Iiiiiii Deeeeeee Fiiiiiiiive. That’s what the cool kids are already calling the first annual* Kotaku Indie-Penance Day. They’re all wishlisting amazing-looking indie games, and then high fiving and having all sorts of interesting sex with each other. Don’t miss out.
The Fermi Paradox got a mention on Kotaku earlier this year, when a trailer appeared. Now the game has appeared, as of last week. With small ambitions, the game begins at the beginning of time, and then has you control all alien races as they evolve. The focus is on making crucial narrative choices for the various species, describing your role as a sort of galactic gardener. Currently it’s in Early Access, with 12 of the planned 30 alien races, with the intention to have it finished in about a year.
Eternal Starlight is a VR game in which you control a fleet of vessels in spaaaaaaace combat. It came out just last month on Steam, but hasn’t had nearly enough attention. As a VR skeptic, I have to confess this tempts me—it does with VR what VR is surely only intended for: allows a sort of movie-like omnipotence. You can wave your arms about to zoom in and out of the surrounding battlefield, issuing commands and generally looking like someone in a 90s sci-fi movie. Which is surely everyone’s ambition?
KEO is a team-based multiplayer vehicle combat game, and also isn’t Rocket Arena. It really surprises me how few games have followed in that genre, considering its success (*jump to comments where 391 vehicle combat games are pointed out to me*). This one’s been in development for a few years, and still doesn’t have a release date, but it’s looking pretty nifty to me. Although they could definitely do with releasing a higher-def trailer to go with their shiny new Steam page.
Heading Out is also a driving game, but this time with a narrative focus. That narrative setting you as an outlaw, on the run from The Law, inspired by ‘70s road movies. And damn, it looks so good in black and white. I’m super-intrigued to find out how the storytelling works here, especially as they drop genres like “rogue-like” and themes like “moral choices”. And resource management? I think this could be seriously good. But we have to wait until next year to find out.
Kingshunt proposes to be a hack-and-slash tower defence online multiplayer action game, which is... bold. From Vaki Games, it’s melee combat in 5v5 battles, and the trailer looks like it has some serious heft behind it. It’s due out at some point this year.
House has recently released its latest update, NIGHTMARES, expanding upon the year-old pixel horror game by Bark Bark Games. I’m amused by just how much that image on the YouTube video doesn’t represent the game itself, which delivers the majority of its spooks in a much more subtle way. The game’s updates have all been free so far, which is pretty good going for something that only cost $5 in the first place. (And it’s currently 30% off.)
Ember Knights offers something you don’t see too often, co-op rogue-lite action. Designed for 1-4 players, it looks like a splendidly frenetic action game, where working as a team means you’ll be able to stack attacks and magic skills. There’s a demo on Steam, which I’ll be checking out to get an idea of how this all works.
MicroWorks is also multiplayer, but this time a party game. Funnily enough, based around microgames. It looks like what might happen if Wario made Fall Guys. Each battle will feature 25 microgames, randomly selected from a pool of over 200 variants, as well fighting through 15 different boss stages. They absolutely acknowledge TF2Ware when describing the game, and what a brilliant idea to embellish these ideas into a full commercial game. They’re aiming for a summer 2022 release, and promise there will be no microtransactions, as well as hinting at the possibility of custom microgames.
Venus: Improbable Dream is a visual novel about a guy called Kakeru, who’s dealing with anxiety and depression. But as we guide his choices, we help him make the bold move to join his school’s music club, which changes his life. The game positively features disabled characters and deals with mental health issues, seemingly all with optimism. And in a rare treat for a VN on Steam, doesn’t have the “nudity” tag. It came out earlier this year, but is currently all but half price, yours for around $7.
Dead Letter Dept. looks so creepy, just in the screenshots, which already have me hooked. But then I find out it’s described as “atmospheric typing horror” and I am contemplating violating long-held anti-pre-ordering beliefs. It stars you as someone working a data entry temp job, processing mail. But that mail starts to get weird. They describe it as a cross between PT and Papers Please. Yes. YES. That one. I want that one please.
*This is what we freelancers call “optimism”.