Steam Sale: Unforeseen Consequences

So, ’twas the season not too long ago, and at the end of one of The 1st 10 Minutes’ earlier episodes, Steve made mention his intention to get festive and fill Tony and Aaron’s stockings with some of the less pricey offerings in the Steam Sale, especially if they were titles on their wishlist. Tony and Aaron thought it was such a great idea that they decided to get in on the merriment as well.

It had a harmless origin, but what began as a kind and generous gesture among friends soon became a far different beast. You see, a thought began to collectively grow in Steve, Tony and Aaron’s heads, a thought that any game gifted could at some point be rolled, and be played, and be talked about on The 1st 10 Minutes. And why stop at interesting titles on one’s wishlist when there was a veritable smorgasbord of titles all available for less than a dollar when the sleigh bells were ringing and the snow was glistening. Remember last Christmas when I gave you my heart? Well, this Christmas I’m giving you a warehouse and logistics simulator set in Hell.

It wasn’t all in the name of evil, though. They may have given each other some turkeys, but they’re turkeys they felt were worth talking about. And that’s the theme that runs through all of these titles. Good or bad, they were gifts that they felt could generate some interesting discussion in future episodes. Like it or not, that unicorn farm game is really popular, and it would be interesting to have a crack at analysing why that is.

So get familiar with the following lists, folks, because who knows? An unforeseen consequence could be just around the corner. See you soon, everyone.


Steve’s Unforeseen Consequences


Actual Sunlight

Alex Hunter – Lord of the Mind

Alien Rage

Bad Rats: The Rats Revenge

BeatBlasters III

Cortex Command

Costume Quest 2

Crash Time 2


Door Kickers

Ether One

Evil Pumpkin: The Lost Halloween

Far Cry 4

Flower Shop: Summer in Fairbrook

Gunman Clive


Hyper Fighters

Monster Challenge Circus

Monster Loves You!

Mount Your Friends

Orc Attack

Pixel Piracy

Planetary Annihilation

Postal II Complete

Postal III

Revelations 2012

Secret of the Magic Crystals


Sparkle 2 Evo: Soundtrack Edition

Squishy the Suicidal Pig

The Ball

The Flying Dutchman

The Typing of the Dead: Overkill Collection

They Breathe

Tower of Gun

Turbo Dismount

Uriel’s Chasm

Valiant Hearts: The Great War / Soldats Onconnus: Mémoires de la Grande Guerre

Viscera Cleanup Detail: Santa’s Rampage

Warehouse and Logistics Simulator

Warehouse and Logistics Simulator: Hell’s Warehouse

World Basketball Tycoon

Year Walk



Tony’s Unforeseen Consequences


Actual Sunlight

Assault Android Cactus

Bad Rats: The Rats Revenge

Blade Kitten


Cold Fear

Crash Time III

Crypt Of The NecroDancer

Dark Matter

Dead Bits

Dinner Date

Divinity: Original Sin

English Country Tune

Ghostbusters: The Videogame

Mount Your Friends

Never Alone (Kisima Ingitchuna)

Neverending Nightmares

Ninja Blade

Puzzle Dimension

Revelations 2012

Sanctum 2

Secret Of The Magic Crystals


Super Killer Hornet: Resurrection

They Breathe

Toki Tori

Tom Clancy’s H.A.W.X.

Vanguard Princess

Zeno Clash


Aaron’s Unforeseen Consequences


Among the Sleep


Bully: Scholarship Edition

Car Mechanic Simulator 2014

Crypt of the Necrodancer



Don’t Starve Together

Dracula 2: The Last Sanctuary

Dracula 3: The Path of the Dragon

Dracula 4 and 5 – Special Steam Edition

Dracula: The Resurrection

Five Nights at Freddy’s

Five Nights at Freddy’s 2

Flower Shop: Winter in Fairbrook

Ghostbusters: The Video Game

Ghost Master

Gumboy Tournament

Hatoful Boyfriend


Metro 2033 Redux

Metro: Last Light Redux


Mount Your Friends

Necronomicon: The Dawning of Darkness

Never Alone (Kisima Ingitchuna)

New York Bus Simulator

Nightmares from the Deep: The Cursed Heart

No Time to Explain

One Way Heroics

Onikira: Demon Killer

Organ Trail: Director’s Cut

ORION: Prelude

Pro Cycling Manager 2013



Rhiannon: Curse of the Four Branches


Slender: The Arrival

Sneaky Sneaky

Stranded (???)

