This Steam Summer Sale sucks, here’s some hidden gems that don’t

Video Gamer is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Prices subject to change. Learn more

The annual Steam Summer Sale has now kicked off. There’s a lot of games on sale here, and deciding which games you’re going to pick is not always easy, especially considering a lot of the discounts are pretty average. We’ve curated a list of games that our team can’t get enough of, ranging from city-builders and deck-builders to AAA CRPGs.

Despite the general lacklustre discounts in the sale, there are a few hidden gems that are well-priced, alongside offering up a fantastic experience. Here’s what we think:

Frostpunk (2018) – £2.49 / $2.99

via 11 bit studios.

Antony Terrence’s choice is Frostpunk. Released back in 2018, the Steam Summer Sale has coincided with yesterday’s announcement of a sequel, and the game’s playercount has since sky-rocketed. Good move, 11 bit studios.

“This steampunk city builder is not for the faint heart. Frostpunk rewards cold-hearted decision-making in a world buried under endless snow. Dread slowly turned to conceited irritation as the children I drafted into the workforce suffered from injuries. Rationing away power from homes led to sickness spikes. But the real villains here are the twin bars of Hope and Discontent that will influence and be influenced by every choice of yours.

“When survival demands sacrifice, you’ll be examining every menu riddled with loss conditions in a desperate gamble for another foggy dawn. Every injured worker can be replaced, every food riot can be subdued. Faith and justice aren’t personal in Frostpunk and with a sequel coming out in September, I expect no less tension from 11 bit studios.”

Xanadu Next (2016, originally 2005) – £3.89 / $4.49

via Nihon Falcom.

Jack Webb has picked Xanadu Next, a game originally released in 2005 and put on Steam in 2016. It’s now at its lowest ever price.

“Xanadu Next puts you in control of a dishonoured knight hired to explore and uncover the mystery surrounding Castle Strangerock, ultimately setting you on a quest to find the fabled Dragon Slayer Sword. As this knight, you’ll explore interconnected dungeons, level up, fight monsters, find sweet loot, solve puzzles, and have the most chill time of all, accompanied by the truly stellar soundtrack you’d expect from Nihon Falcom – arguably better than any Ys soundtrack. Throw in a wonderful cast of characters, a compelling narrative, and the best level-up girl in any game, and you won’t be disappointed.

“Xanadu Next truly embodies early Falcom at its finest, with fantastic level design, memorable boss fights, and tactical position-based combat. If you like Ys games and want something slower-paced with an understated atmosphere and chill gameplay, then Xanadu Next should be top of your list. It is a beauty of a hidden gem, through and through. It can be hard to recommend, simply due to how awkward it can be to play using a controller and navigate the menus, so make sure you have a mouse to hand for these parts. Even at the full price of £13 on Steam, Xanadu Next is worth it. The discount price makes it one of the best deals you’ll ever get for a 10/10 game.”

Note: This is really the most hidden gem of them all. I checked SteamDB for Xanadu Next’s playercount, and it was hovering between two to three players a day, potentially testing four or five after we publish this article.

Song of Syx (2020) – £16.79 / $19.99

Captured by VideoGamer.

Miljan Truc sings praise for Song of Syx, an incredibly dense city-builder that is still in its early access phase. Despite this it has been discounted by 20% and you will find hundreds of hours of gameplay within.

“If you love strategy games or city builders, I recommend checking out Songs of Syx. A passion project developed by a single dev, it is a pixelated god-game on a huge scale. You start with a small colony and a handful of people. Then, you have to build, develop, research, and expand to create a metropolis and eventually an empire. The game’s intricate systems are mind-boggling and it will take a good few tries to even get a community going. If you love complicated, yet hands-off, games that go into nitty-gritty details about everything, I wholeheartedly suggest you give Songs of Syx a try. There’s even a free demo to see if you’ll like it first.”

Frog Detective: Shadow of the Erdtree (2018 – 2022) – £6.72

via Grace Bruxner.

