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The heady days of summer are almost over, with the commotion of a new school year and general “going back to the usual” mood coming up later this month and early September. There’s still time to relax and do some more gaming, though, and we decided to recommend several downloadable titles that don’t require a beast PC to enjoy. These are all affordable but excellent games available now for PC, and you can get them for your laptop as they are more than happy to run on even very modest hardware with integrated graphics. However, I would not call these casual games. In mindset and design they are more for the dedicated crowd, and as such have lasting appeal and intricate components you can really delve into.

Jamestown: the Lost Colony

By Final Form Games

One of the most hilarious and astute games we’ve played recently, this is essentially a science fiction shooter a la the stuff you used to get on the 16-bit machines from the 80’s. As you likely gathered from the name, it harkens back to the fabled Jamestown colony in early American history, and thus has a whole cast of historically-inspired characters and motifs. The catch is that in this case, the new world and Jamestown are on 17th century British colonial MARS, and you’re fighting against the Spanish and their dastardly Martian allies. The game is also reportedly made of 100% handcrafted pixels, and features four ships and lots of weapons to unlock. Levels are vividly realised and the story is very eloquent, told through moody cut scenes with driving Amiga/ST-like music and superimposed by more hilarity thanks to the subtitles. For its sense of humour Jamestown is well worth a purchase, add to that its instant playability, and it’s really a cool deal.

Take on those colonial era Martians!

Welcome to the...pink planet?

Who knew sail power could get you to Mars!

Available now on Steam, Direct2Drive and GamersGate

Jamestown: the Lost Colony images courtesy Final Form Games

Limbo

By Playdead

Limbo’s been out for a while on Xbox 360, but now it’s available on PC. An award-winning game, Limbo subscribes to a dark, minimalist art style and basic controls for its platforming action. Players assume the role of a young boy as he traverses a bleak landscape in search of either love or family (up to your interpretation). Along the way, he must overcome various difficult hurdles and obstacles, including traps, nefarious wildlife, devious human bullies, and confounding physics. Limbo’s all about atmosphere and using your wits to get through each of the many puzzles, but for its amazing visuals, suspenseful soundtrack and memorable protagonist, its approach is so one of a kind, you really should experience it.

Every adventure has its beginning

It's actually all uphill from here

Available now on Steam

Limbo images courtesy Playdead and Steam

Lucidity

By LucasArts

Also a gorgeous artistic platformer, this game offers quite the contrast to Limbo, even though its star is once more a child. The lovingly touching story is enough to make this jaded gamer get all weepy, as it revolves around Sofi, a young girl, who’s at home in her room, reading a children’s story as her grandmother sits beside her bed, quietly knitting a sweater. The setup is very homely, and rather different for a game. Sofi gradually begins drifting into a wondrous world of beautiful colouration and mesmerising geometry. Lucidity combines elements from standard platformers, as well as influences from the likes of Tetris, but its main attraction is the heart warming art style, genuinely moving story and unique vibe. Anyone who wants to feel good about intelligent gaming or just have a good time appreciating the work of clearly emotionally-aware developers owes it to themselves to pick it up.

Can't be sarcastic with this one, it's just too touching...

Welcome to Sofi's dream world

The pieces must fit for the dreamer to awaken...

Available now on Steam and Direct2Drive

Lucidity images courtesy LucasArts

Razor2: Hidden Skies

By Invent4 Entertainment

Garnering positive feedback among shoot em up devotees, Razor2 has just arrived on the PC as a downloadable title. It features nice graphics with a strong spacey edge to them, with a big emphasis on boss battles. There’s a lot of old school here, but unlike Jamestown, it’s wrapped in intentionally sleek presentation. Invent4 are also touting the fact that Razor2 isn’t an insane bullet hell like most of its genre peers, and that casual gamers could easily get into the swing of things and replay it multiple times, frustration-free. The pseudo-classic soundtrack has an epicness all its own, and there’s a bunch of challenges and achievements to attain. It’s definitely good fun for the top-down, vertically scrolling shooter fan.

In space everyone can see you shoot stuff

The boss cometh

Rocks, bullets, hard vacuum - yes, it's a space shooter

Available now on Steam, Direct2Drive and GamersGate

Razor2: Hidden Skies images courtesy Invent4 Entertainment

If you have any more ideas for games that are devoid of hefty system requirements, do let us know in the comments section below! Thanks.

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