A few weeks ago, I asked Twitter for breaking AAA gaming news, and due to a clerical mix-up was instead inundated by top-notch indie gaming stories. Surely that couldn’t happen again? Spoiler: That happened again.
So once again, here is all the big indie news that you aren’t reading anywhere else, as tweeted to me today. I can’t personally vouch for these games, having not played them yet, but hopefully something here will find itself immediately on your Wishlist. Admittedly this all got out of hand, but hey, we can all scroll.
Star Traders: Frontiers has been out for nearly three years, and been very well received on PC. Two-person developers Trese Brothers have just announced their biggest update yet for the space strategy sim, after over 250 previous ones—as they near the end of their planned roadmap for this game, they’re opening it up to modding. This includes allowing save-game editing, a suite of Steam Workshop tools, and “officially-supported access & documentation to the game database for mod creation.”
Slipways from Beetlewing is a turn-based strategy game in which players must create a “vast trade empire” between multiple planets, perform research, execute schemes, build colonies... except all in just 60 minutes. Yup, it’s an hour-long TBS, that claims to throw away all the micromanagement in favour of a streamlined experience, which sounds both terrifying and amazing. Better still, it came out just a couple of weeks ago, so you can find out for yourself.
Project Haven by Code 351 is a top-down turn-based tactics game, of the likes I see far too infrequently of late. You will play as the commander of the Steel Dragons, “a mercenary outfit fighting for survival in the harsh, urban near-future that is Haven City.” I love games where you plot your movement in little corner-scouting moves, but without having to worry about 870 other units at the same time, so this attracts. Although a “gritty story for a mature audience” is a little less enticing. We shall find out come 2022 when it’s aiming to appear. Meanwhile, there’s a demo as part of the current Steam Next Fest.
Townseek by Whales And Games looks like a super-cute exploration game, in which you play as a—er—fish who wants to explode the skies. It’s apparently all about just flying wherever you want, enjoying the sights, finding landmarks, and then trading with residents of the towns you visit. It sounds completely lovely and serene, and I’m about to find out since it’s out now, and free to download from Itch. As with all sensible Itch developers, you can choose to pay for it too. Oh, and Whales And Games have also just released Starsnap, a 48 hour gamejam entry that lets you take photographs of star showers!
Deepest Chamber was mentioned last time, so is very cheeky to sneak in again. But this deck-building roguelite has a demo in Next Fest, so you can get your hands on it right now before its July 22 release.
Chessplosion is by CT Matthews, and adds to chess what no one else has ever dared: bombs. It’s actually an utterly brilliant idea: you drop chess pieces onto the board, and they explode in the shape that matches their chess move reach. The idea is to create chain reactions that trap your opponent, and dammit, that’s enough, I’m ready. This is Chess II. It’s official. It’s aiming to be out this September.
Neko Ghost, Jump! by Burgos Games is a puzzle platformer that lets you give accessories to cats. The angle here is literally that, switching between 2D and 3D platforming, as well as swapping between physical and ghost forms! No release date on this one yet, but it does have a Next Fest demo.
Against The Storm from Eremite Games proves that every genre gets to be a roguelite eventually, this time for a city builder! Although if you saw how I played SimCity 2000, you could argue that had already happened. Just look at the detail packed into the trailer. And apparently it always rains. This is aiming for a 2021 release, but nothing more specific just yet.
Ynglet is from Nifflas (Nicklas Nygren), who has been creating stunning games for many years. And it looks like he’s done it again. I can’t really do better than quote its own Steam description: “In Ynglet you jump between bubbles that float in the sky like you’re a space dolphin, as you melt into a highly reactive and dynamic soundtrack created by Ynglet’s custom (and needlessly complicated) music software!” It came out this month, and is a mere $5.
Witchery Academy comes from Cubenary. It’s a life simulator where you play a wizard’s apprentice, learning spells, brewing potions, and seeming farming. I was never aware how much farming there was in witchcraft. It looks super-cute. No release date yet.
Star Explorers by Schmidt Workshops looks like a superbly lo-fi No Man’s Sky, as if time travelled from 1996. It’s about mapping out a randomly generated galaxy, exploring planets, and finding a new home for the human race. It’s three years old, but it just got included in a sweet Steam bundle called Independent Space Alliance, also including the likes of Carrier Command: Gaea Mission, Take On Mars, and Helium Rain.
Terra Randoma is a turn-based tactical roguelite RPG, which is a lot of genres in a line, from Deniz K. It generates a new world each time you start, then has you explore it in the manner of an old-school RPG, including sailing, exploring dungeons and chatting in inns. It’s out in Early Access right now, aiming to release the finished game in early 2022.
Ctrl Alt Ego is by MindThunk, and is yet another game about a disembodied ego roaming a space station and taking control of robots and devices, with stealth, combat and puzzles. I mean, come on, have a new idea. It of course sounds splendid, and is aiming to be out around November this year.
Assimilate! (A Party Game) is an excellently named game from the excellently named developers, Friendship Is Fun. It’s a 5-10 player party game, either online or locally, in which you and your chums must attempt to identify the disguised robot hidden amongst you. And it’s set in the ‘50s, because why not? It’s due in August this year, and looks properly bonkers.
RFM by Bromio was only revealed a couple of days ago, and I wish I knew how to describe it but my brain only operates in three dimensions. So I shall crib from its Steam page: “A real-time roguelike action game where time is on your side. Play, pause and plan in a stylish retro-future invaded by another dimension, and ride the frequencies between worlds to discover the secrets of a new reality.” But seriously, check out that trailer above. It’s aiming to be out next year.
Outsider: After Life from Once A Bird (indie devs have the best names) is a super-gorgeous-looking puzzle adventure, in which you interact with the really enticing art to solve little puzzles and in doing, save the world. It comes out just next month! And there’s a demo in Next Fest to try right now.
