Archives — March-April 2017
April 23-29 2017:
Immortal Redneck is a fast-paced FPS with some "rogue-lite" elements scattered throughout, such as procedural levels. You play a foul mouthed redneck mummy shooting down waves of monsters in an Egyptian tomb. It's a game that models itself off of Duke Nukem and similar shooters, but there are nine classes to choose from each with their own skill tree. It's an interesting combination of FPS and RPG/roguelike, but one that actually looks pretty fun.
Riptale is a 2D action game almost entirely in black and white. The game's Steam description says developer Super God focused on making the "sword combat be as bloody and impactful as possible," despite its old-school graphics. The trailer does make the combat look sharp and snappy, and there's a combo system where you can purchase specific attacks and line them up in whatever order you'd like.
Bunny Hop League is a first-person parkour game that borrows movement mechanics from shooters like Quake and Counter-strike. It looks like a hard and fast runner, and it has some of the cooler level design I've seen in a game like this. Bunny Hop League just came out of Early Access with added support for online multiplayer (which sounds awesome) and the developer says that won't stop it from getting more new content in the future.
Pinstripe is a 2D sidescrolling adventure game and platformer. You play an ex-minister who has to travel to hell to save his daughter. It's a heavily story driven game with platforming sequences in between where you can collect gems, making it an interesting balance of the two genres. Pinstripe was made entirely by one developer, and both James and Chris have been playing it recently, saying it's mostly good with a few problems here and there.
Ruin of the Reckless is a roguelike action game similar to others like Nuclear Throne or Enter the Gungeon, but with a heavy focus on melee combat. It's got some good looking art and an awesome soundtrack, as well local co-op if you want to fight through floors of enemies with a friend. I've enjoyed what I've played of Ruin of the Reckless so far, especially its customization system and light-touch progression between runs, but be warned that being a melee-focused roguelike means it's tough as nails.
Bonus expensive sim game: Sailaway - The Sailing Simulator
Usually I save the bonus games for free ones, but I realize sims like this may appeal to a niche audience and decided to include it as a bonus addition for the week. Sailaway is, as the full title might imply, a sailing simulator—and one that prides itself on an attention to detail when it comes to the world's oceans. Waves and other aspects of sailing have been accurately modeled, and the color of the water will even match correctly for wherever you happen to be. Sailaway just entered Early Access, and expects to be there for around six months.
April 16-22 2017:
Flinthook is a space-pirate roguelike with one of the most satisfying movement mechanics I've ever used. You zip around levels using a grappling hook while dodging traps, shooting enemies, and collecting treasure. It's a challenging game, but the procedural elements are offset by unlocking persistent upgrades and getting an option of which ship you want to attack next so it's not entirely up to chance. If you are a fan of roguelikes, Flinthook is absolutely not one to miss.
Late Shift is an FMV adventure game about a man forced to take part in a heist. It describes itself as a crime thriller and an "interactive cinematic experience" where your choices can lead to one of seven different endings. Without a doubt, it has the best cinematography and production values of any FMV game I've seen, and the writer of the story actually wrote the screenplay for the 2009 Sherlock Holmes movie as well.
Pixel Sand is a sidescrolling action-adventure game that uses a familiar sand mechanic seen in other games. It takes the falling sand mechanic popularized by and places it into a fully fledged adventure, rather than just an amusing little toy. It's a concept with massive potential, as I know I've definitely wasted many hours in Powder Game. With 8 campaign chapters, a sandbox mode, online multiplayer, and even a procedural mode, Pixel Sand seems to be a surprisingly robust game for $5/£4.
Everything is a very strange game, and one that's not altogether easy to describe. Ostensibly, it's an exploration game in a large simulated universe, but it's also get some deep things to say about existence and perspective. Anything and everything in the world is a thing you can become, and the game has you travel around at your own free will seeing all you'd like to see from different points of view. There aren't goals or missions beyond filling out a catalog of all the different things in the game, but Everything is incredibly compelling and thought provoking if choose to go for the ride.
Forts is a real-time siege game where you build a fort and then try to lob shots at your opponent to destroy theirs. It looks a little bit like Worms, though not being turn-based is obviously a big difference here. One of the most appealing parts to me is that it can support up to eight players online, and building a fort with three other friends before going to war sounds like a lot of fun. There's also a singleplayer campaign and a level editor, so Forts has a fair amount to offer.
