I originally wanted to pitch this as a bigger story somewhere but in-between other things time just ran out. So, in time for the usual winter break digital PC game sales I’m putting up another list of great games that will run on even low-end laptops (relatively recent ones at least, let’s assume we’re talking about laptops built since 2012). These tend to be the games with the lowest prices on Steam sales anyway. Just like the previous times I’m trying to dispel the notion that you HAVE to have a $300 graphics card to play PC games at all.
This time however I’m focusing purely on games that came out in 2015. If I went any further back than that the list would seem almost infinite. Just check GOG.com in general really. I guess you could say every year this is one category of a Game Of The Year-style thing.
When you search for each game make sure to see if it has a free demo (many still do these days) and/or a Mac or Linux version. The system requirements for most of the ones I’ve noticed pretty much just say “512MB or 1GB of video memory.”
Undertale. This is probably the big one — the one people are putting in GOTY discussions. As of this writing I haven’t played it yet but there isn’t a console version planned and I’d be shocked if a lot of PCs built in the last couple years weren’t able to run it. If you’re not sure, there’s a free demo on the official website.
UnderRail just came out after a long time in Early Access, and is positioned as the “real” sequel to Fallout and Fallout 2. I guess some people disappointed in Fallout 4 might want to give it a look. I’ve been hearing that recent computer RPGs like Pillars of Eternity, Divinity: Original Sin, or Shadowrun Hong Kong are great entry points into this old genre, but I don’t know how UnderRail fits into that scheme.
The Quest. This one popped up on Steam just as I was proofing this post. Basically, think Might & Magic or Etrian Odyssey but with one character. And the graphics are sort of like The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall but with all the textures and character sprites in high resolution. Some people may know this as a port of a mobile game — one of the earliest serious RPGs to come out for iOS back in 2009, but its history goes back a bit further. Hungarian developer Redshift made this for Palm Pilots and Pocket PCs back in the day (along with an earlier PC version), then ported it to iOS. This Steam version seems to have completely redrawn art assets. There’s still a free demo on iOS.
Kero Blaster and its two free companion games also came out on mobile, but if you don’t have a smartphone or whatever, the PC versions are an option to pretty much anyone with a remotely modern computer. If you don’t like playing with a keyboard, would that really be so bad compared to a touch screen for an action platformer like this? If you get these games at Playism I think they give you Steam keys in addition to DRM-free downloads.
Her Story really managed to pull me in. Whatever you may think about these “not really a game” games I have to admit Her Story is a pretty good piece of interactive fiction. The interactive element of it is probably one of the most detective-like experiences I’ve had in a while, possibly ever in fact.
Downwell. People might tell you this is one of the best arcade experiences in a while, and they’d be right. It may be another one of those permadeath indie games but it’s so well-balanced it’s already drawing comparisons to Spelunky. The PC version is the definitive one by many accounts if you can grab an Xbox controller.
Umihara Kawase. There are apparently like three of these games on Steam. All I know is it’s an obscure series of Japanese platformers dating back to the Super Famicom, and I think this is the first time they’re being released in English. Apparently they’re good or have some kind of prestige.
Yatagarasu Attack on Cataclysm. I haven’t heard much chatter about this game since it came out back in the summer, but I was anticipating it for a while. The 2012 alpha demo kind of felt like a successor to Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike. Maybe it’s just been outshined by all the other fighters coming out like Guilty Gear Xrd or soon Street Fighter V.
Artifact Adventure. This one’s sitting in my backlog, but it’s supposed to be a very nonlinear 8-bit Japanese RPG. I don’t mean styled like a JRPG — it’s an actual Japanese indie game. There are supposed to be something like 80 endings. Getting it on Playism nets you both a Steam key and a DRM-free copy.
Snakebird. Freaking Snakebird man. All I have to say is it’s one of the most unique, not-mentioned-enough, intelligent, and brutally difficult puzzle games of recent times. Just, Ugh.
Other mentions I didn’t have a lot of words for:
Odallus: The Dark Call
Read Only Memories (free demo available)
Mighty Switch Force
Super Star Path
Serpent in the Staglands
Environmental Station Alpha (free demo available)
Crypt of the NecroDancer
The Charnel House Trilogy (free demo available)
Castle In The Darkness
Super Galaxy Squadron
- This game looks cool: http://www.arcadianatlas.blogspot.com/p/press.html
- This “Katana Zero” game looks interesting: http://www.siliconera.com/2015/12/19/katana-zero-will-turn-you-into-a-time-manipulating-assassin-in-2016/
- A new Berserk anime project just got announced that finally goes beyond the Golden Age arc: http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/news/2015-12-21/berserk-gets-new-anime-project-featuring-guts-as-black-swordsman/.96773
- Good Washington Post article on Star Wars and how one scene explains much of that universe: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2015/12/19/i-have-discovered-the-reason-that-star-wars-exists-in-the-first-place/
- News updates in the Arcade gaming world: http://arcadeheroes.com/2015/12/19/newsbytes-new-ddr-ghostbusters-pinball-carrie-fisher/