25 Greenlight games you should vote for right now
Puntastic puzzlers, pretty underworld platformers, robots party planners and games of expansionist imperial politicking: there are a lot of excellent upcoming games going unnoticed on Greenlight. We've done our bit to address the signal-to-noise ratio, bundling together the games we think are most deserving of a Steam release into the PC Gamer Greenlight Collection. Why not do your bit by throwing a few votes their way? Let us know in the comments if you've spotted other lamentably unchampioned titles.
We're mystified as to why this gravitational Minecraft in Space a) did so poorly on Kickstarter, and b) hasn't been green lit yet. It's gorgeous: a co-operative building game set on asteroids. It's based around blocks and tethers, allowing you to build simple, blocky constructions, and complex machines. Everything from rockets to break-dancing robots. And when you're playing with friends, you can all play on different planes of gravity, firing things between asteroids to troll each other. Click! Click now! Then create another Steam account and do it again.
Aardman may not be indie devs, but this Shaun The Sheep spin-off game has gone lamentably uncelebrated by hardcore gamers, possibly because it’s a sequel to a browser game and pitched to a family friendly audience. This, however, is a proper desktop game and a hardy puzzler to boot, mixing up its 2D platforming conundrums with portals, gravity switches and teleportation. Also has a good line in sheep puns.
Apparently the name is Cornish. One-man outfit Hermit Games isn’t big on focus groups, we suspect. If the title’s a little inaccessible, then at least the Snake-but-in-3D concept should slip down easily, right? Well, it should. But the game is actually a frantic brain-crashing challenge - like exploring the interior of a neon Rubik’s Hypercube.
It’s co-op Star Trek in which each player takes authority over a single ship sub-system: engineering, comms and so on, while the captain barks orders at them. It’s also totally, totally awesome - as we discovered in PC Gamer’s own intrepid adventure to distant stars. The captain’s screen is designed to be seen by all players, and vocal commands are essential - so the game only really works at LAN parties. But what a good excuse to haul your towercase round a mate’s. Fake pointy ears sold separately.
FRACT OSC is a first-person puzzle game about synthesisers, set in a world that the developers describe as a mix of Myst and Tron. Challenges are built around music, such as using a sequencer to manipulate a machine in dazzling neon 3D space. It includes powerful composition tools, so it's as much about creativity as progression. To say that Chris wants to climb inside this game would be understating it: if you ever needed to hunt Chris for his fine pelt, you could very well use FRACT OSC as bait.
Escape Goat is a brilliant (and brilliantly-named) puzzle platformer that casts you as a wrongfully accused goat attempting to escape a 16-bit fantasy dungeon. You need to figure out how to activate a series of switches to manipulate each single-screen stage to your advantage.
Most games have you saving the world and stopping the bad guy, but in Neocolonialism you're the bad guy. A political powerhouse whose view of the world is literally inverted. The goal of this dark little strategy game is to fill your Swiss bank account and ruin the world. To do that you grab free-trade agreements, buy politicians, and control the IMF. There are no armies to control. It's the political version of the Screwtape Letters. You can play a free version of it here.
The gloriously bearded Nifflas makes pretty little platform games. This is the third game in his highly-regarded Knytt series, this time taking a mute sprite called Mi DEEP underground to save the world. She's a versatile star for the game, and can switch states between a jumpy girl, a bouncy ball, and whatever else state the game decides you need to be in. The world below is a series of gorgeous caverns packed with detail, challenges and secrets, but it still manages to be almost relaxing. It's very zen, and there's a demo. A zemo, if you will.
A 2D platform game with SNES-level aesthetics, bound by blood to a Conan The Barbarian-esque story. The result is a lovely, rich, and silly action platform game where you're the tiny titular Barbarian. This is (hopefully) the first episode of the sword-swing head-loppers adventures, and it includes such wonderous activities as bumblebee riding, gnome punching, liquid metal puma confusing, and of course damsals in distress. To whet your appetite, why not hop into this free version?
Not quite The Oregon Trail by another name, The Organ Trail is an Apple 2 Emulated game of a zombie apocalypse. You travel across the United States in your hatchback, on a survival trip that tosses dysentery and zombies at you. It looks low-fi, but the compellingly awful assaults that face you will draw you in. It's not all that easy to put down a survivor who you've named, cared for, and fought off the apocalypse with. Especially not with a shotgun that's running low on ammo. What a waste of bullets.
Terraria. In. Space. That's the pitch, but there's more to it than that. Atop the 2D building and space suits that you'd predict from such a precis lies jet-packing sharks, space-suited flying polar bears, and terrifying space-jellyfish to contend with. The flashy exterior will drag you in, but what's underneath is a game of complicated mechanical constructions: you can craft so much stuff to help you as you delve into the depths of the planet that the wacky exterior might feel a touch overbearing. Wait, we meant hoverbearing.
This is the post-Portal world, where head-messing 3D puzzle games are all around us, and developers are doing unseemly things with the world. One such dimensional dominatrix is Parallax, a gorgeous-looking puzzler with over-lapping worlds that you weave between. They're lushly defined in dark or light, and you'll flick levels to open rifts between the two in order to surpass the game's challenging chasms. Escher is reaching down from heaven to deliver the mother of all fist-bumps.
