The 2013 Steam Summer Sale For Low-End Computers

The 2014 Steam Summer Sale is coming, and once again I try to put together a list to prove it’s not just the domain of people who own GTX Titan Blacks. There are hundreds, possibly even thousands of games on Steam that will almost undoubtedly run on your crappy work computer or your laptop with integrated graphics. I keep doing these lists because more of these games keep coming out between every major Steam sale.

Go to my articles for USGamer if you want decent lists for games that have come out in past years that’ll run on low-end computers. That’s just for a start, and as always, even that’s only scratching the surface. Since those articles were published though Steam has opened the floodgates not only to many small developers, but also seemingly grabbed a lot more classics. More games have been released on Steam so far in 2014 than in all of 2013, and most are indies or classics. Many of them are great games.

Another trend is that in the last couple of years integrated graphics cards (what’s attached to the CPUs of computers without gaming graphics cards) have leveled up a bit. A lot of games that don’t have the most intense graphics have been specifically optimized to at least be playable on Intel HD Graphics 3000 or 4000. If you have a computer, period, that was built in or since 2012, it can probably play games on some level, and thus it’s probably worth investigating this Steam sale.

First of all, to be sure, you should check “System Requirements” near the bottom of each game’s Steam store page. There you can also check if a demo is available (to really make sure) and if a game is available for Mac and Linux. Normally I do that in my lists but I don’t have the time right now.

Why PC?

During this Steam sale, the main reason is these games are going to be unbelievably cheap. So even if you might be able to get a certain game on PlayStation, Xbox, or Nintendo, for the time being it’ll undoubtedly be cheaper on Steam.

But I Like Playing My Games On A Comfy Couch With A Controller.

If your computer is only a few years old there’s a pretty good chance it’s got an HDMI port somewhere on it. There’s your comfy couch problem solved. If you have a wired Xbox controller or a Mini USB cable for an Xbox One controller, it’ll work for a lot of these games.

General Search Terms.

A recent addition to Steam has been user-assigned tags for games. I like to think this has so far resulted in a pretty useful tool for finding the kinds of games you might want on Steam, especially as the selection of games grows under Valve’s recent policies. While looking for good games that run on low-end systems I ran across some terms that yield way too many results for me to even begin to list individually.

“Doujin” — If you’re a fan of Japanese doujin games, a shocking number of them have appeared on Steam in the last couple years or so. A few major ones are mentioned in the link above but even more have recently come out. Most come from publishers like Playism, Nyu Media, and MangaGamer that have actively grabbed and localized these games.

“Shmup” — Those doujin games include shoot em’ ups. I think all or some of the eXceed series is on Steam for instance. Searching further in that section brings up a whole lot of other stuff I haven’t heard of but shmup doujin fans might know. Oh, and the legendary Ikaruga is on Steam and has extremely low system requirements on PC.

“Visual Novel” — The third indie Japanese genre that turned up surprising number of results in my search. There aren’t a massive amount of visual novels here but there are more than you’d think. From what it looks like to me many are truly independent endeavors made by otakus and VN fans. “Otaku” isn’t a big tag on Steam from what I’ve seen but I’d say there are a lot of Otaku games on Steam these days.

Select Games Released Recently

Transistor — The latest hit from the guys who made Bastion, it’s been one of the higher-profile PSN games for PS4, but the game’s Steam page says it should run on Intel HD 4000 graphics.

Xenonauts — If you’re a fan of games like XCOM, Fire Emblem, or Valkyria Chronicles, Xenonauts seems like callback to the original Xcom series (which is all on Steam too). It was in Early Access mode for a while but just “fully launched.” It might not have a significant discount during the Steam sale because of this but it’ll probably still have a decent one for a brand new game.

Oniken — I think it’s kind of tragic how little-known this game is. If you ever enjoyed fast oldschool Ninja platformers like the NES Ninja Gaiden series or Strider, I think Oniken is a must-buy. It’s not too long but it’s an excellent revisit to that style of game, offering all the difficulty, style, and nuance fans of the aforementioned games would want.

1001 Spikes — Another recent release, this challenging platformer looks to be right up the alley of anyone who enjoyed La-Mulana, Cave Story, or Spelunky.

Escape Goat 2 — The first Escape Goat was known as one of the gems of Xbox Live Indie Games in 2011 and got some new life upon its Steam release in 2012. That game and the sequel should be priorities for 2D platforming fans.

Luftrausers — If you’ve played a Vlambeer game (like Ridiculous Fishing or Super Crate Box) I don’t know why you’re even reading this and haven’t bought Luftrausers yet. If you haven’t heard of them, they’re just about one of the kings of arcade-style gameplay among indie developers. Another recent game of theirs on Steam is Nuclear Throne, but Early Access games usually don’t go on sale for very low prices.

Skullgirls — This game has been around for a while on both consoles and Steam but it’s actually not in my past articles so I’ll mention it here. As a fighting game it certainly occupies the same ballpark as King of Fighters or Street Fighter if on a smaller scale. Surprisingly, its system requirements on Steam say it’ll run on Intel HD 3000 graphics.

Vanguard Princess — I’ll be honest and say the first thing I saw from this game was one of its ridiculous character designs. Nonetheless, it seems to be another entry in the surprisingly high-quality crop of doujin fighting games. Not many of those kinds of games are on Steam yet so this is still a pretty unique item on the store.

TowerFall Ascension — There’s a fair chance you’ve already heard of this game. If you haven’t, it’s what I consider part of an alternative crop of fighting games (I guess you can call them that) that have come out of the indie community. If you don’t own it yet, did you also know the PC version is optimized to run on Intel HD 4000 graphics?

Nidhogg — This is another one of that type that isn’t on consoles just yet. Unlike TowerFall it’s just two players, but it’s shockingly strategic despite the simplicity of its controls — strategic enough for it to be able to show its face at international fighting game tournament EVO.

Samurai Gunn — This yet another such game that I feel get’s forgotten. TowerFall has gotten most of the hype among these games while Nidhogg is somewhat known, but I feel like Samurai Gunn has been sort of ignored since its original release. If the other two interest you, there’s no reason you shouldn’t check this game out either.

Gigantic Army — You remember those side-scrolling mech games? Assault Suits, Cybernator, Target Earth, and Metal Warriors? Gigantic Army is a callback to those games. If you haven’t played those kinds of games, it’s kind of like a Contra or something but you’re in a mech suit. That’s pretty much all I can say.

Gunound EX — This game is pretty much the same deal as Gigantic Army except it’s actually a localization of the original PC version of a PSP game that came out a while ago. I’d always had my eye on this one and never dreamed it would come to Steam. So if you don’t own a PSP or Vita this is an option.

Long Live The Queen — I’d thought about getting into Japanese “life simulation” games like Princess Maker or Harvest Moon for a while. Queen seems to be unique even among those games as you manage the policies, dress, and personality of a young anime-style queen who constantly dies of various politically motivated causes.

Really, all I’m trying to do here is dispel the notion that you should only look at the ever-growing digital PC game market if you have a $2000+ system. PC gaming is a lot more diverse than that, and you might be surprised at how much is available to you even if your system can’t run Watch_Dogs.


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