April 9-15 2017:
The Signal from Tölva is an exploration FPS from the developer of Sir, You Are Being Hunted. You take control of a surveyor robot on an alien world and go looking for a specific signal source on a planet inconveniently littered with them. As you discover more and reclaim outposts, you can use materials you pick up to upgrade your weaponry and systems, and even control other robots to fight with you like a little army squad. The Signal from Tölva is an enchanting game with unexpectedly good gunplay, and you can read our .
Escape Lizards is a 3D marble-style platformer where you navigate each level by tilting the whole world. There's no beating around the bush here, it's an indie Super Monkey Ball on PC. While it doesn't have the same visual polish or charm as the Super Monkey Ball games, its level design looks relatively unique, and significantly more challenging. Twisting the world to go under and sideways on platforms might make me sick while playing, but it also looks fun as hell. I'm definitely interested to see how Escape Lizards stacks up against its inspiration.
The Sexy Brutale is exploration puzzle game with a unique time-loop mechanic. You must search the large casino mansion you are in to save the lives of the doomed guests there. The mansion is a living thing, full of events that will march forward according to a set clock whether you are there to see them or not. But events loop every 12 hours, so you'll need to split your time and change the future in the best order you can. It's an extremely cool idea that I can't wait to put to the test.
The Wild Eternal is a first-person exploration game meant to be a "meditative journey." Interestingly, it seems to have more 'game-y' elements than many other story-driven exploration games I've seen, asking you to find hidden objects that will unlock special abilities for you. And I bet I don't have to point this out to you, but it's a gorgeous looking game, both in its environments and its animal design. The Wild Eternal boasts a 6-9 hour length, and has so far only gathered positive reviews on Steam.
Asura is a hack-n-slash action game with an Indian mythology-inspired theme. There are five different fortresses to fight your way through, but the game is fundamentally a rogue-like, meaning they're randomly generated each time. In addition to levels, what really interests me is that your skill tree is randomized at the beginning of each run as well, meaning you won't just be upgrading your character down your same preferred path every time you play. It's a lovely looking game with a fair amount of depth to discover.
April 2-8 2017:
Echoplex is a first-person puzzle game with horror elements that just hit Early Access. You are constantly chased by an echo of your former actions, which you must use to navigate through puzzles but also avoid as hallways get narrower. The most intriguing part of Echoplex to me is it seemingly uses FMV throughout the game, making it very distinct from similar games like Portal or Antichamber. Developer Output Games aims to leave Early Access sometime in the next year, and Echoplex currently has 15 levels with a "self-contained" story so you won't be left hanging or have something spoiled before more levels are added.
Slime-San is a 2D platformer with a super minimal color palette. The art may be a 'love it or hate it' sort of thing, but I think it looks fantastic, and it's impressive how much detail can come through with only five colors. The platforming itself plays similarly to Super Meat Boy, but feels very different as it's much slower and uses a "morph" mechanic that slows time and lets you pass through green blocks. It's also got a whole town to explore full of interesting characters and cosmetics to spend your collectibles on. I do wish Slime-San wasn't one of the many indie indie games that inexplicably limits itself to a 4x3 area of the screen, but it's still one of the better platformers I've played in a while.
Paradigm is a classic 2D adventure game with a very surreal theme. The plot, as described by the Steam page, says you "play as the handsome mutant, Paradigm, who's past comes back to haunt him in the form of a genetically engineered sloth that vomits candy." If you aren't sold yet, I don't know what else I can say. Our very own James Davenport had a go at Paradigm last week and said it was a very funny and unsurprisingly strange adventure game, and his endorsement is as good as any.
GIBZ is a co-op zombie killing sidescroller that looks a lot like Castle Crashers with guns and a lot more enemies on screen at a time. The sheer number of zombies in the trailer above is exciting, but there also looks to be a fair amount of level and enemy variety to keep things interesting as the game goes on. There's also a Final Fantasy-style world map to explore and upgrades to unlock between levels. You can play it singleplayer, but GIBZ really looks like it's meant to be played with friends, and thankfully has both local and online support to make that happen.
