If you've ever bought a game for your PC, odds are good you downloaded it via Steam. Valve's Steam client facilitates a huge portion of PC gaming's sales, making the annual Steam Holiday Sale (running now through January 2) a very big deal. With across-the-board cuts on hundreds of titles, daily deals, and flash sales good only for 12 hours, there are lots of opportunities to bag a good deal.
Many deal-hunters watch for a sweet deal on a recently released AAA title, cutting a $60 game to $40 or less. Others prefer to try their luck on more budget titles — but this can be a gamble if you haven't done your research. Since many of the best Steam Sale deals pop up only briefly, we've rounded up a few quality titles to watch for that will help fill your game library without emptying your wallet. You're likely to find these games, at these prices, and know that they're worth your time.
GameSpot called Terraria "a deeply rewarding adventure that continually urges you onward to see what lies ahead." This 2D exploration adventure game may at first remind the player of Minecraft, until they break the wrong object and an ancient evil arises to strike them down. With an "overwhelmingly positive" rating on Steam and most reviewers clocking in with hundreds of hours of playtime, this game is a steal — especially since it has dropped under $2.50 during the last several Steam sales.
You already know you love these games if you played them as a kid, and they've been re-released for PC. This bundle regularly offers 40 titles for $29.96, but will likely be discounted by 25% to 50% off during the Steam Sale, leaving each title under 60 cents. (If you've only got your eye on one or two old favorites, consider picking up individual titles or one of the smaller "Classics Packs" bundles.) This bundle includes retro favorites like Golden Axe II, Altered Beast, Ecco the Dolphin, and Ristar.
This action role-playing game has won plenty of awards, including the Game Critics Award for "Best Downloadable Game of E3" 2011. It's also dropped under $4 in the last several major Steam sales, so it's likely to happen again. It's notable for its immersive play-by-play narration, giving an air of tragic grandeur even to your worst misplays.
PC Gamer's review might encapsulate the appeal of this game best: "Ever since I saw Firefly, I've been eager to take charge of a crew and lead them to almost certain death. FTL lets me do that, over and over again." This spaceship strategy game has a very positive rating with over 20,000 reviews and has been seen for under $3.50 in the past few major Steam sales. (In summer 2013 it went down to $2.49.) Of note, it is in the roguelike genre, so expect several failed flights before you soar to glory.
This popular Valve title has dropped to $4.99 in each of the recent Steam sales, so it's a good bet that it will again. Enjoy this puzzle platformer by yourself, or talk a friend into buying a copy to enjoy co-op mode.
Readers, what games are you hoping to find during the Steam sale? Do you have a favorite budget title we didn't mention? Let us know in the comments below!