Over the past nine years, Steam has crept into our lives, slipping its Lovecraftian tentacles around our minds and our wallets in some sort of worryingly intimate slimey caress, and it’s got to the stage now where it’s all but essential to our PC gaming existence. So when Greenlight was announced, even though there was controversy, and discussion, it’s inevitably going to be a big part of our gaming, going forward.
There have already been Greenlit games, and there are hundreds of them trying to get to that stage. We’re here to help you sort through the chaff, find the games that you love, the ones that are interesting and worthy, and give them the thumbs up if you agree. Because there are 700 of them so far, and that’s too many for any one person to sort through. Except for me, of course, because I’ll be sorting through them. So you don’t have to.
These are the games Valve have already accepted onto Steam through the Greenlight process. There are ten so far, but there are bound to be more imminent.
Finally here, for the most part, released on Friday to fanfare, downed websites and frantic clicking just to get it all working, Black Mesa is the remake of Half-Life in the Half-Life 2 engine, making it all pretty, gorgeous, and extra physicsy. And now it’s been Greenlit, so it’ll be on Steam in the not-too-far future.
Created by some ex-IO developers, Heroes and Generals is halfway between an FPS and an RTS, where some players are the Generals, ordering troops back and forth between hotspots in WW2 Europe, while everyone else are the ‘heroes’, using up the General’s tickets on the ground, to win or lose them the territory. It’s going to be F2P, but they haven’t quite established how that’s all going to work yet. Either way, it’s ambitious, very pretty and a great concept.
A total conversion mod for Half Life 2, from the scream reel it seems to be mostly just a series of messed up monster closets designed to freak you out and leave you in a whimpering wreck on the floor until your mum comes in to ask what you’d like for tea. It’s a mod so it’ll be free to play once it’s on Steam, although whether you’d actually want to is another question entirely.
This looks a bit excellent, and is exactly the kind of thing that I was hoping Greenlight might highlight. It’s a rogue-like survival horror where you’re an astronaut exploring an abandoned base, attempting to piece together what happened there. It’s gorgeous, but more importantly it’s focusing on things that aren’t just shooting and killing. It’s about exploration and discovery more than anything else. Plus, the heavy breathing of an astronaut’s helmet is terrifying.
You put together a squad of Samurai and roam the land, a la Mount and Blade, fighting off hordes of angry peasants and stabbing anyone who won’t give you a hot rice bun. It’s pretty rough around the edges at the moment, but then it’s still heavily in development, and hopefully by the time it gets released it’ll be a truly impressive world to explore and interact in.
It seems a little unfair to just dismiss it as a simplified Dwarf Fortress, but when the developers use similar words to describe it, it seems warranted. It’s taking out all of the faff of Tarn Adam’s ridiculously intricate simulation, creating something that puts you in a similar role but doesn’t make it quite so hard to manage. The only thing is they haven’t had years to build on their world, so it’ll struggle not to feel like DF lite. We’ll see.
Another Half Life 2 horror mod, this time co-op, it’s like Left 4 Dead played straight, focusing on keeping things slower and more tense, instead of the balls to the wall of Francis and Co. It’s a highly successful mod in its own right, winning all sorts of awards in the two years it’s been available, but getting on Steam is going to be a huge boost to player numbers, if nothing else.
It seemed Greenlight was all but made for a game like Project Zomboid; massively involved community, very vocal devs, and a killer concept and execution to boot. And it worked, getting the game Greenlit pretty much faster than anyone else. It’s an isometric zombie survival rpg, with an emphasis on the survival rather than the killing. It’s doing a paid-alpha, so if you want to get access to an early build, head over here.
Another exploration game, Dream is focusing more on the surreal and the absurd rather than attempting to scare you. It looks gorgeous, and is aiming to have a non-linear narrative that just allows you to put things together as you come to them, rather than be forced down a path. It’s good to see something a little more left-field in the list.
Honestly I don’t know with this one. It’s somewhere between an adventure game and a minigame compilation, but not really either. It’s irreverent, and funny, and completely ridiculous, I know that much. And soon we’ll be able to find out exactly what on earth it’s about, once it hits Steam. Or you could buy it now and find out immediately.
Looking to be Greenlit
There are so many entries looking for a taste of that sweet Steam pie, and with so many out there it’s hard to find the ones you might genuinely be interested in. Here are the games that we know are good, or at the very least are interesting, and are worthy of your attention.
From Cryptic Sea, the makers of A New Zero, the tiny in filesize but massive in scope multiplayer shooter, Sub Rosa pits two teams as goons or secret agents or henchmen or /something/. The point is they’ve got to make an exchange, and neither of them want to make that exchange and let the other team get away with the item. So you have tense moments of exchange before everything breaks out in gunfire. All pretty excellent, really.
When the pilgrims migrated from the East coast of America to the West, they didn’t exactly have an easy time of it. Entire generations died and were born, and they were beset by wildlife, Natives and angry deserts. So Sparsevector’s turned it into a series of minigames and utterly insane random moments, for the betterment of mankind. It's already out on iOS, and from the looks of it, it’s going to be pretty hilarious to play.
Excellent when it was a free mod for Half Life 2, now Davey Wreden is making an ‘HD Remix’ of the game, adding more options, more story, and more narration. Except he’s not clear on just about anything to do with the new version, it’s a fair bet to say it’s going to be something special.
I’ve got a soft spot the size of a country for Fract OSC. It’s a Tron-like world that’s broken down, entirely run on sound, and you have to piece it back together. There was an alpha a year ago that was impressive, but what they’re doing now is absolutely insane. As you solve the first person puzzles, you’re going to unlock more and more tools to use in their ‘hub’, which is a music making suite. And a powerful one, by the looks of it. It’s a game that’s looks like it’s going to reward composition rather than just problem solving, and that’s going to make it very special.
I’m fairly sure that Snake has been done in 3D before, although I could be wrong. What I am certain of is that Snake hasn’t been done in 3D, and first person, and just about everything in between. Hermitgames has just released it for a paltry £1.59/$3, and it’s excellent, vibrant and absolutely an evolution of what made snake so compelling when you first got a Nokia phone.
Sorting through so many entries means you’re going to end up finding some diamonds-in the rough; games that you have no idea of the quality of, but at the very least /look/ interesting enough. Here’s the ones I’ve found on this run, gleaming in my grimy hands like gold dust caked in mud.
I couldn’t quite figure out exactly how FleetCOMM works, but it seems to be almost a tower-defense style problem solver masquerading as an RTS. And I’m a big fan of subversion, so it instantly got my attention. You set up formations for your ships, and then react to enemy movements on the fly by switching between those formations to make sure you take them down. It’s original, at the very least.
As much as it looks like Galcon Fusion, it’s looking gorgeous while looking like Galcon Fusion. You have a set amount of planets, each one constantly generating troops at a rate based on the size of the planet, and you have to wipe out every colour that isn’t you on the map. It looks like fairy genocide at night, neon blips wiping each other with a flare of light while their homeworlds dance with the motes. So very pretty.
That’s your lot for this week, but next week we will have sifted through all of the new Greenlight entries to come up with a fresh batch for you to hold your thumb over, wavering between up and down like the fickle Roman crowds at the colosseum, only to go one way or the other and decree the fate of these earnest indie developers. I honestly don’t know how you can sleep at night.