Golf for Workgroups is a tongue-in-cheek take on a co-op corporate golf game that just released on Early Access from the developer of Gish. It puts you and up to three others in a large low-poly golf course with a rocket-powered golf cart to get between holes, and you simply play golf. Despite the silly presentation and theme, having an open golf course to hang out in with friends (or work colleagues) sounds like a good time. The Steam page says it expects to be in Early Access for three to six months as the game gets more holes and polish, but it is already "completely fun."
March 26 - April 1 2017:
HackyZack is a puzzle platformer where you have to kick and juggle a ball to specific spots on each level. Honestly, it looks hard as hell but in a very good way. There are different kinds of balls with unique properties on different levels, but the fundamentals of how you are kicking them is the same throughout meaning there's a skillset to master. Also, HackyZack is seriously lovely while having a relatively simple aesthetic. This is the kind of game I could absolutely lose myself in, especially considering there's no small amount of content at 100+ levels.
Narcosis is a first-person survival horror game set deep under the ocean. You are in a scuba-suit deep in an abyss, and have to try and survive against the creatures of the depths as you make your way to the surface. You also have to manage stress in the game, as your character will lose their sense of sight and hearing as you start to hyperventilate and generally freak out. It's narratively driven, and the voice acting and writing in the trailer above is pretty good, which is crucial for me in a game like this.
Snake Pass is kind of a 3D platformer where you have to hunt down collectibles in a series of increasingly difficult levels. I say "kind of" because there's no jumping involved, and the movement system of the game is incredibly unique. You have to actually move like a snake would in order to get anywhere, and a large portion of the game's difficulty comes from mastering this system. It's intuitive enough, but there's tons of nuance in the more difficult areas that the challenge of learning it stays fun. Be warned that you really really need to be playing Snake Pass with a controller, but it's unlike any other platformer I've played.
Light It is a top-down stealth action game where your only weapon is a flashlight. You have to find your way through each level without getting caught by the enemies that are hunting you. Light will stop the creatures in their tracks, and you can hear the general direction they are coming from to prepare and plan. It reminds me a bit of a 2D Alien Isolation, though obviously the atmosphere involved is quite different. While the art may be a turnoff for some, I really love the look of the game, especially how tiles light up and change as you illuminate them.
Bomb Squad Academy is a puzzle game where you have to defuse bombs, all equipped with ominous ticking timers. Fundamentally it's a high-pressure logic game, complete with logic gates to figure out in the heat of each moment. It's got a neat styling to it, a bit more serious than the bombs in Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes, and it already has roughly 100 Mostly Positive Steam reviews. In fact, the main complaint I've seen across those reviews is that Bomb Squad Academy is very short, with only about an hour's worth of bombs to defuse.
March 19-25 2017:
88 Heroes is an action platformer with 88 different characters you can play, each with unique powers and abilities. The order you play the heroes is randomly generated, and when one dies you won't be able to use them again. It's a funny concept that looks like it's backed up by clever character designs. There are 88 levels to go through, each of which has an 88 second timer on it, so if you didn't get it by now they really like the number 88.
The Crow's Eye is a first-person puzzle game with a psychological thriller theme. It looks a bit like playing Portal or The Talos Principle inside of Amnesia, which is a pitch sure to appeal to some. It's an interesting combination of genres, as it's also got aspects of adventure game and story mixed in. The voice acting in the trailer is surprisingly good, even if the main narrator does sound like someone trying very hard to imitate Mark Hamill's Joker voice.
Algotica - Iteration 1 is a programming puzzle game where you have to code instructions into your character to reach a certain spot in each level. It's not an entirely unique concept, but Algotica has a wonderful polygonal art style that sets it apart from other games like this that I've seen. Interestingly, its Steam page bills it as an "educational adventure-puzzle game," intending for it to be a gateway to actually learning how to program. But as far as educational games go, this looks like a lot of fun, and is already racking up positive Steam reviews.
Skipchaser is a twin-stick adventure RPG that just hit Early Access. I seriously love the game's sense of style, and it looks like a really cool combination of RPG looting and customization mechanics with games more like Nuclear Throne or Enter The Gungeon. The Steam page says the developer has a clear plan to update Skipchaser every two weeks for six months before leaving Early Access—so you know what you're getting into, even if acts two and three (and local co-op) are yet to be added.
