Are you ready to pay the first part of the twice-annual Steam tax? To call Valve's legendary seasonal PC game sales a tax is a bit unfair (the current Steam Summer Sale 2015 will be followed by another at Christmas), but when it slashes the price of games so greatly, you can quickly find yourself out of pocket with a pile of impulse-purchase buys that you'll never get around to playing.
I propose a different approach this time. Rather than hoarding a load of cut-price titles, buy just the one game. And make that game Nidhogg.
The Best Game of the Steam Summer Sale 2015
With stunners like GTA V and the Metro games on sale, it'd be easy to overlook Nidhogg. It essentially looks like a fancy Commodore 64 game, if such a thing exists. But not only is that part of its charm, but it also belies the fact that Nidhogg is one of the greatest multiplayer games you'll ever play.
Here it is in action on the PS4, where it's all-but identical, and just as essential a purchase:
Nidhogg is essentially a one-on-one fencing game. With only four 2D levels to fight in, it may seem lacking in content, but there's more pure gameplay to be had in Nidhogg than in games 1,000 times its size.
The ultimate goal is to reach the side of the screen that your opponent defends. Sidestepping towards your foe, your swordsman can attack using high, low or mid-height thrusts, with your opponent defending with similarly-placed strikes in a rock-paper-scissors like fast-paced sabre bout. Leg sweeps can bring an opponent down (allowing you to tear their pixelated hearts out) swords can be knocked out of hands or thrown and dive kicks can stun opponents, too. Each level has multiple escape routes, spread across numerous screens ahead of each final goal and, with each character enjoying unlimited lives, matches can literally last hours for two equally-skilled players.
Rather than see this becoming monotonous, the game's perfect control system and (often) quick bouts with little loading time makes it massively addictive. It's so simple to pick up and play that even novice players can get the drop on pros from time to time -- in my living room it's been the most democratic of titles, pulling non-gamers and gamers in alike for extended sessions.
It's down in no small part to the game's charming presentation. Its pixelated graphics prove one of its strengths, with a swordless, fleeing fencer, legs powering along at a mile a minute, one of the funniest sights you'll see. Throw in the woozy, dreamlike level artistry and trance soundtrack and the whole thing almost becomes hypnotic, hallucinatory. The fact that every fight ends with the victor being swallowed up by a giant flying worm is just the cherry on the cake.
Until June 22nd, Nidhogg's price is reduced down by 80 per cent to just £2.19 (it's usually £10.19 on Steam). Even the utter cheapskates among you need only save up 22p a day for the next ten days to bag it then, leaving you with a few pence change. You seriously wont regret it. [Steam]