Physics schmysics. Realism schmealism. There's nothing the racing genre that Distance doesn't stare at and then haughtily dismiss as 'too real, we can drive on neon ceilings'. Long jumps are dealt with by opening the car's doors and using them as wings, lightning bolts are dodged, and every leap is just an excuse to flip the car over-and-over as if an invisible Tony Hawks were riding on top of it. It looks like TRON has collided with Trackmania.
Not every story is solved with bullets. Ir/rational Investigator binds the detective adventure genre with logic puzzles. You're a PI in the wonderfully named town of "Conjecture", striving to solve a series of logical puzzles that you need to mentally breakdown. These aren't the usual game questions, you need a brain-type thing to solve the propositional crimes that have taken place. Think Phoenix Wright, but with the cold-logic of an android. The puzzles are dastardly, but there's a primer for them that you can prepare your frontal lobes with right here.
As the game's developer puts it: "Signal Ops is a multiple-perspective first-person tactical espionage game!" It's a slow-paced game of cunning, where you have to watch all your agents movement from first-person at the same time, cramming their points-of-view into one monitor. You switch between them, as long as they're all in range of your communication equipment. It wears the skin of a classy spy thriller, and is full of documents to steal and people to assassinate. We'd say it's a co-op game you can play yourself, but you can also play co-operatively with up to three players.
What other game would dare to present itself with a chiptune version of the 1812 Overture? The Escapist is a 2D platformer that takes the character and bounces him off the world. You're platforming and bankshotting around the puzzles, driving his post-leap direction with the mouse cursor. The developers, Backstab Games, are promising it'll be classicly driven, but with modern sensibilities. You can test that supposition out with the demo.
But not all platformers need to be about explosions and excitement. Developer Dek's Path To The Sky is a clean 2D platformer, set in a lost world. You'll adventure to uncover the meaning behind the ancient relic in the sky. The minimalist design means the pixels are small and perfect, and the jumping precise. The world is a place of gentle waving grasses and birdsog, and the music is a background hum reminiscent of the Enterprise's engines idling.
Structural engineering might not seem like a particularly heroic job, but without them trains would collapse into rivers and ships would be scraping bridges from the land. Need proof? Try Chronic Logic's Bridge It, a puzzle game where you build the perfect bridge. You place the pylons, balance beams, test trusses, and just ponder where exactly everything should go. The challenge is obviously to create a bridge that can survive everything us clumsy humans can throw at it. And there's even a demo just begging to be downloaded.
High-concept time! Nitrome's Platformer Flightless is about controlling ducks who've had their wings clipped as punishment for stealing. To pay for the crimes, you're sent into dangerous dungeons to hunt down diamonds. It's a classic tale, but the twist is the ducks are toting a magical ladder. It sprouts out with vicious power, capable of crushing enemies, hitting switches, and pass through teleporters. Our favourite non-laddery thing is can do is head around corners. It is intriguing, and there's also a demo.
At first look, this FPS puzzle game evokes Amnesia: the hand holding the lantern, the dark atmosphere. But you're not on the back foot in Ether like you are in Amnesia's haunted corridors; you're a Restorer, a person capable of entering the human mind in order to fix broken memories. Ether's story promises it focuses on human relationships and deals with intimacy as much as puzzle solving, that said the developers also stated you'll probably have to play the game with a pen and paper handy to keep track of your progress.
This Deadwooodian take on the Wild West is just what games need. Only joking! It's actually a retro-styled mini-game based shooter adventure thingy. You take three migrants through the trail of Olde West. The game revels in challenges, throwing buffallo at you one minute, and giant, head-nomming ants the next. It's swift and silly, with each game only taking about 10 minutes. If the Organ Trail up above isn't speedy enough for you, then this might be what you're looking for. Oh look, a demo!
A 2D platofrm game where you control either Mr. Light Dr. Shadow. Mr Light is handily named, as he can only survive in the light, but he's also the typical platform character. He runs, jumps, etc. Dr Shadow exists in the dark, and while he's not as lithe as Mr. Light, he can walk on any surface and move items. If you're suddenly thinking that a game where you swap between the pair would make an interesting puzzley platform challenge, then you are correct. See for yourself with the free version.
The world is a wall that stretches out in all directions. Civilisations blossom and die there, and you live with the constant threat of falling off. A combination of a first-person platform game and puzzler, setting you the challenge to climb. You have the power to extrude any section of the wall, enabling you to pluck your way ever upwards, and they make a good thing to aim for if you are unfortunate enough to lose you footing. There's an early demo, but it's year-old proof-of-concept.
Top-down war shooting hasn't seemed the same since the original Cannon Fodder spent is last cartridge, so Running With Rifles lands with something clean slate. It's a single and multiplayer sandbox shooter that puts you inthe middle of huge battles: you'll fight over massive maps, alongside hundreds of AI or human soldiers. The AI is turned to be be nasty, as they use cover and flanking to get to you. If that sounds neat, you can try out the single-player portion over at Desura.
A puzzle game driven by the emotion of the pieces. It's part puzzler and part party planner as you attempt to fill out the seating arrangements, hoping to place pieces with their friends. Accidentally place someone near their enemy, and their anger will show on the piece's face. You'll deal with exploding chicken, volcanoes, and alien invasions. It's remarkably charming for a puzzle game, and requires a bit more brain work than the usual Match 3 standard.