Check Out Essential Retro/Indie Experiences in these 2021 Spring Sales

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By Josh Nichols on April 2nd, 2021

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Spring is here again and with that comes allergies and cheap, tasty video games. Xbox has you covered across multiple generations with some cheap retro throwback titles because apparently, they’re more focused on video game preservation. I’m still surprised this is coming from the youngest video game platform company but I’m here for it all the same. PlayStation’s sale is a little smaller for now but it’s because they’re giving everyone’s wallet a break by splitting their sale into two parts, with the second half hitting digital shelves the second half of the month. Nintendo’s offerings are a little weaker compared to the other platforms but there is still some good stuff, including a spectacular Sega sale happening during the spring sale.

There are an absurd amount of games to choose from, including a lot of the latest releases, like Watch Dogs: Legion, but within the sales are a lot of older titles, newer indie releases, and some older indies that you may have missed that are absolutely worth your time and money.

Let’s start with Xbox since they have both areas covered pretty, pretty well.

The Best Deal in Gaming

There are a lot of indies available in the spring sale but there’s also a lot of indie titles available through Xbox Game Pass, which you can grab a month for a buck if you don’t currently have the best deal in gaming. Xbox Game Pass Ultimate includes Xbox Live Gold, EA Play, Xbox Game Pass for PC and console, and a growing number of Bethesda titles after the Bethesda acquisition. I’d like to bring attention to a few specific indies but you should definitely check out the full sale, along with Game Pass’s indie selection.

Cuphead / Studio MDHR

Cuphead may be multiplatform but the game’s development was completed with the help of Microsoft’s [email protected] program. It’s much more difficult than it looks but its unique art style and hand-drawn animation helps keep the game fun, even with repeated deaths. Thankfully Studio MDHR chose to include unlimited lives and included one of the best original soundtracks in video games to keep things from getting too frustrating. It’s on sale for $14.99 at a twenty-five percent discount until 4/15.

Abzu / 505 Games

Abzu is a really weird and surreal experience from some of the creators of Journey and Flower. Developer Giant Squid was founded by Matt Nava, whose previous work includes art director at thatgamecompany for the aforementioned games. It has a unique and emotional story and it takes place underwater with absolutely gorgeous visuals. And finally, the game’s music was composed by Nicholas Clark, who helped compose the music for Flow. I first played this game in 2017 and I think about it often. It’s such a neat game that everyone should experience at least once. It’s available at a fifty percent discount for $10 until 4/15.

Risk of Rain / Chucklefish

The Risk of Rain series is an indie rougelite series with Metroidvania elements and is absolutely worth the admission fee at regular price. The first game was a Kickstarter success story developed by three people and the sequel featured iterations and innovation on the already addictive formula. Risk of Rain 2 was even published by Gearbox Publishing, which is quite the jump from the student project turned Kickstarter origins of the series. You can grab the first entry in the series for $4.99, which is fifty percent off, and the sequel is $9.99, which is sixty percent off the normal price. The best deal and experience is to grab them both in a discounted bundle that’s also on sale, which is $11.99 total, and sixty percent off the standard price of the bundle. I watched several videos on these and have been wanting to play them forever so I’m grabbing the bundle to risk it all for the rain. These sale prices are also good until 4/15.

Risk of Rain 2 / Gearbox Publishing

The Last Campfire looks to be a classic Zelda-like experience. You play as an ember searching for meaning in a world filled with puzzles and discoveries. It has a colorful and original art style with artistic camera angles and lighting. It’s published by Hello Games too, which also developed No Man’s Sky, which is also on sale too. If you’re unsure of No Man’s Sky or simply want to check out all the updates that have hit the game over the last few years, it’s also available in Xbox Game Pass. The Last Campfire is on sale for $10.49, which is thirty percent off its standard price. No Man’s Sky is available for $29.99, down fifty percent from its standard and absolutely fair price with its staggering amount of content. Both games are on sale until 4/15.

