Todaybor Day is Labor Day, so once again I’ve wrested the controls away from the grown ups, and intend to torpedo traffic with SEO-destroying unknown indie games! Below you’ll find the projects that poured into my inbox this morning, of which at least most will likely be something you want to stick on a wishlist.
Doki Doki Ragnarok
If you thought Boyfriend Dungeon was going to hold 2021's title for Weirdest Dating Concept, then boy oh boy, are you looking silly. Because Doki Doki Ragnarok is a visual novel/dating sim in which... wait for it... you play a Viking dating villages. You pillage too, which doesn’t seem the best dating technique, but developers BrutalHack say it’s how the raiding is done: romancing a location. There’s a demo to download on Steam, and it’s aiming to come out this year.
Gods Of The Twilight
Bummer for Gods Of The Twilight though! Who would have thought that a visual novel about dating Norse gods could get pipped for Scandinavian weirdness? Then again, what a time to be alive, when we can have both. And now you can have a demo of this one!
Golf Club Wasteland
Human life has been wiped out, and now Earth is a golf course for the extremely rich. Yup, that ol’ chestnut. But, well, rather than the super-o-wacky concept that at first suggests, take a look at the beautiful trailer above. It looks so melancholy, so lonely. It’s a golf game, certainly, but it’s also a story.
It’s out now on Steam, Switch, Xbox One and PS4.
Cursed To Golf
At the other end of the golf game spectrum is Cursed To Golf, a super-cheerful-looking cutesy golf platformer, set in... what what? Golf purgatory? Man, golf got dark. I love the look of the pixel art, and the silliness of portals, power-ups, and rogue-lite play. The game has only just been announced by Chuhai Labs, and is due to appear on PC and Switch.
Oh my goodness, I’m so excited about Lizard City! Not to play it, though, because it doesn’t exist. Instead, Lizard City is a strategy guide for an entirely fictional game, being created by Ashley Kenawell. Complete with screenshots, step-by-step instructions, and “comprehensive instructions” for each level, this is sheer madness/genius. Currently there’s a 16-page PDF of the final guide’s “overview chapter,” yours for free (or for as much as you want to pay) via Itch.
While it’s certainly hard to find games that aren’t a “roguelike deck building game” at this point in time, Power Chord does rather stand out thanks to its premise: you’re defeating demonic gangs via a series of battles of the bands. It’s by Big Blue Bubble, they who gave us both platformer Foregone and minigame collection My Singing Monsters earlier this year. I wish them every luck getting their game noticed in the SEO hell of the same name being a mode in Fortnite.
We did technically feature Kitory Academy in a previous round-up of indie games, but back then it was called Witchery Academy. Describing itself as a “cosy life simulator,” this is about being a wizard’s apprentice, hanging around with your companion cat, and doing all that witchy gardening you like so much. It’s from two-person team Cubenary, and I suspect will be out some time next year.
Invasion: Neo Earth
Retro-styled turn-based strategy Invasion: Neo Earth immediately dragged me back to those early-90s days of 2D graphics belying a depth of complexity with which I’d likely never grapple. Even more inducing such flashbacks is that there’s a free demo, here with Itch playing the part of magazine cover disc. It’s aiming to come out this winter.
Proxy Studios, the developer behind Warhammer 40,000: Gladius, are developing their own idea now. It’s called Zephon, and promises the somewhat confusing combination of post-apocalypse, cyberpunk and Lovecraft, all wrapped up in a 4X strategy. Given the number of impressive screenshots on the Steam store, they’d do well to release a trailer showing some footage, as this sounds intriguing.
Sir, You Are Being Hunted
With just about the largest declaration of interests imaginable, 2013's Sir, You Are Being Hunted was made by good friend Jim Rossignol’s company, Big Robot. So it is with nothing but complete bias that I tell you it’s now receiving a remastering by Dutch studio Den Of Thieves, in order to release on PC and Switch in early 2022. It was, and still is, a survival game set in the bucolic realms of the English countryside, in which toff robots (toffbots, I have decided) want you dead, while you attempt to escape, and drink tea.
Deckbuilding games are all-too-often lacking in color. And indeed friendly if officious dogs. Void Tyrant, which just came out on Steam, looks to do something about that. It’s all about exploring across the galaxy to restore the “Eyes of Chronos,” and it just looks so cheerful! Combat is played out in a blackjack style, which intrigues—too few deckbuilders take advantage of the card games that already exist!
The only JRPG in the list this time, which is unusual—Jack Move is a pixel-drawn JRPG in a cyberpunk world, and for a genre I struggle to get into, this looks so very appealing. Especially that combat! There’s a demo available right now, and the rest of the game by So Romantic is due later this year.
This Geometry Wars-looking arcade-me-do, featured in a previous indie round-up, has a demo going live this afternoon. From one-person team Lingon Studios, it’s due out this fall, so hopefully not too long to wait.
This is far too pretty to have come from a two-person team, but there it is. Project Grove an exploration game, where you play an alchemist, gathering ingredients and brewing potions, while leaping about in a 3D first-person platformer. Which is quite the mix. There’s a free prologue due out on the 11th, with the full game expected in the first half of next year.
