Pictured above: Nine Parchments
I'm back with another batch of recent indie and AA releases that may have slipped past your radar. I'm not personally recommending any of these games- I'm just highlighting some new releases that stood out from the crowd and haven't received a lot of media attention. Make sure you read user reviews and search YouTube to find more information on each game.
Grimlore Games, THQ Nordic
The acclaimed SpellForce series of RTS/RPG hybrids returns with a new installment. Set before the original game, the world is in chaos following the Crown's victory over the mage rebellion that led to the aptly-named Mage Wars. The charismatic leader of the Purity of Light, named Rondar Lacaine, has triggered a chain of events that could plunge the realm into even more anarchy as he launches a crusade to rid the world of all mages. Build your party of heroes across a fully-voiced, 30+ hour campaign that blends elements of RPG-style character progression with base construction, army building, and massive battles. I played the beta and felt that the game had potential, but it was extremely buggy, and from what I've read, that hasn't changed much in the full release. In fact, I encountered a game-breaking bug that made me unable to progress in a campaign mission due to a strangely specific scripting error, and I wasn't the only person this happened to. SpellForce 3 is also available on GOG and the Humble Store, though you may want to wait until a few patches have been released.
Grey Alien Games
Shadowhand is a turn-based RPG that uses a solitaire-style card battle system. Set in 18th Century England, you play as Lady Cornelia Darkmoor, a young aristocrat that spends her nights terrorizing the populace as the infamous highwaywoman, Shadowhand. After fleeing a crime scene one night, Cornelia accidentally stumbles upon a massive conspiracy that can threaten both of her personas and the people she holds dear. Customize your character across 150 levels by acquiring new weapons, gear, and cards. You can also find Shadowhand on the Humble Store and GOG.
Nine Parchments is the latest fantastical adventure from the developers of the Trine series. Built with co-op in mind, players control a band of runaway apprentices that hope to accelerate their arcane training by hunting down the legendary Nine Parchments. Taking a few cues from Magicka, this top-down spell-slinger features friendly fire and chaotic magical attacks that are just as likely to wipe out friend and foe alike. Customize your apprentice with new gear, spells, and skills as you level up, and unlock new characters throughout your quest. You can also buy Nine Parchments on GOG, the Humble Store, and the Switch, with PS4 and Xbox One versions coming soon.
Nerial, Synaptic Insight Technology Systems
Reigns: Her Majesty is the standalone follow-up to last year's bizarre hybrid of Tinder and a choose your own adventure game. As with the original, your goal is to survive as long as possible as the ruler of a kingdom full of people that want to kill you. Swipe left or right when presented with a decision and hope it doesn't lead to you dying a hilariously tragic death somewhere down the road. As the name implies, this time around you get to play as a queen, but this gender swap isn't the only new addition to the series. Her Majesty has also reworked the inventory system, and added new Royal Challenges that allow you to unlock new cards by hitting specific goals. While the game works just fine on PC, I'd actually recommend grabbing it on iOS instead, due to the simple control scheme and gameplay structure that allows you to play in short, bite-sized chunks.
Finally we come to Opus Magnum, the latest brain-melting, open-ended puzzle game from the developers of SpaceChem and SHENZHEN I/O. Design, build, and program elaborate machines to craft potions, poisons, weapons, and precious metals as an acclaimed alchemist. Like with Zachtronics' previous games, none of the puzzles in Opus Magnum have a set solution, giving players the freedom to construct machines as simple or complex as they'd like to complete each task. Make your own puzzles with the game's built-in editor, and distribute them across the globe via the Steam Workshop. When alchemy becomes too stressful for you, try taking a break to play a few rounds of Sigmar's Garden, a solitaire-style minigame. Also available on the Humble Store.
Which of these games grabbed your attention?