So it’s that time of year again, the Steam summer Sale. I’ll probably grab Dishonoured, the X-Com remake, then a bunch more impulse buys that I never find time to play, and glare at me from my library. “you’ve not played us yet.” “It’s been a year now”. “What’s the matter, too incompetent?” With digital distribtion you can’t even get rif of the shame by selling off second hand. They’re there, forever.

Anyway while Steam is now my primary source for recent games, when it comes to retro gaming I prefer to take advantage of the DRM-free service provided by gog (who have plenty of sales of their own). However, there are still some noteworthy oldies on steam that have yet to make it to gog, so I thought it might be worth listing some of them.

X-com: Terror From the Deep
It’s odd that the original UFO: Enemy Unknown has never made it to digital distribution. Still if you want some squad-level turn-based combat in good old VGA, steam has the first sequel. Which is basically UFO underwater with lovecraftian themes, and playing on hard mode.

[later edit]I’m an idiot. UFO is on Steam too, under its American title X-COM: UFO Defense.

iD Software
Pretty much everything they’ve released from Wolf3d onwards. Which means several highly influential first-person shooters. I can honestly say I still find Doom to be a blast – something about the smooth circle-strafing action, blasting imps in the murky depths of a mars base, and a soundtrack that’s basically South of Heaven in midi. The Quakes never appealed to me so much, I keep thinking of the first two as brown and orange-brown respectively. But I’m not even sure I can rationally say why I like Doom and not those, anymore. Certainly most of the rest of the shooter fans thought highly of them!

Also of note, they have some of Raven’s iD-engine-powered titles. I particularly have fond memories of Hexen, which made a worthy effort at moving the shooter formula on a bit, with puzzle-solving and hub-based levels.

Apart from the Monkey Island remakes (also on gog) they have four of Lucasarts other graphical adventures:  both the Indiana Jones titles, Loom and The Dig. Why just those ones I’ve no idea, I think many fans would say that Fate of Atlantis aside that’s not the strongest selection. Still, even on a slightly off day they still made some damn fine adventures. I particularly love the dark, enchanting fantasy of Loom, even if it is really short and easy.

Oh, and as someone recently reminded me, they have the old Star Wars shooter Dark Forces. You rebel scum!

Elder Scrolls number 3 is a bit clunky compared to the latest outing, Skyrim. Still it has in my opinion the most interesting setting of the series, the strange and exotic homeland of the Dunmmer. And there’s still that signature open-world freedom, letting you follow the main quest, go work for guilds or just roam around exploring.

Half Life
Obviously enough, since this is Valve’s own service. If you’ve somehow never noticed this one, it’s the shooter than changed our single-player expectations. We went from fairly mindless run-and-gun to being immersed in a series of events that told a story, of one scientist’s day in the lab that goes horribly wrong.

Bound to be some I’ve missed. Let me know in the comments!