We don't want to hear any discourse, we just wanna talk about anime and anime-like TV.
There were over 35 announcements made by six different major indie-focused publishers this Tuesday morning as The Indie Houses debut their collective efforts bringing publishers together with all of their games and some interesting presentation choices. As Summer turns to Fall, we begin to get into the blustery season of games press accelerating dangerously towards the holiday season, and that means loads and loads of incredible indie games to add to your Steam wishlist. I’ve curated the announcements down to a concise selection, starting with a monumental banger from Paradise Killer and Neo Cab publisher Fellow Traveller
Glitchhikers: The Spaces Between – Silverstring Media
Seven years ago, Glitchhikers came out as a piece of experimental interactive fiction that broke ground on minimalist playspaces by examining how fleeting time and company can be through the lens of a late night drive along the highway. If you’ve played any indie game about the simple activity of driving a car, chances are they were inspired by Glitchhikers. In no uncertain terms, Fellow Traveller as a publisher would not exist like they do if it weren’t for Glitchhikers. Especially as Silverstring Media has spent the last 7 years consulting on many of the last generations’ best indie games. So finally, the long awaited debut of “Project Pythia” has been unveiled as Glitchhikers: The Spaces Between – A fully realized version of that fleeting alien car ride many of us had 7 years ago. Now with trains, buses, and so many more automotive opportunities to chance upon the occult, I’m beyond excited to see Silvestring rise to the challenge of building a full universe out of what seemed like a figment that flashed through indie games’ subconscious so many years ago.
Beacon Pines – Hiding Spot Games now being published by Fellow Traveller
Hopefully, you’ve seen some of the upcoming games like Beacon Pines in other showcases this year such as the Wholesome Games showcase during E3, but if you haven’t, then not only is Beacon Pines real cute and lets you control the story both the protagonist and the narrator, it also is now being published by Fellow Traveller instead of having to keep forging out on its own. So how about that? This Stranger Things styled anthro-adventure game is coming out next year, and I couldn’t be more excited.
Citizen Sleeper – Jump Over The Age
Citizen Sleeper is another game that we saw debuted during E3’s PC Gaming Show this year, but now we’ve gotten more details on the gorgeous looking cyberpunk management game. The gameplay loop involves assigning your set of rolled dice to an array of actions to accomplish multiple things for your cast of characters at once. It looks like Dicey Dungeons but on a much wider scale within an RPG campaign. It’s one thing to have a bunch of spacey cyberpunk aesthetics flashed at you within a trailer, but now that we’re finally getting to see the game more in motion, I can find more things to really enjoy out of it! It’s not like I want to be sold ads all the time, but this game is one where I’m looking at it and I’m like: “Please don’t hold back, SELL me on Citizen Sleeper!” You know how much we love Cyberpunk RPGs around here! The developers, Jump Over The Age, also made In Other Waters, which is an incredible game that came out very recently so seeing JOTA turn around with a new game that looks to be a platform for things to come AND is coming out in 2022 is shocking and thrilling. Get some cybersleep folks.
Kraken Academy!! – Happy Broccoli
It’s just a little slice of life high school anime game about some cultists. Don’t worry about it.
DON’T WORRY ABOUT IT!! IT’S FINE!!
It’s “technically” an incredibly normal high school and don’t be afraid because it launches in two weeks on September 10th.
The Legend of Tian Ding – Creative Games & Computer Graphics Corp.
The Legend of Tian Ding is an extremely hot looking Chinese sidescrolling beat-em-up. It features a rich combo system that strings together in ways that feel almost improvisational as you flow between kung-fu styles to tear through an early 20th century industrial age China. This is one of those games that I need to earmark specifically because it looks way too hype to let pass by. And since it releases on October 27th, we don’t have to wait long at all. It’s super exciting seeing publishers working with Chinese game developers and putting a team like CGCGC on their platform like this. Neon Doctrine has a worldly portfolio they are flexing.
Lamentum – Obscure Tales [out today!]
