20 hidden gems from 2024 to grab before the end of the Steam Summer Sale

Beat Slayer art
(Image credit: ByteRockers' Games)

A lot can change in six months, but the trajectory of the games industry remains unaltered since my Steam Winter Sale roundup. The brakes have been cut and we’re rolling downhill at untenable speeds. Studios are imploding, publishers are burning talent, and more amazing indie games are being produced than anyone has the time to even track, and yet I try. It’s time to support your local indie devs and damage your bank balance once again with my top 20 picks of lesser-known but great 2024 games discounted in the Steam Summer Sale.

And I couldn't resist including 20 more similarly themed alternatives because there have been a mind-boggling number of cool indie games released this year.

While I bend the rules a bit sometimes, most games here are:

  • Launched, graduated from early access or otherwise ‘completed’ in 2024
  • Something I’ve personally played and can vouch for the worthiness of
  • Genuine underdogs—most below 500 user reviews, some near-total unknowns
  • Quirky, distinctive, offbeat and under-covered—we like those deep cuts
  • At least 20% discounted—I am nominally trying to SAVE you some money
  • As broad a range of genres as possible. Hence the alternative mentions!

As always, I hope you discover something new, funky and fun to love here. Let’s get started! 

Frogmonster - FPS/metroidvania 

Frogmonster Trailer - YouTube Frogmonster Trailer - YouTube
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Price: $14.99 / £12.56 (25% off) | Developer: Ben Jungwirth

The swampy mutant spawn of Metroid Prime and Hollow Knight, with all the frogs you can eat. And be. You’re a frog with a gun, brought into existence by a weird bird god. There are some problems that need to be solved by shooting them with guns. And jumping around. And eating bugs. Hence the frog part. In short: Kermit murder with an assortment of upgradeable guns and magic spells that also double as emergency healing.

This one hits different with a funky voxel aesthetic and strange soundscape of noodly music and mouth-sound effects. But once you’re acclimated to the swamp-water you’ll find a dense Metroidy world with some fun navigation powers, Hollow Knight’s customizable upgrade system and dozens of good boss fights in a genre where you’re lucky to get one per game. Even in the early game, there’s a great mix of boss designs, attack patterns and Souls-ish phase changes. It’s a lot to chew on, and the developer keeps adding post-game challenge bosses and new content.

Alternatively: Bears in Space (20% off) is Jazzpunk meets Ratchet & Clank. No Metroidy stuff here, but plenty to explore—it’s part bullet-hellish FPS, part screwball gag delivery system. Funny most of the time (more than most TV comedy shows can claim) and a solid shooter for all of it. 

Angel At Dusk - Vertical scrolling shmup 

夕暮れの楽園と赤く染まる天使たち Angel at Dusk PV02 - YouTube 夕暮れの楽園と赤く染まる天使たち Angel at Dusk PV02 - YouTube
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Price: $10.49 / £8.95 (30% off) | Developer: Akiragoya

Be not afraid of these biblically inaccurate angels, because despite the terrifying clawed monster-women tearing each other’s guts out in a bullet hell fleshpocalypse, the game is surprisingly accessible to newcomers. Angel At Dusk starts on a gentle introductory run with ample tutorializing, and the core mechanics are simple, rewarding aggression and close-range shooting with extra health and smart bombs, plus you’ve got a secondary attack to stall or even delete incoming attacks. 

Angel At Dusk does a whole lot beyond the standard half-hour long arcade mode, though. Most of my time has gone into the massive branching story mode with RPG elements, where you can upgrade your freaky bio-ships, collect weapons and slowly unfurl a (surprisingly compelling) high-concept sci-fi story explaining why the world is made of meat, bone and screaming faces, and why all these ‘angels’ are murdering the hell out of each other. Plus, it’s just metal as hell.

Alternatively: Devil Blade Reboot (15% off) is a much more traditional short n’ sweet (and similarly aggressive) spaceship shmup by one of Vanillaware’s founding artists. As such, it is absolutely SPECTACULAR to look at. What’ll it be? Angels or devils? 

