Last month I wrote a story on Summer Sale, the newest game in Steam’s unending library of low effort joke videogames.
As the name would suggest, it sought to profit off of the upcoming Steam Summer Sale that fans the world over were looking forward to.
Priced at a single US dollar, or R12 locally, it was seeking to make money off of multiple small purchases. The game’s price dropped even lower when the actual Summer Sale kicked off and this videogame got reduced to 50 cents US, or R6.
Yes, for less than the price of a small chocolate bar you could have yourself a desperate attempt at creating a videogame that would leech off of gamers’ love of Steam’s sales.
So I bought it.
Put down the pitchforks, let me explain. I generally believe in a “don’t feed the trolls” philosophy, but I had a a small amount of money in my Steam wallet thanks to selling off trading cards. The sale was about to end in a few minutes and I made a dumb decision. Sue me.
Regardless, I’ve now finished this game and I can let everyone know what it’s like without them having to spend money. That’s not a noble “consumer watchdog” stance I’m taking here, I just don’t want anyone to throw a single cent at this “game”.
Amazingly, this game runs off of the Unreal Engine 4. Yes, while it looks like an early 2000’s Flash game, this was actually created on the same game engine that runs EVE Valkyrie, Tekken 7 and the upcoming Gears of War 4. But this engine is free to use, so presumably that’s why it was chosen.
When you’re in the game you’ll be greeted by a reasonable facsimile of the Steam desktop app. And here’s the rub of the game: it touts the ability to “Experience Summer Sale without losing money” and, to that end, you can peruse and “buy” fake versions of games.
All your favourites are on sale: Left 2 Turn, Vault Looter, Racer… you know, all the real classics. Your wallet has a small amount of money in it with which you can buy a few games. Once it’s empty, you can earn more in-game money playing three mini-games, which you can access by hitting the ‘Coin’ tab.
Once a couple of games are in your library, you can play them. I use the term ‘games’ very loosely here because it’s very obvious that the developers didn’t count them as such.
These sorry excuses for games look like they were both drawn and animated in MS Paint. Their “gameplay” usually revolves around slowly moving a crude character around or tapping a key/clicking the mouse button as fast as possible to achieve some arbitrary result.
Just one of them is the horrifically named “Pay To Kill: lzi kill lzy money” where you put peanut butter and poison on a table to make a “poison sandwich”. Why? God knows. It seems to be aiming for the “lol teh random xD” style of humour. You know the type. The type of humour that was funny when Rage Faces turned every humourless prat into a “web comic artist”.
It also seeks to suckle on the humour of the “PCs are better than consoles” circles. The “game” Cinematic Bat asks you to “fly around city and save Bad Port City from your worst enemy Crash and his super power 30 FPS”. Hilarious! You tap the buttons and the screen shakes and then the game crashes on purpose! Oh what joy and wit!
Just look at the screenshots I took. They play even worse than their visuals would suggest, if you can believe it.
Once you’ve bought and attempted to play some of the games, your wallet will be empty. To fill it back up, you’ll need to play three mini-games: an endless runner, a clicker and a something akin to Missile Command. Just, you know, not very good.
They’re all equally bad with the only difference between being the time each one takes to gift you virtual money. The most rewarding in the time vs. money aspect was the endless runner, and after playing it for way too long I discovered something peculiar.
Your jump, on first glance, sends the character too high, obscuring where you land and generally making it more difficult to play. I assumed this was just more terrible design, until I got further into the game.
As you play, your character sinks deeper and deeper into the ground. This is a common bug for most games, so its nothing new. The genius here is that, when the character gets deeper into the terrain, the massive jump makes sense as the model needs to travel through the floor before they get into the air.
That’s right: what I thought was terrible design was actually just overcompensation for a bug the developer couldn’t fix. This must be the first time I’ve been aware of bad game design as a solution for poor programming skills.
The only other aspect worth mentioning is an in-game browser that lets you click around with no real consequence or reason. But hey, they threw in a joke about “download more RAM”, so that’s probably the best joke on offer here.
If you didn’t catch it, this game makes us really angry. It’s just another piece of software that has been able to thrive on Steam thanks to Valve’s non-existent quality control. If it were a free flash game, this story would never have existed, but the developers have the gall, the sheer audacity to charge for it.
But aside from all of that, Summer Sale actually had a great premise, Turning the famous sale into a game works on so many levels. Trying to manage money and earning it back by selling CS:GO skins and other inventory items, getting games to work by messing with their files, fighting Valve’s customer support as a final boss… it would have worked perfectly as a game unto itself.
Meta-games such as Undertale and Pony Island have proved that this type of experience can work. But the developer of this game got in there first and ruined it for any future devs.
How much videogame can you get for R6? Enough to make you never want to touch a videogame again.