Just inject Lamentum into my veins, because I can always take a Victorian horror adventure game in a pixel aesthetic, especially if it reminds me of games like Eternal Darkness and Koudelka, with old homes filled with puzzle baubles that unlock deeper darker chambers. I’m just a little pixely wife-guy with a gun and a desperate need to save my dying wife as piles of bloodbags and disjointed viscera of the underworld squelch towards me menacingly. They just want to hug me as hard as possible, but unfortunately for them, I love my wife more than I could possibly love them. Lamentum is out right now so I don’t even have to wait!
Jack Axe – Keybol Games
Although a really brief trailer, we got a great look at Jack Axe, a platformer in the style of Celeste and Rogue Legacy where not only can you swing your giant axe through an even bigger world, but you can do it with three other friends at once in 4-player co-op, which is honestly not something we’ve had enough of lately, even though Castle Crashers basically wrote the book on sidescrolling indie games. Jack Axe doesn’t have a release date, but they do have a demo out on Steam that seems to have a contest running along with it where the fastest player gets put in the game, so that’s neat.
Devilated – Trunks
Finally!! A boomer shooter for the PS3 era evangelists who were burned by Duke Nukem Forever, Painkiller and Bulletstorm! Ya’ll are freaks and deserve some kind of penance for your resolve. Devilated looks like a gorey, arcadey mess and I know folks wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s out on early access right now, and although it may be rough around some of the edges now, it is ramping up into a full release soon.
Spinch: Mixtape [Enter Astral Island] – Queen Bee Games
Akapura Games opened up the entire presentation (as their name comes first in the alphabet) with the release of a mixtape for one of their older platformer games, Spinch. With rhymes and beats from a huge load of artists including Mega Ran, MC Frontalot, and the original soundtrack creator Thesis Sahib; it’s a bold choice to start your presentation, but the vibes were way too catchy to not include it within all of today’s fun. Gotta get the people moving and shaking, you know?
Gone Viral – SkullBot Games
This arena-based brawler is literally out right now as of today! You choose between your character classes, pick up loads of power-ups, and run through a modernized version of Smash TV, complete with colorful bosses and room designs to keep you running and gunning. Is this the most original concept for a game? Who cares, it’s out now! The devs did the deed and Gone Viral is released for everyone to enjoy today on Steam.
The Darkside Detective DLC – Spooky Doorway
Spooky Doorway’s acclaimed Lucasarts inspired mystery series The Darkside Detective is not only continuing their second season titled “A Fumble In The Dark”, but Detective McQueen’s comedic misadventures will actually be returning with free updates in the form of three bonus cases to solve, proving that even mystery games can have a long tail to lean on with their publishers’ help. I hope someone’s taking notes, because way more narrative games need this kind of support built in!
Dream Cycle – Cathuria Games
Dream Cycle has popped up on our radar a few times this year, and now that we finally have details about it I can finally start getting excited for it! Cathuria Games’ new release is a minimalist open-world adventure game whose core game loop reminds me of The Pathless. This is the style du jour right now for 3D indie adventure games, where you flow freely between zones with different puzzles and tasks that eventually summon a giant creature that lets you capture the zone. It’s a really fun style that has plenty of room for growth and Dream Cycle seems to be adding a lot of fun survival and combat mechanics to that core conceit. In this game, we do tasks that let us gather ichor that is used to summon Eidolons, and as those get taken down the world is healed. (Or destroyed? Instructions unclear, please don’t advise, I won’t listen) Early Access for Dream Cycle begins next week on September 7th, so we won’t have to wait long to find out even more!
Wolfstride – OTA IMON Studios
There isn’t any new news on Wolfstride this week, but the people need reminding that there’s a monochrome turn-based cowboy russlin’ through the yard and their fixin’ to tear up a motherfucker real soon. Still no release date, but the demo is available on Steam, and now we know that Peepoo exists and it claims to know Kung Fu, Krav Magá, Thai, Judo, Boxing, and Shaolin Kung Fu. Is that important? Yes. My life now depends on Peepoo.
