Don't miss these gems in the Steam Holiday Sale

— 10:23 AM on December 29, 2014

Here's hoping you guys had an excellent Christmas holiday and weekend. I had a great Christmas followed by a not-so-great trip to visit the in-laws' place, where I spent the majority of the time in bed suffering from a stomach bug. Ugh.

I'm mostly recovered now, though, and I have a few suggestions for you in the Steam Holiday Sale. The current daily deals, which don't formally expire for another 26 hours or so, have several good titles among them.

First, I've banged this drum many times before, but Tomb Raider for $3.99 is a steal. Great game and an excellent way to see the full detail of which a 4K display is capable.

I also played Max Payne 3 to completion. It's satisfying, gritty, but very violent in a way that many shooters kind of avoid. Huge download due to huge textures, but it looks great. Currently five bucks. You cannot go wrong there.

Cyril really liked Dishonored, which is also selling for $4.99 right now.

Those are easy picks, though. I have a few less conventional ones.

I've not yet bought it, but the brand-new first-person puzzler from Croteam, The Talos Principle, is selling for $10% off at $35.99. There's a downloadable demo (or "public test") that you can grab to get the flavor of it. Worth a look.

Also, if you have a home-theater PC and want to enjoy playing games on it, I've learned that it pays to seek out games designed for multiplayer interaction using game controllers. That's the only way I can get myself and my family away from individual PC setups for gaming.

This year, I picked up the new Gauntlet reboot when it was a daily deal for only $9.99. We immediately did a triple-player crawl through the game's first dungeon, and it was just about an ideal mix of action and challenge. The difficulty is high enough that you have to learn to work together. For instance, we failed our first couple of attempts pretty quickly without a tank. I had to switch from elf to warrior in order for us to advance. I expect we'll spend quite a few hours hacking and slashing our way through the rest of this one. Well worth the current $14.99 asking price, which is 25% off list.

Another excellent couch-based multiplayer game is Sonic & All-Star Racing Transformed, a Mario Kart clone that may just top the original, with up to four-player split-screen racing and sumptuous visuals.  Discovering this game felt like unearthing hidden treasure and breathed new life into our HTPC gaming setup. The PC platform is lucky to have it. It's on sale now for 50% off at $9.99.

Also on my radar, though I haven't yet picked it up, is Rayman Legends, which looks to be an awesome platformer complete with local co-op support. The current discount is 40%, yielding a price of $23.99, but I'm still hoping this one becomes a daily deal. We shall see.

Right now, our co-op platformer needs are still being well served by the amazing Battleblock Theater, whose sense of humor alone is worth the $3.74 sale price. Seriously, just watch this trailer:

Holy crap. The whole game is like that.

Finally, I have to mention Dirt Showdown, which I think is probably the best Codemasters racing game for casual engagement thanks to its loose, slide-happy physics simulation. Showdown supports two-player split-screen racing in a kinetic, arcadey style that suits couch-based competitions perfectly.

Yeah, you can play the latest Assassin's Creed game with a controller from the couch, but these games will allow your HTPC to offer an experience that can't really be duplicated on the desktop. Grab 'em now while they're cheap.

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