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Australian Christmas games

We knew they were coming and now they’re finally here — the first round of Steam sales for the Christmas holidays. This round is called the Exploration Sales, and as you’d expect there’s some good deals. Let’s dive right in.

You could certainly do worse than cherry-picking the featured sales on the front page — I pulled the trigger on the Endless Legend bundle this morning, having decided that the Rising Tide expansion for Civilization: Beyond Earth wasn’t for me — but there are more sales to be had if you do a little digging.

Let’s go through the big ticket items first. All prices are listed in Australian dollars, going off Google’s latest conversion rate.

Featured Sales

It’s a dungeon crawler where you have to manage the psychological stresses of your companions, wrapped up in the systems of a turn-based roguelike and a delightfully macabre aesthetic. The developers copped, rightfully so, a great deal of flak earlier this year for changing the way corpses function but they’ve taken community feedback on board and continued to improve the game. Darkest Dungeon was always one of the best Early Access games around, and it’ll be fully released in a couple of months.

Like Metroidvania games? Like platformers? Did you really like Child of Light last year? Buy this game. That is all.

When I realised Life is Strange was essentially Dontnod Entertainment taking the best element of Remember Me — the memory remixes — and building a narrative-focused game around that, I was pleasantly surprised. “Good, ” I thought. “No more rubbish combat.”

But Life is Strange is so much more than that. The game has a 96% rating from 28, 000-plus reviews for a reason. It’s perhaps the best Telltale-esque game of the year that didn’t come from Telltale, and it’s been a more satisfying experience for many gamers. The first episode is only $3.43 right now if you want to get your feet wet, but you’d be hard pressed not to enjoy the entire season now that it’s fully available.

Take the recent SimCity. Now do everything right, and throw in the support of the modding friendly, PC-loving publisher Paradox Interactive behind it all and a developer that has continued to offer free and paid content, as well as meaty patches since the game’s release in March.

It’s worth noting that the After Dark DLC isn’t on sale at all — that will set you back the same amount as the original game.

Oh boy. Fallout 4’s not on sale. I repeat, Fallout 4 is not on sale. Let’s get that right out of the way.

But every other Fallout game is cheap. Fallout: New Vegas for $5.16, considering all the available mods and the swath of fixes since release, is a solid buy. $10.06 for Fallout 3 Game of the Year Edition — although you’ll have to do some .ini kung fu if you’re running Windows 7 or higher — is an excellent choice if you’ve jumped into Fallout 4 and have more post-apocalyptic itches to be scratched.

The Talos Principle launched towards the end of last year and a lot of people didn’t pick it up straight away. I still can’t believe that it was made by Croteam, the same developers responsible for the absurdly silly Serious Sam shooters.

But it’s an excellent, excellent first-person puzzler. Highly recommended if you got into Portal or any other traditional point-and-click. It’s really clever and I can’t wait till the Christmas holidays to binge through it again with family.

There has to be a reason ARK: Survival Evolved has one of the most sustained communities out of all the survival games on Steam. Dinosaurs, maybe? Either way, I’m going to find out for myself soon — I took the plunge this morning. (Help me.)

Games With Massive Discounts

Just as important as what’s on the front page are the games with huge discounts: talking in the realm of 70%, 80%, even 90% off. Here’s some titles that are worth your attention.

RUSH: $0.68

You can go through for hours and find plenty of interesting offers, but here are a few that might be worth picking up. RUSH and Antichamber are cheap plugs if you want to flex your puzzle muscle without dropping the money down on The Talos Principle (or if your rig isn’t powerful enough, not that TTP is a particularly resource-heavy game).

Shadow Warrior is dumb, stupid fun that looks glorious at 4K, and The Evil Within should be at the right price for a lot of people on PC especially now that they’ve patched out those awful black bars. The Harlan Ellison short story always made for an incredibly intriguing little horror adventure, thanks to the heavy support of Ellison himself, and Surgeon Simulator 2013 is a good laugh with friends.

Grim Fandango Remastered only came out at the start of the year and it’s one of those games that should be on most people’s bucket lists. Jade Empire is also the extension of Bioware’s amazing work following the KOTOR games, and there are plenty of fan-made mods out there to make it even better.

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