It’s June, and ordinarily that would mean the start of carefree summer days and, in the gaming world, giddy anticipation for the news that E3 will bring. Sadly, events both human and viral have found us in a more sombre mood. But there’s still time to tell you about all the new games that are releasing this month, especially those you may have heard less about.
It was also around this time last year that the Epic Games Store really doubled down on its strategy of chasing exclusives, and many of the time limits on the games it secured under that strategy are now expiring, which means they’re coming to Steam this month. We’re going to let you know about a few of those, too – hence this piece’s greater-than-usual number of entries.
They include some real treats, with two of the best games of recent years – Journey and Outer Wilds – now released on Steam, as well as a new shooter from the co-creator of Halo, a digital adaptation of a smash hit board game, a blue-collar parable for our times in Hardspace: Shipbreaker, a literally meditative experience in Waking, and many more.
Without further ado, here’s our list of some of the most exciting games in June that you should really know about.
Skelattack – June 2
You are Skully, recently deceased, and now an adorable skeleton. But just as you’re getting the hang of being dead, your newfound home – the Underworld – and all your new friends are attacked by pesky humans. Together with Imber, your best friend (who is also a bat), it’s down to you to rescue Elzedon, elder skeleton of the Underworld’s happy hub city of Aftervale, and save the afterlife.
Skelattack is a roguelike action platformer that blends the finest traditions of the genre with plenty of new and challenging ideas. Steam holds your ticket to defend the Underworld.
Satisfactory – June 8
The first of many new games this month that are coming to Steam after a period of exclusivity on the Epic Games Store, Satisfactory is a first-person open-world factory building game. Experience the rush of efficient automation as you explore an alien planet, designing and building vast, multi-storey factories to extract, transport, refine, or otherwise process its natural riches, aided by vehicles, jetpacks, jump packs, and more. Think Factorio, but in first-person with prettier graphics. There’s also a co-op mode if you’d like to play with friends. Make some Steam here.
Beyond Blue – June 11
Set in the near future, Beyond Blue is a chance to discover the mysteries of the world’s oceans through the eyes of Mirai, a deep-sea explorer and scientist. Across eight different dives you’ll use cutting edge technology to track sea creatures, unravel oceanographic mysteries, and interact with our planet’s beating blue heart like never before.
Developer E-Line Media partnered with BBC Studios (creators of the Blue Planet documentaries) and world-leading oceanologists to craft this evocative adventure in the same inclusive process behind Never Alone, the studio’s previous BAFTA award-winning game about Alaska Native culture. Get your flippers on via Steam here.
Journey – June 11
First released exclusively on the PlayStation 3 in 2012, Journey proved that the indie renaissance didn’t need to be solely a PC phenomenon (just mainly a PC phenomenon). It finally came to our towers on the Epic Games Store last year, and it gets its Steam release this month.
And it’s superb. Its particular blend of minimal yet expressive controls, stylised cartoon protagonists, seamless multiplayer, teasing lore, and utterly glorious aesthetics have been imitated many times since but seldom if ever bettered. A sublime, graceful experience that tugs at your heartstrings without ever seeming forced, Journey is our medium at its best. If you haven’t played it, you’re in for a real treat – take your first steps on Steam here.
Main Assembly – June 11
Whether you want to get your kids into engineering, programming, physics or other similarly essential and valuable careers or simply want to fiddle with adorable robots, this is the game for you. Main Assembly features advanced physics – up to and including aerodynamics – and a freeform crafting tool with which you can build machines that take a bewildering range of forms, from simple gliders, planes, cars, and bikes to eight-legged robo-scorpions, and then program their controls or even automate their behaviour using a visual programming language.
You’re free to simply fiddle, but there are also a number of challenges and puzzles to overcome with your creations. This is an entertaining but also educational free-form construction/puzzle game that you won’t want to miss, launching in Early Access on June 11 – check out the Steam page here (or get a robot to do it).
Disintegration – June 16
Disintegration is a new sci-fi action game combining elements of first-person shooter and real-time strategy: with your gun-toting, floating Gravcycle you’ll not only fight directly, but survey the battle from above and give orders to your crew on the ground.
