. Obviously the graphics are different. There are a few aspects that look really nice, like some grass and the water and generally the color palette and art style are all very good. When you look close though the textures aren’t so good and neither are most of the models (trees, etc). But for what it is, it looks pretty damn good. You can also build a lot more than you can in Minecraft, mostly in the way of ships and whatnot. And Planet Explorers makes it pretty easy to build ships. If for some reason you thought the stupid Trade Federation barricade ships looked cool in Star Wars Episode 1 you could build those ships, like this guy.

WE MUST BOW TO THEIR WISHES

Anyways, the gameplay is basically what you would expect from a sandbox game on another planet. You can dig, and dig, and then do some more digging, and then after you do that you can dig some more. Then you run around a lot looking for stuff, and then when you find some stuff you can build yourself a helicopter to fly around to find some stuff. The sense of exploration is great though due to the art style.  Combat is pretty basic and mostly just consists of running around punching things. But this is all pretty standard for a sandbox game. It is in early release game but Planet Explorers is pretty far along for an alpha. It’s not exactly polished but there is enough there to mess around with and have a good time. Supposedly there are serious memory leaks that become game breaking if your character lives for too long, which is basically the worst possible scenario. Early access everyone!

C3PO gets lost storming away from a fight with R2

Planet Explorers is currently 40% off and $14.99. This is a pretty decent deal but the game has consistently gone on sale for the exact same price every few months. It will surely go on sale for this price again so if you have reservations about buying a game in this state, you can feel good about waiting. If you love sandbox games though, there is enough here to keep you entertained for a while, and thus far the devs have been good about updating. Verdict: Buy it.

Hammerwatch

Hammerwatch is like Gauntlet. It is really, really like Gauntlet. Gauntlet is pretty fun. Hammerwatch is pretty fun. Do you like Gauntlet? You will definitely like Hammerwatch. Do you dislike Gauntlet? Well you might still like Hammerwatch. If you have never played Gauntlet, let me explain how Hammerwatch plays. It is simple, and simple on purpose. You hack and slash and dungeon crawl, taking on hordes of enemies while mashing the attack key. You also have a few special attacks that vary depending on the class that you select. 
The pixel graphics are incredibly simplistic but the backgrounds still look nice. The control scheme is the same… you can use a controller if you like, as all you really need are a few buttons. You move, you shoot/attack, and you use your special attack. That’s it. You don’t level up but you do get new special moves and you do get buffs, and skills and combos and things as you gain gold. The most complicated thing in Hammerwatch is the soundtrack which is actually great and probably the best thing the ambiance has to offer.
Hammerwatch isn’t just Gauntlet, though, so much as it is every “Action RPG.” For this reason it is interesting to look at as game design devolved. Specifically it is Diablo III in its purest form. Diablo III has a very rigid skill and level up system. You don’t really get to select the skills that you want to unlock…they just unlock at a certain level. This leads itself to an illusion of choice when it comes to using skills to get combos. Hammerwatch removes this illusion and you get skill combos just by killing consecutive enemies. So you are not mashing different skills together repeatedly in the exact same order like you do it Diablo III, it removes that step and just does it automatically. In Diablo III, leveling up feels important so you can be strong enough to fight the enemies in the next area. But it all just happens naturally as you move throughout the game, and you are stronger against stronger enemies so it doesn’t matter as much as the skills you gain. Hammerwatch removes the levels and just leaves the new skills and buffs. 
Pictured: My Basement
Hammerwatch is a minimalistic look at the Action RPG genre. Or maybe it isn’t and it’s just a hack and slash dungeon crawling Gauntlet clone? Either way it’s only $2.49 and it’s fun to dick around with. Verdict: Buy it.

Serious Sam 3

If you have never played a Serious Sam game, what the hell is wrong with you? Do you hate the FPS genre? Do you hate computer gaming in general? Why do you even have Steam at all? You are not a bad person, but man, it is time you turned your life around and experienced what this is all about. Everyone has their own personal Serious Sam experience- I was but a scared boy when the original came out, and it was a discount title. It was one of the first times that I realized that “discount” and “video games” didn’t necessarily mean bad, and one of the reasons Steam Daily Deal exists to this day. After I played the game, I emerged a grizzled, beer-guzzling man.

