Steam is a great place to find the latest blockbuster title, but it’s also been making forays back into gaming history for several years now, working to bring you some of your favorite classics. But we’re not just talking about old games here, we’re talking about childhood changers. Here’s a look at five classic games available on Steam. Get ready for some serious nostalgia tripping.
System Shock 2
Many people have played BioShock, the spiritual successor to System Shock 2 (SS2). Unfortunately, SS2 can’t boast quite the same. Much is the pity, because SS2 touts some of the most impressive sci-fi-horror gameplay available, even to this day.
The goal of SS2 is to survive and to deal with two different threats: the strange alien mutation sweeping the interstellar vessel you’re on and the super-intelligent AI Shodan, who purports to be helping you throughout.
System Shock 2 prevails in atmosphere. Creeping your way through sporadically lit spaceship hallways while mutants moan and beg for death sets up constant tension. The ambient sounds are subtle and artistically placed, and the soundtrack is a high-energy thriller. This isn’t a pop-scare game, where you shriek and it’s over. This is a game that wakes you up at midnight and makes creepy noises for hours while you stare wide-eyed at the wall, huddled under your blankets. But it’s not all bark. If you mess up, you’re going to die. And System Shock 2 is not forgiving.
If you’re a fan of science fiction, RPG-style first person thrillers, then SS2 deserves your attention. For only $9.99 on Steam, it’s a pretty good find.
The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind
Every gamer knows what Skyrim is. However, the younger gamers who delight in Skyrim might not have had the opportunity to experience its predecessors. Oblivion is plenty of fun, especially when modded, but Morrowind is a true challenge.
The first thing someone encounters in Morrowind is its setting. Taking place in the eponymous land of Morrowind, ancestral home of the Dunmer, it’s a far cry from Skyrim’s snowy mountains and Nordic villages. Morrowind is bizarre: the flora consisting of enormous trees, strange mushrooms, and a variety of surreal vegetation. The fauna is equally bizarre. The creatures you encounter in the wilderness are not the usual fare of trolls and skeletons. Instead there’s a variety of beasts hailing from other realms, as well as some of Morrowind’s own stranger creatures.
Morrowind is a true RPG experience. Your statistics determine your likelihood to hit, as determined by a number generator. If your short blade skill isn’t high enough, you’ll stand right in front of that rat and not hit it, no matter how squarely your cursor rests on its middle. Leveling up takes effort, but the skills and stats you receive are rewarding. It’s not the most accessible game, because of how challenging it is, but that’s part of what makes it worthwhile. If you’ve got $19.99 and you’re looking for a truly immersive old-school RPG, look no further.
It’s not as common nowadays to see truly dedicated stealth games. Modern gamers will frequently see the implementation of stealth elements, but not usually a game that is centered on stealth primarily. That’s where Thief shone.
Thief is the 1998 classic by Looking Glass Studios that truly intends for the player to engage in purely stealthy missions. The protagonist, Garrett, is armed only with his sword, trusty blackjack, and a variety of arrows. These arrows range from water-filled arrows, for extinguishing torches, to moss creating arrows, to give yourself a muffled step. Your goal is to stick to the shadows, steal the best loot, and ideally go about undetected. You have weapons, but you’re not the best fighter.
The focus on stealth and atmosphere is what makes this game a classic. It’s challenging and rewarding – making your way through a chapter undetected is an achievement of its own. Thief Gold is sure to please stealth fans, due to its pure dedication to the genre.
You can buy Thief Gold on Steam for $6.99.
Serious Sam is a game along the lines of the more modern Painkiller. It’s a high-energy arcade-style shooter with tongue-in-cheek dopey one-liners. This game was never meant to be anything other than fun, and it delivers.
If you enjoy explosions, lots of guns, giant scorpion aliens, and headless enemies with bombs for hands, this game is for you. Saddling up behind your chaingun and mowing down waves of enemies as you traverse an alien-infested Egypt is a pretty enjoyable experience. If you’re into secret hunting, there’s also plenty of that. Grab your armor, your guns, and your medkits, and get down to business.
Serious Sam is available on Steam in both its classic editions and its HD editions, if you’re feeling fancy. It’s a great game for sitting down with some pals for co-op, or just whiling away some time blowing stuff up. It’s noncommittal, it’s always fun, and it’s easy to get into. And when the going gets tough, just get serious.
The classic editions are available on Steam as an early access called Serious Sam Classics: Revolution, which combines the two games for $9.99. The HD editions are on Steam for $14.99 for part one and $19.99 for part two.
Age of Empires 2
Age of Empires 2 is a cornerstone of real-time strategy. It might not be the most technically strategic game, but it was incredibly widely-played and enjoyed. Especially at LAN parties.
Steam has brought it back with a facelift in Age of Empires 2: HD. If you want to revisit your memories of war elephants storming your opponents’ walls in HD, you now know where to go. Age of Empires 2 was a chance for friends to frustrate each other with walls, trebuchets, hand-cannoneers, castles, and demolition ships. To this day, many people still play it at LANs – it’s not just a throwback; it’s a genuinely fun game.
Touting strangely enchanting music, entertaining units, and a variety of civilizations with slightly different tech-trees, Age of Empires 2 was a joy to play. If you want to get back to auto-building Teutonic Knights, you can pick up Age of Empires 2: HD on Steam for $19.99.