In case you missed it, on Wednesday we talked some of gaming's best PC content delivery systems and how they might benefit gamers with different preferences. Today we're delving deeper into said systems (namely GOG and Steam) and running down some of gaming's overlooked gems of yesteryear, which are all available on either of the services, or in some cases both.
If you've got some extra cash lying around, you might want to reconsider that trip to the movies this weekend and plunk it down on one of these titles instead. Or do both, if you're ballin'.
Just in time for Halloween, you can nab Sanitarium, a twisted point-and-click adventure game from 1998. Max Laughton is the newest patient at this particular sanitarium, having been recovered from a horrible car crash with no memory of the crash or his identity, for that matter. As you slowly piece together clues here and there from what actually happened you'll slowly find yourself questioning what exactly is real or what's all in Max's mind. This isometric psychological thriller has some admittedly simple puzzles, but its startlingly creepy atmosphere is worth the purchase price alone. If you're impatient, you'll be glad to know there are no “true” game overs, either. If killed in action you'll simply start over at your last checkpoint, a la El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron, without all the furious button mashing. Grotesque visions, dreamlike sequences, and a chilling narrative make Sanitarium one to try if you weren't already on board in 1998.
The early '90s were a fabulous time for platformers, music, TV, and life in general. If you carted around a bundle of shareware like I did back then, no doubt you had your hands on Commander Keen at one point or another. Hailing from the early days of id Software, these vivid, cartoony platformers revolved around Billy Blaze, an eight-year-old boy traveling through space under the assumed identity of Commander Keen. Gosh, golly gee! That sure is keen! Most of the “episodes”, or several acts that make up the story, are available on Steam for download and feature plenty of side-scrolling goodness and aliens to vaporize. If you're all tapped out on Cosmo's Cosmic Adventure, it's always a good idea to revisit Commander Keen...even if you're playing one of the several new releases out this month.
If you didn't get into the Diablo 3 beta, you're probably jonesing for your next click-here, click-there XP-fest. And you've already played Torchlight, right? Westwood Studios' action-RPG Nox should satisfy that hunger for now, at least until Blizzard caves to its ravenous fanbase. Jack Mower is an everyman who gets yanked from his everyday life to the fantasy world of Nox, where he's tasked with defeating the evil Queen of Necromancers, Hecubah. As a wizard, warrior, or conjurer you'll click-defeat hundreds of enemies, pick up tons of loot, and run out of mana quicker than Sonic fans cry foul at the latest addition to the Sonic library. Dungeons aplenty and tongue-in-cheek jokes abound. Check out Nox for your budget dungeon-crawling fix.
With 2K Marin's re-imagining of the classic series (now known as XCOM) on the horizon, now's as good a time as any to brush up on the cult classic series. Mythos Games and MicroProse teamed up to make an indomitable series detailing an alien invasion and the subsequent capture, research, and removal of the threat throughout a series of games. Widely regarded as some of the best video games of all time, the X-COM series provides a worthy challenge for those willing to take it, especially if you're into strategy titles. X-COM's got everything and more in full force. Steam's got the entire collection for the very reasonable price of $14.99, and the individual titles (five of them to be exact) for $4.99 apiece.
The sequel to the critically-acclaimed MDK (MDK2) has already seen an HD re-release, and many would argue it's the better of the two games. But take a look at where the series started, a series no one is actually sure of what the titular three letters stand for, and the game that inspired my Steam handle, MDK. Shiny Entertainment's slick FPS starring Kurt Hectic, saving the Earth and human civilization from strip-mining alien machines known only as Minecrawlers, was a milestone for its time. Its intuitive sniper mode and trademark humor made it one of the must-have shooters of the year, and Tommy Tallarico's fantastic musical score is still a standout today. Look, we know there are plenty of shooters out there you'd probably rather be buying right now, but take a trip down memory lane and get a few laughs in with MDK. Then go buy the sequel. We're waiting.
If you've got a few bucks and time to kill, you're lucky, and you should also let us know what picks you'd recommend from these services. Creatures? Phantasmagoria? It's like a gamer's smorgasbord. You might not agree that digital distribution's the way of the future, but it sure does make things a heck of a lot more convenient.
Brittany Vincent is a freelance writer who routinely eviscerates virtual opponents and tempts fate by approaching wayward Zoloms. A connoisseur of all things bloody and bizarre, she's available to chat via Twitter @MolotovCupcake, and is always ready to take on new projects. You can peruse her archived work at PfhortheWin.com