The Serious Sam games play like Doom or Painkiller on cocaine. There is no cover and there is no regenerating red jelly health, it’s just hordes of enemies and your wits, big guns and reflexes. All you do is run around in circles (we call this Circle Strafing) while shooting at screaming, headless, bomb wielding terrorists. Yes, screaming AND headless. Again if you have never played a Serious Sam game, the first two hold up great. Go purchase one immediately, they are $1.49 and it is the best $1.49 you could possibly spend on a video game and possibly in YOUR LIFE. Yes that’s right, there’s not a lot you can get for one dollar and forty-nine cents these days. As far as deals go, the best possible things you can get for less than a dollar fifty are two tacos from Jack in the Box and Serious Sam the First Encounter. You know what you can’t get for $1.49? Actual food that isn’t ramen, any tall can of beer that isn’t expired malt liquor, a single shot of liquor, or a pack of condoms (3). As if you needed any more reason, go buy Serious Sam The First Encounter right now, dammit.

So after you’ve played that, the question is should you play Serious Sam 3 BFE? Let’s look at the facts. What does BFE stand for? Nobody knows. Doesn’t matter. Why is the game 90% off? Well, the starting price of $39.99 for a three year old game is a little silly so they had to knock 90% off of it. And the most important question of all: is the game as good as the previous installments? No, but it is still really fun.

What is a cyclops without an eye?  

There are some Serious issues to this game, for starters, the fact that you can’t dodge a lot of the enemies’ attacks, i.e., they are hitscan. This is bullshit, and who knows why Croteam put this feature in the game? But honestly it just ups the difficulty level, you don’t need to dodge if you kill the enemy first and it is just more of a test of your mettle. Also, the beginning of the game is not very fun, there are iron sights involved, which is the antithesis of the Serious Sam games. However I think Croteam put that in as a joke, because as soon as newer weapons are introduced the iron sights go by the wayside so I think they were messing with all of us. Basically, Serious Sam 3 BFE plays like the other Serious Sam games eventually but with better graphics- it might not be exactly as good but it is still really damn fun. For this reason the Verdict: BUY IT

Prison Architect

Prison Architect: Build and Manage a Maximum Security Prison is an Early Access Game which is usually a bad thing but these guys have a near-complete game that they just want to polish, at least that seems to be the general consensus. According to sources the Prison Architect team has raised over 10 million big ones through crowdfunding and early access sales. What are these sources you ask? Just random comments on the Interwebs, which everyone knows is the most reliable form of information in this day and age. This is funny because prisons in the United States are so overcrowded and lacking in funding, but a UK based prison sim can get 10 mil just like that.

In case you haven’t figured it out, Prison Architect is a prison sim. As such you would think there would be lots of jokes in the reviews section about the dropping of soap and about toilet wine, about kicking someone’s “ass” or becoming somebody’s “bitch” but sadly there has been a complete lack of this. Only one person mentioned the word “fish,” and this is just a damn shame. That can mean only one thing, that Prison Architect is actually a good game. And it is, if you enjoy Tycoon- style games. You can build your own prison however you want, whether it is going to be a white collar paradise or a federal p.m.i.t.a.p(see below). The choice is yours! Make everyone sleep in one room or give everybody cells, either way the people are going to riot eventually and somebody is going to get shivved by a spork.

Prison Architect is currently on sale for $10.19, it is 66% off. This game is pretty fun and pretty addicting if sims/tycoon games are your thing, but $10.19 is a little bit steep. Unfortunately, since it isn’t even released yet the price isn’t going to get much better than that anytime soon, so if you have had your eye on this one for awhile than go ahead and get it. For the rest of you come back when the game is done and it is on sale again. Verdict: Skip it.

Ubi Arcade Pack

I’m not sure exactly why the daily deal today is called the Ubi Arcade Pack when the only arcade style game to be found is Trials Fusion. This is more of an indie-style pack but it is Ubisoft which is not exactly indie so whatever. There are three featured games today and you don’t have to purchase the whole pack in order to get deal which is nice, but you do save an extra 10% if you do. According to Valve you save a full $4.98 which could actually get you another whole daily deal game. The question is, is it worth it?

Child of Light, Valiant Hearts: The Great War, and Trials Fusion all share a semi-2d perspective and they are all indie-gorgeous. The style that has become so popular in smaller budget, creative titles- everything looks very dream like and as wispy as a painting. Somehow despite this similarity they manage to distinguish themselves from any other game and let’s be honest these games look damn good. Except maybe Trials Fusion but it certainly doesn’t look bad.

In Child of Light you play as some kind of princess who intends to lay siege to the Disney castle. Also, Navi from Ocarina of time follows you around and can be controlled by your friend. Unfortunately your friend has to be sitting next to you for co-op to work for who knows what reason since this is 2014 and you need to be connected to 2 online services (Steam and pUplay) in order for the game to run, but you know, whatever. Anyways people absolutely love this game for its great writing and engrossing story and beautiful visuals. It is also really, really easy and possibly for children. Or just a man comfortable enough to dream.