Townscaper – Oskar Stålberg
Oskar Stålberg’s peaceful architecture toy has been out for a bit on PC and console, but now we get a beautiful trailer that shows what the community has been building with it. This isn’t quite what I was expecting from Raw Fury, which means not only is it completely welcome, but it shows how far the publisher will go to support a wide variety of projects. Even ones that don’t explicitly tout themselves as ‘games’! Townscaper is releasing on mobile stores in October, which seems like an easy must-have for the phone crowd to tap away to.
Kingdom: Two Crowns Norselands (DLC) – Stumpy Squids
— Raw Fury (@RawFury) August 31, 2021
BREAKING NEWS: Nords
No for real! Indie games getting DLC can be huge news, and Kingdom: Two Crowns is exactly that kind of game. The acclaimed sidescrolling 2D kingdom city builder is breaking ground in both directions (left & right) by going viking! We don’t have any information other than the title card, but it is still exciting nonetheless seeing new content from such a wildly successful and yet humble game that is going back to the well once more to see what they can come up with. I’m excited to see how a more nomadic Viking style and aesthetic can shake up the static citybuilding gameplay of Kingdom: Two Crowns. We’ll have to look out for their next announcement on when that will actually be.
Vanaris Tactics – Matheus Reis
Vanaris Tactics isn’t hiding that it loves Final Fantasy Tactics, it’s passionately an isometric tactics game from a dev team out of Brazil! As they should love Tactics, because there is plenty to build off of within the formula. Similar to the style of FF:T, this is a sword & steel type of high fantasy adventure replete with intrigue and politics as a ragtag team of refugees fight to build forces against the Vanaris Empire’s oppression. You’ve got your spells and abilities, you point yourself in a direction to finish turns, and you have to deal with terrain heights at all times. There is a certain subset of people who are drooling over this. Vanaris Tactics doesn’t have a release date, but it is listed as “Coming Soon” on their Steam page, which is hopeful news!
Coffee Talk: Episode 2 – Toge Productions
Toge Productions’ acclaimed game Coffee Talk gets a sequel, this is exciting news for lots of people who loved the original Coffee Talk so I’m going to enthusiastically raise my hand so that my palm is facing down, look them in the eye, and tilt my hand back and forth: “ehhh…” With games like VA-11 Hall-A and Necrobarista there are way more stylish banter-filled games about pouring drinks for customers. If Toge Productions wants to hang their hat on a franchise game, they can do better with most of the rest of their catalog.
Those Awesome Guys
Deepest Chamber – Balcony Softworks
Deepest Chamber is a deck building game with roguelike elements… No wait, please don’t leave yet! Actually, no you all can go, but the realhead deckbuilder freaks will stay! I don’t have much more to offer because it is what it is, BUT I want to make special note that Deepest Chamber has a 3D presentation to it that is reminiscent of old arcade-style 3D games that is really engaging and neat. I’m not sold that it works for this format of play, but it’s real pretty and somewhat comical in a way that I enjoy. Deepest Dungeon is doing things the hard way going into one of Steam’s most saturated subgenres of games, but something always seems to find a niche in the deckbuilder style just when I think it’s full so maybe this will surprise me too?
The Forest Cathedral – Wakefield Interactive
I DON’T EVEN KNOW WHAT’S GOING ON BUT YOOOOOO
Onsen Master – Waking Oni
This is another game that we saw earlier this year through E3 indie presentations, but now with more little details! Onsen Master is a charming little party-style game with a great theme to it and a fun cast of characters. It might be able to get by simply on the strength of its engaging premise because even without understanding much of the gameplay loop, it seems engaging and fun tossing people in bathtubs and fighting off unruly customers!
Lake – Gamious [Out Now!]
It’s out now!!! What a note to end everything on! Lake, that little mail carrier life-sim that could, is out now, and the gamers are real excited for it! It’s such a humble game, so seeing it get this kind of response is not only unexpected but also proof that the audience for games is vast and open to lots of types of storytelling and playstyles!
From top to bottom, I had a great time watching The Indie Houses Direct and I hope they continue this into the future and keep building off of it with more publishers coming together to show off their games! If you want to watch the entirety of The Indie Houses Direct presentation here it is in full, and if you liked any of the games you saw, make sure to wishlist them on Steam as that will be the fastest way to get information about any updates: