Steam is overwhelming; recommendations?

Recently I put together a reasonably powerful PC, not strictly for gaming; I’m trying to dip my toes into deep learning. But it’s certainly capable of gaming, so I loaded up Steam.

I’m used to playing on my Switch, where a list of really good games is fairly easy to come by (IMO). Steam just totally overwhelms me, though, and I don’t find its recommendations terribly helpful.

Games I’ve really liked over the past year or so:

Hollow Knight
Ori I and II
Dead Cells
Hades
Blasphemous
Salt and Sanctuary
Celeste
Children of Morta

I bought and started playing Control, though the map confuses me.

That list is pretty metroidvania-heavy, admittedly; Hollow Knight is just about my favorite thing ever. Willing to try anything, though I’m less interested in long, involved RPGs as a general rule. Also, I use a trackpad, so first-person shooters would probably be played with a controller. That said, I’m grateful for any recommendations.

This should be right up your alley.

I will always, always, always recommend Subnautica. It is beautiful, terrifying, funny, delightful. Premise: you crash-land on a planet that is almost entirely ocean. Your landing spot is a peaceful alien coral reef-like location, where you can catch fish, gather materials, conduct research, and build a base. As the game continues, you can explore from this starting location, develop new tools and capabilities, and uncover a wonderful storyline, at your own pace. Combat is, uh, not recommended. Maxing out your graphics settings is.

The Steamworld games have some Metroidvania features, especially Steamworld Dig 2. You’re a steam-powered robot in a world of steam-powered robots, digging for resources to sell so you can buy upgraded equipment. You also have boss fights and puzzles that let you obtain new capabilities, ranging from sticky bombs to jet boots, that let you access new areas. It’s goofy fun.

Sadly we don’t share a lot of overlap in games played other than Ori, but given you liked Ori and Hades, I’d suggest you take a look at Bastion.

Good luck!

Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night.

From Koji Igarashi, writer, assistant director, and programmer on Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, one of the greatest the genre has ever had to offer.

Seconding Subnautica. Story-driven, survival elements (but not too difficult, and can be reduced), arguably metroidvania-like in the sense that you have to make progress to unlock new areas (which may be right below you in the depths). Very exploration based.

They don’t really fit your examples, but if you have any interest in sandbox/physics games, I recommend Factorio, Oxygen Not Included, and Kerbal Space Program. Fairly different from each other, with the commonality that they all have a fairly simple “physics” system that leads to very emergent gameplay. They have some semblance of plot and progress, but mainly you pick your own goals (whether landing on the moon or building a giant megabase).

I can only really help you with more Switch games, as I don’t use Steam. I’ve pretty much only played video games on the Switch since I had to work from home, since it’s an entirely separate device from the computer on which I worked.

Steamworld Dig 1 & 2 are both really good, though somewhat short compared to Hollow Knight, and are something of a Diablo meets Metroidvania, to the point where the original Diablo music from Tristam was basically recreated as the music for an area in the sequel. There’s a definite home base from which you sally forth to mine and fight and eventually when your bags are full take your goodies back to sell and buy stat upgrades, while you find new movement and attack powers in various caves as you dig that tend to have a bit of a puzzle associated with them. Hollow Knight has multiple vendors at various locations, and there’s less of a need to “return to town” with your Geo, only an eventual sense that you should before you end up somewhere you can’t get back to without dying again and losing all your Geo; Steamworld Dig has all its vendors right next to each other in a safe space that you can teleport back to every so often, and you have a limited amount of space to carry ore that you end up selling for cash in town.

I can’t really recommend other Steamworld games. I played through a good bit of Steamworld Heist, but it’s a completely different style of game - a sidescrolling tactical team turn-based shooter. I guess it’s like X-Com turned sideways? It didn’t really hold my interest enough to get me to finish it even though I’m probably at least halfway through. Steamworld Quest I thought I’d love, having a deck of cards from which you pulled your moves in an RPG, but I absolutely hated the execution. I played a couple hours and got a sense that the card game aspect wasn’t really used at all; I didn’t encounter anything that let you draw additional cards or discard cards as a cost or effect, and the way cards are costed means you have to include a lot of basic attacks or risk being unable to do anything, and that’s really boring.

