Geoff Keighley’s big Summer Game Fest blowout has begun, kicking off with a live two-hour showcase as notable for its Nicholas Cages as its Final Fantasy 7 Rebirths. But those that stuck around post-Keighley were, as is fast becoming tradition, rewarded with another batch of intriguing indie titles, courtesy of this year’s Day of the Devs stream – and if you missed it, the whole thing can be perused in one convenient , easily digestible round-up below.
Beastieball is a new RPG from Wishes Unlimited, the studio behind the acclaimed Wondersong and Chicory. This time around, the team is turning its attention to what looks something like Pokémon with its combat replaced by a strategic, turn-based take on volleyball. It sees players, in the role of a coach, touring the world and signing up Beasties they encounter to join their team and take on rivals in bouts of Beastieball. Loads of Beasties are promised, and they can all form friendships that’ll create unique combos for use in matches. This one might still be a little way off, though – a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign launches soon.
Hyper Light Breaker
We’ve already seen a little bit of Hyper Light Breaker – developer Heart Machine’s fully 3D roguelite follow-up to the acclaimed Hyper Light Drifter – but Day of the Devs saw it return with a smidgeon more gameplay to share. For those unfamiliar, Hyper Light Breaker sees players exploring a “vast, ever-changing” 3D landscape known as the Overgrowth, using a mix of acrobatic abilities – wall-dashing, hoverboarding, gliding – and third-person combat to take on monsters and , ultimately, overthrow the Abyss King. It’s coming to early access “later this year”.
Simpler Times, from Transylvanian developer Stoneskip, is a gentle puzzle adventure that “sheds light to the beauty of the ordinary”. It follows protagonist Taina on a “heartwarming journey through her memories of her” as she prepares to leave her childhood home. The resulting experience combines visual storytelling and “mindful interactions” as players delve into Taina’s past de ella, each new puzzles-all themed around items of sentimental value-bringing her closer to adulthood. Simpler Times is coming to PC “soon”.
Viewfinder by Sad Owl Studios is another one that’s already generated a fair bit of hype. It’s one of those puzzlers built around a genuinely mind-bending premise, with players able to snap photos that can then be overloaded on the environment around them – whereupon whatever’s in the image becomes a navigable, three-dimensional part of the world. Viewfinder is currently set to launch for PlayStation 5 on 18th July (a demo is available right now on the platform) and it’ll be coming to PC sometime in 2023.
Hauntii, from developer Moonloop, is a supernatural adventure coming to PC and consoles in 2024. Cast as a ghost in a wonderfully striking version of the afterlife, players can haunt a huge variety of objects in order to gain access to their unique abilities – and Discovering what can and can’t be haunted, through exploration and experimentation, is said to be a major part of the game. Progress requires players to collect stars that’ll help other ghosts gain access to pieces of their past, and there’s a twin-stick shooter element too – but Moonloop says this is less about high-intensity action and more about finding ways to use the mechanic to solve challenges.
Richard Hofmeier’s acclaimed slice-of-life retail sim, Cart Life, is making a return to a decade after its original release and subsequent removal from sale, courtesy of Ad Hoc Studios. This new version remains faithful to the original – players will still experience the lives of three different street vendors, each from very different backgrounds, working with limited resources to juggle their needs with the needs of their carts – but this “lovingly restored” release promises new art, story content, mechanics, and updated controls. It’s out on PC and consoles “later this year”
Helskate, a surreal skateboarding roguelite from developer Phantom Coast, casts players as Anton Falcom, a demonic skater eager to navigate the afterlife of Vertheim in a quest to find its fabled beach. Unfortunately, Vertheim’s gods and monsters are less keen on the idea, and Anton must deploy his skateboarding skills-combining grinds, tricks, and combos with more direct hack-and-slash-style combat-to achieve his dream. Given the roguelite nature of Helskate, death is inevitable, but players will unlock permanent upgrades – tattoos with associated abilities, skateboards which acts as weapons – to help them progress further next time around. Helskate launches into PC early access later this year.
This weirdly adorable sandbox adventure from Lululu Entertainment gives players control of the titular Henry, who’s able to transform into absolutely any object they can reach. The goal is to guide Henry through a series of everyday tasks – turning off their alarm, making their bed, running a bath, and so on – by possessing the objects around them and making use of their innate skills. It all looks delightfully silly, and there’s also a co-op mode for those looking for added absurdity. Platform and release date details have yet to be shared, but hopefully we’ll see more of Henry Halfhead soon.
