I recently read in one of the rags that us British folk call ‘newspapers’ that Diablo III had saved PC gaming, starting a revolution that would soon see millions of people returning to playing games on their PC as opposed to their console or handheld device. Don’t worry PC devs, gaming is saved! The messiah has arrived! All hail Diablo III!
Whilst I wait for the irony of that last analogy to sink in let me will tell you about Because We May, a little site started by Ron Carmel, one half of the creators of sticky puzzler World of Goo 2D Boy, and dedicated to celebrating the online stores such as Steam or The App Store that give developers control over the pricing of the games they produce. Now some of you may be wondering why this warrants a hefty news item, whilst others of you may still be trying to work out the irony of the analogy above, and if that is the case I strongly suggest you stop thinking about that for a bit and focus all your attention on this next bit.
In celebration of the select online stores that give the developers freedom regarding pricing and in celebration of the people who I personally feel are ‘saving’ PC gaming (not that it needs saving, but that’s a different story) Because We May has recruited tons of developers to endorse the message and offer their game(s) at a discounted price for a whole week.
That’s right folks, for the last week of May (May 24th until June 1st) hundreds of PC, Mac, iPhone, iPad and even a couple of Xbox 360 indie titles will be available at cut price. The actual prices are due to be revealed tomorrow, May 24th, so have your wallets, credit cards and PayPal accounts at the ready. A large percentage of the games that will go on sale have a Metascore rating of over 75, and several have been nominated for IGF or IndieCade awards. This isn’t a bargain bucket clear-out; these are top quality indie games we’re talking about.
Just to give you some perspective on how big this sale is the Steam store alone has 60 games listed as available for discount. That is two whole months worth of Steam daily sales, which if you think about it is phenomenal. The App Store has over double that amount, and even if you are so mean that you can’t afford the other games in the sale I’d expect some of the stuff in The App Store to be available for free.
So you’re probably wondering: ‘how do I get in? What’s the catch? Where do I sign off my soul?’ It’s simple. There is no catch. Just follow this helpful link to the Because We May website and you’ll see a very easy website to navigate. Each game has its own large circle, and clicking that circle will send you to the page from which you can buy the game. It really is that simple. Are you looking for a certain game in particular? Control-F the hell out of that bastard, and if it’s not there then buy something else and support a good cause.
Given the scale of the sale I thought it would be helpful to recommend a few games that are worthy of your spare change, and so I set out to recruit some of the best writers to help me!
…Unfortunately none of the writers I asked accepted my request and so instead other members of the Twinfinite team are sharing their personal favorites. However they have done a sterling job given the short notice, so a massive thanks goes out to them.
So, very much because we may, here are our recommendations!
I apologize, it was practically part of the brief to fit that pun in somewhere.
A hack and slash castle defense game, Dungeon Defenders is by far the best I’ve played. You can choose from a monk, a hunter, a squire, or a mage, each with their own set of abilities and specialties. Four people max per game and it plays like a horde mode wherein you’re constantly defending crystals around the stage. The genius lies in the simplicity and strategy of planting traps for enemies as well as the genuine fun that comes from brainlessly hacking enemies.
[AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaAAAAA!!! for the Awesome]
This game is encapsulated in its title; it’s awesome. You play a person in first person and at the start of every level you begin by jumping off a platform. What follows is a freefall that has you avoiding obstacles until you manage to get close to your landing zone and can open your parachute. It’s a point based game and you accumulate them the farther you get without hitting anything. There’s also added bonuses for barely missing obstacles, waving at friends, and flipping off your enemies. Its whacky sense of humor and art direction really makes this one stand out, if its unique gameplay didn’t do that already.
It’s fucking Braid. If you haven’t played or at the very least heard about this masterpiece of Indie gaming, I pity you. It’s the number one game that I can say showed me clearly that games had the capacity to be art. Think Prince of Persia except with more thoughtful puzzles that absolutely require you to turn back time. Braid’s a platformer/puzzle hybrid that will have you feeling smart as well as completely somber.
