It’s gaming month! I mean, obviously every month is gaming month, but June is especially gamey thanks to E3 and its many satellite events, which promise reveals for everything from 200-hour-long epics that won’t be out for another console generation to the next potential indie surprise hit.
Like pretty much everything else over the past couple of years, E3 isn’t quite the same this year. According to our E3 2021 schedule, there are no fewer than 18 different publisher events scheduled to run this June. That’s a lot to keep up with, so it’s fortunate that the indie scene is still in full swing, providing releases for every genre going so you can switch off from the triple-A parade.
This month we’ve hunted around our inboxes, pored over Steam’s ‘Popular Upcoming’ tag, and played a bunch of demos so we can bring you a shortlist of the month’s finest indie and mid-market offerings. As the triple-A side of the game industry kicks into high gear it seems like the rest of the market is also raising its game – there are loads of exciting games to browse, and a little something for everyone.
If you’re not fussed about being up to date then we suggest checking out our roundup of May games while you’re here, but if you’re after something fresh to chomp through then here are eight mid-market and indie games you shouldn’t miss in June.
Hokko Life – June 2
If you’re after an Animal Crossing PC game then Hokko Life is as close as you’re going to get. You arrive in a sleepy town populated by anthropomorphic animals, and it’s up to you to spruce the place up so it’s a bustling rural community.
You can choose what to build, what kind of style Hokko should have, and even design each piece of furniture, from bookshelves to sofas. If you love the designing, crafting, and painting parts of games like The Sims, but you can’t be bothered making sure your avatar doesn’t set themselves on fire making a salad, then this could be for you. Check out Hokko Life on Steam here.
The Last Spell – June 3
Let’s face it, some of the most satisfying enemies to slay in games are the toothless mobs that you can squish without breaking a sweat, and in turn-based tactical RPG The Last Spell, you’re tasked with wiping out hordes of underpowered enemies in a matter of turns.
Your party must defend the last city on Earth from an army of monsters that attacks each night. At the start of each day you spend some cash fortifying your position and buffing your party with stat upgrades and gear, then when night falls you begin the combat stage, which is where you attempt to fell the horde before it can penetrate the city walls. There’s something for everyone in The Last Spell, with elements from tower defence games, nods to strategy games like Into the Breach, and an interesting mix of roguelike and tactical RPG mechanics. Check out The Last Spell on Steam here.
The Magnificent Trufflepigs – June 3
Billed as a “first-person, romantic, metal-detecting game”, The Magnificent Trufflepigs sees the sharp-witted Adam returning home to the rural village of Stanning to help a woman named Beth uncover a local mystery. You do this by scouring fields and greens for clues and reporting them to Beth via walkie-talkie, learning more about her over time and forging a connection with your accomplice that you can shape through dialogue choices.
There’s clearly some inspiration from Firewatch, as well as from the enchanting British TV series Detectorists. On top of that, The Magnificent Trufflepigs is also made by the lead designer of Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture, so check this out if you’re looking for a new first-person exploration game. Check out The Magnificent Trufflepigs here.
Astalon: Tears of the Earth – June 3
Astalon: Tears of the Earth is a throwback Metroidvania through and through. There’s a gloriously catchy chiptune soundtrack, saturated 8-bit pixel art, and hundreds of rooms to explore and fight through.
There’s a neat twist in that you can switch between and level up three different characters between each room, so you can try out different styles of play if you get stuck for too long. Most enemies have a weakness that one of your three heroes can exploit, so tackling Astalon’s boss fights is as much about picking the right character as it is reacting to the on-screen action. Check out Astalon: Tears of the Earth here.
Mighty Goose – June 5
Mighty Goose is sadly not a sequel or spinoff to Untitled Goose Game, but it’s still a very worthy addition to the pantheon of powerful geese protagonists in gaming. If you’re at all familiar with run-and-gun shooters like Metal Slug and Contra, then you’ll feel right at home with Mighty Goose.
And if you’ve ever wanted to watch a goose gib several enemies with a single shotgun blast, or speed across a desert in a tank, then this is probably the only game offering that. Check out Mighty Goose here.
Backbone – June 8
A strong contender for a spot on our list of the best detective games, Backbone is a post-noir RPG in which you interact with and interrogate suspects to solve your biggest case yet in a dystopian version of Vancouver. If you’re drawn to stunning pixel art then Backbone is an astonishingly gorgeous indie that’ll take you through many detailed, grimy environments as you hunt for a missing husband.
You have a few different ways to unearth clues as you play, including stealth, but you do most of your detective work by getting to know the seedy underbelly of Vancouver, prodding and probing at its cast of anthropomorphic characters, and making tough decisions on how to pursue the case. Check out Backbone here.
Summertime Madness – June 17
Summertime Madness is a meditative first-person puzzle game about an artist who has become stuck in their own creation after botching a deal with the devil. Fortunately, you must be a very good artist, as the canvas you’ve become stuck inside is an enchanting mix of pastel shades and soft, blotted textures.
The world around you changes as you uncover the painting’s mysteries, unveiling new vistas for you to explore and puzzles to solve. The puzzles themselves favour a creative approach and strike a great balance between head-scratching and soothing to work through. Check out Summertime Madness here.
Monobot – June 18
A 2D puzzle platformer with a protagonist straight from a Pixar movie, Monobot is a bittersweet journey through a dark and desolate world filled with killer robots set on destroying non-conforming ones. Ones like player character Mono, who seeks simply to be free.
You’ll upgrade him with unique enhancements enabling creative solutions to the puzzles that bar his progress across a vast planet, discovering clues as to why there are no humans around any more in what the devs promise is “a grand story” with multiple endings. With shades of Inside and Limbo, fans of robot games can check Monobot out on Steam here.