Nidus - Twin-stick shooter(?) 

Price: $5.39 / £5.01 (40% off) | Developer: Caleb Wood

Were it not for the total lack of fluffy ungulates, this could pass for a Jeff Minter joint. A psychedelic bizarro arena shooter where you play as a symbiotically paired cosmic flower and the angry wasp defending it. Either controlling both at once or splitting roles in co-op, the fragile flower evades and debuffs enemies, while the invincible wasp eats bullets and rams targets, returning to the flower to recharge and deposit power, allowing the flower to fire big bullet-wave attacks. It’s like rubbing your tummy and patting your head in the middle of a firefight, on shrooms.

Nidus is an uncompromising short-and-focused arcade experience with online leaderboards, but at least there’s an easy mode to ensure that most players will be able to fight through all the (gorgeously and procedurally animated) alien fauna to see the end. But the real bragging rights lie in completing it on Normal or even higher settings.

Alternatively: Windowkill (25% off) is more normal mechanically, but almost as weird conceptually as it takes over your desktop with malicious windows that can be rescaled with bullets, moved around as benevolent safe-spots or contain malicious boss popups that need to be closed. 

Dark Envoy - Tactical RPG 

Dark Envoy - Director's Cut (Patch 1.4) - YouTube Dark Envoy - Director's Cut (Patch 1.4) - YouTube
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Price: $19.49 / £16.24 (35% off) | Developer: Event Horizon

Successor to the oddball dungeon crawl RPG Tower Of Time, Dark Envoy is more of those slow-mo, cooldown-based squad tactics. Set in a fun science-fantasy world (so you’ve got laser rifles and elven summoning magic), story takes a backseat to crunchy combat with a very customizable party. There’s some moral decisions to be made along the way too, but don’t expect Witcher-scale repercussions.

With few restrictions beyond cooldowns, it wants you to use every character’s full set of abilities all the time, as fights can be long and tough, especially on higher difficulties. In boss fights it can feel a lot like an MMO raid, but you’re controlling the whole party all at once, dodging attack patterns and looking for openings. Dark Envoy was pretty rough at launch in 2023, but gets into this list because of a major ‘Director’s Cut’ re-release this year. Not quite an early access graduation, but close enough.

Alternatively: Kingsvein (20% off) is another party-building tactical RPG set in a world of living stone, but this time turn-based and with mechanics heavily inspired by Final Fantasy Tactics. Successor to the excellent age-of-sail RPG sandbox Horizon’s Gate

Berserk Boy - Mega Man-like platformer 

Price: $14.99 / £11.19 (30% off) | Developer: Berserk Boy Games

Cribbing from the Mega Man Zero series and the more recent Azure Striker Gunvolt games (including its tag-and-zap combat flow), Berserk Boy is more linear than your average Mega Man, but still has that familiar mix of wall-grabbing, robot-smashing and collecting new weapons and moves. It just feels good to run around, air-dash and bounce off enemies’ heads, and while the aesthetics sometimes feel a bit like Game Boy Advance-era also-ran, the soundtrack is a banger start to finish.

While Berserk Boy’s main campaign is mostly linear, acquiring new powers later in the game allows you to explore previously locked areas, providing replay value, rewards and unlocking bonus levels. Lots of bonus levels. One per regular level of the game, even. It’s not a huge game, but 100%ing this one feels satisfying.

You can also get Berserk Boy even cheaper if you own my personal platformer pick of 2023, Gravity Circuit, another heavily inspired by Mega Man Zero.

Alternatively: Bat Boy (40% off) is a few months older, shares a similar title, a similar melee-heavy Mega Man-like design and a similarly great soundtrack. Where it differs is a more NES-like aesthetic. 

Ultros - Metroidvania 

Ultros – Launch Trailer - YouTube Ultros – Launch Trailer - YouTube
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Price: $14.99 / £12.74 (25% off) | Developer: Hadoque

If Nidus hasn’t sated your hunger for cosmic psychedelia, Ultros should. An overwhelmingly colourful hand-drawn metroidvania that looks like it’s straight from the pages of a particularly intense Franco-Belgian comic. A surreal, squishy and fleshy sci-fi setting where you’re a mysterious masked hunter trying to break free of a time loop aboard a lush and overgrown space palace.

