Archives — July-August 2016:
August 28-September 3 2016:
Tahira’s art style is what first caught my eye, as it all looks hand drawn but has animations with the fluidity of motion capture. A tactical turn-based RPG, Tahira has a unique setting and style compared to other games in the genre. Additionally, the sense of scale in fights was really surprising, as you can control up to 20 units at once. It all looks very impressive for what the game’s Steam page tells me is a three person development team.
I first learned about The Turing Test from our very own PC Gaming Show at E3 this year. It’s a first person puzzle game that seriously reminds me of Portal. While the game is actually published by Square Enix, it currently has less than 300 reviews on Steam and still slipped completely under my radar with its release. If I weren’t at PAX West right now, I’d probably be playing this game, and plan to do so the moment I get home.
Originally a mobile game, The Warlock of Firetop Mountain is a great looking table top game in digital form. You move a figurine-like character through a dungeon and have to make choose-your-own-adventure style decisions along the way. It’s an RPG with turn based combat, and really does look like a board game or D&D campaign brought to life.
The Curious Expedition just launched out of Early Access this week, and our very own Chris Livingston even back in May of last year. But 1.0 is finally here, and the positive reviews on Steam are already pouring in. The Curious Expedition is a lovely pixel art rogue-like where you lead a party of explorers out into the world. Chris said it’s “at its most enjoyable when everything goes terribly wrong but you somehow still make it back alive,” so it sounds like a chaotic game in the best kind of way.
Last Tuesday was a great day for new games, as we add our third game from August 30 to the list. Hue is a puzzle platformer all about changing the color of the world to get by obstacles. The art is all black with bright colored backgrounds, as the puzzles lean heavily on that art to work. It doesn’t look like an overly complex puzzler, but it’s attractive and clever and I’m excited to try it.
August 21-27 2016:
An environmental storytelling game filled with puzzles, Pan-Pan is one of the prettiest games we’ve had on this list so far. It’s full of vibrant colors with a relatively minimalist style, and it’s an aesthetic that I am all about. If “storytelling game” makes you uninterested, don’t fret, as most of the almost universally positive Steam reviews praise it for its puzzles, a few even comparing it to Zelda in its level design.
Exploring an open world while wearing a robotic exoskeleton is a pretty good pitch to start, but the movement in Valley’s trailer is what really sold me. The game looks fast paced and fluid as you run through what I can only assume is a valley. A few reviews point out that it’s not a very long game, but what’s there is worth it. Valley looks like a good game to dip into and enjoy as a distraction from the larger, grimmer open world games bigger developers give us.
A puzzle platformer for the design geeks in all of us, Metrico+ is set in a world full of infographics like bar charts and diagrams that react to the player. A redux of 2014’s Metrico, Metrico+ has so much new content that the developers almost called it Metrico 2. Similar to Pan-Pan above, I dig the game’s minimalist style with strange, vibrant colors, and it's always nice to see games that got their start on consoles come to PC.
Tempest is an open world pirate RPG, which there just simply aren’t enough of in the world. It actually released on Early Access eight months ago, and finally went into full release this week. Over that time it’s amassed nearly 500 reviews, most of which are positive, and I can see why as the game looks pretty awesome. Additionally, there is multiplayer available, but the Steam page makes it clear that it was designed with single player, so you can go plunder the seas in (relative) peace if you prefer.
Our own Shaun Prescott just , but it’s almost definitely still under most people’s radars, which is a shame given how highly he spoke of it. He called it a “masterful distillation of classic action-platforming gameplay, doling out tension and elation in equal measure.” It’s harder to speak higher of a platformer than that. I still remember the original flash game so many years ago, and N++ looks like a brilliant evolution of that concept.
August 14-20 2016:
I’ve played Okhlos a few times before launch already, and it’s a very exciting member of Devolver’s wide indie line-up. You control a greek mob, rioting through cities and destroying buildings and mythical beasts along the way. Okhlos is a roguelike, and you control the position of your mob sort of like a twin-stick shooter. The game has a great sense of humor and a unique art style, so it’s definitely one to look at for fans of the genre.
The pixelated twin-stick shooter with procedural levels could be a genre on its own these days, but Monsters and Monocles still stood out to me. Just launching in Early Access, the game is for one to four players and already has local co-op and online play—a crucial advantage it has over similar games like Enter the Gungeon, The Binding of Isaac, or Nuclear Throne. It’s a very cute take (and so far very well reviewed one) on a style of game that I adore. Some of the screenshots look like absolute chaos, which is the main thing I look for in a co-op game.
Slightly less chaotic than Monsters and Monocles, Inversus is a more strategic multiplayer game—this one primarily a competitive game, though with a single player mode and still with online play. You can only move on squares the opposite color as you, and your weapon changes the color of squares that would otherwise be solid. It’s the sort of game that is already giving me a headache, but I’ve seen it played at a couple conventions and it seems like a lot of fun.
