We live in strange and uncertain times. With all that is going on in our world, now is probably the best time to lose yourself in a different one. There are a plethora of choices out there, but I thought maybe it would be a good time to suggest some games that are cheap, fun, and that may not be on your radar, or perhaps once were but had dropped off over the years.

Every single game on this list I own, love, and whole-heartedly, unreservedly, and enthusiastically recommend.

1: Transistor

A stunning action RPG with a fantastic combat system, this is Supergiant Games at their very best, and at this price, there is no excuse not to pick this exceptional game up immediately. I would be remiss if I did not also recommend Supergiant Games’ other equally exceptional and unique takes on the RPG genre -The OG Bastion $18.49 and party-based Pyre $24.79.

$4.95 (on sale until April 21) usually $24.79 Steam

2: Organ Trail: Directors Cut

The Organ Trail is literally the classic Oregon Trail reimagined as a zombie apocalypse survival game, complete with classic 8-bit graphics and a wicked sense of humour. This game will punish you, but you’ll keep coming back for more.

$5.99 Steam

3: Fieldrunners

Simply put, this is one of the best tower defence games ever made. There is a surprising amount of content in here, and I cannot recommend it enough as an effective time sink. Fieldrunners 2 is also available for $11.99. A sequel that offers more of the same, but you know, more of it.

$5.99 Steam

4: Plants Vs Zombies GOTY Edition

The progenitor of the worldwide sensation before it headed to mobile devices and console and lost its way. This lane-based tower defence title holds up extremely well all these years later and is easily the best game in the franchise. There has never been a better time to rediscover its decaying vegetal charm or even experience it for the first time.

$5.99 Steam

5: Papers Please

The premise is simple. You man a passport office in a cold war era communist nation. You decide who enters and who does not. This is pretty much “Rubber Stamping - The Game” but also so much more. The social commentary is subtle and the depth surprising. Never has the mundane been so entertaining or affecting.

$11.89 Steam

6: Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords

Another game that peaked at the first entry before moving to mobile. This Match-3 RPG offers entertaining gem-swapping combat and a decent story with a lot of content. Build your army, conquer your enemies, and save the lands in this sprawling fantasy epic. Probably the best Match-3 game ever made and not a single micro-transaction to be found.

$11.99 Steam

7: Rock of Ages

Bowling meets Monty Python in this surreal, absurdist strategy title. Hurl giant boulders at your enemies to destroy their castles while protecting your own. This unique take on the tower defence genre is simply unmissable, in my opinion. When you’re done, you can pick up Rock of Ages 2: Bigger and Boulder for the same price! Not only that, but Rock of Ages 3 is planned for a June release this year!

$11.99 Steam

8: FTL

If you haven’t played this amazing sci-fi turn-based rogue-like, you’re doing yourself a disservice. One of the most elegantly designed strategy games of all time that is sure to keep you entertained for hours and hours on end. Death is common, but victory, while rare is all the sweeter for it. Subset Games’ follow up Into the Breach is just as amazing and only $18.49, if you’re looking for a more terrestrial title with low res robots and 8-bit kaiju!

$11.99 Steam

9: Defense Grid: The Awakening

Yep, another Tower Defence title. Defense Grid manages to be both fair and challenging while keeping things light with some entertaining banter from the various AI you interact with throughout the game. This is a must-play for any fan of the genre, and the equally wonderful sequel DG2 is also available for just $18.49.

$12.30 Steam

10: Grow Home

A charming physics-based adventure and exploration title that serves as the perfect tonic to combat during these grim times. The unique procedurally generated animation system is a joy to use, and the sense of discovery is constant throughout your journey.

$13.35 Steam

11: Zombie Night Terror

It’s Lemmings, but with zombies. A comedic and escalating story frame this madcap and gleefully gory 8-bit action-strategy title. Exceptional art design and pixel perfect puzzles are the perfect prescription for the present pandemic.

$15.99 Steam

12: Braid

One of the best and most beloved puzzle platformers ever made. If you missed this one back in 2009, it is well worth picking up now. Smart puzzles and a charming story will keep you entertained for the duration. A shorter game at about 6 hours, but worth every cent.

$17.99 Steam

13: Full Throttle Remastered

This is a recommendation for any of the three Double Fine Remastered editions of the classic LucasArts Point and Click Adventure games that includes Grim Fandango and Day of the Tentacle. All are extremely funny and challenging titles that have proven that great games never get old, they just get a bit uglier but scrub up real nice. You could also check out the non-Double Fine developed Special Editions of The Secret of Monkey Island and Monkey Island 2 for $12.39 each.

$17.99 Steam

14: World of Goo

Both relaxing and frustrating this physics-based puzzle construction game is just as fun now as it was when released twelve years ago. Beautiful and slightly twisted art design combined with smart puzzles demonstrate how a simple idea executed well can be just as compelling as a complex triple-A budgeted behemoth.

$18.49 Steam

15: Steamworld Heist

This 2D reimagining of XCOM’s combat system combined with ricochet physics and steampunk robot gunslingers is a joy to play! Surprisingly deep, and with an entertaining story, it’s a gem that never got as much attention as it deserved. If you’re looking for more steampunk robots but in an action platform framework, check out the exceptional Steamworld Dig for $12.39 and Steamworld Dig 2 for $24.79. There is also the entertaining Steamworld Quest, but at $30.99 is did not qualify for this list, so I guess you should just forget I mentioned it.

$18.49 Steam

Coming Soon! 30 Under $30: Part 2 – For a Few Dollars More!