Monster Slayers is a roguelike RPG that plays like a tabletop deckbuilder. That is to say, it's not a CCG like Hearthstone where you build a deck then go out and fight with it. Instead you start with a small deck of cards that represents attacks, abilities, and items and slowly add to and improve it throughout your run. Your dungeon crawl is randomly generated every time, and the deck you end up with is shaped by your choices. Monster Slayers was heavily inspired by a similar game called Dream Quest, which was made by now Hearthstone designer Peter Whalen.
March 13-18 2017:
Death Squared is a local co-op puzzle game primarily designed for two or four players, but can be played singleplayer as well. Each person controls a colorful cube robot and must get to their designated spot in the level without catastrophically blowing anyone else up. When a player moves, specific obstacles in the environment move as well—lasers, spikes, platforms, walls, etc.—so you need to be aware of how you are affecting (and possibly killing) everyone around you. I really like Death Squared, because it's one of the only co-op puzzle games I've played where one player can't really takeover and quarterback the whole game, you actually need to talk and work together.
Tacopocolypse is a driving delivery game with over the top stunts and visuals. It's basically Tony Hawk's Pro Skater except you are driving a Rocket League car instead of riding a skateboard, which is probably one of the strongest game pitches I've heard in a long time. It's an intentionally jokey game—I mean, you can literally grind neon cars on rooftop rails—but it also looks like a lot of fun, though that could be the copious amount of 90's nostalgia talking. Tacopocolypse also has local split-screen co-op for that really retro feel.
Wartile is a mini-figurine battling strategy game that just hit Early Access. Although it's hex-based and uses cards to activate different abilities, the fights actually play out in real-time instead of being turn-based. It seems like the game is definitely trying to appeal to tabletop wargamers, as unit customization is available and there's already an online multiplayer mode. That also plays into the more contained nature of the maps, which are modeled to look like they are on a table. Wartile's Steam page says the game is "close to feature complete," but that it expects to be in Early Access for 6-9 months to finish the Viking campaign, add more content, and adjust balance.
Future Unfolding is an action adventure game with a heavy focus on exploration. I seriously love the visuals, as they play with color, light, and depth in some beautiful ways. The camera is also directly overhead top-down, but everything is still 3D so there's some cool parallax effects going on, and even jumping between different heights. I'm not entirely sure what the goal or direction of Future Unfolding is, but I imagine finding that out is part of the fun—and it's already got around 20 universally positive reviews on Steam.
Cosmic Express is a simple but extremely challenging puzzle game about getting aliens home. You draw a train track path between different colored aliens and their matching colored houses, but your train has a limited number of seats and the track can't overlap itself. Cosmic Express is a deceptively hard game as there generally aren't very many objects in each level, but planning the correct path and order of pick-ups is tricky in such limited space. The developers also made one of my favorite underrated puzzle games called , so Cosmic Express is definitely one to try if you are a puzzle fan.
March 5-12 2017:
Released: March 7
Developer: High Horse Entertainment
Publisher: High Horse Entertainment
Price: $15/£11 (33% off for launch)
Have you ever wanted a good Windjammers-style game for the PC? Have you never actually heard of Windjammers? Either way, Disc Jam is something you should definitely check out. You play it from a vertical, top-down perspective, as opposed to Windjammers' horizontal view, and the whole point of the game is to throw a disc into the opponents' net.
It sounds simple, but it has quite a bit of depth, with a handful of ways to throw the disc and a bunch of different abilities. One of the great things about Disc Jam is that it has a UI that will feel very familiar to those who play Rocket League. While I don't necessarily think Disc Jam will quite reach the levels of Psyonix's soccer-with-cars game, developer High Horse Entertainment has done a good job at making something that feels like it can.
Released: March 10 (Early Access)
Developer: Matt Dabrowski
Price: $15/£11 (10% off for launch)
Last time we checked in on the Streets of Rogue alpha, you could play as a comedian who attracts followers—who are loyal to the point of violence—by wandering around telling jokes. Now out in Early Access, Streets of Rogue is a 2D smorgasbord of characters, items, and abilities. You can wander its procedurally-generated city as a violent soldier or a pacifistic doctor, befuddling or killing AI characters with whatever means you have.