The Bureau: XCOM Declassified

The Novelist

The Old City: Leviathan

This War of Mine


Viscera Cleanup Detail

Viscera Cleanup Detail: Santa’s Rampage

Winged Sakura: Mindy’s Arc

World of Diving

XCOM: Enemy Unknown

Ys I


Zeno Clash


Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth – Steam Curator

‘Lovecraftian’ is a buzz word being thrown around by a lot of new horror games that don’t seem to understand what Lovecraft was really about. Tentacles and asylums does not automatically Lovecraftian make. Like much of the man’s work, Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth doesn’t even feature the titular monster, because what it understands is that above all else, fear of the unknown was what really informed Lovecraft’s work.


Call of Cthulhu has a lot of horrors that it puts you through, only a handful of which you actually see. The developers knew the golden rule of Lovecraft’s work: the monster in your head will always beat the monster on the page. Or in the game, as it were. Within this universe, there exists creatures so monstrous, so impossible, that looking upon them can bring no level of understanding, and drives the viewer insane. You may be unlucky enough to witness enough traumatising images that your character simply can’t go on, and, without an ounce of your control, puts his revolver to his head and pulls the trigger. It baffles the mind to think that a game would punish you to this degree for simply playing it. It’s unfathomable. And that might just be its point.


Call of Cthulhu also proves that you don’t need to remove combat to be a story-driven survival horror game. You have a gun, you just suck at using it. And, more often than not, the things you’re shooting don’t really seem to be fazed by your weaponry. They know better than you do just how out of your depth you are. A spectacular chase through a seaside town that was adapted from the Lovecraft story it draws its most inspiration from is unapologetically cruel, and surviving it doesn’t bring a feeling of victory, but panic at what might be around the corner.


Not only is Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth a true Lovecraft experience, it’s a true horror experience. There are no jump scares awaiting you here, just the overwhelming dread that comes with the knowledge of how significant you are not in this world that looks upon your self-assured notions of existence and chuckles to itself in the shadows, knowing that it could shatter your sanity with but a single step into the light.


Thirty Flights of Loving – Steam Curator

Thirty Flights of Loving takes 30 minutes to finish, I’ve played it more times than I can remember, and I still learn something new every time I sit down to it.


Its non-linear storytelling offers itself to be picked apart and analysed down to excruciating detail, and for a while I certainly did. But then through one playthrough, I came to the credits, and I walked through an art gallery with installations depicting the events of the game while wine-sipping yuppies murmured amongst themselves pensively, and I realised that they were me. I was a wine-sipping yuppie inspecting every object obsessively, desperate to find meaning in a game that was perfectly happy keeping me in the dark.


Thirty Flights of Loving isn’t about anything. Sure, you can piece together some form of narrative, and semiotics have taught you to recognise there’s some form of strained relationship between its three protagonists, only one of which you play as. But all that it means is the feeling that it gives you. I’ve never played a game that portrays what it feels like to be significantly, stupidly drunk as well as this, and rarely have I played a game that has made me feel quite so in love (me, not a character I was following or playing as). I repeat, Thirty Flights of Loving takes 30 minutes to finish.


It’s an experience that is informed by all of the stage plays and books and albums and radio plays and films and television that came before it, but it couldn’t possibly exist in any of them. It’s a step forward for what games are capable of.


Psychonauts – Steam Curator

We don’t know how lucky we are to have Tim Schafer. If Grim Fandango’s Aztec afterlife and 1930’s Art Deco-inspired rumination on the philosophy of life and death was available on Steam, it would hold this place. Instead, it goes to the next best thing: an intensely dark, emotional and hilarious look at mental illness as seen through the eyes of a child, known as Psychonauts.


If ever there was a greater champion of Gestalt design in video games, I haven’t found it. Psychonauts is a 3D action platformer, a sub-genre that should understandably make you nervous. Developers are still trying to work out the best way to integrate jumping puzzles into a space that requires accurate depth perception, and this 2005 title was rough around the edges back then. But the whole truly is greater than the sum of its parts here. You will feel like you’re wrestling a camera that wants you to fail at times, but it’s worth it. Psychonauts is a textbook example on how to design levels for a platformer: give the player a finite set of abilities, and then shift and shape the levels to create new ways to use them. Nothing in this game is recycled; every one of its ten or so levels is wildly diverse.


Thematically, this is because every level is within the mind of a different character. As a psychic secret agent in training, you use your brain-hopping ability to reconcile the inner demons of the many mentally-damaged denizens of Whispering Rock. Finding their emotional baggage (represented as crying suitcases), reveals some truly dark secrets. There’s the failed actress who went insane after her mother committed suicide as the ultimate act of criticism. There’s the pyromaniac milkman whose mind is a twisted M.C. Escher painting of paranoia. There’s the mutated lungfish you spend the game fearing until you learn that it’s greatest fear is you.


What truly makes Psychonauts special though is the light-hearted approach it has to such disturbing territory. The aforementioned milkman level turns out to be one of the game’s funniest, as all of the shady government agents that fill the environment wear awful costumes to conceal their identities and spout overtly conspicuous and culturally dated lines, like the agent wearing a wig and an apron in the kitchen who says, “Although over time my husband will desire me less sexually, he will always enjoy my pies.” You’re navigating the mind of a man who is tragically beyond repair, but the greatest comedy comes from pain, and what follows is understanding. This is constant for the rest of the game. Psychonauts is the video game equivalent of Pixar making a film about mental illness. I repeat: we don’t know how lucky we are to have Tim Schafer.


Mark of the Ninja – Steam Curator

Mark of the Ninja knows something that many stealth games do not: good stealth is about feeling like you’re Batman. Good stealth makes you feel powerful when you’re waiting. Good stealth isn’t about combat, but puzzles. Good stealth makes failure fun. Good stealth isn’t about mastering a skillset, but about offering a power fantasy. Mark of the Ninja is good stealth.


Right off the bat, the 2D side-on aesthetic is both something new and, in my head, overpoweringly obvious to the design of an effective stealth experience. By essentially turning the game into a map, it allows the player incredible, immediate ability to survey the landscape and devise a plan of attack, without ever needing to swap to another screen. This results in lightning-fast gameplay that makes you feel like you know your environment so much better than the person in the room waiting for an enemy they don’t know is right below them.


Mark of the Ninja makes you feel like a predator, and something predators do a lot is wait for their prey. You will wait a lot in Mark of the Ninja, but it never becomes boring because every period of waiting is a chance to think of a new way to mess with the head of your prey before swooping in for the kill. At the end of the day, you want Mark of the Ninja to score you in a way that reflects upon your amazing ability to turn murder into art. This makes every level a collection of puzzle pieces that are just waiting for you to arrange them in the perfect way.


Someone could complain that Mark of the Ninja is too easy compared to its stealth peers. I say its peers are too hard, and miss the point of good stealth. Failure in a stealth game – nay, any game – should feel like your fault, not the game’s. Too many stealth games offer overwhelmingly difficult tasks in the hope that you will one day come to master their complicated systems. Mark of the Ninja does away with this and offers you an accessible power fantasy with freedom for experimentation. Failure will come in Mark of the Ninja, but it offers you the opportunity for some on-the-fly improvisation to clear the room and disappear before the backup arrives. The result is a game that is entirely your own. Be the Batman you’ve always wanted to be.


The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth – Steam Curator

In my opinion, if you’re making a game and you want to tell a story, or have some sort of higher message, you need to make it work in tandem with what it is you do in the game. The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth is a mix of The Legend of Zelda, shoot-em-ups and rogue-likes that explores the positive and negative effects that religion can have on a child’s upbringing, along with parental abuse, sexual identity, disease and crying on enemies to kill them. And, believe me when I say, the mechanics and the theming blend seamlessly.


There’s an item in the game called Wooden Spoon. Upon picking it up, you’re told you’ve received an increase to your Speed stat. Your body is then showered in cuts and bruises. In a second and a half, you’ve had your gameplay altered and been delivered a heartbreaking story. No cutscene. No dialogue. Just an increased variable and an altered graphic.


The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth is brutally difficult, but, like designer Edmund McMillen’s previous title, Super Meat Boy, it’s been developed with that in mind. Where the former decreased the amount of time between ‘Game Over’ and ‘Try Again’ to almost zero, here he implements various rogue-like mechanics (specifically, permanent death and randomised dungeon layout/item drops) to make a game where success does and doesn’t matter. Death isn’t looked upon as failure, but as a chance to try out a new combination of items and see how far they get you.


Also, why the remake and not the original? There’s just way more content. And a game with a foundation this strong can never have enough. Yes, you may have a run that’s horrifically unbalanced, but that’s all part of the fun. If it’s not balanced in your favour, just see how far you can get this time. Who knows? You might find a new item that adds a new puzzle piece to the story, and if not, you’re only a few mistakes away from trying again.