In case you missed it, every game ever is coming out right now and this shows no signs of stopping. With that said, there are a couple of cute indie/indie adjacent games that I'm worried will get lost in the shuffle, so I'd like to give them some visibility here, however much that may be. Links to them are in the headers. Check it.
One cool thing about getting older is that people are getting nostalgic for the same stuff I am - what I mean is, I don't give a shit about the SNES. Give me GBA games.
LunarLux was very clearly made by a team that agrees with me, because it's basically a GBA game, from the chunky sprites to the huge portrait art to the fact that its primary inspiration was Mega Man Battle Network. But that's at first blush - LunarLux seems to be inspired by all the games, from its MMBN chip system, to its Undertale dodge-system, to the myriad references to its other inspirations you'll find throughout.
The nice thing about LunarLux is that it's not just "wow, look at the reference!" the game. It's more than the sum of its parts, which helps it stand out. What I really find myself loving is how interactive everything is. From piles of space dust to posters to random trashcans, Bella and her Super Ultra Mega Sidekick Tetra usually have something to say about it. The music is banging, the main character is cute, and the combat is a very interesting mix of resource management that has managed to stay engaging in my 3 hours of gameplay so far. Big recommend.
Also, this game is part of the Game Devs of Color Expo. Support Game Devs of Color. Now.
This was one of those games that I actually didn't originally believe could live up to what I was seeing. No shot a team of like 8 people could create a game that looks about as good as Octopath Traveler without some sort of compromise, right?
To Swordsman Studio: I deeply and sincerely apologize. Because Wandering Sword is everything it said it would be and more. It's Wuxia as hell, from the plot to the music. Even the grid-based combat manages to capture that martial arts essence, and it's way more dynamic than I was expecting. There's a very satisfying loop as far as upgrading your characters and turning them into legends revered across Ancient China.
But I'll tell you what sets this game apart more than anything else: the team. I dunno what's going on at Swordsman Studio, but I hope they're getting some rest, because even though the game came out only a few weeks ago as of this writing, they haven't stopped with a flurry of bug fixes and features. The ability to speed up combat, auto-battling, balance changes, they're doing it all. It's that dedication to making an already great game better that makes me want to recommend Wandering Sword to everyone I know who likes RPGs even a little bit.
"Is dunk the meaning of life?" This is the question Robodunk posits - although of course the answer is a resounding "yes."
This game is, if I understand correctly, a first of its kind: it's a basketball rougelite. I've been meaning to write a post about how I love games that take the rougelike design structure and apply it to new genres, and Robodunk is a perfect example of this. It's a 2v2 clash of robots, NBA Jam style. You get permanent upgrades for your robots during a run, as well as power-ups between rounds during a match. From ramming robots out of the way to more quickly generating ammo for your weapons, it's a slightly chaotic but highly entertaining mess - especially if you deign to dunk with a buddy in its local co-op mode.
On that note, the dunking is divine. Really the game is super easy to pick up, but with just enough depth for interesting and complex plays. From jump passes to strong builds for your robots, I've really enjoyed my time with Robodunk. I encourage you to also find the meaning behind the dunk.
Another action-based rougelite, what I've enjoyed of Spell Disk is the way it allows you to start building up synergies as quickly as possible. That's my favorite part of playing any rougelite, so the quicker I get to that part, the better. Spell Disk achieves this by giving you new items after every battle which proc together to create interesting effects. For example you could get a disc that activates a fire spell whenever you use your dash. Couple that with another item that lets you do two consecutive dashes, and whabam, you've already got a stew cooking.
Despite being in early-access, Spell Disk already feels very feature-complete, and I highly recommend it, especially as a nice little Steam Deck game if you have one. It is also part of the Game Devs of Color Expo, so, you know...put your money where your mouth is 👀.
Okay so this technically isn't an indie game, but it has received such little fanfare that I feel the need to boost it some. I love diablo-likes but I hate Blizzard, so Silent Hope seems to be here for me to save the day. It's a pure, goop-based dungeon crawler, where you take one of 7 heroes down floor after floor of a spooky dungeon to save a kingdom. Also it's connected to Rune Factory in ways I'm not sure of yet.
There's a demo you can check out, and I highly recommend it because it may surprise you. There's a very satisfying loop of dungeon-diving, grabbing materials, then heading back top-side to create gear, stat-boosting meals, and other stuff to get stronger and travel a few more floors. The aesthetic is adorable, the combat feels satisfying, and you know what? I'm just gonna cut to the chase. I'm buying this game because I'm like a worried father about Marvelous and I don't want them to die again before we get Rune Factory 6. I don't want to go to a funeral twice, I'll be honest with you. Luckily the game seems fun enough that it won't just be a pity purchase. Hurray!
Okee, that's all for now. Any games you're enjoying that are falling under the radar of this packed year? Let me know, here or on Cohost!