Pictured above: Blade Arcus from Shining: Battle Arena
After a bit of a hiatus, I've finally returned with a new batch of indie release highlights. This break was partly because I was busy, but mainly because I had to rethink this format. The last few weeks of new releases on Steam have simply been too overwhelming to cover in my usual style, even after excluding the obviously terrible games like uninspired "retro" platformers and shameless Unity asset flips. I aim to bring attention to as many interesting games as possible, even if that means resorting to just a list of additional games at the end of each article.
Three Phase Interactive
Defect is a mixture of ship design strategy and tactical top-down space shooter. Each mission in the game's campaign requires you to build a vessel with the game's in-depth ship construction system before testing it out in combat. The interesting twist is that at the end of every mission, your former crew will mutiny and you'll have to take revenge against them in the next level with a new ship and crew. This means that you can't just build the biggest and best ship possible, but will also need to implement deliberate design flaws you can exploit when facing off against the traitorous dogs later on. You can also share your ship designs with your friends.
Stijn Van Coillie, Tracy Baeckelandt
Quatros Origins is the latest "like Tetris, BUT" block puzzle games to hit PC and Xbox One. The gimmick this time around is that the screen will rotate 90 degrees every time you place a block, drastically altering the board with each move and meaning that you are effectively playing 4 games of Tetris at once. Quatros Origins features five different game modes, including local multiplayer for up to 4 players.
Fans of classic PC arena shooters are probably very familiar with the "instagib" modifier, where a single blast from a shock rifle turns your target into a shower of fleshy giblets. As its title implies, Ratz Instagib is an entire game built around this mode, and has finally released after a lengthy development period in Early Access. This arena shooter promises a return to the glory days of competitive shooters, with ludicrously fast movement speeds, rocket jumping, no progression besides alternate beam effects and kill animations, and a fully featured map editor.
Headlander is a new action-platformer by Double Fine, and published by Adult Swim. Set in a 70's retro-future world where humanity has transferred their minds into robotic bodies, you play as a disembodied head with the ability to control any enemy by attaching yourself to its body. Each enemy type has its own unique set of skills you'll need to master to overcome the game's various challenges, but don't expect every robot you take control of to actually be useful. Also on PS4.
Tom vs The Armies of Hell
In Tom vs The Armies of Hell, you play as an overworked and underpaid software engineer that suddenly finds himself turned into a half-demon hero after an experiment goes horribly wrong and unleashes the armies of Hell in his office building. Using a mixture of demonic abilities and a multimode gun powered by the souls of your fallen enemies, you'll need to defeat hordes of procedurally generated hellspawn in this top-down shooter with light RPG elements.
SEUM: Speedrunners from Hell
As you explore the fiery depths of Hell, why not also check out SEUM, the "world's only competitive heavy metal first-person platformer?" Run, jump, and fly your way through over 100 fiendish levels in this speedrun-focused puzzle platformer, all in the pursuit of high scores and sinfully good booze.
HELP: The Game
Finally we come to HELP, a bizarre bundle of game jam projects from a long list of well-known developers from across the industry. The 12 developers featured were given 6 days to create a unique game for this charity bundle. The games featured are from a diverse range of genres, and quite a few of them are serious games that tackle the harsh subject matter of children affected by wars throughout Africa and the Middle East. The developers that created the games did so free of charge, and all the profits will go directly to the War Child charity.
Not enough games for you? Check out these additional indie releases from last week:
Kingdom Rush Frontiers, a new installment in the popular tower defense series by Ironhide Game Studio
Cats are Liquid, a quirky 2D platformer by LastQuarter Studios
Riptide GP: Renegade, a hydrojet racing game by Vector Unit
Mutant Mudds Super Challenge, the latest game in the cult hit platformer series by Renegade Kid
The Secret Monster Society Chapter 1, the first chapter of an episodic point & click game by Deceptive Games
Blade Arcus from Shining: Battle Arena, a 2D anime fighter by Studio Saizensen
I'll be back later this week with more indie game release highlights.