We have an expensive hobby. An expensive, time consuming, acne-inducing hobby. Some point through your fifteenth Skyrim marathon (now with marginally better graphics) you might dust the Dorito crumbs from your rolls and gaze at the empty spot on your wall where your high school diploma would have gone and long for the time when your games were small and fun and didn’t require a machine like c3po’s large intestine to get past the loading screen without a glitch. Well have no fear humble basement-dweller! I’ve cobbled together Samuel Pearson’s handy dandy list of top five low cost, low memory at least less than 12 hours of your life lost games. Alternatively, titled ‘Games for your Parents Laptop’ or ‘Games for People Who Don’t Play Games’.
Plague Inc. started life as a mobile game, and you can really see that even now that it’s graduated to the big boy club of actual computer games. You play a disease, or sometimes a parasite (an easy role for gamers) and your objective is to infect the world, or on one delightful mission, infect the world with Christmas spirit. Controls are simple, all you need to do is click. Gameplay comes on short ‘matches’ maybe 25-40 minutes long, it’s very risk-esque and can be pretty dang fun for an hour or two. My main criticism is that you’ll probably develop your failsafe strategy before you unlock everything the game has to offer so it gets pretty samey pretty quickly. It’s a game that you can pick up, put down walk away from and then pick up again.
Value For Money: 2/5
Are you a college dropout? Are you socially isolated and struggling to relate with the world around you? Does everything just feel like shapes? Of course it does, you’re wasting your life reading a game review! Night in the Woods is 70% story 30% game and is perfect if you’re like, 20 and apathetic to the world. Without giving too much of the story away, you play a 19 year old cat, Mae, the aforementioned college dropout who’s recently moved back to her semi-rural hometown, Possum Springs. With a cast of Sunday morning cartoon animals to tell this dismal yet relatable (and ultimately optimistic) tale, the whole thing makes you feel like you’re watching Arthur the Aardvark on downers and it’s awesome! You get a lot of content for just under £15 ($19.70) and more world to explore than you ever could in one playthrough, so there’s a high replay value. Negatives? It could be cheaper, and the gameplay is pretty much point and click, to the point where it feels like it’s just something that’s getting in the way of more exploration and character development. I was going to make a comment about how I’d prefer to watch a 30 minute animated special than a 11 hour game, but it was honestly a joy to occasionally forego the main plot and explore Possum Springs. This was a story, but it was first and foremost story that needed to be told through this medium.
Sound: 5/5 (baller soundtrack!)
Value For Money: 3/5
Papers Please is an entirely unique concept that markets itself as a ‘dystopian document thriller’ which is pretty fair. It’s a game that lets you live out your wildest fantasies of desk work in an Eastern European grimehole. There are many reasons to play this game, least of all it’s clean, crisp pixel art, or clunky, satisfying sounds (there’s not really any soundtrack to speak of besides an opening song and an some end credits techno). It’s primary focus is to tell a story, but there’s more to the gameplay than Night in the Woods, nothing too taxing, a lot like real desk work actually. You’re more likely to get overwhelmed than perplexed by anything the game throws at you. There’s a fair few endings, and I recommend unlocking more than one, especially considering that upon death (or just failure) the game lets you pick up right where you left off. I don’t want to give much away, but papers please is an attractive, easy to play game with an interesting setting, fun characters and a compelling story. Cons? Sometimes the monotonous desk work starts to feel like monotonous desk work. I do not recommend to anyone who already hates their job.
Value For Money: 4/5
I don’t need to tell you about this game. If you’re on this website, you already know this game, but I’m going to anyway. Undertale is a 2D, pixel-drawn rpg with a soundtrack that still sounds like an orgasm in your ear and a story that makes you feel how I imagine paternal approval feels. At times, especially towards the end, Undertale feels like an essay in the form of a game about games, and to a degree it is. You could analyse it for a long time, but that’s not why it’s fun. It’s fun because of hilarious dialogue, loveable characters and surprisingly in-depth gameplay, with a difficulty curve that’s subtle enough that by the final battle you can take a step back and be surprised by how good you are. What lets it down is, for the most part, its look. Maybe it’s just a style that I’m not old enough to be nostalgic for, but pixel art is at best tolerable and at worst downright hideous. Whatever, you take the bitter with the sweet. It’s easy to play and very rewarding. Play this game.
Value for Money: 2/5
After morphing through a rebirth, afterbirth and more than one game-changing update, is there even any point in playing the original Rosetta stone that sits in everyone’s steam library? Yes, absolutely. In short, the game still holds up, for just £3.99 with theoretically hours of playtime. You play a small naked boy on a quest to kill his drunk-on-Christianity mother, so it’s perfect for anyone with an Electra complex. While it’s true, the game doesn’t focus all too much on story, but that doesn’t mean its non-existent. Told through implied flashbacks and entirely warped (often simply gross) imagery, there’s an undeniable kind of intrigue created about Isaac’s little life. The art is simple, but bold and expressive. Think the drawings of a demented eight year old brought to life.
The other games on this list toe the line between mobile games and computer games. The Binding of Isaac is most certainly designed for computers, but genius nonetheless with massive replay value. You can beat the final boss in maybe one 45 minute session, but you won’t want to stop. The controls and gameplay are simple, but have the potential to develop exponentially. And all to an incredible demonic-techno-orchestra soundtrack.
Value for Money: 4/5