Cult of the Fiver | August 2014

Metro 2033

Nuclear winter has devastated Russia, making the air unbreathable and the chances of survival grim. Deadly mutants roam the surface and patrol the air. The survivors have banded together to form small camps within the underground subway tunnels. Not that things are rosy beneath the surface - political and ideological factions are colliding and the mutants are always hungry for a tasty human snack. When mysterious, otherworldly forces start to encroach, it's up to one gifted soldier to make a perilous journey and decide the future of humanity.

Metro 2033 is worth your $5 because... it's got sort of a Fallout post-apocalyptic feel to it. In Fallout, though, the survival-pack-rat-esque elements of the game are quickly pushed to the background as your character levels up and becomes ever more god-like. Metro 2033 manages to preserve the feeling of constantly being down to your last clip and having to frequently scavenge for resources. The Ranger difficulty modes make the game feel a bit more realistic, with bullets doing more damage and inventory sizes creeping even smaller than usual.

But don't pay full price for Metro 2033, since... it's got some serious rough edges. The filter mechanics are especially painful at times. Gas mask filters are required for survival on the surface. However, the game does a poor job of explaining how they work. You can't always pick up new filters you find in the environment, and only one or two of the shops sell more. Having to move quickly and not being able to extend your time makes certain sections of the game really frustrating. There's also a hidden morality system that determines what endings are available to you, which the game also never explains. There are stealth elements, but it's the kind where once you've been detected once, every enemy everywhere will know precisely where you are at all times.

The $5 Deal: Amazon w/Steam DRM | Steam | Humble

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Anno 2070

The Anno series has long focused on commerce and city building between island nations. While most of the series has taken place during the age of sail, Anno 2070 takes us to the not-so-distant future where global warming has forced many once-proud nations to scrounge for resources amidst the waves. Three distinct factions - the Ecos, who value the environment, the Tycoons who desire profits, and the Techs who worship science - vie for limited resources on tiny islands to keep their populaces safe and happy.

Anno 2070 is worth your $5 because... it combines a lot of the more interesting elements of games like Sim City, Tropico, Cities XL, and other similar resource management games. It's really polished, has a long campaign, and there are significant online scenarios to play as well. Managing your ecology adds a new wrinkle to the game's delicate balancing act. Playing with the underwater bases and submarines and such is a lot of fun.

But don't pay full price for *Anno 2070, since... it kind of gets repetitive after a while. All the games play out essentially very similar to one another. The combat is super stripped down, so don't go into it expecting anything significant in terms of RTS elements. The game has always-online DRM that is quite annoying at times.

The $5 Deal: Steam | Humble

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Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale

Recettear is part action-RPG and part shop simulator. When naive Recette learns she's in deep with a collections agency, she teams up with the business-minded bill collector Tear to revive her parent's item shop. When not stocking items or haggling with customers, the duo tags along with adventurers to collect "teh phat lewts" in nearby dungeons.

Recettear is worth your $5 because... it's a really unique take on the standard dungeon crawling action RPG. Instead of just blindly hacking and slashing, you've got to manage your shop's inventory, sell good stuff to adventurers, take them on trips to level them up and get new loot, and then use that loot in various ways to improve your shop and your stable of adventurers.

But don't pay full price for Recettear, since... each element is executed competently, but none really stand out. The action RPG combat could be a lot better. The store management stuff, likewise, is kind of lackluster. After a while the whole thing gets kind of old, and the aggressive loan payments hanging over your head don't do much except increase your stress.

The $5 Deal: Steam

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One Way Heroics

The Dark Lord is plaguing the land, while a corrupting Darkness is slowly reducing the world to a living hell-on-earth. It's up to an infinite number of heroes working across infinite dimensions to stop the Dark Lord, and hopefully, end the blight of the Darkness.

One Way Heroics is worth your $5 because... it's an excellent game that is terribly addictive. It's easily the best roguelike I've played this year. I could go on for quite a while about how much I enjoyed it, but I already did that in another article...

But don't pay full price for One Way Heroics, since... it's not terribly well balanced. Once you find the overpowered combos of class, perk, and abilities, you'll probably be able to demolish the game in no time flat. It's still a lot of fun, though, and it's less than $5 even when it's not on sale. Pay full price - you'll get your money's worth!

The $5 Deal: Steam

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Battleblock Theater

What should have been a pleasure cruise has gone terribly awry. Your boat of best buddies has run aground on an island populated primarily with homicidal cats who imprison people and make them perform for their amusement. A vicious platforming maze of deadly traps and precariously poised treasure awaits!

Battleblock Theater is worth your $5 because... it's got a clever story told through a unique art style. The various weapons and tools you unlock can sometimes change the game in significant ways. It's a lot of fun to play in co-op, assuming you're both pretty patient and work well together.

But don't pay full price for Battleblock Theater, since... it quickly gets frustrating and super difficult. The platforming here is nothing short of hardcore, especially as the game progresses. There are timed levels that are even harder than the regular ones. The platforming has a limited bag of tricks and doesn't change things up often.

The $5 Deal: Steam

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