Alex Raisbeck writes about Frog Detective 1 + 2 + 3, a cool set of indie puzzle games you can snag at half price.

“Frog Detective is absurd. Three games in which the eponymous amphibian solves a set of ridiculous cases for a cast of equally ridiculous characters. They aren’t really puzzle games in the sense that your average detective game is. Clues are easy to find, and you can easily get through all three in a few hours. The real selling point is the writing. The humour is over-the-top goofy but never fails to make me laugh. 

“You all like Elden Ring, right? It’s like Elden Ring, but instead of being a Tarnished on an arduous quest to take down godlike beings in a series of gruelling tests of skill, you are a frog on a fairly relaxing afternoon stroll, talking to animals and looking for clues. But other than that, it’s pretty much like Elden Ring, so if you liked that then you’ll probably like this too. I love you Frog Detective.”

Baldur’s Gate 3 (2023) – £39.99 / $47.99

A true hidden gem

Craig Robinson has picked Baldur’s Gate 3. Larian’s latest is currently at its lowest ever price.

Baldur’s Gate 3 is well regarded as 2023’s best game, and it’s something everyone who loves RPGs, stories and characters, choices and consequences should play through. It’s easily one of the best in the genre for it, arguably bringing out greats like Dragon Age Origins and more. Not to mention you can get 80 hours out of a full campaign. There are also plenty of reasons for replayability. Doing side stories you may have missed, good and evil, romance options, class playstyles and builds, missed content and challenges for those experienced with DnD and BG3 combat. Throw on top it’s currently 20%, which makes it the lowest price point seen since full launch and you’ve got a pretty strong value for money bargain.”

Note: Our article headline does say hidden gems, but Baldur’s Gate 3 is hardly one of those – yet still deserving of all the discount spotlights. Craig was also deliberating between Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice and Cyberpunk 2077, but since nobody had heard of either of them we thought best to leave them out.

Celeste (2018) – £1.67

Celeste, via Maddy Makes Games.

Our David Coulson has asserted that Celeste is the best bargain you can pick up this sales season.

“Celeste was one of the highlights of 2018 and for £1.67 it is hard to say no if you don’t already own it. On the surface, Celeste may look like a comfy platformer about surviving inner demons. And while that is true, it is also a punishing platformer that will push your abilities as a gamer to the limits. For a first playthrough, reaching a death total in the multiple thousands isn’t uncommon, but once you beat the game and experience the conclusion of the story it is so satisfying you’ll want to do it again.

“Celeste is also one of the most popular speedrunning community with an incredibly dedicated community. If you really want to test your skills or have wanted to get into speedrunning after watching a GDQ event, Celeste could be a great game to start your journey.”

Loop Hero (2021) – £4.22 / $4.94

via Four Quarters.

Amaar Chowdhury – that’s me – has picked Loop Hero, a fantastically simple game that quickly mutates into a complex power fantasy. It’s discounted by 67% now, the cheapest it’s ever been.

You start Loop Hero with nothing but the path in front of you. The concept is simple – fight your way through an endless loop of enemies and transform the surrounding area while you do. With Commodore 64-inspired pixel art, and a soundtrack blending chiptune and gothic classical, you will quickly find yourself bound to the uncanny world’s atmosphere.

The Four Quarters developed game is as hands-free as games can get. Your hero will move autonomously and you can only sit back and watch as they battle. You will find new loot each loop, and you will continuously find creative ways to stack life-steal, attack speed, damage and other buffs in this ludicrously compelling and repetitive cycle. Resource management and deckbuilding play a huge part in turning yourself into formidable and overpowered foe, and each level is punctuated with a tough but rewarding boss fight. This is an unforgettable game, and each death you will struggle to resist the urge to say just one more loop.

About the Author

Amaar Chowdhury

Amaar loves retro hardware and boring games with more words than action. So, he writes about them daily.

Continue the discussion at VideoGamer Discussion Forums