Magic Wand is a strange and interesting mix of an old school RPG with some very new ideas. At first glance I wasn't into the art style, but the more I've seen the more it comes off as an excitingly unique direction. The whole thing gives me Earthbound vibes, if only because of the sheer oddness of it all. Magic Wand came out late last year on itch.io, but has finally made its way to Steam, good reviews and press already in tow.
Ticket to Earth is a combination of a 'Match 3' puzzle game and turn-based tactics combat game. I've seen puzzle-RPG combos before, but never quite like this. The tactics board you are fighting and moving around on is the actual puzzle grid as well, and it's almost like you are playing two different but intertwined games at once. Ticket to Earth is being released episodically with only the first episode out right now, but buying it once will get you access to all the episodes for free as they arrive.
Saelig is a strategy simulation game set in the dark ages that just entered Early Access. You build up a town, manage relationships, produce and sell goods, and generally take care of your village and its people. It's a spiritual successor to 2006's The Guild 2, and if the Steam reviews are any indication will make fans of that game happy. According to those early reviews Saelig is still pretty rough around the edges, expecting to be in Early Access for at least six months and possibly much longer, but is still already fun.
Race for the Galaxy is a card game where players build galactic civilizations out of a pool of cards in front of them. It's the digital version of a very popular physical card game, with both online play and singleplayer against AI. One of the main appeals over CCGs like Hearthstone is that you won't be behind in Race for the Galaxy just because you haven't been grinding to complete a card collection. There are card expansions to buy, but most people agree you don't strictly need them to succeed.
Planetbound is a base-defense shoot-em-up where you run around a small planet defending it from attackers. As with other wave shooters, things get more intense the longer you survive—and as you kill more enemies you get the opportunity to upgrade different sections of your planet. It's a simple game, but a fun looking one, and the developer seems attentive to it. The only Steam review so far complained about a lack of tutorial, and the developer responded saying they had added one later that day. That's impressive support!
June 18-24 2017:
Over My Dead Body (For You) is a puzzle game that can be played either alone or with local co-op. You control two characters, one a zombie and one a ghost, and have to use them together to work your way through each level. If you are playing alone and using a controller, you move both characters at the same time, one with each stick. The game just hit Early Access, but only plans to be there for a month or two as the vast majority of the levels are in and just need balance testing.
Get Even is an interesting mix of a psychological horror adventure game and a stealthy FPS. The trailer shows off lots of "detective vision" style item scanning as you piece together clues, but to see those moments coupled with fast-paced shooting sequences is seriously surprising. It's being published by Bandai Namco and currently has roughly 80% positive reviews on Steam, so there are reasons to trust Get Even might be doing something right.
Dog Duty is a top-down open world military game where you command a small squad of troops. I really love the art style of this game, and its real-time troop commanding isn't often seen in games like this anymore. It's in Early Access and plans to stay there for roughly three months, with one level currently available and three more on the way. And to be perfectly honest, it was the Mad Max-style highway gunfight that won Dog Duty a spot on this week's list.
Super Sports Surgery is a like a really gross 2D version of Surgeon Simulator. Or maybe accurate description would be that it looks like what would happen if an Adult Swim animator decided to recreate Nintendo's Trauma Center franchise. Fans of Trauma Center will immediately recognize the similarities, as you use a variety of tools to make incisions, clean wounds, stitch people up, and all sorts of other unsettling operations. As strange as it looks, this is probably the game I'm personally most excited to try this week.
Released: June 21 (Early Access)
Developer: Digital Cybercherries
Publisher: Digital Cybercherries
Hypercharge: Unboxed is a co-op wave shooter for four players that just went into Early Access. You take control of a living action figure with a heavy arsenal, shooting down hordes of other toys attacking you. You can build defenses out of toy castles and other kiddie objects, and there are apparently already over 100 cosmetics to equip. Hypercharge: Unboxed plans to be in Early Access for six months, and will essentially add more of everything during that time, but currently has three maps, nine enemy types, and five weapons.
