Launched into Early Access last week, this “online sandbox RPG” has already accrued a “mostly positive” rating and, judging by the footage, is a visually impressive fantasy adventure set across a “36 square kilometer landmass of sweeping plains, dense forests, craggy mountains, festering swamps and frozen tundra”. Seemingly a lot more freeform than most fantasy RPGs, Blue Isle Studios (responsible for Slender: The Arrival and Valley) appears to have taken cues from the survival genre for this one. Either way, I’ll be giving it a go because you can damn well fly in it.
This is a point-and-click adventure with a charming 1970s art style, which makes sense as it takes place in the automobile industry during that period. Obviously your mileage will vary depending on your enjoyment of this genre, but I tend to get excited at the mention of corporate espionage (just between you and me, okay?), and it seems like underhanded business strategies is the order of the day here. According to XGen (Super Motherload, Stick RPG 2), you’ll engage with “intricate puzzles, branching moral dilemmas, and a quirky cast of memorable character.”
This is a top-down tactical shooter set in a devastated science fiction environment, the order of the day being shooting alien scum – presumably tactically. Although the top-down view might put you in mind of something like Nex Machina, it appears to be a lot less reflex driven. Indeed, Ironward writes that they wanted to take a different approach to the twin-stick shooter, and this dovetails with the presence of a companion drone. With this, you can “weigh the risk and reward of decisions that drastically change the threat you face”.
The developers of Immortal Planet aren’t shy about comparing their game to Dark Souls, though you’ll note some fairly dramatic differences in the footage above. For one, it’s an isometric game, and secondly, it’s set in a sci-fi world. Except it inherits the challenging aspects of From Software’s series, as well as its progression system where all “experience” is lost upon death. You’ll need to be a super patient player to enjoy Immortal Planet, but if it manages to translate the fluidity of Souls’ combat into an isometric format, then it could be a winner.
Sky Knights is a 4v4 dogfighting game developed by “an ex-military fighter jet mechanic and professional game developer”. As is the case with most online multiplayer games with a low profile, it’s hard to get a read on how enduring this will be, but it definitely looks fun. There are six different fighter jets, all with upgrade paths, and the battles are objective-based, so you won’t just be roaming the skies beating up on others for no good reason. I like the pared back, minimal art direction, and it looks like something nice to jump into if you’ve got some friends similarly interested in shooting down planes.
The original Strike Vector launched back in 2014, delivering a fairly satisfying FPS which mixed aerial robot combat with the speed of an arcade shooter. After releasing for console recently, the new “EX” version hit Steam last week, which claims to be “optimized and enhanced with new features and modes for Steam, re-balanced weapons, 64bit support” and “new deadly AI”. Of course, the game will live or die depending on its playerbase, but the footage suggests to me that it might be worth a punt. I’m getting serious Starhawk vibes from this, a criminally underrated PS3-exclusive.
Does the world need a another 16-bit styled RPG rogue-lite? Yes it bloody well does! And Tangledeep is the latest. It’s in Early Access, but studio Impact Gameworks claims there’s plenty to play as it lumbers towards completion. For something different, this 16-bit rogue-lite uses turn-based, tactical combat – quite unusual for this increasingly swamped sub-genre. And naturally, the levels are different every time. “Trapped in underground villages with no memory of the world at the surface, you must survive an ever-changing labyrinth to discover what lies above.” I’ll be watching this one.
A cursory glance at Tower of Time suggests a mindless, loot-spewing Diablo clone, but no: studio Event Horizon describes it as a classic RPG, and the combat looks more detailed than you’d expect. It’s real-time, but it features a “slow-time” feature which shifts combat to a “separate tactical map”. There are seven classes, but each is progressed via obtained knowledge rather than mere experience points (I’d need to see the game in action to see whether this makes a meaningful difference). Judging by the trailer the game looks really neat in action, but it is Early Access so perhaps you’ll want to wait.
Ah, golf. The game about walking around in the sun trying to get a small ball in holes with a stick. It’s no Wolfenstein, but since there are those among us who love golf, it’s nice that Everyday Golf VR exists. Realism is the goal here – so don’t expect a whimsical arcade take, as seems to be popular elsewhere – but for the price you’re getting a single-player mode (63 different holes!), a tour mode and competitive play for up to four-players. So you can ruin a walk in the park with three other people. Definitely worth checking out if you’re a golf enthusiast, but maybe compare with The Golf Club VR before you hit purchase.
This is a very beautiful-looking hybrid of city-building strategy, ala Cities: Skylines, mixed with tower defense elements. I wrote briefly about this earlier this week. "With a lovely bright voxel aesthetic, you'll be 'strategically' laying out your town – making peasants happy and attracting new citizens – while also populating it with castles, churches and taverns. But of course, pesky vikings are always waiting at the fringes to take your city over, so you'll need to make sure that can't happen. When it does, Kingdoms and Castles turns into a tower defense game."
Demon Peak is a 2D Metroidvania with a focus on movement and close-quarters combat. It's got a great art style, a nice mix of medieval and fantasy that's clearly inspired by games like Dark Souls without directly ripping them off. The music in the trailer is less than thrilling, but the animations seem top notch, and Demon Peak is already getting a decent amount of positive Steam reviews.
SOYF: S#!T ON YOUR FRIENDS is a local-multiplayer brawler about exactly what the name might imply. To be honest, I really don't like the theme of this game—it comes off as immature and inflammatory for no other reason than to get people to notice it. That being said, the game underneath that shitty skin actually looks pretty great. It's got a variety of different modes to try, including a singleplayer target challenge. It's a shame there's no online multiplayer, but SOYF still looks like an amusing competitive couch game nonetheless.
Starship Theory is a 2D spaceship building and survival game that just entered Early Access. It's presented similarly to FTL, top-down with your crew running between different stations, but you actually build your ship as you fly through space. Steam reviews say it's already pretty fun, but definitely early on in its development—which the Steam page says will take at least 18 more months, so it's in for the long update haul.
Refract is a simple puzzle game about bouncing different colored lights to their corresponding spots. It was originally a mobile game from earlier this year, which thankfully means it's only $1/£.79. I like that even though the art style is fairly minimal, the puzzles all take place on strange pyramid-like structures. There are over 50 puzzles in the game, so it's not extremely long, but like this and am excited to try it out.
Watchlist is a twinstick shooter with a black and red retro art style. Despite there not being any real faces or characters, it provides a unique sort of twist on a cyberpunk setting, having you explore procedurally generated levels to track down your enemies on the 'Watchlist'. You can combine or upgrade four different types of weapons, and can even play up to four player local co-op. Not bad for only $2/£1.59.