The Steam Holiday Sale For Low-End Computers: 2014 Edition


This is probably going to be a yearly tradition — listing examples that prove the Steam sale is for basically everyone who owns a computer, not just people with $2000 beast rigs. I think this subject might be especially pertinent this year since Valve opened the floodgates to allow far more indie and low-end games on the store than ever.

I’ve already gone over games from previous years in other posts and articles, and those games are certainly on sale again, probably at even lower prices. And again, this isn’t nearly every game I think you should check out. Just the really good games that crossed my mind that will probably run on your integrated graphics laptop or at least your work desktop with its entry-level GPU. Let’s also not forget that many of these games have demos for you to benchmark as well as Mac and Linux versions.

Shovel Knight
No Demo
Windows, Mac, Linux

The obvious selection in this category. It’s probably won 2014 indie game of the year in some people’s books. Shovel Knight walks the 8-bit walk where so many indie games talk the talk. It has the distinction of being made by professional game developers who set out to make an NES game knowing what they knew in 2014, and delivered something that seriously put me in the mood for some Mega Man.

Demo Available on Steam
Windows, Mac, Linux

I’m going to try to shove attention onto this game at every opportunity, and this is a perfect one. I wasn’t surprised when Oniken was ignored by everyone, but it’s especially painful to see it passed over even as Steam sales come along and plunge its price down to $4. In a wave of 8-bit homage games, Oniken is one of the most faithful of them all, actually managing to capture the design that separates those games from today in the first place. If you decide to get Shovel Knight or already enjoyed it, Oniken should be right behind it on your list.

Freedom Planet
Demo Available on Steam

I haven’t gotten the chance to play the full game, but Freedom Planet goes in the same category of extremely faithful retro fare. It just tries to be a 2014 Genesis game instead of an NES game. That’s not all though. It endeavors to be a Genesis-era Sonic game, but it also tries to laser target entertainment to the kind of people who still read Archie’s Sonic comic or watched the Saturday morning cartoon from back in the day. If Shovel Knight tries to emulate the past of Capcom and Oniken tries to emulate the past of Tecmo, Freedom Planet tries to emulate the past of SEGA.

Cherry Tree High I!
No Demo

One thing that’s definitely filled out the “will run on your crap computer” department on Steam has been the visual novel — all about story over graphics and interactivity. If you’re into those things you’re probably already running them on some pedestrian laptop, and plenty have been released on Steam this year. The first Cherry Tree game is one of those Japanese life simulators — pretty much the social links part of Persona 4 separated into its own whole game. I don’t know how similar the sequel is but people have called it “pretty much a visual novel at this point.” It’s also worth noting that this one doesn’t hide its Japanese setting anymore (and neither does the original after its update).

No Demo
Windows, Mac, Linux

This probably got the most buzz of anything I’m listing here aside from maybe Shovel Knight. It’s from the guys who made Bastion and people love it. If you don’t have a PS4, don’t be afraid to try to run it if you have basically any computer built within the last few years. The system requirements on its Steam page say it will run on Intel HD 3000 graphics as long as you’ve got a gig of video RAM.

The Banner Saga
No Demo
Windows, Mac

This one has gotten a lot of love too. Maybe you’re one of those console owners who’s a fan of Final Fantasy Tactics or Fire Emblem. Maybe you don’t own a PS4, or are tired of waiting for the PS4 version, or don’t own an iPad. Well, the PC version is confirmed to run just fine on low-end laptops.

As always, I don’t mind if you just don’t like playing games on a mouse and keyboard, or maybe aren’t interested in the genres of anything I’ve listed here. But the belief that PC gaming in its entirety is inaccessible to anyone who doesn’t drop $300 on an Nvidia or AMD graphics card became silly years ago. Not only have low-end PC games become more prominent, but the most basic packed-in bought-it-at-the-store PC graphics hardware has significantly improved too. There are thousands upon thousands of great games, not even old games, that will run on nearly any computer being manufactured these days.


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One thought on “The Steam Holiday Sale For Low-End Computers: 2014 Edition

  1. Banner Saga and Freedom Wars are great.

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