Gaming: You don’t have to spend big to get decent games

While most people spend January changing what they eat, gamers focus on bytes of a different kind. And if you’re looking for a leaner, less filling gaming experience for 2019, there are plenty of options on PC, where hundreds of smaller titles go unnoticed, writes Ronan Jennings.

So this year, one of our resolutions is to focus on the cheaper end of the spectrum, the games that go under the radar. We will go digging around on Steam to review worthy games that cost €5 or cheaper, in the hope of unearthing a few gems.

The first of these games is Out There Somewhere, which could be the best 39 cents we have ever spent. Yes, that isn’t a typo – 39 cents on Steam.

The premise of Out There Somewhere is quirky and simple. A spaceman falls to an alien planet, where he must find his way back to his ship and defeat the planet’s dictator overlord. This is a colourful, cartoonish world that is a real pleasure to explore.

There is so much character packed into the game’s 2D, Mario-style graphics. (It helps that the game opens with a 2D side-shooter mini-game, adding to the old-school fun).

The gameplay is even more straightforward. This is a 2D platform game, similar to the aforementioned Mario, but with one big difference. The main character has a teleport gun. When a shot from the gun hits another surface, such as a wall, the hero transports to that location.

This mechanic makes Out There Somewhere a beautiful, brilliant little puzzle platformer that plays a little like Portal but in 2D form. The goal is (usually) to make it from one side of the screen to another. The further into the levels you get, the more fiendish the timing and the design becomes, with some really excellent ideas and brain teasers

implemented, including lasers that deflect the gun, disappearing platforms and more.

It’s one of those games that makes you feel incredibly clever, without ever getting too frustrating or obtuse.

Between the fantastic music, charming world and superb puzzle design, Out There Somewhere is a game you would happily spend €5 on. At three hours long, it’s the

perfect bite-sized game. The fact that it costs 39c — well, that wouldn’t even get you half a donut.

SONIC SARCASM

Speaking of cheap, Jim Carrey gave the forthcoming Sonic the Hedgehog movie some low-cost advertising at the Golden Globes. When the hosts asked Jim to move from the movie section, where he was sitting, to the TV section, Carrey replied: “But I’m in a movie, it’s called Sonic the Hedgehog, coming out in November.” Carrey plays Dr Robotnik, the arch nemesis of Sonic.

Unfortunately, the advertising backfired somewhat, as Golden Globe host Andy Samberg replied: “Well, you know, come back next year. I’m sure it will be nominated.”

The Sonic movie has already developed a cult following, despite only one image from the film being released so far. The image is a silhouetted version of Sonic, in which only his outline can be seen. However, his strangely muscular legs and weirdly anthropomorphic frame have inspired countless memes, with many calling the design unsettling. The team behind Sonic the Hedgehog still have time to adjust the design — but with it getting this kind of attention, why would they?

CHARITY GAMING

Meanwhile, our favourite gaming event of the year is happening right now in Rockville, Maryland. Awesome Games Done Quick is the week-long speed-running charity event that raises millions of euro each year for various causes. This year, all the proceeds go to the Prevent Cancer Foundation.

During the event, some of the world’s most nerdy and talented gamers play through various classics (and some not-so-classics) to try and complete them as quickly as possible. In order to do this, they must know every glitch, secret and outcome of the game, to find the quickest route to completion. Some of them can even complete their games blindfolded.

In addition, the players always provide insightful, humourous commentary while they play, which means you don’t just get to see the game being played — you are given an education on it at the same time.

Awesome Games Done Quick is streaming live on Twitch now (24 hours a day) and you can donate on their stream or website. If you’re lucky, your donation will be read aloud on the stream. Awesome indeed!

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