Indie games that are not particularly like what you played, but are really good, include two by the same guy (I don’t remember his name), Papers Please (this isn’t actually on Switch; I got it on GOG - I assume it’s on Steam) and Return of the Obra Dinn. They’re both sorta puzzle games, though the first is more a bureaucratic job (and oppressive regime) simulator, while the mechanics of the latter are quite inventive even though you don’t need to fully grasp everything the creator intended you to rely on because guessing is possible once you get down to a few people left to solve for.

The one high profile Metroidvania (that I played and finished) I don’t see on your list is Axiom Verge. Not nearly as beautiful as Hollow Knight or Ori, it’s a fairly interesting game that owes a lot to Super Metroid but has its own set of mechanics, a few of which I found to be extremely inventive. There’s a lot of backstory that’s available to discover apparently given the number of slots available for notes spread around the game, but I was content with “beating” it and moving on without finding everything.

Another Metroidvania series on Switch is Guacamelee (1 & 2), though I’ve yet to get through the first one; it’s not as bad as the non-Dig Steamworld games, but I just kinda didn’t feel like playing it through to the end after taking some time off after i got probably 80% through. The Shantae series (which at least is somewhat Metroidvania-like I hear) has some games on Switch as well, though I’ve only bought one of them, I don’t remember which one, and I only played about 10 minutes. Not that I hated it; I was just testing it out after buying it on sale and haven’t had time to come back and seriously get into it.

Factorio I find hard to recommend to people. If you like it, it will probably take over your life in an unhealthy way. It’s amazingly good, just…TOO good, and so open ended it’s hard to put down. It’s also really easy to not like at all, and it’s $30 now (I think?) and will never go on sale. Definitely play the demo - it’s the one kind of game you really want to demo before buying, and the demo does a good job of showing you what it’s all about.

Your other recommendations and my quoting the price of Factorio reminded me of another game that I heard good things about, but I couldn’t commit to the price point because I felt I might not like it much: Rimworld.

Ooooooohhhhhh Rimworld… SOOOOOO good.

Rimworld is an “always recommend” from me… Just have to remember that is it first and foremost a story generator more than a game, but I have so many hundreds and hundreds of hours in it…

I’ve put so many hours into it that it’s hard to retain a sense of perspective :slight_smile:. But yeah, playing the demo first sounds like a good idea. If you aren’t hooked fairly quickly, you will probably never be.

I have a game going now where I’ve launched over 2500 rockets, over once per minute, and still my base feels “small”…

I like Rimworld, but I kind of feel like I always get to a point where it gets routine and boring. Almost like a tower defense game.

Some other games I’ve liked:
Oxygen Not Included - Similar type of game where you order your “dupes” to build the various systems that will keep them alive and happy.

Cities Skylines - Probably the best city building game I’ve played.

Space Engineers - Similar “space builder game”. Not really much to “do”, other than build whatever your like.

I fail more often than not in Rimworld, so replayability is infinite!

Heartily second all your other recommendations.

If you like Metroidvanias, you should check out Carrion. The premise is that, in a secret government lab, a horrible blob of flesh and teeth has broken out of containment and is trying to escape the facility, consuming all humans it meets in its way.

You play as the horrible blob.

You can climb along walls and ceilings, grab humans with your fleshy, rope-like tentacles, and upgrade to new, viscera-based powers to reach new areas. One of the neater mechanics is that your secondary ability is based on how much bio mass you have, requiring you to occasionally shed mass in order to use an earlier “weaker” ability to bypass a barrier.

Very cool. Also very gross. The way your character moves is genuinely disturbing to watch. I can’t get enough of it.

Oooh, thanks for that one! I’ll definitely have to check that out.

In the (slight) vein of Hades, I’m going to suggest “Atomicrops.” It portrays itself as one of those farming life games, but it’s actually a roguelike bullethell that challenges your ability to multitask. The soundtrack is so entertaining and weird in places that I bought it separately from the musician’s website.

You can play a complete game in under an hour. Or, haha, less if things go against you.

Oxygen Not Included is great (so is RimWorld).

RimWorld is like a more approachable Dwarf Fortress (although Dwarf Fortress is still more wonderfully weird in the situations that develop).

I’ve been having fun with Anno 1800 recently. Beautiful game. Good for the OPs beefy PC. But not a genre on the OP’s list.

I am very excited for the steam version of Dwarf Fortress (now with an actual UI!)

DF stories are so great:

I have put hundreds of hours into Oxygen Not Included. If that’s the sort of game the OP likes, it may be the best in the genre. So adorable, so complex, so satisfying when things work out!