Fifteen down, fifteen to go. PC gamers are spoiled for choice when it comes to cheap games, but the glut of games available can make the various stores a quagmire to wade through.
The second half of the list are all games between $20 and $30 (or were when I made the list initially). The larger price tag generally means you’ll see games with a larger scope, or maybe a classic or two given some extra love to bring them up to modern standards.
Part 1 of this list was more puzzle and casual focused, part 2, on the other hand, is for the more “core” gamer end of the spectrum.
Again, every single game on this list I own, and love, and whole-heartedly, unreservedly, and enthusiastically recommend.
16: The Escapists
This strategy, sim, action game is hard to classify, but it is immensely satisfying to play. This is basically Prison Break the game, but with less brutal shivings and fewer full-body tattoos. Emergent gameplay and some deep strategy make this game pretty special. The sequel The Escapists 2 builds on this in multiple ways is can also be picked up for cheap at just $23.99.
Sharing a lot of DNA with another game on this list, Abzu is a pure delight. Stunning visuals and near-limitless sense of freedom, wonder, and discovery will keep you entranced for hours. This is a more sedate title that leverages exploration and elegant puzzle-solving over action and tension, but there is certainly some of the latter to be found in the depths.
A modern take on the classic grid-based dungeon crawlers of the late ’80s and early ’90s. If you remember Eye of the Beholder, Dungeon Master, or Lands of Lore you know what to expect, except in a deep space sci-fi setting. Deep tactical combat, multiple classes, monsters, and a lot of ships to explore and plunder.
19: Planescape: Torment
The “Infinity Engine” games are PC classics for a reason, and you’ve no doubt had them recommended multiple times by multiple people, but they really are that good. If you’ve not played them before, there is no better time. I mean you’ve got the time now, right? All of the games including Baldur’s Gate, Baldur’s Gate II, and Icewind Dalev can all be picked up for the same price and combined come in at well over 300 hours of epic storytelling and dungeon crawling.
20: Shadowrun: Hong Kong - Extended Edition
With Cyberpunk 2077 still many months off there is no better series out there to scratch that cyberpunk RPG itch than the fantastic Shadowrun games. [/]Hong Kong is the best of the series with a rich story, cool gadgets, interesting characters, and exceptional tactical combat. This is a must-play for fans of the genre. If you really want the full experience you could pick up the OG Shadowrun Returns and the follow-up Shadowrun Dragonfall Directors Cut each for $17.99, but if you only plan to play one, then Hong Kong is your game.
21: Enslaved – Odyssey to the West: Premium Edition
Ninja Theory’s lesser-known epic is a game well worth exploring and is one review I would revisit if I could. I picked this up again years after I reviewed it, and unlike that initial play though I loved it. It is still a flawed game, but more of an unpolished gem than anything else. The Premium Edition deserves more than the 6.5 I awarded the initial PC release. At 24 bucks it’s an easy sell, and well worth the money.
Like Abzu, Journey is about exploration and discovery and like some of the game on the list doesn’t really need to me to tell you about it. So, this is more of a reminder that this game exists, is super cheap, and now is probably the best time to take this particular journey while you’re stuck indoors.
23: Mark of the Ninja: Remastered
Side-scrolling stealth ninja action. If that doesn’t sell it, I don’t know what will. One of Klei’s best games given a make-over, making an already sexy game all the more so. Precise controls and a unique approach to stealth make this one of the best games in that genre despite it being so very different from most of them. You should also look at the rest of Klei’s portfolio as it is filled with exceptional games. Invisible Inc for $23.99 for turn-based tactics, Shank and Shank 2 ($11.99) for some amazing side-scrolling beat-em-up action, and Don’t Starve Together for a little survival with friends for $17.99.
24: Beautiful Desolation
The newest game on the list is a brilliant isometric sci-fi adventure, that is gorgeous to behold and a delight to play. It’s a little twisted in places, but any fan of point and click adventure games, or the post-apocalypse should check it out. And if you have not already the developer’s first game, Stasis can be picked up for just $12.39 if you’re looking for some gruesome horror in your science fiction.
25: Heroes of Might and Magic III – HD Edition
Possibly a contentious inclusion, as some long-time fans feel the HD Edition skimps in some areas. But if you’re looking for an exceptional fantasy turn-based strategy game with massive battles you really can do no better than Might and Magic III, especially if you’re just down for an epic single-player campaign mode. Alternatively, you could pick up the second-best game in the series for even less. HOMM V is just $16.69. The wheels kind of fell off this series after that.
26: Legend of Grimrock II
Another modern take on the dungeon crawler, but this one is a little more tradition by sticking to the fantasy genre with its giant bugs, skeletons, and trolls. Hack and slash your way through dungeons and explore a vast overworld as well. You could also pick up the original Legend of Grimrock which is much narrower in scope for $17.99 or both for $35.99.
27: Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition
Time for a little real-time in your historical strategy. This remastered edition of the PC classic is a must-own. It is stunning and is just as compelling now as it ever was. Age of Empires: Definitive Edition is also available for $23.90, but you only really need the much-improved sequel, but there is still a lot to love with the first game in the series.
28: Mutant Year Zero
Take one part Fallout, one part XCOM, and one part Old McDonalds farm, fuse them together, and you’ll get this very entertaining post-apocalyptic RPG. You should check it out if you like a more tactical party-based isometric RPG experience than the hack n slashers we’ve seen more recently.
29: Dragon Age: Origins
Back when BioWare was in its prime, it made amazing, compelling, and deep role-playing game with interesting characters and a rich narrative. Dragon Age: Origins is peak BioWare; it is also the best game in the series. A grim, dark party-based RPG with some brilliant storytelling, and Claudia Black voices one of the best NPCs ever made – Morrigan.
Xenonauts came about due to a group of fans, modders, and game devs who were frustrated with no new X-Com games being made after the announcement of what was to become The Bureau – XCOM Declassified. The XCOM reboot took some of the wind out of the Xenonauts sails a couple of years later, but this game approaches the genre in a much more traditional way and has earned a very loyal following as a result. Deep, complex, and just as punishing as any XCOM or X-Com game has ever been. There is also a sequel due out later this year.
Bonus Feature: ANNIE: Last Hope
Had I played this game prior to starting this list, it would have made part 1 easily. This voxel-based twin-stick shooter is pretty damn entertaining! Striking visuals and slick art design, rock-solid shooting, and a dirt-cheap price makes it an easy recommendation to help relieve a little isolation-induced tension. The writing is a little clunky, but the action is silky smooth. You should check it out!