Plugged In

5 reasons you should be playing games on a PC right now

Plugged In

Game makers routinely release their heavy hitters between October and December, and while that’s great news when you’re tearing open Christmas presents, it means January and February tend to be a bit dry. And if you own a home console, that’s pretty much the case in 2014. The biggest release thus far? The perfectly fine but perfectly last year Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition.

If you’ve been paying attention to your PC, however, you’ve already found a bounty of riches just one month into the year. While you wait for the big games to start showing up at the end of February, consider spending some time with these terrific PC treats.

Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft
Developer: Blizzard | Price: Free

What happens when World of Warcraft meets Magic: The Gathering? What do you think? AMAZING THINGS HAPPEN. More specifically, Hearthstone happens, a free-to-play collectible card game that’s already better than most everything else out there despite the fact that it’s still technically in beta. Open beta, I should say, which means anyone can join the trillions (or so) who are building decks and battling it out online. You don’t need a lick of Warcraft know-how to dig it, either, though you will definitely need some discipline to keep from forking over tons of real-world cash on extra cards. Not that you need to, however: Hearthstone is a rare free game that’s terrific fun even if you don’t drop a dime on it.

Broken Age: Act 1
Developer: Double Fine | Price: $25 (gets you both Acts)

Tim Schafer, the mind behind adventure game classics like Monkey Island and Grim Fandango, made waves by netting over $3 million in Kickstarter funding for Broken Age. And though it’s taken Schafer and his crew at Double Fine Studios a bit longer than expected, they’ve finally pushed the anticipated point-and-click game into the world. Partly, that is. The first Act tells the tale of Vella and Shay, a girl and boy separated by millions of miles – or the click of a mouse, which lets you zip back and forth between two mesmerizing worlds at will. Featuring the likes of Elijah Wood and Jack Black, it’s a smart, gorgeous throwback filled with fun puzzles and memorable characters, though you’ll have to wait until Act 2 comes out later this year to see how it all wraps up.

Octodad: Dadliest Catch
Developer: Young Horses | Price:$15

You’re an octopus. You know you’re an octopus. No one else knows you’re an octopus -- including your beloved family -- and that’s pretty much all you need to know about this laugh-out-loud, bizarre gem. Your goal in Octodad is to accomplish basic tasks -- cook the kids breakfast, mow the lawn, etc. – without giving away the fact that you are a bipedal cephalopod. That’s easier said than done, because you move like an octopus. Cheap gag or great game? A little of both, maybe.

The Banner Saga
Developer: Stoic | Price:$25

If The Oregon Trail ran through the frost-tipped mountains of a fantastical Norweigian nightmarescape, you’d wind up with something close to The Banner Saga. Set in a frozen Viking wasteland that makes Games of Thrones seem positively cheery, its strategy is as deep as its hard-drawn visuals are breathtaking, forcing players to make difficult choices as they lead their not-so-merry band of travelers from battle to battle.

Developer: Messhoff | Price: $15

Two fencers square off in this award-winning indie game, but never fear: you won’t stay on the losing end of a blade for long. The goal is to make your way across the screen – a few screens, really – while stabbing your opponent before he stabs you. Die and you’ll reappear moments later, resulting in a riotous, Technicolor tug of war. With just a handful of moves to master, its learning curve is light enough to get just about anyone playing along.

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