When big name titles on the horizon are few and far between, I have found that checking out some of the lesser known budget games can prove to be rewarding at times. While these games exist on the same shelves among the more expensive and more anticipated games, they're often described as being found in the bargain bin. Many bargain titles are easily dismissed as cheap in price and even cheaper in value, but you can sometimes find a diamond in the rough. In this series of articles, I'll explore the depths of the bargain bin and bring you the goods (and not-so-goods) on some of these underappreciated PC games.

With each round of games I present, I will have spent no more than twenty bucks per title, each one purchased blindly without having read any reviews prior. As I did with these first six games, I will simply march into my local retailer and make selections based on the appearance of the retail boxes and their descriptions of each game, all the while trying to provide a fair mix between genres. The games I choose must also have been released within the past twelve months, give or take a month or two. For my first round, I have selected a tactical first-person shooter, a straight up adventure title, a puzzler, an arcade style space combat sim, a survival horror game of sorts, and an off-the-wall shooter that we'll look at first. I won't be including any hardcore analyses as most of what I've found can be played on low to mid range machines. Instead, I'll focus on functionality, playability, and above all the fun factor. At the end of the article, I'll give you my pick of the litter. All set? Let's begin Round One.

Hell is empty and all the devils are here.


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  • nubie - Monday, September 01, 2008 - link

    Neato on the Novint, haptic is cool.

    Don't forget on Penumbra you need to wiggle side to side for stuck drawers.

    I like this article, I was afraid there would be EA crap with price at $10 (or worse a 2-pack for $10), good job overturning my fears.

    The only two that seem attractive to me so far are Penumbra and definitely Contraptions/whatever it is called now. (Yes, TIM as we called him was a favorite game of mine)
  • kilkennycat - Monday, September 01, 2008 - link

    Penumbra:Black Plague is the second game in a trilogy. The first is Penumbra: Overture, still available retail from Gamestop and on-line sources for $19.99. The game mechanics in Black Plague are a lot less awkward than in Overture. The third in the series Penumbra:Requiem has just been released in the past few days and is available as an add-on EXPANSION to Black Plague. Afaik, there will never be a retail version of the Requiem expansion, however it is available for download purchase for $9.99, currently from www.gamersgate.com. The download version will run with either a retail copy or download copy of Black Plague. Gamersgate has all parts of the trilogy separately available for download purchase and also offers Black Plague Gold Edition for $19.99, which contains both Black Plague and Requiem. This combo may also be released retail, but I have not come across any (US) sources so far. See:-


    Not affiliated in any way with Gamersgate. I have not (yet) purchased any games from them. I have retail copies of both Overture and Black Plague, knew that Requiem had just been released for download only, so came across Gamersgate yesterday in my hunt.
  • duderockin - Monday, September 01, 2008 - link

    this could also be a useful article series for those who want the more zen perspective of 20/20 hindsight.

    also good for those who hate spending more time on video card catch-up than actual gaming.
  • GTForce - Monday, September 01, 2008 - link

    Check out Falcon:

    and how Penumbra series benefits from it:
  • cosmotic - Monday, September 01, 2008 - link

    I don't really see any need to do (Ed: blah blah) notes. I presume there is an editorial process that is two way? Maybe these 'issues' should be resolved and the text of the article changed. This makes for an easier read and would help the professionalism of the articles. Thanks. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Monday, September 01, 2008 - link

    I felt most were somewhat humorous. Sorry they didn't please, since I added them. Without having Crazy Machines 2 I couldn't verify whether PhysX drivers were sufficient or not. Reply
  • Pottervilla - Monday, September 01, 2008 - link

    I agree with the humorous part.

    However, you guys are one of the premier hardware review sites on the web--I would expect you to know about things like drivers. Also, I would expect that if you were reviewing a game, you would have a copy of it somewhere, and maybe a couple PhysX capable graphics cards.

    Overall, it was still a good thing to mention (the possibility that PhysX drivers might open up the extra levels), but I have come to expect a little more than maybes from this site--and a little communication between editor and reviewer would be nice too. :)

    I hope this is constructive criticism--keep up the good work.
  • Nihility - Monday, September 01, 2008 - link


    The whole point of the titles is to make it easier to navigate a 7 page article. Sure it's fun to be random at times and be witty, but seriously give us readers a break please.
  • StormEffect - Monday, September 01, 2008 - link

    I thought they were clever. Enjoy the creativity, if you want numbers and easily searchable reviews go to google or use meta-critic.

    Anandtech readers can be so dry and boring sometimes. Waa waa waa.

  • JarredWalton - Monday, September 01, 2008 - link

    And here I thought the readers might enjoy some literary quotes as a change of pace. I mean, isn't the point that you actually read about the games rather than just look at a page heading and decide whether or not that's worth reading? Or you can treat it like a magazine and click through the pages; if you see the pictures and don't feel like reading, click to the next page. It takes all of 5 seconds. Besides, more page views are good for the articles - the popular stuff is more likely to get similar articles in the future, since after all we are a business the depends on advertising. Reply

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