Valiant Hearts: The Great War is a puzzle game that is the sequel to everyone’s favorite 90s arcade game, Metal Slug. Valiant Hearts keeps the exaggerated characters but swaps the run and gun, comical gameplay for a much darker story that is sure to make you cry. War is not fun, people, and Valiant Hearts wants to make sure you know that. Look how sad that dog is, seriously.

Trials Fusion I have written about before and not much has changed except it is now five dollars cheaper than it was whenever it was last on sale. So that’s good.

The Ubi Arcade Pack is currently on sale for 60% off, it is $19.99. This is a little steep for a daily deal but it does include 3 games that are all pretty good. If it was $9.99 it would be a definite steal. Don’t get me wrong, people absolutely love these games and if you are dying to play them right now you should go for it. Otherwise, you should wait until they are 75% off because it is going to happen sooner or later, and then you should buy it. Verdict: Skip it.

Planetary Annihilation Official Launch

If only Planetary Annihilation wasn’t a digital game, then we could officially launch this thing right into the garbage. As is generally the case with Kickstarter and Early Access Games, people are upset. This keeps happening. Sure there are exceptions…like Wasteland 2. Bless you Obsidian. But Planetary Annihilation has mostly just pissed people off. In a different way, however. Generally, people get upset about Kickstarted games or Early Access Games remaining in Alpha or Beta states for too long. To combat this, the devs of Planetary Annihilation released their game in an unfinished state and just said, “Nah guys it’s done we swear. But don’t worry we’ll keep updating it.”

And of course people that backed the game or bought it early are all uppity about it and who can blame them. Planetary Annihilation started with good intentions. Its promises of massive planet on planet action seemed pretty cool but the execution doesn’t really work. Everything just feels like a massive Zerg rush until something crazy happens, like your planet randomly exploding from another planet flying into it. The singleplayer must be played on the Uber servers and there is no save system so if for some reason you are in a long campaign and you disconnect, that’s it, it’s over.

Maybe one day the concept will be more polished but it really seems to be issues in game design rather than just blah graphics, game breaking glitches and minor annoyances. Maybe they can unrelease it? Who knows. It’s definitely not the worst game and you might like it if you love Supreme Commander but that game is better than this one.

It looks more like a Lite Brite than an interplanetary RTS

Planetary Annihilation Official Launch is currently on sale for $14.99. That’s 50% off. This is a terrible deal. Maybe if it was like 3 bucks it would be fun to mess around with, so forget about it for a year and then check again. Verdict: Skip it.

Prototype 2/Prototype™

At what point is does a prototype become an alpha, or even a beta release? I guess that’s more of a question for the DayZ devs. We will probably never know. Anyways, Steam Daily Deal has been on hiatus because the headquarters had to move. Now HQ is located safely under a bridge near the Los Angeles River, powered mostly by a combination of a water wheel and a few makeshift solar panels cobbled together by old beer cans. So apologies for the delay. Today’s daily deal is either Protoype™ or Protoype 2, depending on your fancy.

Basically in Prototype you play as some combination of the thing from The Thing, Stretch Armstrong, and that guy from Akira. In other words you are a weird super organic tentacle monster but you also have a penchant for parkour, or as Americans called it for 1.5 years freerunning. The Prototype games are both open world games. Back in the day, we would have called them sandbox style, because that’s what we called post Grand Theft Auto III sandbox games. I think now sandbox refers to Minecraft-type games where it’s like you’re really playing in a sandbox. Who knows.

Prototype reminds me a little of Just Cause 2 only instead of the guns you have a big smashy arm. But, also like in Just Cause 2, you can grapple onto helicopters that are flying by and whip yourself all over the map with reckless abandon, and it gives you a pretty good feeling of being able to do whatever the hell you want. Your muscles have become all evolved from taking PEDs and HGH and you can stretch your arms really far, make yourself a nice shield, and turn them into big blades for chopping vegetables (and people). Also you can eat people by ripping them apart. It’s pretty cool I guess.

Bringin’ this helicopter down with no survivors

So which game do you get, Prototype™ or its trademark lacking sequel? Everyone likes the first one better. The controls got wonky in the second one and the level up system got way worse and dumbed down. That always happens. Gaining new abilities in the first Prototype is definitely better and that is way more fun. The sequel definitely has better graphics but it is also horribly optimized and has a massive memory leak so the game always crashes unless you remember to alt tab out and back. Also, the first Prototype is cheaper.

Basically if you like open world games where you can wreak havoc on an unsuspecting public, Protoype Trade Mark has a lot to offer in this category. Plus there is lots of brooding. Protoype is currently on sale for 75% off. It is $4.99. Verdict: Buy it.