Steam Linux Beta: The Line-up: Highlights (part 1)

January 12, 2013 in News

The Steam beta for Linux has been running for little over two months now, and there has been a slow trickle of new titles being added to the list. Here’s a look at a few titles.

Many of the current games are ones that featured in the Humble Indie Bundle previously, so I imagine sales figures for those would not be that great, but it is nice to now be able to have these games as part of Steamplay, the buy-once-play-anywhere feature of Steam. Interestingly Amnesia: The Dark Descent seems to still be topping the best sellers chart, despite having been around for a while. Anyhoo, here are a few more:

Team Fortress 2

Valve’s first full-blown port of one of its own titles. A hat-peddling free-to-play title that continues to be massively popular and it runs like a dream in Linux. It was originally assumed that Left 4 Dead 2 was to be their debut launch title, but I suspect the choice of going with TF2 was largely due to the fact that it’s free-to-play and that the smallish sample of beta testers would all be able to try it out. I suspect we’ll be hearing news of more Valve titles soon, since they just announced their plans for a Steam/Linux based console.


Serious Sam 3: BFE

This is how first-person-shooters used to be. Less emphasis on plot, cover mechanics, RPG-style features, “realism”, etc. and more focus on mayhem and run-and-gunning your way through hordes of monsters of all sizes.  The developer, Croteam, has spoken out quite a bit about how they feel about Windows 8 and why they are serious about supporting Linux.


Killing Floor (plus a myriad of DLC)

A co-op survival horror game. Similar to SS3:BFE, the emphasis here is on mayhem and a pinch of ridiculous thrown in for good measure.


The Journey Down: Chapter One

This was just added a few days ago, but it has been available on Desura for a while. It’s a high-def remake of a free game from Swedish studio Skygoblin. The engine was built in-house and they have had a Linux version since the beginning. It’s a charming surreal tale featuring characters with faces modelled after African masks (but with Caribbean accents), and follows the tale of two guys about to discover the truth about the fate of their long lost father.


The Book of Unwritten Tales

A comedic fantasy tale that pokes fun at common RPG tropes with a mostly non-existent fourth wall. The humour mostly works, and the graphics are gorgeous. A prequel, “The Critter Chronicles” is also available, but not having played it myself, can’t comment much.


FTL: Faster Than Light

Following a successful Kickstarter campaign, FTL has won many awards and has been well received generally. It’s one of my favourite games of 2012, and is now available on Steam/Linux. This is what “emergent gameplay” is all about. You’ll find yourself living a different story with every new ship and crew you play with. Not to mention cursing at the sky every time a mistake you make gets one of your crew members killed, or if an unforseeable situation crops up, with similar-fated results.


Unity of Command: Stalingrad Campaign

This is a fresh entry into the turn based strategy genre.  The historic setting might seem fit only for serious strategy war game neckbeards, but it has a way of getting its hooks in you and soon you will be repeatedly saying “just one more turn”. Gameplay is deceptively simple, but the encounters can be balls-hard.



Hypnotic action-puzzler. You manipulate a waveform to guide a signal along it. There’s a plot about a dying galaxy but who cares about that when it’s just so damn trippy. Great soundtrack too.


Trine 2

Released on Linux mid 2012, this gets my vote for most gorgeous game of the year. It’s a puzzle platformer featuring three characters; a Rogue, a Mage and a Warrior and lots of physics puzzles. Can be played single player or co-op.


The list of available games right now is still small, but there’s some quality stuff on there in almost every genre. Game-porter Ethan Lee (@flibitijibibo) keeps an up to date list of Steam/Linux titles at and it’s worth noting the long list of titles that have native Linux titles, but not on Steam yet.

There is also some indication that we might be seeing a native Crusader Kings II soon, for which I am rather excited. And I just had a look in my crystal ball, which might be in need of a buffing, but I am putting my money on some Double Fine ports in the near future, perhaps even in the shape of a DF Humble Bundle.

The Linux gaming market right now is smallish, and a lot of developers first want to wait and see if the market grows before committing to it. But the market is not going to grow if nobody is making games for it. So to me, these people who support Linux despite the market being small, are the real heroes of the hour. Them and those who support them by buying games.

So yeah, support some developers. Buy some games, ya losers!