The Ars Technica GOG collection: Our picks from GOG’s big Spring Sale
By Martha Rowinsky on March 24, 2023
Several staff members are big fans of the GOG games marketplace, primarily for two reasons: the games are DRM-free, and there are many classic DOS games from the ’80s and ’90s.
GOG has been running its annual Spring Sale for a few days now. This time around, we worked with GOG to curate a list of Ars Technica picks. These are discounted games chosen by Ars staffers Samuel Axon and Lee Hutchinson that we think Ars readers might enjoy—assuming you haven’t played them already.
If you haven’t, discounts during this sale range from 20 percent to as much as 75 or 80 percent. Since most of them are classics, they generally weren’t too pricy to begin with.
And they are all, of course, DRM-free. As you know, we’re big fans of that approach. It helps make your games portable across machines; there are no online requirements, there aren’t any limitations on how many instances you can run at once, and of course, it aids with long-term software preservation efforts.
If you want to help support Ars, you can buy these games directly through each game’s link below—Ars gets a cut on each purchase of these games made here.
In this city-survival strategy game that launched in 2019, gamers attempt to keep the lights and the heaters on by carefully using their resources in an alternate version of the 19th century. They maintain a city amid an apocalyptic global cooling by enacting morally questionable laws and making tough decisions that are sure not to be universally popular with the starving, freezing citizens. It might be a recent title—and an indie, no less—but it draws on the city simulation classics of the late 90s and combines them with a compelling steampunk, alternative history aesthetic. Plus, it’s hard—another core tenet of good old games.
Originally priced at $48.99, the game is now 72 percent off and it is currently on sale for $14 at GOG.com for Mac and PC gamers.
Horizon Zero Dawn Complete Edition
Launched in 2020 on the PC after a 2017 PlayStation 4 release, Horizon Zero Dawn is a graphical showcase that still manages to run on many older systems. While its core gameplay is your standard open-world fare—go here, watch a cut scene, go there, kill some bad guys, do some miscellaneous tasks in variations around a sprawling map, and so on—the franchise’s popularity among Ars editors (most of the gamers on the team speak highly of it on Slack regularly) has to do with its compelling science-fiction setting and concepts. If you like open-world games at all, it’s a must-play.
This Windows title is available right now for $16.49 on GOG.com, a 67 percent discount from its normal price of $49.99.
Three survivors from a crashed space plane start building a colony at the rim of space in this sandbox simulation game that’s inspired by Firefly and Dune. The science fiction angle aside, this game is known for its astonishingly deep systems, interactions, and simulations. Like the game that inspired it (Dwarf Fortress), it’s intimidating to get into, but give it a couple of hours to get settled into your brain, and it’ll gladly take a couple hundred more from you before you know it.
Originally priced at $34.99, you’ll enjoy a modest 20 percent saving, taking the price down to $27.99 for the spring GOG.com sale for Mac, PC, and Linux gamers.
Riven: The Sequel to Myst
Baldur’s Gate. Icewind Dale. Planescape Torment. Tyranny stands tall among the greats in the isometic CRPG tradition. Made by Pillars of Eternity and Fallout: New Vegas developers Obsidian Entertainment, this one offers a twist: you are the villain—well, sort of. It’s a complex moral tale with interesting characters and even more interesting choices. Does it have the best turn-based combat system ever? No, but that’s hardly the point. Get ready to read a lot of well-written dialogue, though.
Tyranny is now discounted by 75 percent, taking the price from $29.99 to $7.49.
Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines
Part of the same lineage and pedigree as Tyranny, this much earlier title adapted a popular pen-and-paper role-playing franchise about—you guessed it—vampires into a classic, sort of janky 3D RPG full of great dialogue and immersive systems that draw inspiration from the likes of System Shock and Ultima Underworld. If you were PC gaming in the late 90s and the early 2000s, you probably know this game and its influences. But this is a good time to revisit, because the franchise is soon to be revived in the world of PC gaming for the first time in ages.
Vampire for Windows is now 50 percent off its $19.99 list price, making it just $9.99 for the spring sale.
Wing Commander 1+2
Look, this one is not actually part of the sale. But it’s Wing Commander—and it doesn’t need to be on sale because it’s already dirt cheap. Many Ars staffers are huge fans of space sims—more than one team Elite Dangerous multiplayer night has transpired, and Lee Hutchinson’s VR cockpit setup is the stuff of legends spoken in hushed, reverent tones. No, Wing Commander didn’t start the genre, and we love older classics too. But with their emphasis on storytelling, presentation, and tight dogfighting gameplay, the early Wing Commander games are true classics. The combo pack also includes expansions, like Wing Commander: The Secret Missions, Wing Commander: The Secret Missions 2: Crusade, Wing Commander II: Special Operations 1, and Wing Commander II: Special Operations 2.