New games can be expensive, sucking $60 (or more) from your bank account, but there are plenty of games available for far less. The same money can buy you hours of additional entertainment if you pick older titles instead of the latest and greatest, and there’s plenty to choose from; Steam currently lists almost 3,500 games under $10. But which are the best?
Counter-Strike: Condition Zero
Want to shoot some people in the face? Of course you do, and there are few games better for it than Counter-Strike. Though now a decade old, it’s easy to see why the game (which began life as a mod) inspired a generation of military shooters. The fast-paced competitive combat rewards split-second reflexes and tactical skill. While the newer (and more expensive) Counter-Strike: GO looks better, the original is just as entertaining and still enjoys an active community.
Counter-Strike: Condition Zero is $9.99 and includes the original Counter-Strike along with the new game modes and levels of Condition Zero.
After System Shock 2, and well before the Bioshock franchise, Irrational Games crafted a lesser-known RTS/RPG hybrid called Freedom Force. Rather than putting you in charge of one hero, this title puts you in charge of an entire squad, each member with his or her unique powers. Comedic writing and an excellent campaign make this game a must-have.
I recommend you buy the Freedom Force: Freedom Pack for $7.49, which includes both the original and the sequel, Freedom Force vs. The Third Reich. Each game is $7.49 on its own, so the Freedom Pack is a steal.
World In Conflict
Released in 2007, World In Conflict is a unique take on the RTS genre which combines pseudo-realistic tactical combat with a points-based unit creation system. The result is a fast, furious, yet smart strategy game which rewards players who perfectly place their units and respond quickly to threats. In addition to an excellent campaign, World In Conflict offers competitive multiplayer online or over LAN.
You should buy the World In Conflict Complete Pack for $9.99, which include the original game and the Soviet Assault expansion. It is a must-have if you’re interested in playing multiplayer.
Prince Of Persia: The Sands Of Time
After years of obsolescence, the Prince of Persia franchise came roaring back with the 2003 title Sands Of Time. The game’s gimmick is a time manipulation feature that helps in combat and is required to solve the game’s many puzzles, but Sands Of Time also benefits from great pacing and excellent level design, two traits every great platformer must have.
You can grab Sands Of Time for $9.99. There are a few other Prince Of Persia titles available for $9.99, too, and while they’re not quite as good, they’re still worth a look.
Double Fine is among today’s indie darlings, but it started as a small studio headed by that guy who did Monkey Island (Tim Schafer). They released Psychonauts in 2005, an action-adventure game that’s become a cult classic, but sold poorly at release. If you like quirky writing, unique art, clever puzzles and role-playing mechanics, this is the game for you. Psychonauts is $9.99.
This strategy title takes the city-management genre in a new direction; instead of managing people, you’re in charge of aliens, each with their own needs and wants. Though it starts simple the game quickly becomes complex as you’re forced to manage the desires of different races while defending your station and your pocketbook. Everyone who enjoys single-player strategy must give this one a try. And best of all, Startopia is just $6.99!
The Witcher: Enhanced Edition
Fans of RPGs were surprised and enthralled by The Witcher, a brutal game about the adventures of a monster slayer with a tortured past. The timing-based combat system, mature dialogue and strong protagonist set this franchise apart from others in the genre, making this a perfect choice for RPG fans bored of same-ole, same-ole gameplay. With The Witcher 3 coming soon, now is the perfect time to play the original.
I recommend the Enhanced Edition Director’s Cut, which includes several DLC adventures, the official soundtrack, a game guide and several other bonuses, all for just $9.99.
Describing Terraria as a more complex, 2D version of Minecraft is tempting, but not entirely accurate. Yes, the game prominently features mining and building, but it blends those basics with combat and exploration that’s more complex than its 3D predecessor. There are bosses to fight, chests to open, and vendors to speak with, all of which gives Terraria an old-school RPG feel. You can even enjoy the game in multiplayer.
Terraria is $9.99 on Steam. If you want to play with friends, though, check out the four-pack. It sells for $29.99, which works out to $7.49 for each copy.
Orcs Must Die!
The name really tells you what you need to know about this game; there are Orcs, and they Must Die! A blend of tower defense and third-person action/RPG, you’re put in the shoes of a hilarious protagonist tasked with defending the world from hoards of Orcs seeking to plunder vulnerable lands. An array of absurdly deadly traps including mashers, flame pits and whirling blades, are at your command.
You can pick up Orcs Must Die! for $9.99. There’s also a $2.99 DLC expansion, Lost Adventures, which adds five challenging new levels and several new enemies.
Serious Sam Classic: The First Encounter
Military shooters dominate the FPS genre today, but that wasn’t always the case. Before Counter-Strike most players enjoyed action games like Quake and Unreal, which featured burly protagonists capable of wrestling an alien bear bare-handed. Serious Sam returns to those days with a campaign that that features impossible odds, absurd weapons and hellish bosses.
You also can enjoy the game with friends in co-op or competitive multi-player and design your own levels with a unique editing tool. And at $5.99, Serious Sam Classic is the least expensive game on this list!
These are certainly not the only great games available for $10 or less. Classics like Half-Life 2, Deus Ex and Star Wars: Knights Of The Old Republic are also available, but I excluded them because it’s likely you already know of these games. You can view the full list of games sold for $10 or less on Steam’s website.
What’s your favorite game available for a single Hamilton? Let us know in the comments!