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15 Recommendations from Steam Winter Sale 2021

Steam Winter Sale 2021

Yesterday, I covered a few of the great retro PC games on sale during GOG’s 2021 Winter Sale. However, GOG is far from the only platform holding a massive sale right now. The Steam Winter Sale 2021 continues until January 5th, so there’s still plenty of time to buy tons of games you’ll probably never play.

Seeing as how this is Niche Gamer and I love recommending obscure indie games, this list will predominantly feature games you may not have heard of before. I’ll throw in a few larger games here and there, but mostly I’ll be focusing on indie and middle tier games from smaller companies.

Here is a list of 15 good deals from the Steam 2021 Winter Sale:


AI War 2
Arcen Games
$7.99 (60% off)

AI War 2

I have a soft spot for Arcen Games, so I make sure to throw in a recommendation for them in most sales articles. AI War 2 is the extremely ambitious sequel to their 2009 hit, AI War: Fleet Command. AI War 2 is a grand strategy RTS set after humanity has lost the intergalactic war against the machines. All that remains is a meager resistance too small and pitiful to warrant the AI’s attention. Wage an intergalactic guerilla war as you silently and carefully strike back against the machines. Drawing too much attention too fast will result in the AI becoming aware of your existence, and the ensuing counterattack will be completely unwinnable.

AI War 2 has already received two expansions, with a third one releasing January 13th. Alternatively, you can get the original game and all 6 expansions for less than $5.

Droid Assault
Puppygames
$4.99 (50% off) 

Droid Assault

Puppygames is another fairly obscure developer I like to promote. They are best known for Revenge of the Titans, but I’ve always been partial to Droid Assault. Droid Assault represents what Puppygames does best, blending classic arcade gameplay with a gorgeous neon retro aesthetic. You play as a small prototype droid trapped in a facility full of killer robots that have gone out of control. Luckily, you have the ability to transfer yourself to enemy droids, thereby gaining control of them. Each droid has unique weapons, durability, and even view ranges that you can exploit. Once you body swap, the previously controlled droids will follow you around and help in combat.

Super Mutant Alien Assault
Cybernate/Suprise Attack
$1.99 (80% off)

Super Mutant Alien Attack

Super Mutant Alien Assault describes itself as “the Citizen Kane of Super Crate Box clones.” While that isn’t inaccurate, it’s also selling itself short. Super Mutant Alien Assault follows the core Super Crate Box formula of fighting waves of enemies with all kinds of quirky weapons, but cranks it up to 11. The game consists of a randomized sequence of rooms full of aliens, modifiers, and awesome weapons. It’s a simple game that is great in short bursts, and for only $2 it’s a steal.

Nauticrawl
Spare Parts Oasis/Armor Games Studios 
$7.99 (50% off)

Nauticrawl

Nauticrawl is probably one of the most unique puzzle games ever created. It’s essentially a roguelite where you are trying to escape from a dystopian city in a bizarre craft called a Nauticrawl. You have to escape pursuing enforcers and brave the dangers of the treacherous skies. The puzzle part is learning how the Nauticrawl actually works. You need to decipher a complex cockpit full of gauges, nobs, levers, screens, buttons, and other assorted gadgets. You must figure out what everything does while under stress, or face certain death. It is an extremely difficult game, but also exceptionally rewarding to figure out.

Opus Magnum
Zachtronics
$9.99 (50% off)  

Opus Magnum

If you are in the market for extremely complex but rewarding puzzle games, you can’t go wrong with Zachtronics. While they are probably best known for 2016’s SHENZHEN I/O, Zachtronics have made plenty of other great puzzle games. Opus Magnum is one such game, and is about building alchemical transmutation engines and programming them to create potions, poisons, precious gems, and much more. As with all of Zachtronics’ games, Opus Magnum is fairly complicated and completely open-ended. This means the game really rewards players who can decipher its rules and think outside the box. Plus, it’s really cool watching your transmutation machine in motion.

Guns, Gore & Cannoli
Rogueside/Claeysbrothers
$4.99 (50% off)

Guns, Gore & Cannoli

If deep puzzles make your head hurt, you might be more interested in the mindless shooting action that Guns, Gore & Cannoli provides. This tongue-in-cheek shooter follows the Italian American mobster Vinnie Cannoli and his family during the height of Prohibition. Some tainted bathtub gin has resulted in a zombie outbreak, and now Vinnie must grab his trusty Tommy Gun and shoot his way through undead hordes, rival gangsters, and shady government agencies. It’s pure, unsophisticated carnage, and only gets better in co-op.

Tangledeep
Impact Gameworks
$4.94 (67% off)

Tangledeep

Tangledeep is a great little retro-inspired dungeon crawler. It can be played as a traditional roguelike, or a more casual experience without permadeath. Escape your underground prison by traversing the Tangledeep, an intricate web of ever-changing dungeons and labyrinths. Tangledeep has tons of mechanics and content to master, including 12 jobs, a monster raising system, side activities, procedurally generated item dungeons, and much more. You can add even more content with the game’s two expansion packs.

Utawarerumono: Prelude to the Fallen
Aquaplus/DMM Games/Shiravune
$35.99 (40% off)

Utawarerumono: Prelude to the Fallen

The release of Utawarerumono: Prelude to the Fallen means that PC gamers in the West can finally enjoy all three games in this beloved franchise. Utawarerumono: Prelude to the Fallen is an enhanced rerelease of the first game in the trilogy, which originally released way back in 2002. Utawarerumono: Prelude to the Fallen is the weakest game in the series, but it’s still a fantastic experience that you’ll need to play through to fully understand the sequels.

