Best of the Fiver | Summer 2014

And lo, our high lord his Gabe-ness has bestowed upon us mere mortals another sale of epic proportions. Let us reflect on the first half of 2014 and name our top five picks for the Summer Sale!

Remember Thy Teachings

Roll 1d20 to block wallet damage! I say it every sale, but it still bears repeating – read my top five tricks for Steam sales or prepare to go bankrupt.

Number 5: Guacamelee

Featured in: January

Cult of the Fiver: Guacamelee

Why it got the nod:

Guacamelee mashes some Metroid/Castelvania flavored platforming with a Batman-esque brawler, featuring cel-shaded art and a certain Latin flair. The combat is fun, free flowing, and challenging without being frustrating. The style just flows, and the soundtrack is far beyond excellent.

The game makes fun of many different other games and gaming tropes. It’s clearly a well-polished labor of love. Every scene practically drips character and screams passion.

The only bad part is the difficulty. It’s hard, sometimes unbelievably so. There were times when I literally could not believe the things the game wanted me to to – I assumed I was heading the wrong way or attempting to access a secret, but no, these challenges were frequently required rather than optional.

Get it: Amazon w/Steam DRM | Steam | Humble

Number 4: Just Cause 2

Featured in: May

Cult of the Fiver - Just Cause 2

Why it got the nod:

There are some games that I find fun enough to finish. There are fewer that I decide are worthy of earning 100% of the achievements for. Beyond that point, very few games continue to hold my attention. Just Cause 2 is one major exception to this rule – I have played it twice on different platforms and had just as much (if not more) fun on the second run through.

If chaos and explosions are exciting to you, Just Cause 2 has it in spades. Hidden in this massive world are hundreds of thousands of things to explode. If you’re not constantly blowing stuff up, you’re likely doing it wrong.

Beyond the chaos, there are some seriously innovative and unique game mechanics on display. The grappling hook and the parachute combine to make traversing the environment crazy fun.

Add on top of this the nearly unlimited potential of modding, and you’ve got a recipe for success. And explosions. Succplosions.

Get it: Amazon w/Steam DRM | Steam | Humble

Number 3: Poker Night 2

Featured in: May

Cult of the Fiver: Poker Night 2

Why it got the nod:

Texas Hold’em poker has been done to death by now. It’s a minigame in practically every open world game in the last 10 years. Yet, here I am, telling you to pick up a game where that’s all the game there is. This game is seriously worth $5, and it’s going to be far less than that during this sale.

The difference here is all about character. Or characters, to be more precise. Featuring some top-notch characters and some top-notch voice actors, Poker Night 2 is packed to the gills with funny moments and priceless interactions. If you find any joy in Venture Brothers, Army of Darkness, Portal, Borderlands, or Sam & Max, you will enjoy the witty banter and fun times on offer here.

Just to shake things up a bit, themed tables, chips, and card backs offer special experiences for fans of each franchise. Videogame poker might not be the most fun game in history, but I’d be willing to play almost anything to hang out with this crowd.

Get it: Amazon w/Steam DRM | Steam | Humble

Number 2: Tomb Raider

Featured in: January

Cult of the Fiver: Tomb Raider

Why it got the nod:

Tomb Raider was a franchise desperately in need of a reboot. And what a reboot it got! Lara went from being a generic (if buxom) third person shooter avatar to being a more gritty, realistic young woman in search of adventure. The good news is, she finds adventure! The bad news is, adventure’s not all it’s cracked up to be.

When some sexual-assault-happy nutjobs take her and her crew captive, she’ll have to draw on all her survival training to survive and save her friends from… well, everything. There’s guys with guns, other guys with bombs, some guys with arrows, not to mention the “cursed” island itself.

The whole game is done very, very well. There are puzzles here and there to solve, and lots of collectibles and upgrades to each of Lara’s weapons. Lara feels more “real” and less of a generic mascot picked for her sexuality. That said, it isn’t always sunshine and rainbows, and there are a few moments that feel forced.

Get it: Amazon w/Steam DRM | Steam

Number 1: Gnomoria

Featured in: May

Cult of the Fiver: Gnomoria

Why it got the nod:

Gnomoria is an odd choice for me. It’s Early Access, and I hate paying for alphas. It’s a “limited control god game” in the vein of Dwarf Fortress, and Dwarf Fortress frustrates me to no end. It’s open-ended, and I really prefer a game that’s got some goals to strive for. The penalties for failure are also pretty high, with substantial loss of progress. You’ve got to have a wiki open to make sense of it at all, and I find that annoying.

So why can’t I stop playing it? It’s just a really good game. It’s Dwarf Fortress without all the baggage. It’s graphical, but optimized for both the mouse and keyboard. It’s got some interesting concepts and it’s mostly well executed, even if it’s still supposedly in a highly unstable state.

In short, if you like games like Evil Genius or Dwarf Fortress (or even in the vein of Terraria/Minecraft) that are open-ended base building games with an emphasis on creation and combat, this is a game you ought to check out.

Get it: Amazon w/Steam DRM | Steam | Humble

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