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The Best Hidden Gems on Steam

VO: Adrian Sousa WRITTEN BY: Kurt Hvorup
With so many different Games available on Steam, it's no wonder these went under the radar! Welcome to MojoPlays, and today we’re looking at The Best Hidden Gems on Steam. Expect some hidden gems such as Linelight, Snake Pass and Avernum. To have your ideas turned into a WatchMojo or MojoPlays video, head over to http://WatchMojo.comsuggest and get to it!

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Top 10 Hidden Gems on Steam

Gaming marketplaces being the crowded spaces they are, sometimes wonderful works get lost in the shuffle. Welcome to MojoPlays and today we’re counting down our list of The Best Hidden Gems on Steam.

For this list, we’re spotlight the games available on the Steam digital storefront that we feel are most underappreciated and oft-overlooked by the masses. Our focus is strictly on titles that have officially launched, meaning that Early Access works such as 2018’s “Amid Evil” won’t be featured here.

#10: “Clustertruck” (2016)

A novel premise isn’t the only thing going for this first-person platformer, though it certainly helps. “Clustertruck” tasks players with jumping from moving truck to moving truck to reach the goal at the end of each level. Complicating matters are the in-level hazards – like collapsing pillars or truck pile-ups – and the need to avoid touching the ground and environment, which results in instant failure. The tension of quickly maneuvering across truck tops is quite palpable - every leap or run potentially being your last. And if that wasn’t enticing enough as an experience, the game also features level creation and sharing features for those who are so inclined.

#9: “Avernum” series (2000-)

Though their efforts in developing the well-regarded “Avadon” games are appreciated, we feel that Spiderweb Software’s other isometric RPG series warrants more attention. The “Avernum” games deliberately and effectively hearken back to the tabletop-inspired games of yore, with a grim underground fantasy setting and emphasis on turn-based combat to boot. No matter the chosen entry in the franchise, players are sure to get caught up in the elaborate interconnections, painstaking world building and freeform exploration that are so intrinsically tied to the quests of “Avernum”. Refinement and revival of old role-playing standards is the aim here, and it’s been accomplished in staggering fashion.

#8: “Viscera Cleanup Detail” (2015)

Well, this is certainly different. Actually, that might underplay just how bizarre yet endearing “Viscera Cleanup Detail” truly is. The premise is simple enough: you’re the extraplanetary janitor sent to a string of themed locations… that are splattered with blood and gore. While it’s indeed possible to just do the required cleaning, perhaps the greater draw here is in exploring said environments and piecing together what happened. There’s something darkly amusing about picking up far-flung body parts or attempting to determine what creature’s blood is currently decorating a room. Plus, it’s got multiplayer functionality, letting friends play off one another and observe each other’s approaches to the task at hand.

#7: “Layers of Fear” (2016)

Psychological horror isn’t for everyone, but for gamers who are so inclined, it can be damn satisfying to find a creative work that delivers on the requisite tension and torment. “Layers of Fear”, which follows an emotionally unsettled painter’s increasingly bizarre exploration of his mansion home, does just that and more. The game actively and pointedly deviates from horror standbys like hostile foes and complex puzzles, instead letting players wander through areas while ramping up visual disturbances over time. More subdued than other titles in the genre, “Layers of Fear” nonetheless works thanks to an embrace of slow-burn suspense and truly grotesque payoffs to its mysteries.

#6: “Snake Pass” (2017)

In a time when mascot platformers were seeing a pretty significant resurgence, this quaint gem found itself sidelined in the conversation... and that’s a damn shame. “Snake Pass” tasks the player with guiding the colourful coral snake Noodle through an array of jungle and temple ruin-themed levels. Of course, matters aren’t quite that simple - you climb and clamber up platforms by manipulating Noodle’s body muscles, taking into account plausible serpentine movements at every turn. The fact that the game is also quite visually vibrant and features a soundtrack by “Donkey Kong Country” composer David Wise makes it easy to recommend.

#5: “Linelight” (2017)

Sometimes there’s value in visual and mechanical restraint. Case in point: “Linelight” is designed around guiding a line segment along intentionally bare-bones paths, occasionally dotted with the odd colourful obstacle. The contrast between the dark backgrounds and bright lines is quite stunning in action, resulting in sequences that are aesthetically distinct from other games. Furthermore, “Linelight” boasts some rather cleverly composed puzzles and cultivates a relaxing mood thanks to its low-key presentation. For those seeking a calm and collected puzzle game that still manages to challenge and intrigue, this won’t disappoint.

#4: “Botanicula” (2012)

As with their past work, Amanita Design managed to take a decidedly off-kilter concept and hammer it out into a charming point and click adventure. “Botanicula” centres on the exploits of a quintet of minuscule creatures, who are committed to protecting the final seed of their lost home. The immediately unique – if perhaps difficult to market – element here is how the game conveys its plot and suggests the nature of characters without relying on narration or understandable dialogue of any kind. What makes the approach work is a blend of quaint animation, delightful natural environments, and puzzles that rely on switching between the various creatures.

#3: “Human: Fall Flat” (2016)

Playing on one’s own, there’s plenty to appreciate with regards to “Human: Fall Flat”. The levels focus on overcoming jumping and physics puzzles, with multiple routes for progression. The ability to customization the player avatar, Bob, with all manner of colors is pleasing, as is Bob’s uncanny talent for gripping and climbing surfaces no matter the circumstance. However, it’s the integration of online multiplayer that elevates the open-ended level design to great heights. The chaos that ensues with more than one person bounding through stages in the name of cooperative play will make it so you can’t help but smile.

#2: “Dungeon of the Endless” (2014)

Who doesn’t love a good tale about surviving the harsh wilderness of an alien world? A turn-based roguelike, “Dungeon of the Endless” asks players to help the survivors of a crashed prison ship find a means of getting home. Easier said than done. Players have to carry a power crystal through alien-infested floors of escalating difficulty, all the while warding off crippling injury and gathering resources. Harrowing as it sounds, “Dungeon of the Endless” is tons of fun, with lots of room for improvement in your playing style. No run is precisely alike, no battle with an alien has a guaranteed outcome, and few things are as satisfying as making it to the end.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are our Honourable Mentions:

“Thomas Was Alone” (2010)

“Blue Revolver” (2016)

“AaAaAA!!! - A Reckless Disregard for Gravity” (2009)

#1: “Toki Tori 2+” (2013)

The latest adventure starring the eponymous yellow chicken, this updated incarnation of “Toki Tori 2” proves a vital addition to the wider Steam catalogue that far too many people have overlooked. Its levels are intricate in detail, livened up with a bright 2D art style. It delivers on many an interesting puzzle, typically based around Toki Tori interacting with the various animal inhabitants of given realms. A fine balance between intimidating challenge and engrossing charm is constantly walked, helped out by the added tweaks to music and presentation that “Toki Tori 2+” bring to the core experience. Bottom line, this one’s a must-play.

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