Trombone Champ comes from Holy Wow, who made the absolutely incredible Icarus Proudbottom’s Typing Party. This time though, it’s what they call, “The QWOP of music games,” because it’s so ludicrously impossible to succeed at. When I first heard the title, I immediately thought of the T-Shirt Hell range of post-Guitar Hero shirts, but it’s not a t-shirt, it’s a game. And a very silly one indeed. It’s apparently nearly finished, but has definitely missed its “early 2021" release slot.
Tails Of Iron from Odd Bug Studio describes itself as “an epic RPG adventure with punishingly brutal combat,” which are not words I’d have guessed at from the trailer. It’s all cute mice! Also, crikey, PlayStation posted their new trailer featuring Geralt himself today, so that’s not too shabby. It’s out on PC, Xbox and PlayStation at some point this year.
Obsidian Prince from Unleash The Giraffe (!!) is out in Early Access, and looks absolutely bloody amazing. A mad-mix of turn-based combat and deck-shuffling, with overworld city building. Goodness me. The trailer is absolutely pitch perfect, and every indie should watch it and learn from it. The game’s planning to spend a year in Early Access, but its Endless Mode is already finished, the Campaign Mode functional but being worked on.
City Of Beats by Torched Hill is a “music shooter”, which is to say a top-down twin-stick shooter played to a rhythm. It looks splendid in the trailer, although if there were ever an occasion for a dubstep WHOOOMP this should have been it. It has a demo in Next Fest, so you can give it a go this weekend. The finished game is aiming to be out by the end of the year.
Mythic Ocean is a really lovely underwater adventure from Paralune, which I enjoyed a lot on PC last year. They’ve announced that next month it’s coming to Switch, with PlayStation and Xbox to come soon.
Dextram is a bullet hell score attack arcade-me-do from Lingon Studios. I’m a proper sucker for a Geometry Wars-looking shooter, even though I’m absolutely terrible at them. This looks like it should properly scratch that itch when it comes out this Autumn.
Pale Night is brought to you by Pretty French Games, and looks like a solid version of a familiar style. You’re the little white box, able to bounce around the platform levels, but have to avoid the light. Like a games journalist, but bouncier. It too has a Next Fest demo if you want to play it before its September goal.
Virtueror - The Virtual Conqueror from Vivaledev has certainly worn out the ‘V’ key on my keyboard, but is going to struggle to get found with that spelling. It’s also a shame there’s no trailer, as the screenshots look really strong. It’s an RTS that allows you to take over the whole galaxy, and I’m very interested to know what that will look like. No details on a release date either, but still, pretty screenshots!
Baby Bear’s Big Day Out comes from RNG Game Dev, and has a demo in the Next Fest. And it’s about a baby bear, who’s having a big day out! It is in fact a sokoban puzzle game, but with woodland creatures and potentially dangerous levels of cuteness.
Gear Shifters is an apposite name after a game about cute baby bears. This is a top-down driving shooter from Red Phantom Games, and it’s coming to PC and all three consoles at some point this year. If you want to find out if a top-down driving shooter is the genre you’ve been missing, grab the PC demo from Steam’s Next Fest before it’s over.
Zodiac Legion is by Studio Draconis, and got an awful lot of attention when I covered it the last time. Since then they’ve added the trailer above, as well as a let’s play video, so you can see those hexes in motion. Well, the hexagons stay still, I suppose, but shhhh, you can see how many of these I’ve already written.
Void Eclipse by Tau Ceti Studios takes a deck of sci-fi cards and turns them into a turn-based strategy. This is so very far out of my gaming abilities, but the trailer looks so damned interesting it makes me want to figure it out. I won’t. I’ll try, but I will fail. But you are better than me. It’s due out this year, with Kickstarter backers already in a closed beta.
Twilight Tower by Aesth has me with its screenshots. It’s a good job too, as I can’t find a video. But look at that color scheme! It is, they say, a “survival horror/roguelite/dark decision-making card game hybrid,” which leaves me wondering how they forgot to add platforming and driving.
One True Hero is developed by Rat Cliff Games, offering 3D platforming in a sinking town. It also looks to sport some hefty sword fighting, despite its cutesy cartoon appearance. There’s a demo for this one in Next Fest, so you can check it out now. The rest of the game is due out some time this year.
Gods Of The Twilight is brought to us by Volutian Design, and wants you to romance the Norse gods. Romance you say? Yes, it’s a visual novel, where you get to play as two different protagonists, negotiating their social and romantic lives, apparently during Ragnarök! There’s a demo in Next Fest if you want to see whether you can hold hands with Thor. It’s due out toward the end of this year.
Hive Quest is from Golden Heart Games, and is nothing to do with Minecraft. In fact, it’s about controlling a tribe of insects through a mythical woodland, aiming for a peaceful, ambient vibe. They say there’s a demo in Next Quest, but I’m unable to find it on Steam just now.
The Season Of The Warlock comes from Spanish developers enComplot, calling itself a “weird adventure game.” It will apparently have two different storylines to play, which seems generous, all inspired by the gothic tradition. And like so many, there’s a demo in Next Fest to try right now.
Esse Proxy by From South Games was mentioned last time, but now you can play a free alpha build of it from its Itch page. That’s only for a short time, apparently, before the game makes the shift to Steam, where it will be released as a finished product. It still looks cool as hell, like a time-shifted Hotline Miami.
Tracks Of Thought appeared in the Wholesome Direct last week, and now has a demo up on Steam in the Next Fest. It’s an RPG that they say is shaped by your own personality. There are card-based conversations as you travel on a mysterious journey, and the art is just adorable.
Apologies to everyone I wasn’t able to include here, but honestly, I have to go to bed at some point.