Darkwood, a top-down survival horror game with elements of that other kind of survival game (DayZ, Rust etc), is now officially out after a period spent in Early Access. While emphasis seems to be placed on this being a horror game first and foremost, it’s a bit more systems-driven and a lot less on-rails compared to say, Resident Evil 7. During the day, you’ll scavenge for materials in the woods while also crafting weapons. Then, during the night, you’ll simply survive using the resources you’ve gathered. There’s a fair bit more to it than that, and it has a lovely art style, so I’d recommend checking it out if any of this sounds even vaguely interesting.
Here’s a new sandbox MMO with a huge emphasis on settlement building. Tree of Life has already garnered over 3,000 “mostly positive” reviews on Steam across its two years in Early Access and, refreshingly, it’s not a box-y Minecraft-esque MMO. It actually resembles a Rare game from the 1990s, with the pitch being that not only can you build your village anywhere in the open world, but you can be anyone, too (you can be a master chef and a master swordsman – simultaneously). There’s combat, there’s building, there’s a player-based economy and there’s 21 class combinations, so it might be worth checking out if you’re roleplay starved. It’s currently 30 percent off, too.
This is a cyberpunk first-person horror game by the studio responsible for Layers of Fear. I’ve been told it’s well-and-truly better than Layers of Fear, and the trailer suggests that Bloober Team has a good grasp on the cyberpunk aesthetic. Set in 2084, you play as Dan Lazarski, a “neural detective” tasked with entering suspects’ minds. Naturally enough, this isn’t the safest workplace as you’ll no doubt encounter some terrible things in the minds of criminal suspects. Sounds like a good laugh, and the Steam community seems pretty enthusiastic about the game already.
This is a narrative-driven adventure game based on the novel by Ken Follett of the same name. The first of three seasons is currently available, though the asking price will grant you access to all as they release. If you’re unfamiliar with The Pillars of the Earth, it’s a historical novel set in 12th century England, though this interactive version will allow you to influence the outcome of the original text. It is a narrative-driven affair and there doesn’t look to be much in the way of sustained action, so maybe watch some footage if you’re unfamiliar with the genre. It’s definitely very beautiful, though.
Released: August 17
Developer: Fedora Collective
Publisher: Fedora Collective
Price: $9.99 / £6.99
Here’s the obligatory business management sim for the week, though this one doesn’t seem altogether serious. As the name implies, you’ll be managing an esports team (the studio spell it eSports which is wrong) and managing their ego levels in order to keep North Korea off their backs. Yes, you read correctly: if your professional gamers or streamers get too uppity North Korean “data miner trolls” will SWAT them. There’s Twitch integration too, and if you have viewers you can allow their comments to determine the outcome of the game. Sounds a bit intense for me, but it’s definitely a neat concept.
It’s a top down game with a whimsical aesthetic about one man’s quest “to cut every blade of grass in the world”. As you can probably guess, this is no lawn mowing simulator, and as you probably couldn’t have guessed by now, there’s a fair bit of violence in it. You see, the protagonist of this game must also survive (even against missiles, sometimes) and there are sometimes pesky living creatures getting in the way of his lawn mower. The full campaign has 45 maps (across episodes including Knee Deep in the Crud, The Moors That Smell and Thy Grass Exhumed – sound famiiar?) and there’s multiplayer as well. I… will play this.
This is a business simulator which, as the name implies, simulates the highly risk-fuelled world of managing a startup company. When the game starts you don’t have a tidy sum to play with – indeed, you start with nothing – so it’s your responsibility to procure contracts before you’ll start looking even remotely “up”. The game is already attracting some decent reviews on Steam and judging by the trailer it’s full of graphs and pie charts and all the things people who run businesses like to use in order to do business. I’m not one for number crunching myself but I can foresee this gaining some traction if it remains well supported.
Some may remember CrashDay, an Atari published destruction derby-style racing game released back in 2006. And here it is again, in a special Redline Edition, boasting “more speed, more destruction, and more fun than ever before”. The game boasts seven modes as well as multiplayer battles, and there’s a track editor and full mod support. When it comes to games featuring cars, it’s my preference that crashing them in spectacular ways should take priority over finishing first, so CrashDay is something I will be checking out, at least. It’s currently sitting on “Very Positive” on Steam, with over 200 reviews.
Here’s a beautiful 16-bit inspired action RPG sharing quite a lot with Hyper Light Drifter at first glance. I like the premise: you’re no hero, but instead “white-collar, middle-class worker” Stan suddenly thrust into a fairly mysterious (and violent) situation. It’s definitely on the hack-and-slash side of things, though there are rogue-like elements and a focus on upgrading weapons and learning new combos. The game also has four different endings across a roughly 7 hour campaign.
For a change of pace, this is a game inspired by the light gun games of old, except here you’ll be using your mouse. Think Wild Gunmen and Mad Dog McCree. Dead Horizon doesn’t look like the most involved game – even by mouse-driven light gun standards (and we’re all intimately familiar with those standards) – but it looks like a nice, fun, free game to while away a hungover Sunday. I wouldn’t normally think twice about playing this except the graphical style is charmingly reminiscent of the NES era.
Archangel is a neat looking VR mech shooter. In my view, mechs are a perfect match for virtual reality, and this is garnering some positive – albeit few –reviews on Steam. Set in the United States in 2089, studio Skydance Interactive stresses that you’ll need both reflexes and a tactical approach in order to fend off enemy mega-bots. Best of all, it’s a single-player experience, so you don’t need to worry if servers are populated in order to destroy some high-tech war equipment. It is VR-only though, so don’t bother if you don’t own a headset.
Brutally violent top down action games still haven’t lost their lustre in this post-Hotline Miami world, and Redeemer looks like a good entry into the canon. It’s got a more modern dark sci-fi aesthetic, but the order of the day is pretty, well, orderly: “punch, hack and blast your way through enemies using fists, hammers, fire arms and even the environment”. It features a “story-driven” single-player campaign, as well as an arena mode which pits you against waves of countless enemies.
This is a puzzle dungeon crawler with a neat 16-bit inspired aesthetic (just for a change). In Fidel Dungeon Rescue you must negotiate various dungeon rooms while avoiding baddies and obstacles, with the twist being that you’re not allowed to backtrack over panels you’ve already touched. It promises “no grinding” and “no filler”, and let’s be honest: sometimes it’s a damned relief to play a game where moment-to-moment actions trump any overarching progress goal. Worth a look, I reckon.
A beat-em-up that is also a turn-based strategy game set in the Aztec Empire? Rightio. It’s an interesting hybrid, and to back that up the game has a very interesting art style too: all black and white shades spattered with cartoon reds. It has a campaign that “changes with every play-through” – though how it does so I’m not sure. You’ll fight against historical and mythological figures, visit “huge” Empire cities and there’s even an arena where you can just hang around and beat em – whoever “em” in this case may be – up.
Here's a new Early Access survival game featuring dinosaurs except with one important difference: you're the dinosaur. Or one of many dinosaurs, tasked with surviving in a place known as "Hell Creek" 66 million years ago. Although it's got its work cut out for it, surviving in Steam's swamped Early Access climate, Saurian has already racked up a "mostly positive" rating on Steam, and besides, who hasn't wanted to be a dinosaur before?