Mechanically, what sets Ultros apart is its story structure, taking part over multiple time loops (although you bring back much of your knowledge and gear each time) and its focus on food. You can collect seeds to grow into harvestable plants at planting spots around the map, but also carve meat from enemies. A variety of melee moves, perfect parries and backstabs will provide cleaner cuts of meat that provide more upgrade points when consumed. Messy fighting will just give you a handful of bloody scraps that’ll keep you fed and alive, but won’t confer much progress.

Alternatively: Venture To The Vile (20% off) is another stab-happy metroidvania, this one trading cosmic weirdness for a Victorian stiff upper lip. Still strange, though, as it’s set in a (surprisingly open) world of mad science, fungal curse-blooms and animal masks being mandatory at all times. 

Withering Rooms - Survival horror roguelike 

Withering Rooms (Steam Scream Fest Trailer) - YouTube Withering Rooms (Steam Scream Fest Trailer) - YouTube
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Price: $18.74/£14.99 (25% off) | Developer: Moonless Formless

A recent early access graduate, Withering Rooms is an interesting mash-up of side-scrolling survival horror and roguelike. Looking and feeling a bit like SNES classic Clock Tower mashed up with a modern Resident Evil, you play as a young woman in a Victorian mental institution. Or at least the shared dream-realm attached to it. Depending on which member of staff (or patient) you talk to, this is either very therapeutic or something to be escaped ASAP.

Until you’ve got a good build and some gear going, combat is slow and dangerous and dying reshuffles the map. Thankfully opportunities to create permanent inventory items are frequent, letting you carry more progression forward with you each time. One particularly fun aspect is the magic system. Spells are powerful, but using them curses you a little bit at a time. At high curse levels, the world gets even weirder and more unpredictable. Mostly bad, but good stuff can be found, methodically, in the madness.

Alternatively: The Tower On The Borderland (20% off) is less roguelike, more metroid, but still an offbeat take on the survival horror genre, with a stark Killer 7-ish aesthetic and a hazily told story of a young soldier fighting her way out of a cursed tower also linked to the realm of dreams. 

Sonar Shock - Immersive sim 

Sonar Shock Release Date (Soviet submarine overrun by Lovecraftian monsters) - YouTube Sonar Shock Release Date (Soviet submarine overrun by Lovecraftian monsters) - YouTube
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Price: $6.39 / £5.59 (20% off) | Developer: Raphael Bossniak

A tribute to the original DOS System Shock, but not without losing its own identity, Sonar Shock is a light and lo-fi immersive sim set aboard a haunted Soviet mega-sub. When the radiation and maddened/drunk crewmen aren’t trying to murder you, there’s an assortment of psychic lovecraftian beasties and even some critters from Eastern European folklore to contend with. Rather than having modern FPS controls, you move fully using the keyboard and aim using a floating mouse cursor, giving this one a very old-school feel. 

Less old school is the weirdly satisfying reloading system, where you click and drag parts of your gun on the UI to reload; pump that shotgun by clicking and dragging the slide. Despite the retro styling, Sonar Shock offers a lot of crunchy im-sim character building options and playstyles available. Given that the game is relatively short, it feels well built for replayability, with new stuff and routes likely to reveal themselves on return trips.

Alternatively: Freakhunter (50% off) is not an immersive sim, but another quirky FPS with a floating crosshair too. This one feels like a long-lost PS1 maze game, moving around like it’s a grid-based dungeon crawl, but combat is frantic button-mashing as enemies close distance. 

Path Of Achra - Pseudo-retro roguelike 

Price: $7.99 / £6.8 (20% off) | Developer: Ulfsire

Don’t be fooled by the DOS-era pixel art. Path of Achra is a very modern roguelike, designed to capture the feel of those absurd Binding Of Isaac runs where all your item synergies kick in and the entire universe explodes around you. Set in a world of primordial barbarian fantasy, you build your character from a culture, class and religion (more unlocking almost every run) and then fight through a branching map of single-screen battles, picking new abilities and gear along the way.