The game follows Hakuowlo, a mysterious masked man with amnesia that finds himself in a strange world full of fluffy-eared humans. Just as Hakuowlo is becoming acquainted with his slow new life, he finds himself thrust into a peasant uprising against corrupt feudal lords. The Utawarerumono games are split between visual novel story sequences and turn-based tactical battles. You can currently grab the whole trilogy for $68.37. While that is still pretty pricy, its honestly worth experiencing this classic series. You can find our review here.

Muv-Luv
aNCHOR Inc.
$11.99 (60% off)

Muv-Luv

The critically acclaimed Muv-Luv series is also on sale if you want more classic visual novels. The original Muv-Luv trilogy consists of Muv-Luv Extra, Muv-Luv Unlimited, and Muv-Luv Alternative. This particular release is a bundle of the first two games, though Alternative is also on sale. Muv-Luv starts out as your fairly standard romance VN, albeit a pretty good one. It follows Takeru, a high school senior torn between his childhood friend, and the mysterious new woman in his life.

The second game goes completely off the rails as Takeru awakens in another world. The Cold War has been interrupted by an alien invasion, and humanity is on the brink of extinction. In this timeline, he and his friends from high school are all mecha pilots in a bloody war to save the human race. Be warned: This franchise is not for the faint of heart.

Warhammer 40,000: Mechanicus
Bulwark Studios/Kasedo Games
$7.49 (75% off)

Warhammer 40,000: Mechanicus

I can’t do a sales article without at least one Warhammer game, and Warhammer 40,000: Mechanicus is definitely a great one to recommend. I’d actually rank it as one of the best 40k games in recent years. The game follows an Adeptus Mechanicus detachment that has been sent to stop a Necron tomb world from reawakening. You’ll get to create your own upgradable Tech-Priests and send them out on missions with various Skitarii underlings. Warhammer 40,000: Mechanicus is an awesome 40k experience on top of being a really solid turn-based tactics game. It features some excellent writing and atmosphere that perfectly nail the look and feel of the grim darkness of the far future. You can find our review here.

Gears Tactics
Splash Damage/The Coalition/Xbox Game Studios 
$9.99 (75% off)

Gears Tactics

It isn’t an obscure indie game, but Gears Tactics is still a really solid turn-based tactics experience. The game perfectly transitions the core Gears of War formula into an XCOM-style strategy game. If you’ve ever played Gears of War, everything works exactly as you’d expect it to here. The only difference is that it’s all turn-based instead of being a shooter. Gears Tactics might not have the base building aspects of XCOM, but it still has interesting progression systems. You can upgrade your characters with tons of fun loot and skills. You can find our review here.

Curse of the Dead Gods
Passtech Games/Focus Home Interactive 
$11.99 (40% off)

Curse of the Dead Gods

Each year has at least one action-roguelite that garners a lot of critical acclaim. Last year, the action-roguelite indie darling was Supergiant’s Hades. This year, that honor goes to Curse of the Dead Gods. As with most action-roguelites, you’ll find yourself delving into ancient temples full of monsters, traps, and loot. There are tons of cool weapons and upgrades you’ll find throughout Curse of the Dead Gods, and the combat system is fun and satisfying. The game’s big gimmick are the titular curses. Your character accumulates corruption as you delve deeper, eventually transforming into curses. Each curse can dramatically alter the way you play, giving you both powerful boons and crippling debuffs to work around.

Hand of Fate 2
Defiant Development
$5.99 (80% off) 

Hand of Fate 2

Hand of Fate 2 is another pretty fun little action-roguelite from several years back. Unfortunately, the developers disbanded back in 2019. The basic premise is that you are crafting your own adventure as part of a living board game controlled by the enigmatic Dealer. Between the game’s brawling segments, you’ll get to draft cards, upgrade your character, and take on quests. The game’s combat is serviceable, but the really interesting bits are the aforementioned board game. Each playthrough is slightly different depending on the various cards, quests, and encounters you take along your path.

SpellForce 3 Reforced
Grimlore Games/THQ Nordic
$9.99 (75% off)

SpellForce 3 Reforced

SpellForce 3 Reforced is the latest installment in the cult classic RTS-RPG hybrid that is about to hit two decades old. Much like the older games, it’s a narrative focused RTS experience that swaps between massive battles, and smaller RPG-style dungeon crawling quests. You’ll gradually build a band of customizable heroes, complete with their own skill trees. Each character can be further upgraded with a wide range of loot you’ll find throughout your adventure. The base game features three factions, with more added in the expansion packs. You can actually grab the whole SpellForce 3 experience for just over $20.

Megaquarium
Twice Circled
$12.49 (50% off)

Megaquarium

Finally, we come to Megaquarium, a relaxing aquarium management sim. Megaquarium‘s visuals might be a bit on the simple side, but it has a fair amount of depth and complexity. As with any sort of zoo management sim, you’ll have to carefully balance the demands of your customers with the welfare of your animal friends. Since you are dealing with fish that have highly specific needs, you’ll have to put a lot of thought into the design of each exhibit to keep your critters happy and healthy.


Did you buy any games during the Steam Winter Sale 2021? What other great deals have you seen that you’d recommend to others?

The is Niche Deals. In this column, we regularly cover new and upcoming deals, discounts, and more for video games. Let us know if there’s a deal we should cover!

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About

Frank was a former Niche Gamer contributor.