“How will I know who I can become if I don’t give myself the chance to try new things, to push myself beyond my normal boundaries?” – Eileen Cook
Most people reading this will be familiar with the feeling of eagerly (and sometimes a little impatiently) awaiting upcoming games; this article is a list of titles that Indie Hive is super excited about! All the games listed have free, tried and tested demos or prologues that are available to play right now (though some are only available for the duration of the current Steam Festival)!
Ghost on the Shore
Ghost on the Shore is a narrative-focused exploration game with strong themes of relationships and death. Players take on the role of Riley, stranded on a deserted and desolate island with only a long-dead ghost named Josh for company. This demo provides a snapshot of what promises to be a gripping and engaging narrative experience. It introduces the story and world while nurturing the mystery within, creating intrigue and demonstrating the many positive aspects of the game’s styling. This, alongside the quality of the studio’s previous work, leaves little doubt that this title is one to look forward to!
Ynglet – Demo
Ynglet, developed by Nifflas, is a meditative floating platformer, without platforms. Instead, players bounce, float and dash between delightfully doodled bubbles ‘like a space dolphin‘!
The two difficulty settings are ‘challenging’ and ‘too difficult’, and while this seemed to be accurate, the demo never becomes stressful and remains a relaxing experience throughout. This is largely down the feel of the gameplay, and unique audio and visual elements but is helped by the ability to self-assign checkpoints by resting, meaning that there is no frustration caused by having to repeat long sections.
Aesthetically, Ynglet feels truly unique with it’s cute, doodled art style and vibrant pastel colours. The game also has a reactive and dynamic soundtrack credited to its ‘custom and needlessly complicated music software‘, this not only sounds beautiful but helps to connect the player to the actions they are taking.
Ynglet looks to be another gem from Triple Topping (we also reviewed the Welcome to Elk demo) and a highlight on this list of upcoming games. It features original gameplay and aesthetics and provides a rare chilled out challenge that will appeal to a range of gamer tastes. I highly recommended this prologue and look forward to reviewing the full game this spring!
Genesis Noir – Demo
Genesis Noir is a poetic adventure game about stopping the big bang to save your love. A cosmic gunshot expands towards the heart of a god and the player must explore the universe, seeking clues on how creation might be undone. With an emphasis on exploration, simple interactions, and generative art, Genesis Noir seeks to create memorable moments and tactile gameplay.
Lorn’s Lure – Demo
Lorn’s Lure is a precision platformer with pickaxes. The player is a lost android being led around a vast structure by a glitch in his visual system and must meticulously run, jump and climb through a challenging environment chasing the glitch and scanning any strange objects found along the way.
The industrial feeling landscape is dark and full of angular beams creating shadows and confusing perspectives to add to the difficulty of narrow platforms, long-distance jumps and varying terrain. Even with smooth controls and regular checkpoints this game is quite unforgiving, players can have as many tries as they like but they will need to get it exactly right!
The visuals are clean and effective consisting of 3D models with pixelated textures, slightly reminiscent of Minecraft. There is also some slightly ethereal sounding background music which subtly adds to the atmosphere and simple but well-implemented sound effects help connect the player tot he game a little more.
Lorn’s Lure is the for the faint-hearted and doesn’t hold back on the difficulty front. I had help and admitted defeat after 40 minutes and 122 death, not even managing to complete the alpha demo! Having said that, the timer and death counter add an extra facet to the game, opening it up to competitive play of various kinds. This demo offers a well-made taster of an upcoming platformer that is sure to challenge even the most confident of players, I’d definitely recommend fans of the genre keeping an eye on its development!
A Space for the Unbound: Prologue
This is a free, 20-minute prologue for the upcoming game A Space for the Unbound, a slice-of-life adventure set in rural Indonesia in the late 1990s. It tells a story about overcoming anxiety, depression, and the relationship between a boy and a girl with supernatural powers, such as the ability to ‘space dive’ into people minds and hearts, Inception-style.
Seal Game – Demo
Seal Game is an early demo for an in-development game by solo-developer (and Indie Hive writer) Gloria! It is a wonderfully cute seal adventure and survival game in which players can catch and eat fish, socialise with seal chums, explore the ocean and even raise seal pups, all to gain XP, level up, get stronger and live to see another beautiful day.
After naming and customising a seal, players must manage four vitals: hunger, energy, social and health, this is done via various activities such as eating, sleeping and interacting. The seal interactions are delightfully goofy (watching a bespectacled seal roll about and sing with a seal in a top hat is sure to put a smile on anyone’s face), and the noises they make are a highlight amongst the game’s other simple but cute sound effects.
