Aw, shucks! Looks like you just missed that big Steam Sale event, in which loads of quality games can be had at an average of 50% savings...
But not to worry! Even disregarding the frequent and plentiful sales this major distribution platform cranks out, there are still a ton of great games to be had there. From addictive puzzlers to intense shooters; from major hits to some hidden gems, there are plenty of enjoyable titles you can snag for roughly the price of a Big Mac - or cheaper!
With that said, let's sift through the massive online store that is the Steam platform and pick out the 10 best games you can currently score for under 5 bucks. To reiterate - the vast majority of these titles are under $5 without taking sales/discounts into account.
10 Plants Vs Zombies: Game Of The Year Edition
It's difficult to think of a more impactful (or appealing) tower defense title than this mobile/PC mega-hit, Plants vs Zombies. It's arguably one of the most fun times you can have with a mobile game. Who would have thought such a goofy premise - an army of plants going up against hordes of zombies - could make for such a satisfying game?
Even PVZ in its original form is a steal at under 5 bucks, given its abundance of unlockable content, endlessly addictive gameplay, and variety of game modes. But this GOTY edition further blossoms with its addition of features like personalized zombie customization and more in-game tunes. This is a true classic that's as difficult to resist as a zombie clamoring for plant brains.
9 Half-Life: Opposing Force
Assuming you're good with the relatively short length, this expansion to the classic FPS, Half-Life is a no-brainer if you're a fan of the original, or even just want a cheap, memorable Steam shooter. This game runs with same familiar mechanics from the original game, and creates an even more interesting narrative surrounding it. This time, you get to look at the events at Black Mesa from a different perspective - that of US Marine Adrian Shepard. This gives you a cool new dimension and viewing lens to the original plot.
There are also a variety of new alien baddies to fend off and killer new guns to play around with, like the always amusing Shock Roach and Displacer Cannon. This shooter is a thrilling experience from top to bottom, with its tight mechanics, fun narrative, and terrific level design.
This cheeky, cartoony MOBA truly lives up to its name, with some cool and unique character designs, solid competitive battles, and insanely addictive gameplay. Awesomenauts is unique in its RTS-like premise, while offering a fun new twist on the formula with its vast array of unique heroes, power-ups, and intricate level designs.
The game boils things down to simple 3 vs 3 showdowns on a 2D plane, complete with big turrets and an assortment of neat abilities. Though the action is anything but simple, as things routinely escalate to chaotic skirmishes. The gameplay is weirdly satisfying - from watching your hero plummet downwards in a little rocket ship to start a match, to blowing up turrets in your path with your high-powered blasters.
7 Peggle Deluxe
Peggle feels like some weird carnival game that never was - or maybe a sort of crazy, more fleshed out variant of Plinko, if you'd prefer. This appealing puzzler distills things down to a simple essence that is basically - clear out the screen, which is full of uniquely arranged pegs. To accomplish this, you must choose an appropriate angle for your ball and launch it into the air, making it a Billiards-esque game of angles.
From there? Just let gravity do the rest, as you watch the ball fall, bounce, and ricochet through the smattering of pegs as it eliminates them. The gameplay is on the passive side, though the inclusion of helpful powers each character is given adds to the joy of it all. There's a certain charm in the simplicity too - it seems to tap into that Tetris appeal in a fun new way.
6 Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved
Sometimes you just need to kick back (or sit on the edge of your seat in this case) and enjoy a mindless, adrenaline-pumping shooter. This game is a bit like asteroids on steroids. Geometry Wars is pure, undiluted fun that hearkens back to the action-packed arcade days of old.
High score fanatics and old-school arcade enthusiasts in particular will get a kick out of the high-intensity shooting gameplay Geometry Wars pummels you with. The premise is simple on the one hand - fly and dodge projectiles as you fire off missiles at a colorful array of shapes; all of which come with different patterns and behaviors. Though you'll quickly find that the gameplay ramps up in difficulty quite quick, as does the enjoyment.
5 Quake II
There are a handful of FPS games that have cemented their legacy as being true classics which are both fun and groundbreaking - Goldeneye, Doom, and Halo come to mind here. Though this awesome arena shooter, Quake II, definitely fits the bill, like its predecessor. FPS pioneers id have created another true classic with this follow-up to the 1996 hit.
While the craftsmanship of this game - from the intricate level design to the smart AI - was absurdly advanced for its time - much of it holds up even today. This is thanks to solid mechanics, an epic soundtrack, an engaging campaign, and feverishly addictive multiplayer romps.
4 The Binding of Isaac
The grindy, grueling nature of roguelikes can produce mixed results. These types of games aren't for everybody. In the case of this over-the-top graphic slaughterfest known as The Binding of Isaac, they're not for the faint of heart. Though despite the nutty visuals (or maybe partly because of them, depending on your outlook), this may be one of the most noteworthy roguelikes to date.
The game plays something like a massive assortment of old-school Zelda dungeons with a dark, twisted bent. One of the neatest aspects, aside from the crazy horror-laced themes, is the plethora of fun items, power-ups, and baddies you're bombarded with. This ensures a relatively unique experience each time you play, even without the expansions.
3 Doom 3
This classic gore-fest FPS has come a long way since its polygonal days of the '90s. The more recent 3rd iteration might not have that same level of icon status, but it sure looks much prettier and plays much smoother. It also plays very familiarly to the first two, drawing on the elements that made them so appealing - the eerie atmosphere, crazy monsters, and satisfying weapons.
This game dials back the insane action of the first 2 games though, while adding more nuances like stealth and exploration. This may not sound very "Doom-y," but it adds to the tension and makes for a more dynamic shooter. You get quite a rich and cinematic experience here for a measly 5 bucks.
2 Roller Coaster Tycoon Deluxe
This game will make you feel like a giddy child and a big-wig tycoon all in one measure!
Even without this classic sim's included DLC packs of Corkscrew Follies and Loopy Landscapes, the asking price of Roller Coaster Tycoon is still worth it from the rich content and wicked fun gameplay. The game contains a massive variety of different campaign scenarios, conditions, and partially-made parks for you to play around with inside this large digital toybox.
Or you can simply start from scratch and watch as your theme park blossoms into huge bustling attraction. There are a ton of awesome pre-made coasters and other rides, or if you're a true designer, you can assemble these piece by piece. But take care to make them safe - as your roller coaster can, and will crash if the proper precautions aren't put in place!
While World of Warcraft is often regarded as the MMORPG, Everquest is essentially the game that started it all. And after countless years of tinkering via fan input, tons of expansion pack releases, and the now free-to-play model - this might be the richest and most epic game you can experience pound for pound.
With the various expansions cranked out over the years, there are now a whopping 500+ zones to explore, all of which are vast and most of which offer their own distinct flavor. It's tough to beat the addictive nature and sense of satisfaction you get when playing, even with the simple act of grinding skellies for xp with friends or questing for new armor. Everquest is simply brimming with content as well as enjoyment.