Xbox has slowly become one of the best places for retro gaming and their sales make it easier than ever to download and enjoy older games at super effective prices.

The Last Campfire / Hello Games

There are several collection available that include several worthwhile games. Namco Museum Archives Vol. 1 is available for $10 (fifty percent off). It has eleven games, including Pac-Man, Splatterhouse: Wanpaku Graffiti, and a demastered version of Pac-Man Championship Edition.

Sega does what Nintendon’t by making their classic titles more available

Sega Genesis Classics is sixty-five percent off and only costs $10.49. It’s a stunning collection and celebration of the Sega Genesis system and some noteworthy games from its massive library. This collection includes over fifty games, including Sonic Spinball, Columns, Vectorman, and Streets of Rage 2. It even includes the best Sonic game: Sonic the Hedgehog 2! The best part of this collection is the little touches and nostalgic details Sega added, including the ability to play in front of an old CRT in a very 90s bedroom. Games are on the shelves and you can even put your favorites at the front of the collection, making them easier to find, just like back in the day. Also, the frames you can have around your screen are rad as heck. One of them is the old 90s jazz design that you either remember vividly from cups and coats, or you’re just not old yet. I have to bring attention to the rewind feature too. It’s even better than the Nintendo Switch Online rewind feature. It looks and sounds like a VHS tape rewinding. It’s the best. I don’t even fear failure. I welcome it so I can experience the nostalgic and uplifting VHS effects. Buy this game.

Rare Replay is also on ale and marked down by seventy-five percent. You get access to thirty classic Rare titles, including the underrated Viva Pinata, for less than eight bucks. This is a steal at full price; its sale price makes it a must-buy.

Still need Michael Keaton cosmetic DLC

Batman: Return to Arkham includes Arkham Asylum and Arkham City for $6, which is seventy percent off. Everyone should buy this. If you haven’t played them, they’re some of the best comic book video games out there and, to quote every single review written about the games, they make you feel like you’re Batman. If you have played these then you already know and this is the easiest way to experience these classic games.

Batman Return to Arkham / Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment

Xbox is also the only modern console you can purchase and download Metal Gear Solid HD Edition: 2 & 3. It’s already priced pretty good at $20 but it’s half off and only ten bucks until 4/15. I personally haven’t played Metal Gear Solid yet but have had everyone tell me to play 3 especially.

There are a handful of individual retro titles that are really cheap but rad, too. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night is on sale for $5. Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas are both on sale for $7.49. These games are honestly just as good now as they were at release. New Vegas is my favorite Fallout game and I’d recommend it to anyone that liked RPGs with good storylines and well-written characters.

Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater / Konami

There’s an almost endless amount of older titles part of the Xbox Spring Sale but the last one I’m going to mention is the L.A. Noire Remaster. Yeah, it’s a remaster but it’s the best way to experience Rockstar and Team Bondi’s 2011 open world detective game. It’s certainly not without flaws but it helped push innovation in voice acting and motion capture, while also recreating 1940s Los Angeles in breathtaking details. Even if you don’t want to experience the story, you’ll find a lot of enjoyment in driving around in L.A. while staying safe during the pandemic. It’s $20 until 4/15, which is fifty percent off from its standard price and it includes all of the game’s DLC.

PlayStation’s sale is a little different and it feels smaller but that’s simply because they’re splitting the sale up into two parts, with the second half starting on 4/15. This minimized wallet damage while also applying friendly pressure to checking out what’s on sale before it’s too late.

Let me buy Gex, you cowards

It’s a little harder to recommend retro games since PlayStation “believes in generations” but the remaster for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is on sale on PlayStation and Xbox for $16, which is quite the discount on the nearly ten-year-old game. It’s typically $40. If you haven’t played it then it’s definitely something you should experience when possible if you’re into RPGs or open games that give you a fair amount of freedom.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim / Bethesda Softworks

If you’ve been waiting for a good price to purchase the game for the fifth time then this is a great price as well. There’s also mod support on both systems so you can switch up your first playthrough or your fiftieth time running through the game.

