Best of the Fiver | Winter 2014

With the Steam winter sale right around the corner, let’s take a look back at the back half of 2014 and I’ll pick the 5 best $5 games I played during that period!

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Number 5: Goat Simulator

Goat Simulator

Featured in: July 2014

Why it got the nod: Goat Simulator is a game that is unashamed about its weirdness. It stands tall among a sea of buggy, early access shovelware by being unabashedly crap. It’s a parody of a variety of other games. It has no right to be any good. It should be a one-trick pony that is fun for a few minutes but then quickly falls apart.

Except, it’s not. It’s actually a pretty fun game. It blends some of the more entertaining parts of trick based games and destruction based games. It sets interesting goals and gives you a wide array of ways to accomplish them. It’s got a ton of easter eggs and fun little references and moments. It has a wealth of mutators that mod the game in interesting ways. Finally, it’s been patched several times to drastically increase the amount of content available.

Goat Simulator isn’t a game for everyone, but if you can relax and enjoy the ride, it can be a ton of fun.

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

Number 4: Lego Marvel Superheroes

Cult of the Fiver: LEGO Marvel

Featured in: October 2014

Why it got the nod: Movie and comic tie-in games are a bit hit or miss. Often they’re total garbage and fail to do service to their source material. It’s a real shame, too, as many characters and stories from comics and movies would be interesting to experience in video game form.

Lego Marvel Superheroes manages to be several good movie and comic book tie in games at once. Despite the kiddie exterior, and the sometimes uneven quality of Lego games, Lego Marvel Superheroes manages to be fun and entertaining almost completely from start to finish. All the major Marvel properties are featured, with a roster of hundreds of characters.

Missions team up various Marvel superheroes against a wide variety of Marvel villains. Outside of the missions, there’s a whole open world style city to explore, including a SHIELD helicarrier and all the major New York Marvel hotspots.

If you can deal with the kid-friendly exterior, Lego Marvel Superheroes may just be the best Marvel title in recent history, as sad as that is. C’mon Marvel! You guys have a massive cinematic universe, and the best you can do video game-wise is a Lego title!?

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

Number 3: Papers, Please

Papers, Please

Featured in: July 2014

Why it got the nod: Papers, Please is a socially conscious game about manning a fictional Eastern European border checkpoint. It’s a game where you have to starve your family in order to win. It’s a game where the “right thing” is not always clear, and often just plain doesn’t exist. It tells an uncomfortable story about the way people dehumanize each other.

All of that really means that it’s an “important” game. It’s a game you should want to play, although that doesn’t really answer the question of whether or not it’s actually worth playing. However, despite some occasional frustration, I generally liked the gameplay of Papers, Please. I think it’s a unique game that manages to be challenging and even fun despite the depressing and oppressive social message.

Get it: Steam | Humble

Number 2: The Wolf Among Us

Cult of the Fiver: Wolf Among Us

Featured in: October 2014

Why it got the nod: Telltale has been consistently putting out high-quality adventure experiences lately. The Wolf Among Us is cut from the same mold as their acclaimed The Walking Dead series. The art and the gameplay are similar, with both games echoing their comic book roots.

Where Walking Dead focuses on a survival horror story, Wolf Among Us tells a more noir detective tale. A murder mystery forms the central plot thread around which the story winds. The cast of characters are all lifted from classic fables, often twisted to fit a more adult theme. Bigby Wolf is the central protagonist. He takes the basic template of Little Red Riding Hood’s big bad wolf and mixes elements of superheroes like Wolverine, the Hulk, and Batman.

The end result is a compelling story filled with interesting, unique characters and tense situations. It’s an immensely satisfying experience from the opening moments of the first episode to the final showdown between the “good guys” and the “bad guys.”

Get it: Steam | Humble

Number 1: One Way Heroics

cult-of-the-fiver-one-way-heroics

Featured in: August 2014

Why it got the nod: It’s rare that I obsess about a video game enough to play it after I’ve beaten it. It’s rarer still that I opt to play a game to get all the achievements. One Way Heroics is one of a very short list of games that I got to the end of the achievements and still didn’t want to put it down.

One Way Heroics is a roguelike RPG stripped to the studs. It’s everything fun about the genre without any of the frustration or grinding. For instance, although the game world is randomized, the game will tell you the seed and let you replay it should you fail. If you find something awesome that your current class can’t use, you have the chance to save it when the game ends for a future playthrough.

Daily, there are “special seeds” given that produce experiences that are otherwise relatively rare. A game of One Way Heroics can take hours, but often it can be cleared in less than an hour if you know what you’re doing or you play on an easy difficulty.

There are a bunch of achievements to get, and a bunch of extra content to unlock once you’ve cleared the challenges the game initially presents. Between all of the various challenges, leaderboards, unlockables, and the procederally generated worlds, One Way Heroics has a lot to offer roguelike RPG enthusiasts.

Get it: Steam

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