Christmas is right around the corner, which means if you were planning on getting gifts for the special people in your life, you don’t have much time left. If those special people in your life happen to be gamers, Christmas shopping can look prohibitive and expensive with the costs of modern AAA games being what they are. Thankfully, you don’t have to spend a lot to pick up an assortment of great stuff. Here are nine games under $20 for the special people in your life to enjoy.
Platforms: iOS, Android, PC
In Downwell, you play a fellow in the unfortunate predicament of falling down a well full of monsters. Luckily, you’ve got gunboots strapped to your feet, which are exactly as fun as they sound. Each fall down the well is likely to end in death, but defeat will only give you a new playground to plummet through. The enemies and environment change each time. For the price of something off the dollar menu, Downwell is worth every penny.
Platforms: Android, iOS, PC, Mac, Linux
Tough, rhythmic, addictive—Super Hexagon is all of these things and more. Never has the fanbase of a game been simultaneously so committed and infuriated by a game, but Super Hexagon seems to breed such cognitive dissonance in its players. If you, too, wish to know the sweet and bitter taste of Super Hexagon, you can do so for a remarkable bargain at $2.99.
You Must Build a Boat
Platforms: Android, iOS, PC, Mac
Everyone loves tile-matching games. And pretty much everyone loves a good dungeon crawl. You Must Build A Boat is both of these things loaded up onto a ship and pushed off to sea. After each mission, no matter how short and disastrously it ended, you get an emphatic “YOU WIN!” across the screen. The formula repeats itself so cleanly and addictively that it’s easy to get swept along into the zany, screaming world without asking too many questions.
Life is Strange (Episode 1)
Life is Strange (All) 19.99
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One
If you like your games with a major focus on story, Life is Strange might be for you. In Life is Strange, you play Maxine Caufield, a teenage girl who realizes she can briefly turn back time. After glimpsing a disastrous possible future, Maxine must use her ability to not only navigate the difficulties of a teenage social life, but also save her town from destruction. As a bonus, Life is Strange is episodic—while all the episodes together are $19.99, you can pick up the first one for just $4.99. If you feel like coming back for more, the rest comes at a discount. It should be noted that Life is Strange deals with some mature themes and is rated M, so get it for the mature teen or adult, not the tyke.
Platforms: PC, Mac
Undertale looks a lot like the role-playing games you might have grown up playing, with one key difference: you don’t have to kill the monsters. If you’d rather flirt with or befriend the ooze creature, go right ahead. Undertale may be packed to the brim with incorrigible charm and humor, but don’t let that fool you; a powerful lesson about pacifism and understanding sits at the heart of this game.
Platforms: Android, iOS, PC, Mac
Loosely based on Jules Verne’s novel, 80 Days is a choose-your-own-adventure that was awarded Time Magazine’s game of the year. But even if your gift-target isn’t a big reader, 80 Days has more than enough romance, intrigue, and adventure to keep them interested at a price anybody could afford.
Platforms: PC, Mac, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, PlayStation Vita, Linux
Fez is not a new game, but it was a quiet one—and easy to miss if you weren’t paying attention. This puzzley platformer turns entire environments into a rubix cube for you to shift and explore. It’s easy to spend countless hours playing the game.
Platforms: Android, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, PC, Mac
One perfect shot—that’s the thesis of Titan Souls, where you face great and terrible foes with nothing but a bow and a single arrow. Like cult favorite Shadow of the Colossus, the game is split between frantic boss battles and meditative walks through the lonely scenery. While the sprite-like art recalls old-school adventure games, Titan Souls is a modern marvel of game design, bursting with creativity at each new encounter, and certainly worth its price tag.
Ori and the Blind Forest
Platforms: Xbox One, Xbox 360, PC
Many of the games on this list are about jumping between platforms, dodging enemies, and doing so in the context of some kind of greater quest. The platformer genre has seen a great revival in the indie scene, and indie games tend to be smaller, and subsequently cheaper. But none of the platformers on this list are quite as mystical and enchanting as Ori and the Blind Forest. As a leaf fallen from the Spirit Tree, it’s up to you to cure the corruption that has blinded the forest. The ethereal beauty and great design of Ori and the Blind Forest makes it more than worth its price tag.