Originally on Kickstarter two years ago, The Girl and the Robot is an action adventure game about (as you may have guessed) a little girl and her robot friend. You play both characters, and have to switch between the two to navigate puzzles and fight enemies. While the animations aren’t the smoothest, the overall art style of The Girl and the Robot is lovely, with an almost Studio Ghibli-like color scheme. It’s already getting positive reviews on Steam, and I’m excited to give this one a shot.
It’s a great week for multiplayer games, and doubly if you are a fan of the old fighting game Power Stone. Combat Core is an homage to that game, a 3D arena fighter that just launched into Early Access. It also has local or online multiplayer, and I got a chance to play Combat Core at GDC this year, where I thought it was a lot of fun. Interestingly, it also has VR support so you can look down on the battlefield from above while you play.
August 7-13 2016:
There is a severe lack of good kart racing games on PC, so Bears Can’t Drift!? scratches a long missed itch for me. The game actually just left Early Access this week, and is a shockingly pretty game for its relatively silly theme. I really appreciate that Bear Can’t Drift!? has up to four-player splitscreen co-op, even if there isn’t any online support right now.
In Celebration of Violence is an action roguelike with a pretty fantastic pixel art style. It reminds me somewhat of Nuclear Throne in its presentation, but at a much slower, more deliberate pace—and a lot more pixely blood. It just launched on Early Access, but developer Julian Edison said it will only be a month or two before the full release, and that this was mainly a way to get some bug and balance feedback from the community.
Reigns is not meant to be a complex game, but that doesn’t mean it’s worth skipping over. It’s a medieval sim RPG where you are a king listening to advisors and subjects and must make decisions about how to best rule your kingdom. In a fashion possibly familiar to some, you simply swipe left or swipe right to make binary choices in each situation. It’s basically an adventure game boiled down to its core, and our own James Davenport says he has been enjoying it so far.
Maybe this is just totally my style, but holy crap does Heart&Slash look sweet. Another game to leave Early Access this week, it’s a 3D hack and slash brawler with bits of roguelike mixed in. Heart&Slash has full on boss fights and combat that reminds me of a Suda51 game. Come to think of it, the bright art style sort of looks like something Suda51 would make too. Has anyone checked on him lately? Is he secretly making Early Access games now?
I’m not entirely sure what to make of Handsome Mr. Frog from its trailer, but I definitely want to play it. And since it’s only a dollar, that desire doesn’t come with too much risk. It’s basically an arcade game—like one you would find in an arcade machine—and reminds me a lot of the original Mario Bros. game, with enemies spawning from the top of the screen that you have to kill or be killed. Handsome Mr. Frog also continues the recent trend of awesome chiptune soundtracks, which always wins me over.
July 31-August 6 2016:
Covered in neon, Road to Ballhalla is a Marble madness style game where you roll a ball through a level and around obstacles. All the while, the game’s text hints are mocking you mercilessly or leading you astray. Ballhalla looks hard as hell, and my brief time with the game at PAX South confirmed that it doesn’t go easy on you. There’s a Rush mode and hidden collectibles for each level as well, and Road to Ballhalla has already started to gather positive reviews on Steam.
I’ve always said there need to be more sports games on PC, but Pixel Cup Soccer 17 wasn’t what I was expecting. Just launched on Early Access, it’s a soccer game with single player competition modes and local multiplayer. According to its Steam page, it will be in Early Access until sometime toward the end of the year, and the plan is to have online multiplayer by then. If that’s a deal breaker, it’s probably safer to wait until the feature arrives, but Pixel Cup Soccer 17 is already an adorable soccer game with some pretty great pixel art animations.
A simple little clicker-style game with a wonderful art style, Voodoo Garden already has 40+ reviews on Steam—most of which are positive. It’s being sold for a very low price and isn’t much more than a relaxed garden-tending game. Except that garden happens to be full of mysterious plants and ghosts. Clickers don’t appeal to everyone, and that’s totally understandable, but Coodoo Garden looks like a nice choice for those who like them.
Intrude doesn’t beat around the bush, mentioning Wolfenstein 3D and Doom right in its Steam description. And that’s exactly what the game is, an FPS that pays homage to the games that invented the genre. But despite it looking and moving like those old games, there’s still a level of polish to the pixel art (specifically I noticed it in the way the minigun barrel spins) that wasn’t possible with those older games. Intrude is putting itself to be compared with giants, but it looks like a nice modern take on them.
A 3D platformer in its purest form, Platformica is a simple (but still attractive) looking game about getting from point A to point B. You run across multicolored platforms, press buttons to move them around, and try not to fall too many times. One of the main things that stood out about Platformica’s trailer for me was the lovely soundtrack, which is also available for sale on Steam. The game is a platforming experienced stripped down to the basics, with a one-life HardMode to ramp up the difficulty. A couple reviews complain about laggy performance, but developer MM5 has already pushed an update live to begin addressing this problem.
