Indie-Penance Day: We Did It, We Bloody Did It

Indie-Penance Day: We Did It, We Bloody Did It
Image: Pancake Games / Kotaku

With this fourth collection, that makes 44 indie games covered on Kotaku for America’s day of independence. I committed, and in all seriously, each one of them contains just extraordinary-looking games that you’d never have read about anywhere else. No difference here. Another collection of fascinating projects you’ll likely never see on another major gaming site.

Peglin makes me so happy because I get to tell you it’s a pachinko roguelike. Developers Red Nexus Games describe it as a cross between Peggle and Slay The Spire. Goodness me, I’m so happy that’s a thing. There’s a demo on Steam, in case you think I’m making this up, where you can learn how you use the pegs to battle enemies. This is due out this year, and I just can’t wait.

Forlorn Memories wasn’t nominated by its developer, Alex, but rather by a friend. Alex has a chronic heart condition, and what he describes as “my very limited remaining lifespan.” With this, he’s creating a love letter to the JRPG genre, specifically their 90s incarnation. It’s planned for PC, Switch, Xbox and PlayStation, with international localisation for text, and full audio for Japanese and English. If you want to support the project, you can back its Patreon.

The Planet Crafter is all about terraforming a hostile planet to make suitable for human life. While the obvious comparison is No Man’s Sky, this actually makes me think much more of a dry-land version of Subnautica. And yet it’s being made by the only two people at Miju Games! It looks beautiful, and sounds like it could evoke that same sense of cosy safety in a dangerous world that Subnautica gave me.

Screenshot: Ultaan Games Screenshot: Ultaan Games

Watch Me Stream My Mental Breakdown is a card-based game about proving your father wrong and showing him you can become a successful gaming streamer. You have to build your stream, while trying to maintain your mental health, which is perhaps a little close to the bone. It came out earlier this year, but has yet to get enough eyes on it.

City Of Beats is a rhythm-based rogue-lite shooter, because why not! It’s an isometric twin-stick shooter, where the action is set to the music. “Every action is synced to the beat,” developers Torched Hill explain, and it’s looking very neat just now. This is due to appear next year, but there’s a demo on Steam already.

Heart Of The Woods is due out in only three days, coming to Switch. It’s a visual novel from Studio Élan, who previously released Highway Blossoms. It originally came out on Steam in 2019, where the yuri game was very well received. It’s about magic and fairies and ghosts and all that good shit.

Asterism is also a visual novel, and also releases this month. Due out on the 22nd on Steam and Itch, this is about fighting monsters and saving the Zodiac. The Zodiac here is a group of “human constellations”, and I guess you’ll have to play it to find out what that means.

Slime Heroes says it’s a game where the slimes are finally the heroes. Which I’m all in favour of, but then at the same time, how have they forgotten Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime?! This forgiven, what we’ve got here is a gorgeous-looking action RPG where you play as the slime, and somehow this is all the work of one person, Tomas Gomez. There’s a long wait for this one, coming in 2023, if he’s not sued into outer space by Square Enix before then.

Induction is an abstract puzzle game coming to Switch on the 14th of this month. It looks super-clean and interesting, offering 56 puzzles that involve time mechanics. Apparently you’ll be able to “build paradoxical causal loops”, which sounds like a good idea now, but when it tears apart the fabric of space-time on release we may come to regret it.

Cyber Knights: Flashpoint comes from Trese Brothers, who previously brought us Star Traders: Frontiers. This time they’re creating a tactical heist RPG, in a cyberpunk world. Last year they raised over $US225,000 ($288,585) on a $US50k Kickstarter, which expanded their ambitions, meaning the game’s aiming for a 2022 release. There’s a private alpha taking place this summer for backers, so hopefully more news once that’s complete.

Derail Valley has been in Early Access since 2019, which may sound concerning until you hear Altfuture are adding major updates to its 50 hours of current content, the second of which being due later this year. It’s all about driving enormous trains, following a career in a “vast open railway network.” And can be now also be played in VR. The next update will add weather effects, day/night cycles, and a revamp for their train simulation.

Harmony’s Odyssey is so colourful! Look at those colours! Look at me remembering to leave the ‘u’ out of “colour”! Creators MythicOwl describe it as an adventure puzzle game, but to me it looks like all the colour in one completely lovely place. MythicOwl have proved their puzzling chops with 2018’s Hexologic, but this looks like a much bigger project. It’s coming to Switch and PC, and while there’s no release date yet, you can grab a demo from Steam.

ANNO: Mutationem is from Chinese developer Thinking Stars, an action-adventure mixed with RPG, presented in a stunning combination of 3D and pixel art. I genuinely had to zoom into the screenshots to believe this was really pixels within the 3D settings. The game will switch between playing in 3D exploration and 2D action, which sounds intriguing, and very pleasingly we should get to find out how that all works later this year on PS4 and PC.

Hello Puppets: Midnight Show is a prequel to Oculus exclusive 2019 game, Hello Puppets. This time it’s not VR, but will still feature evil puppets who want to murder you. It’s coming to PC later this year. It certainly sounds a little FNAF to me, aiming for scares and laughs at the same time. Although crucially, this is about playing hide-and-seek, while also feeling too frightened.

A huge thank you to Kotaku US for letting me spend the entire day writing about mostly unknown indie games. It’s important to know that doing a day like this means taking a traffic hit, and the team welcomed the idea despite that — that’s really special. It seems utterly impossible to me that none of the 44 games featured today isn’t something you’ll want to play, so remember, keep an eye out and an ear open for those indie games that might otherwise pass you by.

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