The setting is simple but effective, with bright white icy landmasses sitting atop the ocean contrasted with beautiful vibrantly coloured skies. The underwater part of the environment offers much more varied scenery and visual interest as well as different coloured clams that can yield XP and even accessories and other collectables.
This demo is very new and the game is still in development meaning it does currently have a few bugs, niggles and missing features but its adorable characters and concept make it well worth keeping an eye on!
The Outbreak Story – Demo
“The Outbreak Story is an in-development supernatural action platformer, chronicling the story of Noah and his encounters with malignant, evil beings known as Wraiths. Recruited by the Special Paranormal Defence Forces (SPDF), a secret organization specialized in containing and researching extraordinary objects, the young sixteen-year-old follows the footsteps of his father, a former SPDF agent who died in mysterious circumstances.” – David Ingrusee.
Potion Craft: Alchemist Simulator – Demo
Potion Craft is exactly what it’s subheading ‘Alchemist simulator’ suggests. After a very brief narrative introduction, the player finds themselves in their new house, complete with a bedroom, a garden, a laboratory, a shop and a basement. The ‘rooms’ can be used to collect and buy ingredients, research and brew potions and sell them to various townsfolk, each with their own specific needs! While certain aspects of the game need to be managed and progressed, there are multiple avenues to explore at any time giving the experience something of a sandbox feel.
A lot of the game takes place in the lab, which contains an alchemy map of sorts. Different ingredients have different associated movement patterns that can be used to uncover the map, explore and find recipes to create, beware of pitfalls that will cause failure though! Once found, recipes can be sorted in a book for instant creation, however, this number is limited which can make the creation process feel quite slow and laborious after a while. Nonetheless, managing a supply of ingredients, to discover new potions whilst maintaining a supply of the right potions to sell can be tricky. Customers and sellers can be haggled with, however, this currently seems skewed in the NPCs favour.
Potion Craft has a great overall aesthetic with its wood carving style of artwork and muted colour palette. Similarly, its soundtrack is like a mix of the Gwent theme from The Witcher III and Greensleeves, perfectly matching the theme and look of the game with medieval woodwind, lutes and a harpsichord to set the tone.
Overall this game is a very relaxing and wonderfully thematic management sim, it has challenges but presents them in an open way without timers or overly punishing consequences. The demo already has a lot to offer and also includes information about future plans for the game and invites players to complete a feedback survey. I’m expecting good things from Potion Craft and will be keeping a close eye on its progress!
Backbone is an anticipated noir detective adventure in which the player takes on the role of Howard Lotor, a raccoon and private eye. Inspired by classic RPGs, Howard must sneak through diverse districts of a now walled-off dystopian Vancouver, sniff out clues, interrogate witnesses, and choose which leads to follow.
Ring of Fire: Prologue
One of the darker of the upcoming games on this list, Ring of Fire features graphic content and sensitive subject matter and a specific trigger warning can be found on the title’s store pages.
The game is a detective noir puzzler set in the post-heatwave year of 2062, in the ‘solarpunk’ utopia of New London in which it is common for people to lead multiple lives through the use of registered animal-themed masks and different identities. Players take on the role of Detective Grosvenor, a jaded, middle-aged woman, and her rookie partner, hunting through the dark corners of the city in pursuit of a radicalised serial killer. The puzzles and gameplay are very satisfying; Ring of Fire is designed to be played with a notepad and pen and requires deductive problem solving along with a police database and sat nav!
The game has some great stylised aesthetics, recognisable as the work of Far Few Giants. It consists of vibrant low poly artwork and models, all in high contrast and deliberate colour palettes and atmospheric lighting that help to set the scene well. Certain sound effects are truly visceral and the eerie background music is a distinct mix of electronic, lo-fi sounds and a definite noir vibe, subtle in its emotional guidance. The evocative descriptions and writing add the audio and visual elements to make a truly engaging experience.
Both the backstory for the game’s dystopian, futuristic setting and the primary narrative presented in the 40-minute demo are incredibly intriguing and there is little doubt that the full experience will be a gripping and sinister tale that will provide a lot of entertainment.
She Dreams Elsewhere – Demo
She Dreams Elsewhere is the debut video game project from Studio Zevere, a one-man indie game development and film studio. The game is a surreal adventure RPG about dreams and the extent to which they mirror reality. The player takes on the role of Thalia Sullivan, an anxiety-ridden, comatose woman on a journey to defeat the nightmares preventing her from awakening, while also uncovering the past that led her there.
There are all sorts of upcoming games on this list, from RPGs and platformers, to puzzles and detective noir, there is something for everyone. None of them take more than an hour and they’re all free so there’s no reason not to try a few and maybe find yet another new game to be excited about! It’s certainly looking like a good year for indie games!