June 11-17 2017:
Colony Survival is a voxel-based survival game where you build a village, recruit NPCs to work in it, and then defend it from monsters each night. I know a lot of people are just going to scream "Early Access Minecraft rip-off!", but that really doesn't seem to capture what Colony Survival offers. At its core, it's a base builder and defense game, which isn't something Minecraft was ever particularly about. While the base game and online play are done, developer Pipliz imagines Colony Survival could leave Early Access within a year, but hopes keep the updates coming as it adds more and more new blocks and features.
Released: June 13
Developer: René Bühling
Publisher: René Bühling
Price: $8/£5.59 (25% off for launch)
A Room Beyond is a point-and-click adventure game with a very interesting art style. The graphics are really what caught my eye first, as it appears to be modeled in very blocky 3D before a pixelated filter is put on top of the whole thing. It almost ends up looking like Final Fantasy 7, with 3D models at a forced-small resolution. As for the game itself, A Room Beyond seems to take most of its inspiration from old school adventure games like Monkey Island or Full Throttle, but with a Victorian horror theme.
Kreedz Climbing is a free first-person 3D platformer. It's actually a standalone version of a mod and is basically what you'd expect to find in old Counter-Strike trick and surf servers. It even sells "accurate 1.6 movement" as a feature in its trailer. It already has over 120 maps to play on, along with Valve's Hammer editor to make your own. And being a mod, it's free! Many of you may have already played stuff like this, but it's the easiest it's ever been to jump in and try Kreedz Climbing yourself.
Flood of Light is a lovely little puzzle platformer where you explore a rain-drenched city, trying to stop whatever is causing the downpour. The main thing you'll be doing it lighting up lanterns to change the environment, which has some of the prettiest background art I've seen in awhile. Flood of Light is clearly a slow-paced game, not meant to compete with the action brawlers 2D platformers so frequently are, but it's getting unanimously positive reviews on Steam and sits at a very affordable price.
Gorescript is a 3D-pixelated FPS inspired by old school shooters like Doom and Quake. I highly recommend you watch the trailer above, because it'll be pretty clear what developer Sergiu Bucur is trying to do with Gorescript fairly quickly. We've seen a few other classic FPSes on this list and Gorescript fits right at home among them, a lot of fun in its own right. It also seems like it's trying to shake things up just a little bit, with things like a hammer and shield weapon.
June 4-10 2017:
Lethis - Daring Discoverers is an isometric adventure game where you explore alien planets. If the name sounds familiar, it's because developer Triskell Interactive previously made a steampunk city builder called —and while Daring Discoverers is set in the same universe, it's a very different game. The worlds you explore have a lovely sketchy/storybook art style to them, which makes sense as the game takes inspiration from choose your own adventure novels with branching decisions to make. The combat is similar to Undertale a little bit, taking place as a variety of timing and reaction minigames.
Monolith is a top-down shooter in a very small window. The game is limited to the middle of the screen, looking more like an old arcade machine aspect ratio than a brand new game in 2017, but that retro feel is all throughout what Monolith is trying to do. The art and sounds are all old school and wonderful, and the game itself looks challenging in just the right kind of way. You are exploring a facility Castlevania-style to progress, so Monolith ends up looking like a combination between a dungeon crawler and a bullet hell shmup. I see a lot of retro games release on Steam, but I haven't seen anything quite like this before.
Passpartout: The Starving Artist is a game about painting as you try to be successful as an artist on the streets. As you gain fame and fortune, you can work your way up to nicer galleries as you simultaneously try to "survive your wine and baguette bills." While you have full control over what you paint, the strangest part of this game is that 'good' art is clearly subjective, and I doubt there's any AI in the world that can determine whether what you painted is a masterpiece or not, so you can probably paint whatever the heck you want. It's a super silly game that sounds like a lot of fun, and you just know someone is going to become a world famous painter making nothing but dongs. (In the real world, someone probably already has.)
Jump Stars is a party game where up to four players compete or team up in a series of minigames. It's all themed as a game show where you're on stage for an audience, which is both a fun direction and a good excuse for it all being on a 2D plane. The minigames themselves look fun and varied, and I'm surprised to see Jump Stars only has a single review on Steam so far, though it is positive. Part of it could be that it unfortunately doesn't have any sort of online play, only local multiplayer, but local is best for these sorts of games I suppose.
Released: June 6
Developer: Zoetrope Interactive
Publisher: Iceberk Interactive
Price: $20/£15 (15% off for launch)
Conarium is a Lovecraftian adventure game. You follow the story of four scientists in a world inspired by Lovecraft's story "At the Mountains of Madness." It's a mind bending and crazy looking game, but still with the usual trappings of an adventure game (hunting for clues, searching around each environment) scattered throughout. Conarium is also a really a lovely looking game, in a dark and horrifying sort of way.
May 28 - June 3 2017:
Voidrunner is an arcade flight game that just hit Early Access. You compete in dog fights against either real players online or AI on your own. The thing that really stood out to me is how damn pretty the environments in this game are, which helps set it apart from a lot of other dogfighting games out there. Voidrunner plans to launch fully at the start of 2018, and by that point is hoping to have many more modes than just deathmatch, more ships, and a customization system.
Tormentor X Punisher is a hard as hell, chaotic wave shooter. You can only take a single hit before dying, but most enemies are similarly fragile, and the game is all about learning behaviors and strategies to survive as long as you can. There are boss fights, combos, upgrades, and more along the way, but it's still always about ticking that score ever higher. It's a ton of fun, and I particularly love that your machine gun is only reloaded by firing your shotgun, meaning you are nearly always shooting something.
Hacktag is a co-op stealth game for two players, but each plays a very specific role. One player is an agent physically sneaking through a facility to hide from guards and hack computers, while the other is a remote hacker working their way through that facility's computer network. The two players have to work together to proceed through each level, but are also competing to see who can steal more while they are there. Hacktag just entered Early Access, and expects to be there for three to six months while the developer adds more content and refines the level generation.
First Strike: Final Hour is a single-player real time strategy game about total planetary destruction. You look down on the earth and take control of a nuclear-armed country, then proceed to destroy everything and everyone around you. It's sort of a grim game when you think about it, but I seriously love its presentation. The UI in particular seems sleek staying minimal most of the time as you watch missiles and lasers soar across the Earth's surface. First Strike has been getting great reviews on Steam so far, and it's one I can't wait to try out.
Shotgun Farmers is an FPS that just hit Early Access where all the weapons are made of farm crops. The interesting twist with that is missed shots will actually plant a seed for that type of weapon, growing into a version any player can pick up—so if you try to snipe someone and miss, they can pick the sniper rifle that grows in that spot and snipe you back. Right now there are four guns and three maps, and adding more of those (plus new game modes) is what the bulk of the Early Access will focus on before Shotgun Farmers launches fully sometime in the next six months.
Bonus toybox game: 4D Toys
Released: June 2
Developer: mtb design works
Publisher: mtb design works
4D toys isn't really a game, it's a more of an interactive physics and dimensional toybox. You play with a large variety of four-dimensional objectives, knocking them around and seeing them slip in and out of our visible dimensions. You can use a slider to move within the fourth dimension as well, and the whole experience can be played in or out of VR. There seems to be a huge variety of scenes to play with, and the video above does an awesome job of explaining what's actually going on. It seemed a little strange to recommend 4D Toys in a games list, but it's such a trippy and cool thing that I had to show it off somehow, so it got this week's bonus slot.
May 21-27 2017:
Nadia Was Here is an old school RPG with a unique battle system. You have three characters in each fight which you swap between different lanes to decide who they are attacking instead of directly selecting targets. Progressions is also a bit different, with two of those characters stealing weapons and abilities from enemies in combat to advance. I was really struck but Nadia Was Here's art style, which features some great pixel art in a very strange but cool limited color scheme.
SmuggleCraft is a racing game where you take on quests that send you speeding across procedurally generated landscapes. You will have to take part in chases or deliver illegal goods to make money and upgrade your hovercraft, and it apparently all ties into a larger narrative with multiple endings. It sort of reminds me of the Star Wars podracing game, which is not a bad comparison to earn, but SmuggleCraft provides an interesting twist by bringing in roguelike elements. It's also got local multiplayer with split-screen, which is always appreciated.
50 years is a bite-sized version of a turn-based strategy game that just left Early Access. You build up a civilization, grow your army, found a religion, and do many other things you might expect from a game like Civilization, but there's only a total of 50 turns per game. It aims to take that large-scale strategy experience and condense it into something you can start and finish in a short period of time. As part of its 1.0 launch, 50 years got Steam Workshop support with a battle and dungeon editor so the community can continue adding whatever they want.
Geneshift is a top-down shooter that plays a bit like a modern re-imagining of the original Grand Theft Auto games. It's got more of a sci-fi setting than GTA, with a lot more enemies on screen at times too. One of the cooler parts of Geneshift is the ability to do online co-op during the campaign, which looks like it could be a lot of fun with multi-person cars and the like. Geneshift has already been in development for 8 years, and the Early Access period is essentially just to continue adding features and content.
Released: May 23
Developer: Kaia Studios
Publisher: Kaia Studios
Price: $15/£11 (10% off for launch)
Dynasty Feud is a competitive brawler for either local or online play, similar in style to something like Super Smash Bros. An interesting twist on that formula is that you take a team of five characters into each fight, each of which basically acts as one of your lives. There have been many different indie Smash Bros games made recently, but Dynasty Feud's art style and level design help to set it apart for me. The stages look varied and complex instead of just simple platforms, and there seem to be a lot of characters to unlock too.
May 14-20 2017:
Skylar & Plux: Adventure on Clover Island is an homage to PlayStation 2-era 3D platformers. While , an entry on this list from February, was reimagining Super Mario 64, Skylar & Plux leans further toward a modern recreation of games like Ratchet and Clank, Jak and Daxter, or Crash Bandicoot—what that means is a camera that primarily stays behind the player as you platform and fight your way forward through a more linear level. It looks like a faithful successor, and one for fans of those games to look into.
Nongünz is a hyper-stylized action platformer with some awesome art direction. It's a roguelike, but the Steam description alludes to something more by saying "The whole game is a riddle. Unveil the mystery behind the nihilistic universe of Nongünz." I'm not entirely sure what that means, but Steam reviewers (the vast majority of which are positive) are calling it a 'roguelite' which means it has at least some form of progression outside of each run. It's also apparently tough as nails, drawing more than one comparison to Enter the Gungeon.
Old Man's Journey is a puzzle adventure game where you guide an old man through a series of 2D levels by moving and reshaping the landscape around him. Everything in the game is hand-drawn, and the art is simply wonderful. It uses color beautifully, and some of the scenes look like they could be concept art for a Wes Anderson movie. Old Man's Journey also tells a story as you're solving its puzzles, with a soundtrack that compliments it all to really drive the point home that this is a pretty game.
Released: May 17
Price: $7/£5 (10% off for launch)
Brute is an arcade shooter with a vibrant, minimalist art style. Instead of just fighting off waves of enemies, Brute has you fight to the end of a series of individual levels, and navigating them and not hitting walls or obstacles is very real part of the challenge. Like a lot of this week's list, its art is what set it apart for me. It's a game that proves you don't need to be a painter to make a game pop, with satisfying shooting and particle effects, and shadows that give the otherwise 2D game depth.
Released: May 17
Developer: Rice Cooker Republic
Publisher: Rice Cooker Republic
Bokida - Heartfelt Reunion is an open-world adventure game with a blocky puzzle mechanic. You can place and remove cubes to solve puzzles in certain areas of the game, and can even cut or shoot them which makes the cubes fall apart into physics-based pieces. It has very simple art coupled with lighting effects that make those graphics sing. The Steam page emphasizes that it's a good game to relax and enjoy slowly, so you won't find it among any horror games or FMV thrillers this week. And seriously, what's with all these different lovely indie games coming out in the last seven days?
May 7-13 2017:
OVIVO is a black and white platformer where you swap between the two colors to move through each level. There have been games with similar mechanics before, but the art direction and freeform nature of OVIVO's levels is really what caught my eye. Each level looks like a piece of art instead of just a platforming sequence, and how you end up swapping between the game's black and white sections is affected by that aesthetic decision. It's a very cool looking game, and one that has universally positive Steam reviews so far.
