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, November 5th, 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.
Pig Eat Ball
By Mommy's Best Games, due Q1 2018
Mommy's Best Games - the studio name for one-man weirdness factory Nathan Fouts - has a reputation for offbeat games. Even when working within an existing property (such as Serious Sam Double D), the madness seeps in through the cracks, and an already-odd franchise ends up with enemies like living pancake-stacks armed with vuvuzelas. No, I'm not joking. Go play it.
Pig Eat Ball is what happens when you take all the restrictions off an already unhinged developer. A completely bonkers action-puzzle game about a flying pig that eats tennis balls (and just about everything else), and where the size of your inflating body affects what you can and can't do. Eaten too much? Just spew it all out as a combination attack/interaction move. Although it looks like half the other things in the world are now just as likely to puke on you. Ew.
This one has been in the works for a long time, but is finally nearing the end of development. The trailer above features a look at some impressively large levels, and some VERY weird bosses including what appears to be a hybrid dragon/centipede/accordion that makes appropriately musical noises as its body expands and contracts. Like I said, bonkers, and I can't wait to try it.
Pig Eat Ball should be out in early 2018 for a variety of platforms, and you can keep track of its release via its Steam page here.
RPG In A Box
By Zer0 Matrix, with a demo available, and Alpha access for $20
As with Talespire last week, this is less of a game and more of a tool, but oh, what a charming and exciting tool it is. Looking a bit like a cross between indie favourite RPG Maker and virtual console Pico-8, RPG In A Box is a toolkit containing everything you need to create pleasingly chunky-looking voxelised RPGs, from basic art creation tools to a complex scripting system.
While still some ways from completion, you can buy RPG In A Box early for $20, if you so please, and help steer development and bug-hunting as you do so. Those who preorder now will eventually get a Steam key when it's finally released on Valve's storefront. There's also a demo, limited to only 10x10 tile spaces, but enough to get a feel for what the engine can do.
You can buy, demo or follow development of RPG In A Box over at its official site here. If you're not confident enough in your ability to create art assets for a game using the built-in voxel toolset, there's a gallery of paid and free importable resources to be found here, too.
By Quantum Goose, no due date
Over the past few years I've seldom had the opportunity to play with friends at the tabletop, but one of my fondest memories is of Doom: The Board Game. A shockingly good adaptation of the classic FPS into a turn-based co-op experience, with up to three players squaring up against a demon player trying to deploy units tactically (often through monster closets) to prevent their team from completing their objectives.
The only problem with Doom: The Board Game is that it's a bear to set up. A thousand fiddly pieces of cardboard, miniatures out the wazoo, stats to track and tokens to collect, and it all has to be laid out just as the rulebook describes. I've always wanted a digital adaptation of it, and Quantum Quest looks like the next best thing, and maybe even better. A virtual cyberpunk tabletop game, with all the perks of playing at the table, and none of the mess and manual stat-tracking. Plus, you can go solo against the AI if you'd like.
There seems to be no firm date on when Quantum Quest will be released, but I cannot wait to get my hands on it. There's just something about the virtual cardboard of the maps, the simulated plastic and the physics-driven clunk of the dice that grabs my attention, and perhaps yours too? You can follow production on the devs official Facebook page or Twitter feed.
By KopSkop games, demo available but no due date
Brawlers are a misunderstood genre. Far too many remember them as unfair arcade fodder, designed to drain your coins as quickly as possible, while others view them as shallow and insubstantial; mindless button-mashers where just hammering on one or two buttons is all you need to win.
With agile move-cancelling combo mechanics inspired by the Guilty Gear fighting game series, Shattered Realms might go some way to break down these illusions. Just a quick look at the trailer above should let you know that this game has some real depth to its fighting engine, with a carefully managed combo able to bundle up a screen-full of baddies for a single, spectacualr shared smackdown.
The plan is for the final version of the game to scale up to and support up to four players in co-op, but the current demo only has room for two. While playable on keyboard, a gamepad (or arcade stick) is recommended for the best brawling experience. You can grab the current demo build on the official Itch.io page here, although if you're really hankering for a good new brawler to play, might I suggest Fight'N Rage?
By System Erasure, demo available, but no due date
I'm a sucker for a good shmup, especially one that bundles up genre nostalgia and cleverly referential design in a cool art-style like Final Boss. It seems mechanically interesting as well, with your ship gaining new weapons as you complete stages, allowing for easier handling of enemies approaching from areas that'd ordinarily be out of main gun's reach.
Unless I'm counting it wrong, Final Boss only uses an 8-colour palette to achieve some truly impressive feats, with enemy designs being clear and readable and bullets standing out from the background just as much as required.
Shmup-fans will also spot a lot of clever little references in Final Boss. Yes, that is the R-Type ship in the trailer above, moonlighting as a boss fight (not the first time it's happened - it appeared in Radiant Silvergun too), and the Vic Viper ship from Gradius makes an appearance in the very first level of the demo.
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.