This is a golden age of videogames. More than ever before, people from all backgrounds are making games using freely accessible tools that industry pioneers of the ’80s and ’90s could only dream of. The only problem now is information overload; with more games than anyone could ever process, what are you to do?
It’s that time of the week again, and PCGamesN returns to help you cut through the noise, and tune your signal into some of the most intriguing experiments in the indie scene this week, one enticing image at a time. Check out the latest crop below, and check back next week for more. Plus check our our lineup from last week, December 10th, if you missed it!
Any or all of these games could be the next big thing. Here’s some of the best indie hits of recent years.
Heroes of Hammerwatch
By Crackshell, due 1st Quarter 2018
This one seems like a sure bet as far as quality goes. Take the gameplay framework that delivered so well in the Gauntlet-inspired Hammerwatch and Serious Sam’s Bogus Detour, crank up the RPG elements and liberally sprinkle with procedurally generated dungeons and what have you got? Heroes of Hammerwatch, roguelike-ish semi-sequel to 2013’s Hammerwatch.
Crackshell are a studio with some pedigree, and even if this is a derivative work based on their first major commercial title, it seems foolish to doubt it’ll be anything less than enjoyable, especially when it suports up to 4-player co-op, online or off. There’s no confirmed release date or price set, but there’s a Steam page to wishlist if you want to be kept posted, and the dev’s Twitter feed is full of juicy new footage and screenshots.
By Benerot, first alpha build deue January 9th
Sometimes you just want something straightforward and familiar to play with friends, and while Tankrovia looks ideal for pick-up-and-play fun. At least, it does to me, but I’ve got a soft spot for little digital tanks going back as long as I can remember. Drive around, poke holes in your opponent’s vehicles and try to take advantage of special abilities and map-wide effects to come top of the scoreboard once the dust settles.
Among the footage shown so far, I quite liked the look of the black hole-like effects that seem to draw tanks in, making navigation around what was previously a flat, safe area of map into a new threat. The first alpha build of the game will be hitting Steam – presumably as early access – in just a few weeks, January 9th. If you and your friends grew up playing Battle City, this might be worth a spin – wishlist it on Steam, or peruse the developer’s Twitter account for more.
By Voracious Games, no due date
— Potionomics (@potionomics) December 17, 2017
If ‘Recettear by way of Pixar’ doesn’t make you sit up and pay attention, then you’re probably not played the horrifically compelling Japanese indie gem Recettear yet. Potionomics is a shop-management RPG where you play as a young witch deep in financial debt. Trade magical goods, brew up potions with the help of your Owl familiar, stock your shelves, haggle on prices with customers and try to come out of each transaction a little less broke than the last.
What really sets this aside from Recettear is the use of bucketloads of detailed, characterful 3D animation, full of stretchy, squashy style. While no trailer has been released for the game at present, you can see a little animation showcase reel in the footage above. If that’s whet your appetite, there’s plenty more tantalisingly small peeks at the game to be had on the developer’s twitter feed.
Kaze & The Wild Masks
By VOX Game Studio, no due date
Sometimes all you need to put a smile on your face is an old-school platformer. Kaze and the Wild Masks looks to be mashing up elements from almost the entire 16-bit era, with perhaps a slight leaning towards the Amiga-esque side of things, at least in the music. It seems that Brazilian developer Vox are confident in their ability, and plan on rolling out the game onto major consoles as well as Windows.
The big gimmick of the game should be clear enough from the trailer. Collect magical animal-masks to imbue the (already quite versatile-looking) protagonist with a variety of extra situational powers. Fly around obstacles with the bird mask, swim as a shark and air-dash and wall-jump as Mega Man X… I mean a tiger. Let’s admit it, those are totally X’s moves though.
The trailer above is a little outdated. As with all things in this column, you can see more on the dev’s Twitter feed, or put your email down on their official site to be informed of when they’ve got a playable demo ready.
Ground Runner: Trials
By Astrofish Games, no due date
— Astrofish Games (@AstrofishGames) October 9, 2017
The second VR game we’ve featured in this column (check last week’s for the previous), and yet another reason why I’m strongly considering picking up a Vive in 2018. Race a sci-fi hoverbike freely around a hostile landscape, scavenging resources to upgrade it, while fending off enemies with a big chunky sci-fi handgun, holstered in the cockpit of the vehicle itself.
It’s basically a chance to recreate every dramatic sci-fi motorcycle chase scene ever, and I really hope that there’s plenty of enemies designed to match speed and heading with you. I can see it being a bit challenging to play – after all, you’re driving and shooting at the same time – but I’d imagine that there’s a great sense of accomplishment waiting at the end of it all. Plus, it’s good VR practice as a whole. As always, you can see a chunk more footage on the developer’s Twitter feed, as their official site is rather sparse right now.
That’s it for this week. Got any favourites you want to share? Post them in the comments below, and if you’re a developer and want to see your game here? Tweet about it on #ScreenshotSaturday.