RUMP! is a third-person run-n-jump (get it?) game that just came out of Early Access. It's a neat take on a parkour runner, with some nice map design and both singleplayer and multiplayer modes. To be frank, RUMP! is a bit of an odd one to recommend, as it's been nearly a year since its last update and the developer admits that was because of a lack of popularity for the game that caused them to work on other things as well. But it does look fun and already has some positive reviews from its time in Early Access, so I still think it's worth checking out.
Rogue Islands is a magic/fantasy themed FPS roguelike mixed with a bit of Minecraft. What that means is a blocky world with crafting and mining, but there's a focus on trying to make it to the end of each run instead of building. The combat looks interesting because it's a shooter, but you use a wand and magic instead of a gun. Rogue Islands just hit Early Access and plans to be there for about three months as developer Big Fat Alien looks for input on balance and new content.
Rakuen is a story-driven RPG adventure about a boy in a hospital and his mother. It sounds like a very emotional story, with the sick boy coming to terms with his own situation by exploring a fantasy world with his mom. The Steam page even says he "ultimately [helps] his fellow patients find closure by walking a mile in their shoes." Basically, bring some tissues. Rakuen looks like a JRPG on the outside with some lovely art, and is already getting very positive Steam reviews.
Released: May 10
Developer: Ezhaac Studio
Publisher: Plug In Digital
Price: $6/£4.79 (20% off for launch)
The Fan is a short FMV adventure game not for the faint of heart. For example, it's very unlikely I'll be personally playing this game because I have no stomach for horror and the trailer alone is unsettling enough for me (read: I'm a big baby) but it could be appealing to those stronger-willed than I. One Steam user even listed "upsetting and too realistic at times" as a con in their review, which is a bit foreboding. The Fan has point-and-click puzzle elements and some light decision making to affect the story, all presented through real video and photos.
April 30 - May 6 2017:
Post Human W.A.R. is a hex-based tactics game that just launched on Early Access. It boasts a focus on skill with "nothing left to chance", which I think means no dice rolls or percentages and definitely struck a chord with me. It's also got a good sense of humor about it with three factions that seem to have interesting twists on classic stereotypes—the robots are all repurposed household bots, for example. A key thing to note is that Post Human W.A.R. plans to be in Early Access for just two months to get feedback on balance before the rest of the singleplayer campaign is added.
Tumbleseed is a roguelike unlike almost any other I've played. It feels similar to a marble maze game, except you move linearly up a mountainside while fighting enemies and collecting new abilities. You play as a round seed, but can only directly control the platform that seed is resting on. You move either end up and down to roll your seed to one side or the other, avoiding holes and baddies along the way. Tumbleseed is extremely challenging and absolutely brilliant, and has one of our .
Super Rude Bear Resurrection is a fast-paced platformer similar to games like Super Meat Boy. It's a hard game, but claims to be beatable by players of any skill level as levels get easier the more you die. Your corpses stay on the level, meaning traps and spikes will start getting clogged with dead bear bodies that protect you from dying the same way again. It's a clever mechanic as it generally won't get in the way for skilled players, and the skill ceiling for this game is quite high, but will still help those who need it.
Spaceplan is fundamentally a single-button clicker game, but does some very strange and cool things by having the experience driven by a well written and funny narrative. It plays with ideas of space travel and time travel alongside a good sense of humor and an immense amount of potatoes. At $3/£2, it's not a very long game, but there's definitely more to get out of it than just another clicker game. You can .
World to the West is an action adventure game that looks like it plays similar to things like the top-down Zelda games. You can play as four different characters each with unique abilities, and the Steam page emphasizes that exploration and discovering secrets is a big part of the game, so it's a good thing its art style is so charming. World to the West was also created by Rain Games, which is the same developer that made the wonderful back in 2013.
Bonus free game: Knightfall: Rivals
Knightfall: Rivals is a card game that is modeled after and expands upon the Triple Triad card game from Final Fantasy 8. Fans of that game will immediately recognize what's in front of them, but Knightfall adds new mechanics and a fresh theme to differentiate itself. It's currently in Early Access, but only plans to be there for a couple months to balance and bug test. I almost didn't include Knightfall: Rivals in this section as it's fair to say free-to-play doesn't really mean free, but I know it's existence will very exciting for some.