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Buried Treasure: 4 Obscure Steam Games You Should Play
I recently wrote an article highlighting some worthwhile games on mobile, hoping to help gamers find the hidden diamonds in a sea of mediocrity. As all PC gamers are aware though, mobile isn’t the only platform with a discover-ability problem. Steam, the gaming source of choice for most buyers on PC, is awash with games that are generic, buggy, or just plain unfinished. In order to help you sift through this mountain of games, I’ve compiled another list, this one containing four steam games for the gamer looking for something a little off the beaten path.
The world’s computer systems are under threat from a sinister virus known as the 5K worm. The only solution? Hacking of course! Hacking in Unhack isn’t just a matter of typing really fast and spouting nonsensical technobabble: It’s a game of timing puzzles, as you must navigate a colored square through a series of increasingly complex mazes. As the game progresses, you’ll need to dodge enemies, avoid traps, and find keys in order to survive and unravel the mysteries of the 5K worm. The game generally isn’t very difficult, but the challenge level is just high enough to keep it entertaining, and the awesome techno soundtrack should keep you from getting bored even in the easy levels.
No game about hacking would be complete without a convoluted cyberpunk story-line, and Unhack doesn’t disappoint. Simple bug hunting missions quickly give way to corporate espionage and sci-fi plot twists, all delivered with a surprising amount of skill for a puzzle game. The game also features a strong (and fully voiced) supporting cast of Artificial Intelligence programs, all of which take the form of cute anime girls for some reason. Unhack doesn’t take itself too seriously, but the cast and world quickly grows on you, making the game feel much more substantial than it’s extremely short length would suggest. All in all, this is a good choice for fans of puzzle games, cyberpunk, or anime girls.
- Helen’s Mysterious Castle
Yes, it’s an RPG maker game, but Helen’s Mysterious Castle is far more interesting and unique than most games in that category. The story is nothing to write home about, being a fairly traditional JRPG tale about a girl with no memory exploring a mysterious land and learning the secrets of her past while battling a colorful array of villains. It’s a well-told, if basic story, with a couple of twists and turns, but what really sets Helen’s Mysterious Castle apart is its combat system.
All battles in Mysterious Castle are one-on-one, and Helen has no special abilities or magic points. Instead, she selects from a list of weapons, shields, and magic spells that each take a certain amount of time to charge up, and confer a certain amount of defense during the process. A powerful spell might be enough to kill lesser foes outright, but have a long charge time and poor defense, so using it at the wrong time could be fatal. Each enemy has its own set of attacks and defenses, and working out the best pattern of moves to defeat each type is an interesting challenge. Add the unique combat system to some attractive spirit graphics and beautiful music, and you have a game that’s well worth playing for any jRPG fan.
Have you ever had trouble deciding what game to play? Then why not play Concursion, the game that’s actually five games. When a magical calamity tears a rift between dimensions, worlds and game genres begin to collide and combine. What starts as a simple platformer rapidly turns into a Hack-and-slash action game, then a scrolling shooter, then a pac-man style maze game, then a jet pack exploration puzzle. The game switches between these genres both between and within levels, so you’ll need to be adaptable if you want to make it through.
While the individual components are all fairly standard, the interactions between them give an entirely unique game-play experience. Landing a tough jump in a platforming segment might place you in an advantageous place in a pac-man maze, while a well placed wall jump in a hack-and slash level can take you into a scrolling shooter zone, letting you fly over enemies without a fight. Boss fights also come with their own twists, sometimes introducing entirely new gimmicks and sometimes simply testing your existing skills at a whole new level. In both boss fights and the later levels, Concursion can be quite difficult, so mastering each genre and learning how to take advantage of the unique abilities of each of your forms is crucial, particularly if you want to find the gem shards needed to unlock the final boss. If you don’t mind a challenge though, Concursion is a unique experience that should please anyone looking for something new.
- Defy Gravity
Defy Gravity is a rage-inducingly difficult puzzle/platformer based on a few very simple ideas. Armed with only a gravity gun that can create gravity wells which either repel or attract yourself and certain environmental objects, your objective is to navigate a series of increasingly brutal gauntlets filled with deadly lasers and assorted other obstacles. It sounds simple, and to start with it is, but as you get further in, the number and complexity of obstacle in your path gets higher and higher. Before you know it, you’re running ahead of an instant death laser while jumping between moving platforms and pushing enemies out of your path with the gravity gun. Defy Gravity pushes it’s gravity control gimmick to the limit, and you’ll have to push yourself to the limit to keep up.
It’s an intense and sometimes frustrating experience where one wrong move can mean death, but it’s also a lot of fun. Attempting a section again and again, getting a little bit better each time until you finally beat it, is an immensely satisfying experience that more than makes up for the frustrations on the way. Defy Gravity also has a nice soundtrack, with an ethereal, spacey vibe. Its surprisingly relaxing for such a difficult game, but it definitely adds to the experience. If you want a real challenge to your platforming skills, or you’re looking for a game with a unique twist, this might be the game for you. Just don’t go in expecting to finish it.