Untold riches await those brave enough to venture into the unfathomably deep dungeons in Spelunky. However, along with those riches are devious traps and murderous inhabitants looking for a quick snack. Spelunky is a punishing roguelike dungeon crawler with 2-D platformer sensibilities.
Spelunky is worth your $5 because… it’s difficult and frustrating, and you’ll hate it, but it still feels fair and fresh at the same time. Every mistake you make punishes you swiftly and severely, but it’s almost always clear that you could have avoided it had you been more careful or more efficient in your movements. Every game is a bit different, owing to the random nature of the levels and the power ups, which means you will be mashing the “retry” button as fast as you can once you’re dead.
But don’t pay full price for
The $5 Deal: Steam
- Pick up a rock and take it with you. It may seem like it’s worthless, but you can use it to trigger many traps and hit enemies from a distance. Rocks can be carried between levels and have unlimited uses.
- Don’t stand in front of pots when breaking them. If snakes pop out of one, they get a free hit.
- If you haven’t seen something before, chances are it’s deadly, so approach with caution.
- Take your time, but don’t dally! A ghost will appear if you’re not getting to the exit fast enough.
Sid Meier’s Pirates!
Yarr! Rule the Caribbean Sea during the golden age of piracy with this remake of the 1993 remake (Pirates! Gold) of the 1987 Sid Meier classic. Command a pirate crew, search for buried treasure, and unravel the secrets of the New World as you plunder, plunder, plunder!
Sid Meier’s Pirates! is worth your $5 because… it’s a relatively modern remake of one of the classic Microprose strategy titles. There’s a bunch of different pieces of the game to manage, and they’re all tied together in a neat little package full of strategic possibilities.
But don’t pay full price for Sid Meier’s Pirates!, since… it’s only “relatively” modern at this point. The most recent remake is 10 years old, so it’s rough around the edges and might require some work to get it to play on modern computers. Some of the mini-games aren’t that much fun, or are just confusing and frustrating.
The $5 Deal: Steam
- Buy treasure maps at pubs, they always pay out more than you invested.
- Your crew will start to get antsy after a while if you haven’t made money recently. They’ll start to get more and more unhappy as time goes on, so eventually you’ll have to divvy up the plunder and start fresh.
- The older you are, and the more times you’ve been caught, the more your pirate skills will degrade.
Super Sanctum TD
The Sanctum series games are hybrid of first person shooter and tower defense elements. Super Sanctum TD, however, is straight up old-school tower defense, presented from a classic isometric 2.5D viewpoint. Everything is retro, including the graphics and soundtrack. Aliens are coming for your core, and you’ve got to create a path lined with defenses to stop them.
Super Sanctum TD is worth your $5 because… it’s a retro-styled but decidedly modern tower defense game. There’s a lot of towers to build and abilities to unlock. There are many levels, each with interesting challenges and a boatload of replay value.
But don’t pay full price for Super Sanctum TD, since… it’s still a tower defense game, which you might have burned out on by this point. Perhaps it’s just me, but the difficulty curve seemed to ramp up pretty fast after the first few levels. Also, it’s only $4 normally, so paying more than $5 means you got ripped off!
- Try to plan your tower bases so that you get a lot of use out of a limited number of towers. You can make the aliens zig and zag back and forth, which means it will take a lot longer for them to get past your defense.
- Upgrades are super important. A fully upgraded tower does way more damage than even several level 1 towers. Try to focus on building and upgrading a few towers early on.
- If your abilities are just about to come off cooldown and enemies are approaching the core, mashing the hotkey while hovering the mouse over the aliens can give you an extra half second or so to hit them before they take your core out.
Saints Row 4 Season Pass
Following up on Saints Row 4, Volition released two expansion pack DLCs. The first is Enter the Dominatrix, a S&M themed set of missions presented as a DVD-style “deleted scene” reel. Following that is a very special Christmas episode called “How the Saints Saved Christmas.”
Saints Row 4 Season Pass is worth your $5 because… it’s more Saints Row 4. Honestly, that’s all it really needed to be for me. The writing is still funny, the weapons are still absurd, the game is still just damn fun to play. The deleted scenes presentation for Enter the Dominatrix is hilarious and just works well.
But don’t pay full price for Saints Row 4 Season Pass, since… like the Saints Row 3 DLC before it, there’s just not a lot of meat on these bones. Dominatrix introduces some new weapons that all feel unnecessary. How the Saints Saved Christmas didn’t really appeal to me that much, as I (like the Boss) am not a Christmas fan. The Christmas-themed Genki missions are a total chore. I managed to get 100% of the achievements on both DLCs within about 3 hours spent on each.
- Don’t forget that you can upgrade the DLC weapons – some are massively more powerful once fully upgraded.
- In the Dominatrix DLC, there’s a secret achievement that entails summoning the homie you get from winning the last mission and hanging out for half an hour. I don’t know how anyone is supposed to know what that achievement is about, given the obscure unlock conditions.
- There are a lot of collectibles in the Christmas DLC, and many of them are very non-obvious. I’d suggest grabbing an achievement guide to use on your first playthrough if you plan on collecting them all.
- Unlike all the other missions in the game, you can replay the DLC missions as much as you’d like, once you’ve cleared them the first time.