More games come out a day than an infinite number of monkey would be able to play. However, as one simple chimpanzee, I have compiled a list of 14 recently released indie games that fell beneath the gaming press’s radar. With over eight billion genres represented, there’s got to be something you’ll like.
I stress, these are not (with the exception of one) games I’ve played. As such, I don’t vouch for their quality. But after putting out a clarion call for indie developers to get in touch with games they released to little attention, these are a few I was able to dig out of the mountain of emails that soon consumed me and my whole family.
Against The Storm
Just released in Early Access on Epic’s store, Against The Storm is a “roguelike city builder,” that’s set in a fantasy world where it never stops raining. That is not a fantasy world, that is England. Although, admittedly, we have few talking beavers here. This is all about trying to upgrade a city, while something called the Blightstorm is heading ever closer
Tux and Fanny
While I haven’t played any of the other games in this list, I have played Tux and Fanny, and it’s one of my favorite games of 2021. You can read why here, but let me sum it up by saying this is a game about friendship, appeasing goblins, and the existential crises of insects. Also you can play as the cat. It’s so dense with details, extras, minigames, songs, dance parties, monstrous flies, and music, and you should buy it right now. The link to Itch is above, but it’s also on Switch, too.
The One Who Struggles
Out already, free via Itch, The One Who Struggles is a game consisting entirely of one multi-phase bossfight. Which, if you’re me, sounds incredibly off-putting until you learn about its incredible difficulty options. You can decide for yourself how many lives you have, how many jumps you’re allowed, how much damage you deal, the boss’s HP. It can be as hard or as easy as you wish. “Why put these sorts of features in a game that you can complete in 15 minutes?” asks developer D.W. O’Boyle. “Because I feel very strongly that stuff like this should be in all games.” Amen.
Up All Night
A visual novel horror (I’m so happy the genre is more than only romances these days), where you play Nick, a recent high school graduate, taken to a cabin in the woods for a winter break. Nothing could possibly go wrong! Or indeed, otherwise. There’s a murder to solve in this one, along with a bunch of endings to find.
The Giraffe World
A combination of sokoban and Snake? That’s enough to convince me to take a look. Presented with some lovely 16-bit graphics, it’s all about helping a magic giraffe find its stolen hats. You don’t want to help a magic giraffe find its stolen hats? Monster.
Heaven’s Vault - The Books
Inkle, the tiny team behind enormous hits like 80 Days, Sorcery!, and Pendragon, have just released a two-part novelization of their most high-profile game, Heaven’s Vault. Written by Inkle’s Jon Ingold, they tell the tale of Aliya Elasra, the translator of Ancient, that lost language of the Nebula. They’re out in both hard and paperback editions, and are stories, rather than a new set of translation puzzles!
You know what’s wrong with chess? Not enough blood. Fortunately that’s amended in Pawnbarian by j4nw. Creator Jan Wojtecki describes it as “a thinky puzzle roguelike, in which you use chess moves to murder tentacle monsters.” I am here, right here, for this. It came out recently on Steam, and needs a lot more eyes upon it.
At Eve’s Wake
A visual novel from Sugar Rush Studios, I’m intrigued because this isn’t a romance, but rather a horror. Inspired by Lovecraft (hey, everyone, you can stop saying this now—you’re inspired by a century of horror inspired by Lovecraft, let the old racist be dead), it’s about uncovering a family’s sinister history, with your choices said to affect the fate of your relations.
Another unique approach to the visual novel is Henchmen Story. You play as a supervillain’s henchman, but your boss is an idiot. But, you know, he offers healthcare. It’s all fully voiced, and in the trailer above you can see this is top-quality voice work. It also looks pretty funny! This just came out last month, and I’m installing it right now.
Closed Hands has been out on Itch for a while, but has just recently arrived on Steam. This is a piece of interactive fiction about the lives of five strangers, whose lives become entangled after a terrorist attack. It’s created by a team called PASSENGER Games, fronted by Dan Hett, who lost his brother during the 2017 terrorist attack on England’s Manchester Arena. You can read much more about the game in an excellent article by Eurogamer’s Rob Purchese.
Slide: Animal Race
I love how Slide immediately made me think of the newly released Exo One, but as Mario Kart. It’s all about cute animals having a race! But being able to swim, they can dive as they’re sliding, too. It has up to eight-player local co-op (supported by Steam’s Remote Play Together, and solo modes, and just looks so very cute and lovely.
Tic Tac Together
As you’ll likely know, the big problem with Tic Tac Toe/Noughts & Crosses, is that a game between any two intelligent adults will end in a draw. So what’s the solution? To just dump all your goes down at once, at the same time as your opponent, and see who wins! That’s the premise of Tic Tac Together, a two-player game that turns the futile paper game into a frantic and extremely silly digital one. But, you cry, what happens when two players put their mark in the same space? Well, of course, it starts a whole new Tic Tac Toe game to see who wins the spot. And yes, that gets as recursive as you might imagine.
King Under The Mountain
Rocket Jump Technology’s King Under The Mountain just released into Early Access yesterday. You, unlike me, are not daunted by enormously elaborate simulation games, in which you craft vast kingdoms through requesting your growing population complete 90 million specific tasks, so there’s a good chance you’re going to be interested to play this one. I, meanwhile, will watch politely on YouTube and wish I were better.
I was watching the trailer for Peartree Games’ Lucent Bounds, and thinking, “OK, sure, yeah, but what...” and then the little cube you control stretched itself back in midair, to propel itself forward, then flattened itself into a thin square so it could gently drift to the next platform, and I was sold. This just came out two days ago, and not only looks lovely, but is something I increasingly crave in games: short. Looking forward to trying this.