The Best Cheap Games on Steam
Gaming can be a fairly expensive hobby, especially when it comes to the PC side of the spectrum. However, thanks to Steam, the games themselves can be acquired inexpensively — as long as you know where to look. That's why we've compiled this list: to round up the highest quality titles with the lowest prices. Once you've filled your library, learn how to prevent Steam from auto-updating games so you can have more control over what is downloaded when.
From microscopic indie releases to massive AAA blockbusters, all of the games on this list are available for next to nothing and provide the best return-on-investments this side of video gaming.
What happens if you blend Sonic the Hedgehog and Gears of War, then add a dash of pure insanity? You get Vanquish. Vanquish is a third-person shooter that puts you in the rocket-powered shoes of a supersuit-clad DARPA researcher, who boosts around at Mach 5 while shooting robots in slow motion. It's every bit as crazy as it sounds. Furthermore, all this action takes place inside an immaculately detailed Russian O’Neill cylinder, a bizarre environment that's wholly unique to this game. Sci-fi fanatics and third-person shooter aficionados alike owe it to themselves to give Vanquish a shot.
Mekazoo is a zany platformer that challenges you to traverse a variety of neon-drenched obstacle courses as five different robotic animals, including a frog, an armadillo, a wallaby, a panda and even a pelican. Each animal sports its own unique abilities, which means gameplay always stays fresh and varied. And, beyond the engaging mechanics provided by Mekazoo's five main metallic critters, the levels themselves are excitingly designed, harking back to the likes of NiGHTS Into Dreams and Donkey Kong Country. This means Mekazoo offers some stiff but rewarding difficulty, making it a treat for old-school platformer fans. As a bonus, the game features a killer soundtrack which is catchy enough to stick with you long after you've stopped playing.
Credit: The Good Mood Creators
Prince of Persia 2008
Featuring gorgeous, cel-shaded art and a plainly Persian soundtrack, the 2008 Prince of Persia game is an intoxicating trip to a fictional, mystical side of the Middle East. The environments are exciting and visually arresting, the gameplay is relaxing and rhythmic, and the story itself isn't half bad, either — though most of its enjoyability can be credited to the cheesy dialogue and charming voice actors. The game stars two witty, lovable protagonists, whose banter underscores the whole adventure and makes it a treat to listen to while playing. This Prince of Persia game is one of a kind within the franchise, and definitely worth it for the dirt-cheap cost.
If you've ever been torn over which to play first — FIFA or Forza — worry no more, as Rocket League delivers both experiences at once. It's all the fun of arcade-style driving games meshed with the intense thrill of football/soccer, delivered in a colorful, high-octane package. The game's unique brand of fast-paced physics-based car-sports insanity provides everything necessary for endless fun, and sports a huge online community, split-screen functionality, a robust car- customization component, and an impressively diverse array of game modes. It's a game that's easy to play and harder to master, making it great for every occasion.
Credit: Psyonix Inc.
This game is like stepping on a Lego, then pulling it out — painful, then satisfying. It's a hard-as-nails side-scrolling boss beat-'em-up that dares you to test your reflexes against its multitude of oversized and overpowered opponents. Cuphead also sports a gorgeous, hand-drawn cartoon aesthetic reminiscent of old-school Mickey Mouse cartoons. The game's degree of difficulty will have you pulling your hair out, but there's enough of that good-old-days charm to delight both pro and casual gamers. Plus, the game makes for one heck of a co-op experience, should you and a friend attempt the two-player mode!
Credit: Studio MDHR Entertainment Inc.
Thumper is an amazing rhythm game that'll test your sanity as much as your skill. Thumper turns you into a metallic beetle trapped on an aggressive, lane-defined racetrack, one that will kill you if you take more than a single hit of damage. Obstacles come fast and furious, and if you blink, you die. Couple that with the game's angry, raging neon color scheme, and Thumper's a game that’s constantly intimidating you while simultaneously challenging you to sharpen your abilities and conquer its maleficent musical racetrack gantlet.
Defunct is a game all about rolling around as fast as possible. You play as a cute robot whose body is composed of a head, a tummy and a wheel, the latter of which acts as your sole method of traversal. The game's levels are expansive, and do a stellar job of incorporating Defunct's unique set of gravity-based physics, which makes racing through the varying terrains an absolute joy. If you like the idea of experiencing Sonic the Hedgehog-esque gameplay in an open-world setting, then this is the indie adventure for you.
Credit: Soedesco Publishing
The Fidelio Incident
If you like the Far Cry franchise's narrative moments more than its gameplay, then The Fidelio Incident was custom-built for you. With a graphical style and movement system nearly identical to Far Cry's, The Fidelio Incident features weather-enhanced traversal challenges that serve to enliven the game's core linear, narrative-driven walking areas. The game asks you to solve the mystery behind how you became stranded on a snowy mountain. And, while we won't give the story away here, it's chock-full of exciting twists and turns, brimming with additional lore with which to concoct your own theories before the credits roll and reveal the truth.
