The cheapest downloadable games to buy on PC
LESS THAN £10
Red Faction Guerrilla
Guerrilla is about smashing stuff. It pretends that it’s about saving Mars from tyranny or some such nonsense, but you can happily forget that right now. It’s about hammers and bombs and explosions and the satisfaction of seeing big buildings come toppling down. Slip the difficulty down to avoid a few annoyances with the AI and combat systems getting in your way, and it’s a satisfaction that lasts right to the end of the game. So many games hand out powerful weapons; this is one of the few where they really do damage.
Saints Row 2
Saints Row 2 is Grand Theft Auto before it cut its own balls off. GTA might pretend to be anarchic, but it’s only here that you can drive a septic truck on a mission to splatter hookers and johns alike with effluent. This game doesn’t cross the line: it plays hopscotch with it. And God, it’s brilliant.
Another World is arty and... er... not as much fun as people remember. But! It’s more than simply a game; it’s a piece of gaming archeology. Few other games have ever created a world so alien with so little.
Broken Sword Trilogy
Revolution remains one of the UK’s most beloved adventure gaming houses, and the first three Broken Sword games are easily their masterpieces. They’re beautiful games, weaving interesting historical stories – the Knights Templar, Mayan mythology and Voynich Manuscript, respectively – that send you around the world. All three are excellent and largely unblemished by age.
Neverwinter Nights: Diamond Edition
Pop quiz: name the biggest RPG ever. WoW? Not even close. Daggerfall? Probably, you smart-arse. In a solid second place however, there’s Neverwinter Nights. The original campaign is pure crap, but what you’re really buying is access to all the great fan-made content out there.
Do you like fun? Do you long to see games that play by their own rules? Did you play Psychonauts? If not, you’re a hypocrite. But you can atone. It’s not the greatest platformer ever, but you’ll find few games as bursting with leaps of ‘how the hell did they come up with this?’ logic. Also, you get to set people on fire with the power of your mind.
Trying to describe The Void is largely futile, but here goes: it’s a game about life and death, colour and blood. You’re trapped between states, harvesting colour to survive and feeding the bizarre (usually naked) denizens trapped with you. Got that? You don’t know the half of it. If you ever feel that games are getting a bit samey, and crave a challenge that’s as unusual as it is epic, this is for you. You may love it. You may hate it. You’ll definitely find it an original, unforgettable experience.
Baldur's Gate 2
Baldur’s Gate 2 is the only RPG that gives Planescape a run for its money, serving up something much more traditional, but far more epic. The sweeping plot stumbles a bit in the original story, but picks up with a vengeance for the included expansion, Throne of Bhaal, which levels your main character up to literally god-like levels of power
Most RPGs give you a quest. Torment simply gives you a question: what can change the nature of a man? To find the answer, you’ll need to travel between dimensions and unravel arguably the greatest, most intelligent game ever written. Treating both philosophy and standard RPG tropes as its playthings, it’s not just a great game: it’s an absolute must-play.
Age of Wonders 2: Shadow Magic
Turn-based strategy in the fine tradition of Heroes of Might and Magic, with some excellent visuals. The AI isn’t incredible but it serves its purpose, with a random map generator to keep things more interesting. It’s a good intro to the style, and a great example of it if you’ve simply lost touch with the genre of late.
King's Bounty: The Legend
Alternatively to Shadow Magic, there’s King’s Bounty. It’s also a stack-based, turn-by-turn strategy game, but with one very important twist: it’s insane. The follow-ups improved the core action, but at the expense of some of the original’s individualism – such as the shock at realising that you can shrink down and have fights in your own equipment to improve it. The only downside is that it’s far from a welcoming game, and will happily beat you round the face and neck with your own incompetence the first few times you play. Set aside some time if you’ve never played a game like this before.
Space Rangers 2
Space, as a wise man once said, is big. In Space Rangers, it’s also ridiculously free-form, starting you out with a small ship and some vague murmurs about saving the universe, then cutting you loose to do whatever the heck you feel like. Adventure-style dialogues. RPG development. A little light conquest. It’s your ship; it’s your choice. Who knows, you might even take care of the robots threatening to destroy randomly-generated civilisation as we know it.
Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light
The best Tomb Raider of recent years… isn’t really a Tomb Raider game at all. Guardian of Light pulls the camera back, replacing the usual 3D platforming with a new, simpler version geared purely around fun and challenge. The story is bilge, but the puzzles are fantastic, regardless of whether you’re playing through on your own or teaming up with a friend. You can blitz through the story in no time, but working your way through the optional challenges takes a good while longer.
The Pandora Directive
Full motion video. Shudder. The days when it ruled the world were… dark. Even in complete darkness, though, you occasionally see a spark of light – and few shone brighter than the Tex Murphy interactive movies. This was by far the best, mixing a 3D world with surprisingly good video to tell a captivating story of an old-school PI in the future, deep in a conspiracy stretching back to the Roswell incident.
Far Cry 2
Far Cry 2 landed to much acclaim, then somewhat fizzled out. It’s still one of the more successful openworld shooters, though – not just for its more hardcore approach to combat, but for the moral questions and unusual themes it plays with. You’re the worst mercenary ever, heading into Africa without preparing for malaria, then stuck in a situation where all you can really hope to do is make the situation slightly less bad for all concerned without collapsing to your death.