We’ve all been there. A brand new game comes out with state-of-the-art graphics, a compelling single-player campaign, and competitive multiplayer. Then, you check the specs: the game is great, but your computer isn’t powerful enough to play it. Don’t despair. There are plenty of great games out there that’ll run just fine on almost any machine, your underpowered PC included. “I’ve given her all she’s got, Captain! If I push her any more, the whole thing will blow!” Stardew Valley It may not have the detailed 3D environments of modern day Harvest Moon games, but Stardew Valley doesn’t need them. Developed entirely by one person, Stardew Valley is stuffed full of content rendered in simple but lovely 16-bit-style graphics. Developing the game in 3D probably would’ve been impossible, but the game’s pixel art was easier to produce. That meant developer Eric Barone could devote more time to the things that make the experience extra-special, like the nuanced farming system, the delightful characters, and the world’s many, many mysteries.
The presentation might be simple, but Stardew Valley is a sprawling and complex world any computer can run. Jazzpunk A cyberpunk espionage story, Jazzpunk stars secret agent Polyblank who works for a top-secret spy organization. His missions are absurd and nonsensical, including stealing a cowboy’s mechanical kidney, smuggling pigeons, and facing off against Jazzpunk’s big bad in a high-stakes mini-golf match. The game barrages players with non-sequiturs, subtle pop culture references, and a healthy dose of absurdist humor. The developers carefully honed and tweaked each joke in order to wring out the maximum number of laughs. As a result Jazzpunk is hilarious, and its low-budget, anything-goes vibe has a lot to do with that. “Noooooo!” 80 Days In 80 Days, a whimsical take on Jules Verne’s classic novel, players must navigate a journey around the globe as quickly and cheaply as possible. Every stop along the way has its own characters to meet and mysteries to unravel, and it’s easy to get distracted and completely blow your deadline.
80 Days’ developers estimated that players would only discover about three percent of the game’s content during a single playthrough. Thankfully, replaying the adventure is a pleasure, not a chore. Not only does the game have many adventures to discover, but the 750,000 word script sings. After all, there’s a reason why the Telegraph named 80 Days one of the best novels of 2014, and why it won the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain’s video game award that same year. “I can’t deny the fact that you like me. Right now, you like me.” Owlboy The artwork might be lo-fi, but Owlboy is simply gorgeous, and almost entirely handmade—there aren’t any post-processing effects propping things up. While the game’s developers toiled away during the game’s nine-year development period, critics and players alike salivated over the tantalizing, colorful screenshots, dreaming of the day when they could finally take Owlboy to the skies. During the game, Owlboy never speaks, but his expressive and smooth animations tell players everything they need to know about the game’s mute hero.