Being more poor than usual, of course, means there are a plethora of newer games, that won’t occupy my game library for quite some time. Newer horror experiences are going to be viewed on Twitch, sort of like a sad chubby kid watching a baker through a window because his mom said no more cakes and candies. Observation and Layers of Fear 2 scores are already coming in as some of the best horror games to release in recent memory. Not to mention A Plague Tale: Innocence blends horrific moments and fantastic storytelling like that sweet cake batter the chubby kid I was talking about earlier longs for. 

Cake-based self-deprecation aside, what this all means is that instead of playing newer hits like Dollhouse and all the games I mentioned earlier I am working my way through my backlog and grabbing as many free codes as I can from places like the Epic Games store and Xbox Live like they’re free samples of jelly beans at the store and my mom doesn’t really need to know about this sneaky sweet treat. Who knows maybe I’ll finally get around to finishing the original Bioshock and I’ll stop looking at it like it’s a salad my parents plopped down in front of me instead of an enchilada or a cheesecake. 

Pandemic Express (PC)

There once was a game from Tiny Build, it didn’t involve elves or a guild. Instead, it’s thirty people locked in a room glaring at each other as the timer ticks down and distrust builds between the group like the television remote has gone missing and you’re convinced your flatmate is somehow sitting on it. Once the timer hits zero one person becomes The Infected and for a few precious seconds, everyone is locked in there with them as they try to convert players to their ranks. Once the gates finally open it is a mad dash to try to get to the train on the other side of the map and gather supplies along the way. 

The game doesn’t end when players reach the train, the remaining survivors have to then escort the train to a station on the opposite side of the map. Players must also repel incoming infected players along the way. Infected players every so often have the chance to become Special Infected. Meaning, that they can choose to be a bright red bomb that sticks out of the dull black and white like an onion thrown into a bowl of fries.

The downside to playing this character is that once they take a certain amount of damage they will explode regardless of how close they are to the players they want dead. Since bullets knock back the infected it is frustratingly easy to get juggled away and explode nowhere near the survivors. The second special infected allows players to get invisible and scare the knickers off of poor saps by grabbing them and trying to pull them away from the group. Pandemic Express is addictingly enjoyable and has a ton of content on the way, so grab the game now for fifteen bucks. 

Splitgate: Arena Warfare (PC)

The banner of free games tends to have two parties below them. Ones that offer a solid amount of fun, but contain some sort of buy-in aspect so the team can keep the lights on at the studio, which is all well and good. The second seems to be this special kind of bad that doesn’t really accomplish anything other than looking and often playing like a dumpster fire. Those games also have some sort of pay gate on content but it doesn’t really go anywhere.

Splitgate: Arena Warfare is firmly planted in the first camp. It offers the same gameplay we all know and love from multiplayer shooters such as Halo but with its’ own flair and identity. The maps are all unique a lot of them have this bright sort of neon aesthetic to them, but before you try to turn that into a negative, note that they aren’t abusively bright like the red light district in your locale. It’s sort of like the dullish neon that goes underneath a car meant for some show off car enthusiast. You know the kind I mean, the kind that revs their engine at stop lights, spin their tires and holler unnecessarily creepy lines at women as they pass. The kind that thinks Madden and Fortnite are the greatest things to come out of gaming. Let’s forget about the, let’s call them Chad’s of the world, and get back to Splitgate: Arena Warfare. 

Splitgate: Arena Warfare found its’ identity by implementing portals into it’s run and gun shooter gameplay. It offers a whole new way to look at the battlefield. Notice a sniper has been sitting in the same spot, so long as he has the proper surface near him pop a portal set and get behind him.

The game also has a ton of customization items that can be unlocked by leveling up and getting them from loot boxes you earn by leveling up or buying them. I mentioned already this game is free and trust me you can do a lot worse than Splitgate: Arena Warfare. I would have gladly paid twenty or thirty dollars for it. 

 

Hollow Knight (PC. Xbox One, PS4, Switch)

Hollow Knight is one of those games I slept on and really should not have. Hollow Knight to me feels like a cutesy, sort of goth, 2D Dark Souls. The Dark Souls bit comes in when talking about the games’ difficulty and how to attack strategy plays a huge part in whether you win or fail. Figuring out an enemies attack rhythm makes all the difference as well because if you mistime something and die you have to start all the way at your last save and run back to get your souls back and rebuild your health meter.

It’s actually become strangely addicting and while I am still only four hours or so into it even this short amount of time I have spent talking about it has me wanting to go fire it up. The combat is also amazingly done. I often find the combat in these 2D side scrollers to be really unsatisfying as I try to flail my sword at attacking enemies while trying to take as little damage as possible. In Hollow Knight, figuring out the attack rhythms and using all the special weapons and attacks together in perfectly timed manners is one of the most satisfying experiences I’ve had in recent memory. Hollow Knight is available on a wide array of platforms and you can grab it for about fifteen dollars.

Blood: Fresh Supply (PC)

I said in my review of Blood: Fresh Supply that I didn’t understand the appeal of a cult but seeking vengeance was something I understood quite well. I think that is still a pretty fair albeit short summation of the game. The main character is part of this cult that summons what I’m assuming is Satan, and long story short Satan flips them the bird and kills the main characters friends. Somehow the protagonist, if you can even call him that, survives and decides it’s time to take everyone down.

There are a plethora of different enemies to fight, different hellish locations and a cavalcade of different weapons to try. My favorite is the flare gun, it bursts enemies into flames, even underwater, take that you demon fish. This game has a ton of personality crammed into a ten dollar price tag. There was a carnival level where the literal Grim Reaper was taking tickets and if you don’t give him one he sends out enemies to attack. Not only that but all the games in the carnival are fully playable and give the players a reward. My favorite is playing soccer with literal zombie heads. 

There is no pick of the month this month, I really didn’t have any money to splurge nor did I get to watch enough about a game that released to recommend one. Be that as it may, I hope you grab some of the games on this list. They are all superbly crafted and some of them will cost you next to nothing to grab. Give them a shot and if you have suggestions for more great games on the cheap side let us know in the comments below!