Bonus free game: Mandagon
I know I’ve already listed five games for this week, and that Mandagon already has over 560 reviews of Steam, but it just looked too pretty not to include—and it’s completely free! Mandagon is a sidescrolling exploration game with a story to discover for yourself and a world steeped in “Tibetan theology and philosophy.” The actual gameplay of it is pretty much limited to some simple platforming, and the whole game is pretty short. But if the trailer above looks nearly as interesting to you as it did to me, you lose nothing but 38MB of harddrive space by trying it out.
July 24-30 2016:
Released: July 26
This is sort of a unique case for this list, but Help: The Game is too cool not to highlight. 11 game studios (including Team17, Torn Banner, Creative Assembly, and lots more) came together to each make a game in six days. This is a compilation of those games, and all of the proceeds go to War Child, a charity organization that provides aid to children affected by war. Since these are game jam games, it wouldn’t surprise me if they weren’t all the most polished experiences in the world, but they are made by some great developers for a great cause.
Released: July 28 (Early Access)
Developer: Thing Trunk
Publisher: Thing Trunk
Price: $20/£15 (25% off for launch)
Book of Demons is a hack and slash ARPG with deck building elements. It very clearly pays homage to games like Diablo, but has some very unique mechanics that give it a feeling of its own. Equipment and abilities are cards you collect, and you can only move through dungeons down specific paths. I’ve played Book of Demons for a few hours now, and it’s an absolute blast. It’s still a little bit early in its Early Access life, but I was impressed with how fleshed out the game already felt.
Released: July 29
Developer: Stijn Van Coillie and Tracy Baeckelandt
Publisher: God as a Cucumber
This game may look like Tetris at first glance, but Quatros Origins is actually more like playing four intersecting Tetris games at the same time. Like Tetris, blocks fall from the top and you try to place them to complete horizontal lines. But after each block is placed, the entire game turns 90 degrees, revealing that all the blocks actually have depth as well. So you have to place blocks thinking about what you see in front of you, as well as what will happen when you twist.
Released: July 28 (Early Access)
Developer: Sunburned Games
Publisher: Sunburned Games
My goodness does The Great Whale Road look pretty. A story-driven RPG with turn-based combat, The Great Whale Road looks sort of like a combination of The Banner Saga and Oregon Trail. You are traveling with your clan along the North Sea and must trade, hunt, camp, and defend yourself along the way. The Great Whale Road is in Early Access, but looks quite playable and already has positive reviews. Only the first part of the planned two part campaign is in the game so far, but its core features are ready to play.
Released: July 29
Developer: Chashu Entertainment
Publisher: Chashu Entertainment
Price: $20/£15 (15% off for launch)
We first covered Deputy Dangle way back at the beginning of the year, and it’s finally out. You play a physics-based police officer who must fight crime and save the day but, in true Octodad and I Am Bread style, you seemingly having no bones in your body. Each button controls a different limb, and Deputy Dangle must flop his way through the city to do his job. It looks like a completely silly game, but the trailer shows Dangle in some pretty unique looking scenarios that might keep the mechanic fresh over time—and a few positive reviews have already started to appear on Steam.
July 17-23 2016:
A pixelated action-adventure game, Red Rope: Don’t Fall Behind is about two people exploring a labyrinth while tied together by a relatively short rope. You can either control both characters on your own or play the game with a friend via local co-op. You have to fight enemies and solve puzzles, using their tether to your advantage. It’s a mechanic I haven’t seen in other games, and one I hope developer Yonder explores over the game’s 100 levels.
A Bomberman game with a cowboy aesthetic, Bombslinger just hit Early Access this week. It’s a refreshing look for an iconic gamemode. While multiplayer hasn’t been added yet, one of the biggest draws for a game like this, its single player looks interesting as is. Bombslinger may not be a game I want to buy right this minute, but once local multiplayer is added I could easily see it being added to my party game rotation.
A point-and-click adventure game with a sense of humor, Kelvin and the Infamous Machine just left Early Access this week. Developer Blyts says the plot of the game centers around Kelvin, a lab assistant who “stumbles irresponsibly through history to help legendary geniuses complete their masterworks.” While the launch trailer is a bit campy, the game has a wonderful art style and some interesting looking puzzles. Plus, as PC gamers, it’s always nice to see more high quality point-and-click games being made.
Swordy is one of the sillier local competitive games I’ve seen in awhile. As its name would imply, Swordy is about fighting each other with swords in a physics-based brawler. Maybe the name doesn’t imply all of that, but the trailer above should make the rest clear. Swordy launched on Early Access, and promises “major updates guided by our community every 4 to 6 weeks,” and what’s already there looks like a lot of fun. Unfortunately, as of now, you have to use a controller to play Swordy—not that it looks like an appealing game to play with a keyboard anyway.
Another physics-based game, we actually when it came out yesterday. But after watching the trailer, it really does seem like a very clever puzzle game. It looks sort of like controlling a Gang Beasts fighter, but instead of punching your friends, you are pulling levers and solving puzzles with physics. The game also has a focus on exploration of the dream-like world you inhabit, and can even be played local co-op with another person.