Five Must Play Games on Steam that are Under $10

Valve’s Steam Store may have just wrapped up its week long summer sale, but that doesn’t mean you still can’t pick up a great game for a great price. Every day the service is jammed packed with deals on games that take little or nothing out of your wallet. So in the spirit of budget gaming, here are five games under $10 that you just have to play for your computer.

Psychonauts – Tim Schafer has secured his place as a video game legend with titles like Full Throttle and Secret of Monkey Island. This fact made it even more puzzling that his first title after leaving Lucasarts would have such a hard time getting a publisher. Maybe it was the dark humor or subversive nature of the game, but Psychonauts was a game that was nearly never released.

Luckily the game was eventually released by Majesco and we all got the opportunity to spend a summer at Whispering Rock Psychic Summer Camp learning how to be a Psychonaut. The game was a solid 3D platformer with a dark and twisted sense of humor. Taking on the role of Razputin Aquato, a child who actually ran away from the circus, you uncover a sinister plot and must develop your psychic powers in order to save yourself and your new found friends.

It’s fun, it’s dark and it’s laugh out loud funny. This game is a must have for the people that enjoy games with a little bite to them. The best part is that under all that style is a solid game. With arrowheads to collect, areas to explore and items to unlock this is the perfect game for those of us that grew up on Mario, Sonic and Spyro.

Portal – If you asked gamers what the best game of 2011 has been so far, I’m sure a large number of them will say Portal 2. It accomplished what so many sequels fail to do, which is be better than the original. This is an even more impressive feat when you take into account how beloved and successful Portal was. Despite all the songs, all the jokes about cake and all the plush companion cubes that have been made, there are still some people that haven’t played the original. It’s shocking and there is no excuse, especially since it’s under $10. Oh, did I mention it’s playable on both PC and Mac?

Portal continues the great Valve tradition of voiceless protagonist. Filling the shoes of test subject #1498, you attempt to solve puzzles put forth by the artificial intelligence GLaDOS. It soon becomes clear that GLaDOS might not have your best interest at heart and you’re forced to use your portal gun to stay alive. It’s not often that you get a first person game that is this far outside of the scope of tradition shooters. You get no weapons and must rely on only your wits to make it through. Portal really is one of the most satisfying and rewarding games ever made.

Deus Ex – With the release Deus Ex: Human Revolution a little more than a month away, fans of the original are starting to get anxious. There are few franchises that resonate with classic PC gamers like Deus Ex. With its dystopian cyberpunk setting and interesting story, the game still feels like it could be an accurate prediction of our world in 2052.

Despite being released a decade ago, Deus Ex still manages to have more depth and freedom than most games being released today. Every level has multiple ways of achieving your objectives. You can attempt to sneak in the back or kick down the front door. The game even allows for the use of non-lethal weapons which prompted many people to compete to see how few people they can kill through a single play through. So while the graphics are dated, the voice acting terrible and the lack of auto-saving frustrating, Deus Ex has gameplay that still holds up to this day.

Braid – Rare is a game that seems as effortless as Braid. After only a couple levels, you quickly realize that this game is something truly special. I remember a moment when an innocent looking puzzle piece could me manipulated into a platform to reach greater height and it changed how I thought about games. The puzzles are deviously simply and often leave you stunned when you realize the sorts of things you can actually do in this game. It’s really hard to describe in words what makes Braid so wonderful.

The art design is beautiful, the music haunting and the gameplay challenging. Luckily the game uses the ability to manipulate time to ensure that you’ll never have to worry about losing all your progress due to a bum jump or a momentary lapse in concentration. If you find yourself in a pit of spikes, simply rewind time to a point where you can attempt again. Braid encourages you to be ambitious and never punishes you for trying to think outside of a box, which is a rare combination in the world of video games.

Half-Life 2Half-Life 2 is one of the greatest games of all time. It’s not often that a game can combine action, suspense and horror into such a potent mixture of pure gaming bliss. You would think a game that has aliens, fascist police states, zombies and giant bugs would come across as “trying to hard.” Amazingly, Half-Life 2 avoids that issue and never feels forced or contrived.

As Gordon Freeman you are the Earth’s last hope to repel an evil alien invasion. You’ve returned to Earth after the events of the first game to find that the planet and all its inhabitants, both terrestrial and extra, are being oppressed by the Combine. You stand as a heroic figure and poster boy for the human resistance. Can your nerves and intellect handle the challenge?

As you can see, there are plenty of great options out there for the budget conscious computer gamer. With digital distribution like Steam, we’re not only seeing the re-release of many great classic games, but also a steady stream of affordable and fun indie games. So keep an eye out for great deals and unique games!

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