You didn’t wake up this morning knowing you needed a game made entirely out of triangles. Now you do. And no, not polygons. 2D triangles. Overmorrow just looks utterly lovely, a non-violent game about exploring in a serene world, that—wait, what now?—deletes your save after 30 in-game days. Why would it do that? Oh hang on, it says on the Steam page, “However, in Overmorrow, things are rarely as they seem on the surface, and that is just one more step to discovering the game’s many mysteries.” Now I’m extra intrigued. It’s coming to PC and consoles some time next year.
Released just last week, Shindig is a narrative adventure, with a heavy emphasis on optimism. It just looks like a good time! You play a “low-key hero,” which is my level of heroing, in a neighborhood where everyone’s friendly! It’s on Steam and Itch.
Plushie From The Sky
Honestly, Plushie From The Sky scares me. I’m including it here because I’m scared it’ll start chasing me in my dreams if I don’t. One-person developer Fishwind says it’s a Soulslike, but you know, one where you play a sort of cherubic child twatting monsters with a cuddly bear. That is certainly quite the trailer. There’s a demo due at the end of this month, with the full game expected next year.
Fragments Of A Mind
This is an action-adventure game due out early next year, in which you play Cassandra, trying to find out why her family betrayed her. It’s going to have teleports and traps and puzzles and all that good stuff, and most interestingly, seems to have borrowed a handful of elements from RPGs.
Blowing shit up in space is one of the prettiest genres, and Rogue Eclipse looks like no exception. And I’ve nothing else to tell you about it other than the contents of the trailer, and this very brief footage of an in-game ambush. But gosh, it looks like an awful lot of fun. Hopefully there will be a Steam page for it soon.
This is such a nice idea: an RPG where you play the innkeeper, rather than the adventurers who pass through. In Innkeep ou play a wanderer who stumbles upon an abandoned inn, occupied by a band of rogues, who force you to serve them. You then progress through its story, listening in on conversations, serving drinks, and apparently, “a little light larceny.”
I had a play of the demo for Harmony’s Odyssey over the weekend, as it happens, and I’m pleased to report that it’s absolutely bonkers. I’d love to tell you what sort of game it is, but it rather defies that. Let’s go with: collection of puzzles of various types in a color-scheme from another universe. Amongst lots of clever ideas in there was something I’d never seen before: spot-the-difference puzzles set in 3D, rotating locations—both halves of the image rotating in sync. It’s aiming to come out early in 2022.
Haiku, The Robot
Oh my, this is too cute. Look at that little guy! He’s such an adorable cluster of pixels! Why is that big mean skull guy being so mean to him? Stop him! Haiku, The Robot is Metroidvania from first-time lone developer Mister Morris Games. It was successfully funded on Kickstarter last year, and should have a demo appearing next month.
Katjepult asks if it’s the first ever embroidered game. Well, I can tell them, sorry, that was probably Cross Stitch Casper in 2013. Although is that cheating? That was graphicsy tricks. So perhaps it’s actually Threadsteading, a game played on a sewing machine. Except, well, is that a video game? Maybe it’s a table-top game. Oh, OK, so maybe this is the first ever actually embroidered game, after all. Either way, it’s free to play it on Itch right now!
I didn’t realize how much I was missing 1983's Spy Hunter until I saw the trailer for Gearshifters. Or Gear Shifters. They don’t seem to have quite decided. Because it’s 2021 it has “rogue-lite” in its description, but goodness me, this looks like an awful lot of fun. (Yes, yes, there have apparently been other versions of Spy Hunter since 1983, but none of those count.) It’s coming out on the 30th of this month.
I love that skateboarding is back in video games. I wasn’t expecting it to form the basis for a multiplayer arena shooter, but look, on some level it was inevitable. TrickShot, from Meddling Kids, looks like the exact midpoint between Quake III and Tony Hawks’ Pro. I would also like to draw special attention to these words from the email they sent: “players execute tricks along with their opponents.” Come on. Standing ovation. It’s due in April next year.
This is pretty ambitious: a game about growing up, from baby to adulthood, covering real-world topics like school bullying, parents divorcing, living with disabilities, and the teenage experiences of being LGBTQ+. It’s described as a combination of visual novel, adventure, strategy, and—er—match 3. If you wait until the end of the trailer above, you also see the extraordinary skill trees the game offers, which look most intriguing. Growing Up should be out later this year.
Together In Battle
Obviously you’ll know how characters in Fire Emblem can have relationships. But what if they also had arguments, or got ill, or had a personal crisis? And you watched that playing out on a reality TV show? That’s the premise of Together In Battle by Sinister Design. It is, of course, also a roguelite, so naturally it’s all procedurally generated, meaning that the soapy circumstances will apparently play out differently each time. It should be out later this year.
The Falcon Shuffle
It’s hard to see The Falcon Shuffle as anything other than all of the games above combined into one. It’s developer, RobGamesThingy describes it as (deep breath) “controlling-two-ships-at-once-shump-deckbuilding-roguelite-game-with-outrun-style-level-progression.” In case you think that’s something I’ve made up, there’s a demo build of it you can play right now.