Credit: Act 3 Games LLC
Tomb Raider 2013
Lara Croft's 2013 adventure remains one of the best AAA titles you can get on Steam, and the fact that it routinely dips to as low as $2.99 during sales makes it even more appealing. It's a steal of a deal even at its standard price, though, granting players access to a huge semi-open world that's brimming with expertly designed platforming challenges and enemies for Lara to conquer. And did I mention that the story's great? Anyone with a fondness for Indiana Jones will love how perfectly this game captures that series' tone, blending the mystical with the practical across a pulse-pounding, no-holds-barred narrative.
Credit: Square Enix
The Stanley Parable
There's no experience quite like The Stanley Parable, an adventure game that puts players in control of Stanley, a guy whose mission is to roam through an abandoned office building. Technically, that's the entire game, but there are so many weird twists hidden within that The Stanley Parable is hardly done justice by its synopsis. While exploring the office building, you can land in heaven, be saddled with the responsibility of preventing a baby from crawling into a fire, or even end up in a different game entirely. Plenty of surprises abound in The Stanley Parable.
Credit: Galactic Cafe
Deus Ex: Human Revolution Director's Cut
If you've ever wanted to play a game that did the concept of Robocop justice, then Deus Ex: Human Revolution is for you. With the Director's Cut constantly going on sale for as low as $4.99, it's a stunning deal. The game features two expansive, semi-open world environments, with sprawling levels that are so interactive that you can play with just about everything in them, even the air vents and coffee mugs. Mind you, the focus of the game is stealth and action. Which means you'll likely spend less time goofing around than using your robotic character to punch through walls, turn invisible and wreak havoc on normal, unsuspecting humans.
Credit: Square Enix
Mad Max is what happens when a group of ambitious developers take the racing game Blur and shove it inside the Batman: Arkham series. Featuring crazy, over-the-top car races and battles, as well as gritty hand-to-hand combat, Mad Max does an impeccable job at capturing all facets of survival within the violent Mad Max universe. Furthermore, the game isn't just faithful to its titular series in atmosphere, but also in visual authenticity: Mad Max is an absolutely gorgeous game that depicts the series' post-apocalyptic Australia with majesty and respect for the source material -- an aesthetic achievement that single-handedly sets it apart from most other AAA games.
Credit: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Tracks - The Train Set Game
For kids and adults alike, Tracks - The Train Set Game is as innocently fun as gaming gets. In the game, you play with virtual wooden train tracks, build custom routes and send little wooden trains to pick up little wooden passengers. The presentation is as nostalgic as it is cute, and will give adults warm, fuzzy feelings as they reminisce about their childhood train set. Furthermore, the indie devs responsible for the game are always adding new content, so Tracks' virtual toy box is primed to keep growing as long as you keep playing.
Credit: Excalibur Games
Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor GOTY Edition
If you like the combat of the Batman: Arkham series and the open-world stealth of Assassin’s Creed, Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor is the hybrid title you need to play. It's a game filled with thrilling combat, creative magical powers, and environments that are custom-built to make the former two elements as engaging as possible. Couple all of that with its masterfully delivered coat of Lord of the Rings paint, and Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor is the LOTR game for franchise fans and general gaming enthusiasts alike.
Credit: WB Games
Inside is an eerie, atmospheric adventure game that's built around clever puzzles and simple traversal, two gameplay elements that serve to keep the focus on the game's somber story and rich aesthetics. It's a moody, artsy tour de force, and never spares a second of its tight, finely tuned runtime to remind you of that. Given the game's aversion to padding, it's only a few hours long. However, Inside has an artistic caliber almost unparalleled by anything else out there, and that rarity more than justifies its short but sweet runtime.
Sonic Generations is a worthy 20th-anniversary celebration of one of gaming's biggest mascots, one that oozes with personality and style from top to bottom. Featuring some of the craziest levels in platformer history, as well as some of the catchiest, gnarliest music in all of gaming, it's a visual and aural feast for adrenaline-addicted gamers. Add in the gameplay's unparalleled sense of speed, and there's nary a reason not to buy Sonic Generations, if you're a player who craves fast-paced action and unrelenting thrills.
Star Wars Battlefront 2 (2005)
Even with EA's game of the same name out in the wild, the original remains the best. Star Wars Battlefront 2 (Classic, 2005) is an inexpensive masterpiece that immerses gamers in over 30 years' worth of Star Wars lore. It lets you play as all of your favorite characters, such as Jango Fett, General Grievous and Yoda, while also letting you re-create your favorite moments from the movies, such as the Assault on Mygeeto and the Battle of Endor. It's a game that excels in re-creating the fantasy the Star Wars films so deftly portrayed, and remains one of, if not the very best, Star Wars games ever made.