The best Steam games that have literally zero players

It’s the year 2123. Half-Life 3 still isn’t out yet. In a dark, dusty server farm, two explorers finally break through the wall to the inner chamber. Flashlights dance across strange hieroglyphics, ancient messages etched into the whiteboard – “Dead Space Remake is fire,” “I totally ship Astarion and Gale,” “lol how mid is Starfield?” Buried amid these decrepit slabs of black plastic and SSD trays, forgotten, forsaken videogames of a bygone empire. Once, they were adored by millions of people. Now, they are abandoned, left to rot in the Steam libraries of gamers past. It might be hard to imagine, a world where Baldur’s Gate 3 and Counter-Strike 2 have become but relics. Time, however, is a brutal monarch. Even the best games are eventually left with zero players.

Nevertheless, they needn’t been forgotten. If you want the best PC games, from Elden Ring to Baldur’s Gate 3, GTA 5 and Cities Skylines 2, yes, we can give those to you. But how about something a bit more…mysterious? Light a torch, make a final, prophetic entry in your journal, and follow us as we excavate the best Steam games that, as of today, at the end of 2023, have literally no players whatsoever.

I Am Alive

Back in 2012, somewhere between Assassin’s Creed 3 and Just Dance Kids 2, Ubisoft decided to experiment with some smaller-scale, lower-budget pseudo ‘indie’ games. There was the mystical but oftentimes baffling strategy sim From Dust (two active Steam players!), and then I Am Alive, a story-driven survival game set during the aftermath of a natural disaster.

On the surface, it’s a great idea – Irem Software’s Disaster Report series, but with a harder, bloodier edge. And there are some good moments in here. You need to manage your water supply, keep an eye on your stamina and grip gauge as you clamber over heaps of rubble, and it all ends on a refreshingly downbeat narrative flourish. Regardless, as of this writing, not a single person is playing I Am Alive. Maybe you’ll be the one to change that.

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Strafe

Between Dusk, Turbo Overkill, Forgive Me Father 2, and plenty of others, we’re now officially in the retro boomer shooter renaissance. The golden era of ‘90s FPS games is enjoying a spiritual comeback, but it wasn’t so long ago – 2017, in fact – that a semi-satirical homage to the age of Doom and Quake et al felt like a very novel proposal.

Best Steam games: The Strafe Steam player count, from the FPS game

Fast, frenetic, and with a distinctive polygonal style, Strafe’s procedurally generated levels nevertheless made it feel a bit soulless at launch. Despite its nostalgic leanings, perhaps this was a game before its time – arriving 18 months before Dusk, arguably, Strafe had to walk so the boomer shooter craze could run. Billed as “the world’s bloodiest roguelike first-person shooter,” the retro-style arenas and corridors of Strafe today lie empty.

Strike Suit Zero

A space dogfight sim in the vein of Elite Dangerous, TIE Fighter, and Everspace, Strike Suit Zero was one of the first games to incorporate the Oculus Rift, progenitor to the modern Meta Quest 3. Created by the now-defunct Born Ready Games, who, in a twist of coincidence, had offices right alongside No Man’s Sky maker Hello Games, Strike Suit Zero is a slick, visually impressive shooter that pays homage to the classic era of PC gaming.

Steam games zero players: The Strike Suit Zero Steam player count, for the space game

You can fly ships, pilot mechs, and organize large-scale raids on gigantic capital ships. It even inspired a pseudo-sequel, Strike Suit Infinity, which strips out some of the story and customization to focus entirely on the combat. I don’t want to make jokes. I think this is a good game. But it’s staring us all in the face so let’s just get it over with: unfortunately, ten years after launch, this has Strike Suit Zero players. There.

Kholat

In 1959, a group of university students went hiking in the Soviet mountains. Two weeks later, their bodies were discovered. Their clothes were missing. One of the victims had her tongue removed. Their skin was radioactive. To this day, the Dyatlov Pass incident remains one of the most incredible real-life mysteries of all time.

Steam games zero players: The Kholat Steam player count, for the indie horror game

Kholat, a first-person horror game from 2015, is inspired by that event. With a voiceover by none other than Sean Bean, it casts you as a would-be investigator, retracing the Dyatlov party’s journey as you attempt to discover what really happened. Spooky and satisfyingly short, it’s a wonderful game to play during the long winter evenings. Maybe this Holiday season a few daring adventures might return to Kholat’s malevolent mountain range. Right now, however, it lies completely abandoned.

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Dear Esther

One of the original ‘walking simulators’ and a pioneer for indie games, back in 2012, Dear Esther represented a breakthrough for smaller developers whose work existed outside established genres. 11 years later, it’s difficult to imagine Dear Esther causing much of a stir. But back then, a game where you didn’t shoot, drive, use magic, take cover, or blow something up – but which still had high production value – was a bizarre novelty.

Steam games zero players: The Dear Esther Steam player count, for the indie game
A ghost story set on a windy, rainy British island, Dear Esther established The Chinese Room, which would later develop Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture, Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs, and Vampire The Masquerade Bloodlines 2, which is expected to arrive in 2024. If you want to check out Dear Esther and see where it all started, you’ll have the place to yourself.

With 2023 coming to a close, take a look to the future with all the best upcoming games on their way to your PC. Alternatively, you might want to round out the year with the best new games available now.

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