Hello! It’s Indie Penance Day once again! The day that all Americans put aside their differences and unite in celebration of the joy of independent games development. Ever since the founding fathers played their first game of World Of Goo, the celebration has been observed by every American by law. Our legally sanctioned contribution to the event is this list of unknown indie games that you’ll very likely be buying or wishlisting in just a few moments.
As ever with Indie Penance or Indiegeddon, I have not played the games listed below, unless otherwise stated. Their inclusion is via my tweeted call for suggestions of under-recognized indie games, selected at (qualified) random from the replies. However, each looks like it could or should be fantastic. So, let’s get going!
As it happens, I’ve played a whole bunch of Hellscreen, the early access Doom-like where you have the additional advantage of a rear-view mirror and the ability to fire backward. It’s incredibly fast, with the bonus that if you’re moving forward when you’re firing, you do double damage. Fire backward while moving forward and you do quadruple damage! It’s so zippy, but could definitely do with more dynamic enemies.
If this can avoid being sued into the Gamma Quadrant by Paramount/CBS, it could be the Star Trek: Bridge Crew for the new decade. Starship Simulator is promising a fully simulated “Magellan Class deep space exploration vessel,” yours to explore and poke around at your leisure, and then fly around what they claim will be a “scientifically accurate Milky Way.” It sounds bloody marvellous, if they can pull it off. There’s a demo if you want to check how it’s shaping up.
While the title might sound like the nicest possible thing I can imagine right now, the game itself is made of heavier stuff. This is a collection of short stories on the subject of men and their relationship with mental health. Which is—oh my goodness—up there with the most important discussions we need to be having. The beautiful monochrome line art could be just the right medium from which to broach the topic, so long as it’s handled with deft care, and hopefully consultancy with mental health experts.
Due out in Fall 2023, Somnipathy is a pixel point-and-click horror game, which is a genre description I haven’t read in far too long. It is, its store page says, about helping a character called Aggy survive “nightmarish sleep disorder-themed dungeons,” which sounds terrifying if you’re as tired as I am.
Please, I beg of developers Tearcell Game Studio, get rid of those awful, barely legible fonts that appear in a lot of the screenshots, so the game can be properly loved when it appears later this year.
If you accused me of only including this game because of its title, you’d be entirely right. Yet despite this, in the two years it’s been on sale, it’s garnered almost no attention and a measly single Steam review. (Positive!)
I’ve just had a quick go, and it’s as mad as a box, insisting on running in the top-left corner of my monitor. It’s about being a student required to write a group report on Gandhi, Churchill and the Rai, through the medium of post-colonial 4X strategy. I, er, didn’t have any idea what was going on, but then I never did in Civilization either. But it apparently takes a stand against nationalism and encourages a non-violent route through history.
With the most spectacularly peculiar voiceover, Kritter’s trailer shows what looks to me like a cross between, er, Vampire Survivors, Sands of Time, and a survival base-builder. Yup! There’s waves of enemies, rewinding time mechanics, and a base to ever grow and improve. Gosh, it’d be splendid if this all comes together.
I’ve had a quick play with Smushi, and it’s just adorable. A game about being a mushroom, trying to find your way home after getting snatched by a bird! On the way you meet loads of lovely characters, solve environmental puzzles, and do a whole bunch of learning about different types of fungi!
It was released last month, but hasn’t had the press coverage it deserves, of which I’m also guilty as I’ve yet to write a review for Buried Treasure.
Owlskip Enterprises has been making some fascinating games for the last few years, most based around solving mysteries by scouring documents and recordings from various eras and genres of music. With The Deadly Path, developer Tim Sheinman is making quite the deviation, with a card-based tower defense game. You build your dungeon, defend it, and attempt to bring a dark lord into existence to start the “age of reckoning.” Which I call “Thursday.”
Death Unphased is a neat-looking precision platformer, where it’s all about the dash. Dashing allows you to phase through walls, or obstacles, creating your own inventive routes to each level’s exit, with an ultimate goal of shaving picoseconds off your best times, and those of everyone else. It should be out in the fall.
After the joy of PowerWash Simulator, I’m willing to give all domestic chore sims a chance. Leaf Blower Man sets you off annoying your neighbors at 6am on a Saturday, but then things seem to take a stranger turn.
I love what looks like a combination of voxels and 2D assets, in a leaf-blowing game that appears to veer from suburban neighborhoods to—er—outer space.
We’re not exactly short of games about restoring color to a gray world, but yet I’m a sucker for it every time I see it. Then Farewell North takes it a step further by making it a story about a young woman and her border collie dog, where you play as…the dog. It looks very heartfelt, very pretty, and even features canoeing. Although presumably not by the dog.
If you want to trick me into instantly wanting to play your game, make it look this much like Advance Wars but also enormous. It’s a turn-based tactics game, which offers PvP and PvE co-op, but most of all, has pixel art I want to cuddle.
It’s hopefully out this year.
A “tactical rogue-like autobattler” immediately makes me assume, “Vampire Survivors clone,” but The Dungeon Beneath looks like something very different. This is much more of a blobber-type game (shout out to fellow old people), delving into dungeons with a party of characters, seeing how deep you can get with the equipment you gather. In fact, it much more reminds me of the glorious Pixel Dungeon from the olden days of Android gaming.
It came out in 2020, and is still being regularly updated, and I’m installing it right now.
Every now and then I’ll look at a game’s screenshots and immediately miss my wonderful dad. Kingsblood, a dungeon-exploring, quest-solving, inventory-gathering RPG looks like a game he’d have loved. Although he’d also have been daunted by its “autochess” automated battles, because if it wasn’t a gaming concept designed before 1989, it wasn’t to be entirely trusted.
Still, I’ll be checking this one out in his honor, because it looks marvellous. It was released just a couple of weeks ago.