Bang for your buck
Unless you've spent the last few years swan-diving into your McDuckian money pool and smoking cigars made of rolled-up Benjamins, you've probably noticed how expensive gaming can be. Paying several hundred dollars for a console is a pricey barrier to entry, but once you're up and over, the cost of games themselves can be equally daunting. Sure, there's always Xbox's Games with Gold and the PlayStation Plus free games to pull from, but what happens when those just don't satisfy and you need some new games on the cheap?
Well, you can come here, where we're gathering a list of great recent titles that cost $10 (6.70) or less. When used game shops let you down and garage sales offer nothing more than John Madden Football '93, you can check here for top-notch games that'll keep your backlog and wallet pleasantly plump.
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance
Poor male-model hopeful Raiden has never been a fan favorite (which might have something to do with him usurping Snake's Metal Gear throne in Solid 2), but turn him into a sombrero-wearing cyborg ninja with a mechanical dog, and that changes everything. Gone are the stealth tactics of yesteryear, because in Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance you go on the offensive with high-powered sword moves and a slow-motion Blade Mode where you quite literally slice enemies to pieces. But fast-paced and exciting as it is, Revengeance never forgets to be a Metal Gear game - the fact that you get to go nine rounds with a malevolent American senator is proof enough of that.
Thomas Was Alone
You wouldn't think the tale of a few meandering rectangles would twist the heartstrings much, but Thomas Was Alone soundly squares up with that notion. A puzzle-platformer starring a cast of colorful shapes that slowly expands over their journey through a defunct computer program, Thomas Was Alone challenges you to move all blocks through a given level to their appropriate exits before you can advance. Already intellectually stimulating, the whole experience gets an extra layer of charm from a witty British narrator who tells you all about the blocks' thoughts and feelings, making them feel like interesting and empathetic characters despite their lack of dialogue/vocal chords.
iPhone and iPad: $6.99
Most of the time, it's wise to steer clear of games that force you to read an expository database to understand what the heck is going on, unless you're looking for a good sleep aid. I say most of the time because now and then a title like Year Walk comes along. Based around a type of divination in Swedish folklore called rsgng, Year Walk is an adventure game where you face supernatural peril for a chance to see the future. Alone it's a ghostly journey through a forest full of cryptic symbols that'll have you twitching every time your house creaks. But it gets even more enthralling with the addition of the companion app, which explains the terrifying nature of those symbols to make the whole experience even scarier. You'll probably need a real sleep aid after this one, and a night light.
There's a little liar in all of us, and there's also a little doofus who will fall for anything someone else's inner-fibber says. Fibbage exploits both for comedy gold, because whether you're fooling or being fooled, it's going to be hilarious. In Fibbage, up to eight players (who can be just about anywhere and still participate on their smartphones) are given a fill-in-the-blank sentence and must insert a convincing (or just hysterical) falsehood for anonymous submission. You get points for guessing the truth or convincing others that your lie is legit, but the real reward is seeing just how ludicrous your question-answer combinations get. The color of the Golden Gate Bridge is officially called Massive Horse Orange? Who knew!
Max Payne 3
No one does bullet-strewn testosterone-fests better than Rockstar Games, and while all eyes are on GTA 5 these days, the company's entry in the Max Payne series deserves more than a quick backwards glance. Max Payne 3 is a humanizing look at a noir action-hero who's hit rock bottom (and the rocks at the bottom of his glass), as scenes of explosive Bullet Time action are interspersed with talk of addiction and morality. You can easily play through with reckless abandon, but what makes this game stand out even now is how it brings us closer to the man himself, and hope that he'll somehow find his way.
The oft-forgotten older sibling of Journey, Flower is all about how it feels to be a petal drifting along on a summer breeze. And... that's it. The entire point of Flower is to flit calmly through a melodic and serene natural setting, and that's what makes it so brilliant. It was designed to be relaxing and peaceful, which is exactly what it does through its simple gameplay, beautiful settings, and gorgeous classical soundtrack. Flower is all about experiencing a place and a feeling, taking in the beauty around you without the stress of a mandatory goal. Even if you don't think this sort of game is up your alley, at less than $10 it could well be worth a try. You might like it more than you thought.
iPhone and iPad: $4.99
Comics are a pretty linear artform, so on those random occasions when you read panels out of order because the illustrator decided to get all artistic on you, it's usually more confusing than enlightening. But what if reading those panels the wrong way around actually significantly changed the story for the better? That's the premise behind Framed, a puzzle game depicted through comic boxes that you can switch at will. Altering their arrangement changes the story dynamically, and can mean the difference between your noir protagonist getting shot in the back or making it to safety. Combine quick thinking with a unique premise and crisp art that'll keep your eyes happily locked on the screen, and you've got the best of comics and games wrapped up in one intriguing package.
Xbox 360: $10.00
The latest addition to Square Enix's stylish shooter series,
Hitman: Absolution takes some time to focus on Agent 47's softer side. That softer side is still fine with strangling target or leaving them in the desert to die, but now he has a young, mysterious girl named Victoria to look after, which gives us a look at who 47 is underneath the poker face. The game also takes a detour from its super-serious predecessors by including outrageous, sometimes downright cartoonish characters who give the experience an enjoyable edge of corniness. Combine that with the strong, choice-based missions the series is known for, and this is one to keep in your crosshairs.