[Breath of Death VII & Cthulhu Saves the World Double Pack]
Breath of Death VII and Cthulhu Saves the World from Zeboyd games is simply a fantastic bundle to invest in. Two unique takes on traditional JRPGs that are loaded with great humor and interesting characters for a low price. I would recommend this bundle to people at the standard pricing. Now it is even cheaper. This is a great deal for anyone that enjoys a bit of humor in their gaming and should get you used to them before they release the third Penny Arcade game.
Speaking of which, the two previous Penny Arcade titles are also on offer.
[The Binding of Isaac]
Edmund McMillen returns again, this time with Florian Himsl with The Binding of Isaac, featuring a soundtrack from Danny Baranowsky. It’s a quasi-top-down “dual stick” rouge shooter in which you play as Isaac, the abandoned baby who is rummaging through dungeons in order to escape the grips of his overly Christian mother. Collecting upgrades and items rarely feels this rewarding, as everything you pick up is without description, and you can only find out its use through using it. This game is violent, fun, and extremely difficult. Depending on how Isaac pulls you in, you may spend spurts of 10 minutes playing it, or you may spend hours on end trying to collect everything and kill everything. There’s no doubt that it is incredibly addictive, and for the price tag, it’s a steal.
[Super Meat Boy]
Super Meat Boy is the hit 2D platformer from Team Meat, comprised of just Edmund McMillen, and Tommy Refenes, with a soundtrack from the awesome Danny Baranowsky. In it, you play as Meat Boy, a small blob of meat whose trail of blood follows him through saw blades, spikes, and a plethora of other deadly obstacles. Your goal is to save bandage girl, the aptly named girl made of bandage, from the grips of Dr. Fetus, the well dressed fetus in a jar. It features some of the tightest, quickest platforming that’s yet to be seen in a game of this genre. Think of Mario taking a few speedballs, and you’ve got Super Meat Boy. It’s worth the full price, so you would be insulting yourself by not picking this game up.
Several games in this sale have already had plenty of time in the limelight, but I think Spirits may be worthy of an extra mention. Let me sell you on it – it’s a zen version of Lemmings. Just like Lemmings (though with mushroom-like forest spirits), you are tasked with guiding the spirits towards a goal. It’s your job to make sure they survive their journey by assigning them different abilities in order to pass certain obstacles in each level. If you’re looking for a puzzler that tickles your nostalgia bone without looking or feeling retro, be sure to grab Spirits in this great promotion!
Costume Quest is a Halloween RPG from Double Fine Studios. To be honest, if you are a fan of any of those three things you should stop reading and just pick it up right now. It combines combat, costume upgrades, and of course Trick-or-Treating as gameplay features. Costume Quest is admittedly not a super hardcore RPG, but it’s a delightful little adventure with Double Fine’s trademark charm and humor.
I’m pretty much down with whatever games Double Fine wants to throw at me, but I’ll admit I was hesitant to play Stacking. The Russian Doll motif looks great, but I was slightly reticent of the gameplay involved. Luckily, the puzzle-solving is fun. There are even multiple ways to solve each puzzle. Simply put: This game oozes charm and melted a hole in my pleasure sensors.
This game is a vertical shoot-em-up that is the first game I’ve ever seen able to go toe-to-toe with any Cave shooter. It’s a steam-punky shooter set in Colonial America with just enough cheese and camp to be entertaining. It’s a fun title, for sure, and the multiple difficulties of each level help make it accessible to all of us.
Again, I’ll back every product with the Double Fine on it up to this point, but Psychonauts is something special. The characters are so well-designed, the dialogue well-written that even the somewhat standard platforming gameplay is never a chore. I laughed out loud several times playing through this game. That’s no small feat. Besides, they’ve taken a little of the edge off of the oft-lamented Meat Circus level. Don’t be afraid.
[Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP]
This is a strange one. Staunchly minimalistic, but surprisingly beautiful. A point-and-click adventure that’s a treat to play on every screen from the tiny iPhone screen all the way up to the nicest HD monitor. The soundtrack is also one of the best around. I can’t recommend it highly enough. But, please. Don’t spam my Twitter feed with every piece of dialogue. You know you were thinking about it. That button is right there, longing to be pressed. #Sworcery
[Dungeons of Dredmor]
Dungeons of Dredmor; classic Roguelike gameplay with old-school pixelated graphics and a good dose of humor to complete the package. I’ve been playing this game a lot recently. It’s very easy to dip in and out of, and with each playthrough you get a different experience, especially if you randomize your skills when creating a new character. Beyond the cruel and sometimes unforgiving dungeon crawling this game is very silly. I entered the dungeon to slay fearsome beasts and complete dangerous quests! Then I came across a short nude bloke thrusting his hips provocatively at me and ran away crying. And did I mention you can wear a traffic cone on your head? With the new DLC just around the corner this sale is the perfect opportunity to experience this unusual game.
This game may not be everyone’s cup of tea, mainly because it is not a cup of tea but in fact a game in which you hack into computer systems. Not real computer systems mind you, oh no, you won’t get in trouble with the fed for playing this game, nor will you need any special computery code knowledge to perform the hacking. However what is required is quick thinking and even quicker fingers. Not in that way. The best way to describe this game is a realistic puzzler. Every job you take on for your criminal computer hacking employers requires a different approach. Sometimes you’ll simply have to crack a password and delete a document, other times you’ll have to break several passcode barriers before diverting money from one bank account into another and then covering your tracks by wiping the connection logs. All under a strict time limit. If you like the idea of computer hacking but don’t like getting a criminal record then this game is for you.
[bit.trip RUNNER and bit.trip BEAT]
Go buy bit.trip RUNNER and BEAT. Trust me on this one. The bit.trip series is a fantastic deconstruction of the rhythm genre, complete with immense retro charm. Both games are very different, but they maintain the same base: as you progress and continue to do well, the games reward you not just with points, but with flashier video and more expansive audio cues. The very core of each game is intrinsically tied into rewarding success in this difficult series. Add in the necessity of an almost trancelike sense of focus and rhythm, striking and simple visuals, and a catchy chip-style soundtrack that takes form as you play, and you’ve got two must-buy games
And last but certainly not least…
[Spirited Heart Girl’s Love]
I recommend Spirited Heart Girl’s Love because the first sentence in its description is: “Spirited Heart Girl’s Love is the yuri expansion to the popular game Spirited Heart.” This is an incredible first sentence, because not only does it make itself unequivocally clear- “you are about to spend your money on something in which girls make out”- the fact that it is an expansion implies that the original developers of the game looked at their work and said, “You know what? Not enough girls making out.” And best of all: “I’ll bet we can charge our customers extra for it, because I suspect there is a demand for girls making out among our fanbase.”
Well, these gentlemen are right. Look at the artwork. It is not bad, but it’s certainly not the best around. What I want you to understand is that that is not important. What is important are lines of dialogue such as “I finally reach Lam and bend over to serve him his tea. I make sure to make myself extra appetizing.” Note that on screen we see a pretty elf girl on the left, and a fat, bearded man on the right- one who is just a palette swap of the exact same fat, bearded man in another of the six images on the page! “Are you saying the developers are lazy?” you ask. No! This is a brilliant technique for showing the viewer that in this game, men are not important. They might as well all be palette swaps. There are about a half-dozen different women in the screenshots, all quite different, and only two men on the page. You would think it would be easy to dig up two different male characters, but no: palette swaps. Because: men are irrelevant in this game. Because: this is a game in which girls make out.
In another image on the page, we see two female characters, both drawn in what appear to be totally different art styles. You would not have noticed this if I hadn’t told you, because one of them is in a skimpy bikini. Maybe the two of them make out or something. I don’t know. I’ve never played this game before.
Just a helpful reminder that this sale runs from the 24th May until 1st of June, by which time I expect you all to be poor yet having massive amounts of fun.
I’d also like to extend a massive thanks on behalf of not only the Twinfinite team but also the whole of the gaming community to Ron Carmel and all of the developers who supported him. You guys really rock, and I’m sure everyone would love for this to be a yearly thing.