It’s shockingly compelling fun. Fast to learn the basics, and within a couple runs I had a character that could clear whole dungeons without moving—just passively summoning allies psychically blasting anything that came near. And if you lose a character to an unlucky roll of the dice, you can dust off that save and try to have them fight their way out of the underworld, if their build was tough enough.

Alternatively: The Land Beneath Us (20% off) is another turn-based dungeon crawler, this one much prettier, and with the gimmick of equipping one weapon per movement direction, making for very positional combat. Has a funky (and silly) sci-fi take on Welsh mythology, too, as you delve through the realms of Annwn. 

The Hayseed Knight - Visual novel 

The Hayseed Knight - Full Release Animated Trailer - YouTube The Hayseed Knight - Full Release Animated Trailer - YouTube
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Price: $15.99 / £13.40 (20% off) | Developer: Maxi Molina

Over seven years in the works and finally finished this year, The Hayseed Knight is an astonishingly polished and well-produced visual novel with a full professional voice cast, some gorgeous art and more animation than you’d expect from the genre. It’s a fantasy story (with the occasional choice and branch to be explored) about a one-eyed country bumpkin and his dream to become a knight in a furry fantasy city.

Misadventures, wacky hijinks and even some queer and unusually structured romance are on the cards, but it’s primarily a story of found family. The Hayseed Knight also frequently goes off on tangents that the simple premise might not have you prepared for. That, and the occasional trip through the fourth wall to remind us that you should support artists, but piracy is morally fine if it’s a rich corporation (or jerk) you’re screwing over.

Alternatively: The Mildew Children (25% off) is a darker, grimier and significantly less furry narrative adventure, this time about a mediaeval village populated by children and supported by grim pagan rituals. Witchcraft is risky, bloody business, and there’s a lot of tempting [LIE] dialogue options as conversations turn uncomfortable. 

Timemelters - Action-RTS tower defense 

TimeMelters - Launch Trailer - YouTube TimeMelters - Launch Trailer - YouTube
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Price: $11.99 / £10.05 (40% off) | Developer: Autoexec Games

Even more witchcraft, this time in third-person action-RTS form. Timemelters recently left early access and is a very refreshing third-person action twist on tower defence, playing a bit like a fusion of oddball strategy gem Sacrifice and the developer’s previous (and now free) Sang-Froid: Tale Of Werewolves. Both of those are pretty deep cuts, so maybe just try the demo? It’s good.

Most missions in Timemelters have you wizarding around, trying to intercept an army of demons before they can harm townsfolk or other objectives. But you’re under-staffed. Every time you die, you loop back in time, with your previous iteration carrying out all the actions they did previously. Sync up with yourself/selves and keep animating trees, summoning spikes or just throwing fireballs until you win. Timemelters also features full online co-op, and only one player needs to own the game thanks to its Friend Pass system.

Alternatively: Sentry (10% off) offers only a small discount, but that's on top of a lower early access price. Essentially Orcs Must Die in space with a persistent roguelike campaign structure. You can’t defend every location, so pick carefully which parts of the ship you can afford to lose to invaders. 

Astrolancer - Free-roaming/vertical shmup hybrid 

ASTROLANCER Trailer (Update!) - YouTube ASTROLANCER Trailer (Update!) - YouTube
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Price: $4.79 / £3.99 (20% off) | Developer: Studio Hexeye

A fantastic tribute to old NES classic The Guardian Legend, Astrolancer is half overhead run-and-gun shooter, half vertically scrolling shmup, all good. As a transforming android sent in to clear up a Von Neumann Probe infestation, you spend half the game exploring buildings for upgrades, chatting with the local worker bots, and then hunting down the region’s boss. Challenging, but slower-paced. Once a boss is on the ropes, you turn into a spaceship and chase it through a vertical shmup stage. Not quite bullet hell, but pretty demanding, and an exciting shift in gears.

