Shhhhhh, all the grown ups are distracted. Kotaku’s proper employees are all off doing whatever it is Americans do on Independence Day, and in a woefully ironic act, have allowed a Brit to take over the site. So aside from leaving crates of tea everywhere and graffitiing “Long Live King George III!” on various walls, I’m launching a full indie gaming takeover. It’s Indie-Penance Day!
I’m not really a George III fan. As with most sequels, the law of diminishing returns meant it was all puff and little content. Nice graphics, sure, but the ending made little sense. I’ve always preferred the awkward original, and the antagonistic sequel. But that’s not what we’re here for. Today is about your James Francis Edward Stuarts and Bonnie Prince Charlies, your non-establishment indie interrupters.
So let’s get cracking with a first round-up of indie gaming news, as determined by the indie developers who got in touch with me when I asked.
Patron is a “survival city builder”—which already has me intrigued—due out on PC next month. Although now I stop to think about it, aren’t all city builders survival games? Hmmmm. Let’s all pause to ponder... Right, back to it. Here, alongside your usual resource gathering and city building, the danger comes when managing “intricate social tensions before they reach boiling point.” These will include class strife, immigration, religion, health, safety and loyalty. Sounds easy!
Tales Of Iron comes from Odd Bug Studio, and has the most ridiculously cool animated trailer above. It’s an RPG adventure, and apparently features “punishingly brutal, Souls-like inspired combat,” which seems a bit much for rats. There’s a new trailer due soon, along with a more specific release date than “2021". And indeed, yes, that’s Doug Cockle’s gravelly voice all over the trailer.
Déjà Vu is a minimalist puzzle game for Xbox and PC, and not the 1986 Mindscape adventure. It’s by Eric Freeman and Danielle Yoseloff, and has been out about a year, but is 50% on Steam until the end of today. I’ve had a play, and it’s a really nice little puzzler, gentle ambient music as you push squares about to create paths through levels. As you play the levels become more inventive, with new ideas cropping up frequently. At it’s just five bucks if you grab it today.
Serial Cleaners is a sequel to, well, Serial Cleaner, a 2017 game by Draw Distance that had you clean up messes left by the mob. Kotaku spotted it at the time, and found it “surprisingly fun”. The sequel, due out some time this year, was featured on an obscure website called Gamespot last month, which you can see above. It’s 3D this time, updating it for the 90s, as they say.
normal_fantasies.exe is a Facebook simulator, in which you play as Lynette Johnson, a college-aged woman exploring her sexuality, using the “AI Girlfriend Add-On” on her FB feed. You shouldn’t be surprised to learn it’s aimed at over 18s, and contains explicit writing—think, sexting. It’s out already, so I had a quick play—it’s certainly a little facile with the bullying aspects of its storyline, but the romance is better approached. Although it ends perhaps a little abruptly, and I wish there were more ways to click around the faux-Facebook layout. It’s free on Itch, and can be played right on the site (and as ever with Itch, if you enjoy it you can pay the developers what you thought it was worth).
Endlight is a procedurally generated flying game, that looks absolutely bewildering. Hopefully in a good way. We get to find out next month. Although it almost doesn’t matter how good it is, because you should buy it anyway to support the developer, simply because they named themselves Bigpants. You didn’t create a development studio called Bigpants, did you?
Midautumn will be a rogue-lite pixel-me-do dungeon crawler, packed with storytelling and evil spirits. I’m completely taken by the combination of pixel art and weird blooby special effects. It’s being created by Team Midautumn, an entirely AAPI (Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders) team, making a game about AAPI representation, which they say will be one of an “upcoming wave of Hades-influenced indie titles.” This one’s still a way off, with a Kickstarter due in September.
Vesper aims to evoke the feeling of the old Abe games, but with a much more Limbo vibe. From watching the trailer above, I’d say there was also a hefty amount of Ori influence there too, which is no bad thing. I’m interested to see how much of the glitchy business is just for the trailer, and what makes it into the game. We get to find out at the end of this month! And there’s a 20 minute demo on Steam right now.
Scarlet Hollow has already released two episodes of its planned seven, and I don’t know how I missed it. It looks amazing, a sort of horror-cum-dating-sim-cum-adventure. It’s written and illustrated by Abby Howard (Junior Scientist Power Hour, The Last Halloween), a diverse cast, and apparently a “dynamic relationship system”. I’ve grabbed this one already—the whole thing will have finished playing out by some point in 2023.
Bang On Balls: Chronicles clearly thinks it can sneak a four-month-old Early Access game past me just because its name makes me snigger like a school child. Um, so yes, good work them. I admit, this one completely passed me by, and yet looks all the right kinds of bonkers. Developers Exit Plan Games are planning a long late development period for this one, intending the EA to last until late 2022, but it already looks pretty impressive, and is garnering some top-notch reviews on Steam.