There are some very good indie games in PlayStation’s Spring Sale, including the recently released 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim. It’s regularly priced at $60 but is on sale for $36 until 4/15. This is playable on both PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5.

13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim / Atlus

The game features thirteen different characters that all connect as part of a larger story. The gameplay shifts between exploration and dialogue to real-time battles to an analysis mode that documents details from characters and the story. It’s a very comprehensive experience that has visual novel and adventure elements. I haven’t played this yet but have heard almost exclusively good things and plan on checking it out soon. This is currently a PlayStation exclusive and one of the best prices I’ve seen for it since its American release in September 2020.

Don’t Starve yourself of these great deals

The last notable indie I’d like to throw a spotlight on for PlayStation’s Spring Sale is Don’t Starve. It’s a really weird and unique survival game with roguelike elements. It’s a set in a randomly generated world. Developer Klei Entertainment has said the game was influenced by Minecraft and director Tim Burton, which is very clear in both the graphics and presentation.

There are several versions available and they’re all on sale. The best deal with the most content is Don’t Starve Mega Pack. It’s typically $32.49 but it’s currently fifty percent off until 4/29. This version includes the base game, several DLCs, the standalone co-op version of the game, and some extra items and even PS4 themes. It also plays on PlayStation 5.

Don’t Starve / Klei Entertainment

If you’re not sure if you want to commit to the game that much without checking some of it out first, you can grab the base version for $3.74 or the standalone co-op version Don’t Starve Together for $6, which are also on sale until 4/29.

Nintendo’s sale is much smaller and there isn’t as many indies on sale, which is a bummer because the system’s true purpose is to carry the power of indies with you everywhere. And of course AAA Nintendo experiences. Regardless, there are still some really good games on sale.

Don’t Starve: Nintendo Switch Edition is on sale for $5, which is seventy-five percent off its standard $20 price. The standalone co-op version isn’t available and there’s only one DLC pack available. It isn’t the best place to play it unless you either really like playing on your Switch or of course the portability factor. The base game plays very well on Switch. There’s just less content available for the game on the system. The sale price is available until 4/14.

What Remains of Edith Finch / Annapurna Interactive

What Remains of Edith Finch is one of my absolute favorite video games. I cannot recommend it enough. Its subject matter deals with death, family, and the meaning of life. It highlights those little moments that may not seem special at the time but looking back, those moments add up to our lives and make life as special as it is. It has several good examples of ludonarrative consonance and shows what video games are truly capable of in terms of character exploration and narrative. This game is only $8 on Switch right now and is absolutely worth the standard price of $20. I’ve purchased this game four times and would highly recommend you purchase it on Switch if you haven’t played it yet.

Donut miss out on Donut County

Donut County is a quirky and unique puzzle game with cute characters, fun antics, and a storyline that takes unexpected twists the entire time. You control a hole on the ground that can move around and swallow objects, characters, and well… everything.

The gameplay is so much fun and features puzzles that escalate and progress the action. The soundtrack is in regular rotation on my Spotify. Buy this game. It’s on sale for $3.89 but only until 4/8.

Donut County / Annapurna Interactive

And finally, there are a lot of good Sega classics available on Switch for twenty-five percent off or more until 4/15. There are over fifteen games part of the sale and they’re all under $6. Some of the games included are Shinobi, Space Harrier, and Out Run. Sega Genesis Classics is also on sale until 4/16. This is about $5 more than the Xbox version and missing a few games but it’s still a portable way to play dozens of classic Sega games.

There are countless games to choose from across the three console platforms to add to your retro or indie backlog. I’d recommend looking into the Switch offerings first since the sale isn’t as long but there are some great games included, like What Remains of Edith Finch. Good games are good and cheap good games are better.

Josh really likes video games. Horror is their favorite but they also like other stuff.

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