Clocking in at seven levels each with ground and air segments, Astrolancer isn’t a massive game, but it is a replayable one, with cleverly balanced higher difficulties (including a challenge mode that remixes a lot) giving it some extra life. Don’t miss out on the in-game manual too—a virtual NES booklet that you can flip through, notes pages at the back and all.

Alternatively: Go Mecha Ball (50% off) is another short-but-sweet arcade game about transforming mecha! I wrote about it earlier in the year, and loved it then. My one real gripe—its lack of a more structured score-chasing mode—has since been addressed. 

Ereban: Shadow Legacy - Stealth action 

Ereban: Shadow Legacy - Launch Trailer - YouTube Ereban: Shadow Legacy - Launch Trailer - YouTube
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Price: $18.74 / £15.74 (25% off) | Developer: Baby Robot Games

Turns out that Nintendo's Splatoon has a whole lot of good ideas that take on new life in other genres. Ereban: Shadow Legacy is a sci-fi stealth ‘em up where you play as a mystical space ninja that can turn into a blob of living darkness whenever you’re standing in shadow. While you’re in blob form you’re invincible, invisible, and able to slide up and stick to even vertical surfaces. Perfect for getting the drop on the many robot guards patrolling each map.

There’s the usual option to play the game stabby or pacifist, with multiple endings and power sets available depending on how you want to play. Ereban also recently received a big update adding easy and hard modes, for those who found the default unsatisfying. Easy mode removes death by falling and hard makes it so stamina only refills in the shadows and enemies are more perceptive. Good for a second run.

Alternatively: Raw Metal (20% off) is more shadowy sci-fi sneakytimes, but this one’s been taking notes from Sifu instead of Splatoon. When Metal Gear-ish infiltration fails, improv-heavy martial arts is the answer to life’s problems. And when that fails, try again—it’s a roguelite too. 

Saviorless - 2D platformer 

Saviorless Launch Trailer - YouTube Saviorless Launch Trailer - YouTube
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Price: $9.09 / £8.39 (30% off) | Developer: Empty Head Games

While every country (no matter how small and remote) has a game development scene, gory gothic adventure platformer Saviorless has proudly proclaimed itself as Cuba’s first major indie game. A bold statement for a visually bold game. It’s a sharply illustrated 2D platformer with a focus on narrative and atmosphere, plus a couple of interesting mechanical twists.

The game is presented as a familiar story retold through rival narrators, each of which has their own protagonist to control. Antar, a fragile kid with no combat abilities whatsoever (and a powerful alter-ego known as The Savior), and Nento, a horse-headed demon that pummels stuff that would otherwise one-shot his smaller counterpart. Not an easy one: PCG’s Joshua Wolens criticised its stingy checkpoint placement, despite enjoying its vibes otherwise.

Alternatively: Anomaly Agent (40% off) is a hit in its native Turkey but lesser known elsewhere. It’s a scrappy sci-fi platform brawler about an agency that tracks down and neutralises reality-bending anomalies. Its oddly loose spritework belies a smart combat engine, with a lot of room for parries, dodge rolls and combos using anything you can grab. While linear, it was recently updated with a roguelike dungeon mode, remixing all the game’s encounters. 

Decimate Drive - First-person experimental horror 

Decimate Drive - Launch Trailer - YouTube Decimate Drive - Launch Trailer - YouTube
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Price: $5.99 / £5.01 (25% off) | Developer: Some Random Designing

Decimate Drive feels like an actual nightmare. Not especially coherent, but the kind of thing that has you bolting upright at 4 am in a cold sweat and politely asking your brain ‘What the hell?’. Your goal is to answer phones, ringing out in abandoned parking lots and industrial parks at night, while seemingly driverless (Tesla?) cars attempt to run you over, sliding and skidding on snow and ice. It’s genuinely nerve-wracking, as you constantly look around for trees and bollards that you might be able to lure a car into, stalling it briefly and giving you a chance to change direction. 