The game’s description calls out a few of the items available: “Shrink rays, hypnotizing devices, boomboxes, bear traps, food processors.. Oh, and guns too.” If you want to try it out, Streets of Rogue is free to play on Steam for the rest of the weekend—and if that’s over by the time you read this, it’s $15.
Released: March 10
Publisher: Bigben Interactive
Price: $25/£19 (20% off for launch)
With Resident Evil 7 slowly falling into my rearview mirror, I'm looking frantically for a new horror game like I just drank an entire Big Gulp and need a bathroom on a long, dark highway. While stealth-horror game 2Dark doesn't have the visuals and pedigree of something like Resident Evil, it does sound interesting, especially coming from Alone in the Dark (1992) designer Frederick Raynal. The game has you scouring levels, avoiding serial killers, and sneaking your way past monsters as you search for missing children in an attempt to save them. Like many survival-horror games, you don't have an abundance of supplies. Oh, and those kids that you're leading to safety? They may just start crying and give away your position.
Released: March 10
Developer: nextReality Games
Publisher: nextReality Games
Price: $7/£5 (30% off for launch)
Close your eyes for a second. It's not entirely dark: you can still see splashes of light, afterimages of whatever you were just looking at. Blink, a 2D puzzle game, lets you use those afterimages as platforms as you navigate through hand-drawn environments.
Carry lanterns, flip switches, and move lights around, dynamically manipulating the mysterious and atmospheric world as you explore. Even your enemies can be used to solve Blink's levels, which include underground ruins and floating cities.
Released: March 10
Developer: Discovering VR
Publisher: Discovering VR
Price: $10/£7 (VR Exclusive)
When you travel into space you don't always need to engage in fierce battles, blow up enemy ships, or seduce sexy aliens. Sometimes, just exploring and sightseeing is plenty. This VR game, compatible with Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and OSVR, lets you tour and explore our solar system seamlessly, visiting planets and moons which are rendered in true scale. Leap from planet to planet through hyperspace gates or plunge through a planet's atmosphere to zoom along the surface. You can follow a tour, or explore on your own using a controller or HTC Vive wands.
February 26 - March 4 2017:
Desync is a singleplayer, score-based FPS set in a vibrant neon world. The whole game looks a bit like if Doom or Painkiller were dropped into the Tron universe. The enemy and gun variety is interesting as well, which is good considering the art style could otherwise make everything feel a bit same-y. There's also a dodge system that some Steam reviewers are predictably comparing to Dark Souls movement, but the reviews have been very positive so far.
Morphblade is a hex-based strategy game where you fend off waves of little bugs. As the game progresses, you expand the area you can move into new hexes, each with a different symbol that will change what your character looks like and what it can do. In the video above, developer Tom Francis (who made Gunpoint and is currently making ) explains that you'll need to plan ahead when deciding which tiles you choose to expand to, as upgrading tiles involve combining them with adjacent ones. It's a small game, but a pretty cool looking one.
Full disclosure, Tom Francis was formerly an editor for PC Gamer, though he left years before I arrived. I actually added Morphblade to this list before I had even looked at the developer, so its inclusion has nothing to do with who made it.
The Wendigo is a first person exploration horror game set in a spooky Victorian mansion. I see a lot of indie horror games in my research for this list, but The Wendigo stood out to me as one which does low-light better than others. The environments shown look really lovely, and the game uses light sources well so you can actually see that detail instead of just making every room pitch black. Whether good graphics means it's actually a scary game or not I can't say, but it's only received positive Steam reviews so far.
For The King is an RPG that can be played either alone or with two and three player local/online co-op. The world is procedurally generated for each adventure, and you explore a hex-based overworld map that reminds me a lot of Civilization. The actual battles are more like a traditional turn-based RPG with three characters in your party at a time, each of which can be controlled by a real player. For The King just entered Early Access and plans to be there for roughly six months, but the developer says "the core adventure is complete from beginning to end."
Furious Angels is a wave-based aerial arcade shooter where you pilot a small ship taking on much larger enemies. It's got an attractive polygonal art style with bright orange and purple colors, and the particle effects when ships are destroyed is a nice touch. You can even shoot specific parts off of the larger ships to disable them in different ways. Furious Angels is not that big of a game, but most of the user reviews so far say it's a frantic and fun wave survival game.