Yesterday, the Japanese indie collective Asobu aired its second annual showcase. Over the course of two hours, independent developers from around the globe showed off dozens of games. Here’s an archived version of the stream:
Plenty of the showcased games might already be on your radar. There was a quick spot for Behind the Frame, the delightfully Ghibli-inspired painting game that just came out. The hotly anticipated Kena: Bridge of Spirits made another appearance ahead of its September 21 release. Same for Skatebird, which comes out on September 16. Pupperazzi, essentially Pokémon Snap: Dogs Edition, showed up. (Yup, still features dogs.) Sifu continues to look like the best video game ever made.
But between the buzzy titles and requisite sizzle reels, some definite gems began to appear. If you’re not already paying attention to the following seven games, you should start.
Opus: Echo of Starsong
Opus: Echo of Starsong is a narrative-driven adventure game set among a spacefaring society. You play as Eda, a young woman who can hear interstellar soundwaves, referred to in the game as “starsong.” Nonrepetitive puzzles. Gorgeous art. Deliciously melancholic piano melodies. It sounds and looks great — and it just came out this week for PC, with mobile releases planned for the future. My colleague Sisi Jiang, who’s been playing, told me it “creates a living, breathing setting that transcends all of its individual literary and genre descriptions.”
The 2D JRPG Astria Ascending is jaw-droppingly gorgeous, what with its hand-painted backgrounds and striking character art. Early previews suggest a game that doesn’t exactly reinvent the wheel but rather one that nails the classic turn-based JRPG feel. It’s out September 30 for Switch, PC, Xbox One, and PS4.
Yes, I’m an easy mark for pixel-art platformers, but biases aside, Chikaro still seems cool! It’s a 2D platformer wherein you’re forced to use out-of-body experiences to solve puzzles and progress. No release date yet, but it’s coming to Switch and PC.
Craftopia, which is among September’s Game Pass additions, looks too bonkers not to try. A 90-second spot shows a player capturing a giraffe in a knockoff Pokéball, funelling cows into a smelting pot via conveyor belt, and…riding a hoverboard. I’m still not exactly sure what the game’s deal is, but it’s definitely a fever dream, one I’ll certainly be trying. (Here’s hoping it’s not a fever nightmare.)
Put a train in a video game, and you’ll get my attention. Eastward is a top-down post-apocalyptic action-adventure game with some eye-catching art. Combat looks crunchy, too. Yeah, yeah, yeah…Let me ride the trains! Eastward is out for PC and Switch on September 16.
OU seems worth checking out for the art alone. Every frame in the game is drawn by hand, like a flipbook. (“We have mountains of hand-drawn illustrations,” the devs say.) It’s an adventure game where you play as a child navigating a picture book that has its pages all out of order, meaning there’s a whole lot of opportunity for things to get weird. Oh, and your sidekick is a magical opossum. No release date yet, unfortunately.
The Soldat With Twin Arms
The Soldat With Twin Arms is a 2.5D side-scrolling game in which you play as a woman with two mechanical arms who then uses those arms to pummel giant robots to smithereens. Yeah, sign me the heck up.
Asobu’s showcase was a whole, whole lot, with so many games shown I am physically incapable of tallying the total number. (Sorry, my calculator stops at around 40.) These seven stood out to me. Tell me: What stood out to you?