Cocoon is a “mind-bending adventure game” from Geometric Interactive and Jeppe Karlsson, known for solo projects like 140 and his previous work as gameplay designer on Playdead’s Inside and Limbo. In Cacoon, players explore multiple strange worlds which, crucially, each exist inside an orb. At any time, players can exit an orb to visit the world it inhabits, and those worlds in turn exist in their own orbs and so on. Orbs can be moved around and used to solve puzzles, but players will need to utilize the hierarchal nature of orbs within orbs to progress too – leaping in and out of worlds to dodge hazards, for instance. It’s kind of hard to get a handle on how all this will play out based on its brief Day of the Devs showing, but Cocoon certainly looks intriguing, and it’s coming to Steam, Xbox, PlayStation, and Switch later this year.
Été, from developer Impossible, looks lovely, taking players on a “relaxing, artistic exploration” adventure, one hot summer’s day, through the city of Montreal. As they roam through its streets at their own pace, they can bring color to its world, filling items with paint to gain experience, which, in turn, means even bigger areas can be filled. There are locals to meet, each with their own stories to tell, and some might even want to commission artwork. In these instances, players can ride their bike back to their apartment where a blank canvas awaits – which is where the real creativity begins. Any objects found while exploring are unlocked ready to be plopped onto the canvas, and can be arranged and recoloured however players choose. This jaunt through a “lovingly crafted whimsical summer world” is due for release early next year.
Summerhill is the work of Land & Sea – the studio behind the well-regarded Alto’s Adventure series – and serves up a serene slice of puzzling focused on a young shepherd and their dog as they set out to rescue their scattered flock in the mysterious land beyond the border of their home. Described as “a folktale about life, loss, and livestock”, it promises a combination of gentle problem solving, fluid herding-based gameplay, and striking pastoral landscapes, all inspired by the rich history of sheep herding. Summerhill doesn’t have a release date yet, but it’s currently confirmed to be heading to Steam.
Back for another airing on the indie showcase circuit, developer Studio Sai’s Eternights offers an unusual blend of post-apocalyptic action and dating, combining “intense” real-time combat with “thrilling” romance. There are dungeons to explore, puzzles to solve, mini-games to play, fights to be had, and, of course, dates to be done. Eternights’ Day of the Dev’s appearance didn’t tell us much we didn’t know already, but it still looks kind of neat in its own weirdly exuberant way – and it’ll be coming to PlayStation 5, PS4, and PC in September .
Licorice EHF’s nostalgia-fueled gadget-building sim Retro Gadgets drops players in front of a workbench then sets them loose with a bunch of components – buttons, switches, dials, gauges, lights, LEDs, LCDs, CPUs, sound chips, and more – to create any electronic contraption their imagination can conceive. It combines elements of design, construction, assembly, customization, and even coding, with gadget makers able to share their creations with other tinkerers online. Retro Gadgets is available now in Steam early access.
Mars First Logistics
Mars First Logistics by Shape Shop is a game about establishing a Mars colony by transporting awkwardly shaped objects from A to B using vehicles you’ve designed and built yourself. It all takes place in a “vast open world” offering a mix of procedurally generated side jobs and hand-crafted main contracts, each one requiring players to puzzle out how to pick up an item and deliver it to its destination using whatever parts happen to be available to them at the time. Completing jobs gradually unlocks new parts – think telescopic extensions and jet propulsion thrusters – and on it goes. Mars First Logistics launches into Steam early access on June 22nd.
And finally there’s Mutazione developer Die Gute Fabrik’s Saltsea Chronicles, a story driven adventure set across a flooded world. Rather than focusing on a single protagonist, Saltsea Chronicles casts players as a whole ship’s ragtag crew, who, at the start of the game, discover their captain, Maya, has gone missing. As the adventure unfolds from chapter to chapter, players will have the freedom to decide where they go on the map, who they crew with, and what they say to the people they meet. Each community has its own quirks – you might uncover a town living symbiotically with its cats, for instance – and the stories you’ll uncover all pay homage to classic genre storytelling. There’s even a trick-taking card game, Spoils, for those moments when players fancy a bit of a break on their journey. Saltsea Chronicles should be out sometime this year on PlayStation, Switch, and PC.
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