Made by the co-creator of Halo and creative director of Halo: Reach, the story tackles one of the big themes of science fiction: the meaning of humanity. Set in Earth’s near future, the only hope for human survival is integration: the process of preserving human brains in robotic bodies. There are some who have embraced this process and are looking to wipe out the remains of humanity. A resistance stands against them, including Romer Shoal – a Gravcycle pilot who, despite being Integrated, is desperate to cling on to the remains of his humanity. Get your Gravcycle on Steam here.
Hardspace: Shipbreaker – June 16
In a future when Earth is overcrowded and its huddled masses yearn for a life on its new colonies, you’re the one candidate in a million who lands a job that might pay for your ticket there. Lucky you, right? Would be a shame if your new job involved dodging debris and exploding fuel lines as you break apart starships, or if your new employer had saddled you with the billion-credit bill for all your equipment.
Hardspace: Shipbreaker is a puzzle game in which you must safely deconstruct vast space craft, and a blue-collar sci-fi disempowerment fantasy about corporate exploitation. Stressful in its premise and in the hazards of the job, it can also be peaceful, as you float in space and consider your next task. Check out our gameplay preview and sign up to corporate servitude via the Steam page here.
Outer Wilds – June 18
Outer Wilds is another one-year Epic exclusive whose Steam release you should really know about. Newly recruited to a fledgling space programme, it’s up to you to solve the particular mysteries of a strange, constantly evolving solar system stuck in a time loop. Thick with ozone-scented riddles of the feverish final frontier, Outer Wilds is an action-mystery game like no other, and one of the very best releases of last year as our GotY 2019 picks attest. Boldly go to Steam here.
The Quantic Dream collection – June 18
Detroit: Become Human, Beyond: Two Souls, and Heavy Rain are the three most recent releases by the idiosyncratic studio Quantic Dream. They were all exclusive to PlayStation until last year when they came to PC via the Epic Games Store, and as with Outer Wilds, we thought we’d let you know that they’ll come to Steam this month when Epic’s exclusivity window ends.
No one else in the industry is making games quite like Quantic Dream, though critical and public opinion is split on whether that’s a good or a bad thing – some say its attempts to chart new paths in narrative gameplay mechanics are a breath of fresh air, others that they’re pretentious, occasionally tone deaf and, well, dull. Here’s Detroit: Become Human, Beyond: Two Souls, and Heavy Rain on Steam.
Waking – June 18
You are in a coma, dreaming. In your dying mind, you wrestle with the forces that would have you succumb. Your defences against them are the memories of your loved ones, which you must draw upon in order to wake. This is true both in-game and out: Waking is a third-person action-adventure that also invites you to reflect on your loved ones in real life through sequences of guided meditation. Close your eyes and breathe deeply on Steam.
Phantom: Covert Ops – June 25
Ever since the modern wave of VR was a distant ocean swell, designers have been looking to transplant arguably gaming’s most popular genre – the first-person shooter – to this new platform, and to judge from the clutch of ‘best VR game’ awards Phantom: Covert Ops managed to pull down last year, developer NDreams has had a pretty good crack at it.
You’re an elite covert operative, sent into remote wetlands with your trusty kayak and a single night to prevent the outbreak of war. The unique setting and deliberate pacing of a stealth shooter combine with 1:1 player movements in VR to deliver an unusual experience: paddle and steer your kayak through the swamps to your objective along a path of your choosing, sneak through reeds and beneath walkways in richly realised environments, and aim down the sights of silenced pistols and sniper rifles to get the job done. Oh, and David Hayter – Solid Snake himself – plays the villain. Available on Rift and Quest – sneak into the website here.
Tainted Grail – June 25
Presenting a grim and gritty take on the mythology of Britain, Tainted Grail is based on the highly acclaimed board game of the same name (a board game which was the biggest Kickstarter project of 2018, having raised almost £5 million to date). Slay monsters, navigate morally dubious decisions, and restore or destroy forever ancient powers to determine the fate of the dying land of Avalon.
The videogame shares the lore and setting of its analogue cousin, but introduces a whole new experience crafted directly for PC. There are two modes: a hardcore roguelike experience with base-building mechanics and a single-player campaign – though the latter will only have a three-hour teaser with the game’s Early Access launch on June 25. Embark on your quest via Steam here.
More like this: Check out the best indie games on PC in 2020