Each car has its own AI, handling and personality—some are more bloodthirsty than others, giving it some interesting wrinkles. The solo developer reckons they can get a little more mileage out of its murderous motors too, recently updating with a new endless score attack mode. A second update is also planned, featuring more story and some additional cars.

Alternatively: Flathead is the only game not discounted here, but gets a mention because it’s only $2 and another nightmarish experiment in dreamlike horror filled with limited control and unsettling machines in the dark. Good horror vibes can make something as simple as basic over/under betting into a fresh hell. 

Against Great Darkness - Brick breaker roguelike 

Against Great Darkness - official trailer - YouTube Against Great Darkness - official trailer - YouTube
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Price: $5.59 / £4.79 (20% off) | Developer: Hitreg Studios

Breakout and biblical apocrypha? A match made in bullet hell. Mix in some roguelite progression and you’ve got a quite bizarre mash-up of genres and themes, but it somehow works. Dodging enemy bullets is as important here as hitting the ball back. Moreso, even—there’s little penalty for dropping your shots, aside from losing some damage output. Every couple seconds, your chosen pagan (trying to ascend to heaven, of course) spits out an additional ball to bounce around, and you can have as many of them in play as you can handle, after a few upgrades.

This one leans a lot more towards the twitchy arcade side of things. A good build of items and perks will give you an edge, but dodging and knowing when to fire off a bullet-clearing bomb are arguably more important skills. A weirdly refreshing take on Breakout, all told.

Alternatively: Tiny Breakers Camp (15% off) is proof that concepts come in waves. Two brick breaker roguelikes within a month of each other? Tiny Breakers Camp is a slower, cuter, more strategic take on the concept. Keep that ball in play and summon lots of little pixel buddies to clear each map. Both (plus one other, Whackerball) can be picked up at an even steeper discount in this bundle on Steam

Robobeat - Rhythm FPS 

ROBOBEAT - Launch Trailer - YouTube ROBOBEAT - Launch Trailer - YouTube
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Price: $15.99 / £13.59 (20% off) | Developer: Simon Fredholm

A stylish and exceptionally technical rhythm FPS in the vein of Metal: Hellsinger or BPM. Just shooting to the beat isn’t enough. There’s schmoovement here, dashes and slides and double-jumps, plus a complex combo system where you can buff your weapons by parrying and reloading in specific on-the-beat patterns, depending on which weapon it is. It’s a lot!

There’s some roguelite stuff too, complete with a mysterious story revealed bit by bit. Real impressive for a fresh early access debut, and there’s more to come yet. Interestingly, you can switch what music is playing at any point to change the game’s beats per minute if you want an easier or harder beat to follow. Or you can just import your own music, assuming it’s rhythmic.

Alternatively: Beat Slayer (30% off) was released just a month before Robobeat, and is another action roguelike about rhythmically rumbling with robots, this one set in alt-universe post-wall Berlin. This one’s got an isometric perspective and more focus on crowd control over accuracy, and some Hades-inspired progression. The less intense of the two. 

Pampas & Selene: The Maze of Demons - Co-op exploration platformer 

Pampas & Selene: The Maze of Demons | Official EN Trailer | Unepic Games - YouTube Pampas & Selene: The Maze of Demons | Official EN Trailer | Unepic Games - YouTube
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Price: $7.99 / £6.80 (20% off) | Developer: Unepic Games

Pampas & Selene is a great big cozy lo-fi tribute to The Maze of Galious, the 1987 MSX game that inspired La-Mulana and many more. Despite some modern effects (like widescreen support) it feels authentically retro, even offering an alternative FM synth soundtrack if you want to get really ‘80s. There’s plenty to chew on thanks to a big map to explore, two characters (Pampas the close-combat knight and Selene, the ranged witch) to tag-team between, and even some sidequests assigned to you by the greek gods.

While you can play the game solo, it’s far more interesting to play with a friend, either splitscreen or online. As well as further contrasting their separate abilities, the two heroes can explore different rooms separately, with a little picture-in-picture window if playing online so you can track where your buddy is at. But the two work best together, with Selene able to cast from behind Pampas’ shield. Great for building trust. Or breaking it.

Alternatively: Surmount: A Mountain Climbing Adventure (33% off) is a more arcadey and physics-driven way of ruining friendships, but this mountaineering game were you spin and fling yourself between handholds still has plenty of potential for trust to be betrayed if you play (optionally) in co-op. 

Break The Loop - Darkest Dungeon-like 

Break the Loop - Release Trailer - YouTube Break the Loop - Release Trailer - YouTube
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Price: $9.74 / £8.31 (35% off) | Developer: Mastodonte

Darkest Dungeon minus the darkness? Break The Loop takes the combat of the popular despair simulator and wraps it in a bouncy, silly cartoon adventure. Your team of time-travelling weirdos need to stop three separate apocalypses, starting with an eldritch tentacle-beasts and getting weirder from there. 

Rather than blindly exploring dungeons, you get to (partially) pick which encounters happen along the timeline, selecting when you’ll get to rest, fight or pick bonuses, so you’ve only got yourself to blame when you place an Elite enemy before a rest stop. While it’s brighter and cuter than Darkest Dungeon, it’s still pretty tough. Expect to get flattened at first, but each run gives you a steady assortment of unlocks and permanent buffs, bringing victory just that tiny bit closer.

You can also get Break The Loop even cheaper if you own the similarly gorgeous (and French) Aetheris, previously featured in this very roundup series.

Alternatively: Anomaly Collapse (10% off) is only slightly discounted, but an even more robust (and brighter) take on Darkest Dungeon’s formula. Eldritch hellbeasts abound again, this time in a furry cyberpunk city. The combat is surprisingly mobile, with enemies attacking from both sides, and units able to stack up on each other at the cost of a debuff for overcrowding. 

Mech Engineer - Diegetic UI strategy hell 

Price: $11.99 / £9.11 (20% off) | Developer: KiberKreker

No game is ‘for everyone’, but Mech Engineer is specifically tuned for a small number of retro strategy freaks. A diegetic UI nightmare where you click buttons, flip switches and turn dials to manage mankind’s last holdout (a gigantic walking city) on a kaiju-infested Earth. You’re expected to do EVERYTHING, from assigning resources to city districts, to individually tuning mech reactors. The only thing you don’t do is piloting, as you’ve got to rely on AI pilots with their own personalities and thresholds for panic.

It’s a bit like an even more esoteric, DOS-styled take on Highfleet. My first attempt at the campaign ended almost immediately as I failed to hold off the ‘tutorial’ assault. A few more tries and I think I understand the basics, but this is a game of trial, error, and thumbing through the (virtual) paper manual, which can get buried under literal paperwork in-game. I like it. It hurts so good.

Alternatively: 9-Bit Armies: A Bit Too Far (25% off) is the opposite, if you’re not up for UI hell. Command & Conquer with the serial numbers filed off and developed by ex-Westwood crew Petroglyph, who have been producing almost nothing but variants on the formula for decades now. It’s safe, satisfying, cute and nostalgic. 

I sincerely hope this has opened some eyes to just how many weird, wonderful and wacky games are dropping on Steam every week. This is just my sales shortlist from the past six months. If you’re after even steeper discounts, check out my previous deep sales dives, most of which are on sale again, and going even cheaper this year. 

To all the developers behind these games: Thank you for keeping things weird, and may you find success sufficient to keep doing what you love. And to everyone who’s bought something off one of these lists: You’re a big hipster nerd and that’s just great. Until next time!

Dominic Tarason
Contributing Writer

The product of a wasted youth, wasted prime and getting into wasted middle age, Dominic Tarason is a freelance writer, occasional indie PR guy and professional techno-hermit seen in many strange corners of the internet and seldom in reality. Based deep in the Welsh hinterlands where no food delivery dares to go, videogames provide a gritty, realistic escape from the idyllic views and fresh country air. If you're looking for something new and potentially very weird to play, feel free to poke him on Twitter. He's almost sociable, most of the time.