Starting off 2020 strong with a bunch of cool new games released this past month. Here are seven games that you may have missed in January 2020. Before we begin, I would like to thank all of the publishers who sent these games to me in order to make this article and with that said, let’s go ahead and dive in.
What better way to start off the new year than with an indie horror game, this one by the name Red Bow. In Red Bow you take up the role of Roh, a young girl who finds herself stuck in a series of nightmares, nightmares that will have you meeting strange creatures, solving various puzzles, and doing a little bit of exploring. It’s a story-driven game, one that encourages multiple playthroughs to get its various endings. The game is short enough that it isn’t that much of a pain to do so, with the entire experience taking maybe 1-2 hours to beat.
It’s not exactly an RPGMaker game, but it’s crafted in that same style, so if you’ve played the likes of Yume Nikki or The Witch’s House, you’ll feel right at home here with Red Bow.
Remember that game Portal? Well, take that and replace the whole portal mechanic with lights and shadows and you get Lightmatter, a game that feels so much like Portal that it is almost criminal. However that is not even a bad thing. Lightmatter is a game full of intricately designed environments, challenging puzzles, and a narrative that’s actually pretty interesting. The whole game revolves around the use of light to traverse each level, with dark spots killing you upon contact. You’ll spend your time moving around floodlights, activating various machines, doing some platforming, and uncovering the truth behind the substance known as lightmatter.
It’s a fantastic puzzle game that, while short at only 3 hours, was a fun experience nonetheless and definitely one I would recommend to fans of Portal. It takes pride in its inspiration too, directly referencing Aperture Science throughout its story.
Cook, Serve, Delicious! 3?!
It was just over two years ago that I reviewed Cook, Serve, Delicious! 2!!, a frantic management simulation game that, while stressful, was fun to play in short bursts. Now in 2020 we have the newest entry in that series, Cook, Serve, Delicious! 3?!. It takes all that the series has become known for – including its lighting fast gameplay, variety of food choices, fun co-op mechanics – and manages to expand on this in a number of ways. Aside from the vastly improved menu, there’s now the whole food truck mechanic, as the game takes place in war-torn 2042 America.
It is your job to deliver food around the country, craft menus to cater to each city, and meet your customers’ needs in a timely manner. As with its predecessors, it can be a very stressful game at times, but it’s all in good fun. Fans of the first two should definitely check it out, but even if you’re a newcomer, it’s worth a look if you’re into fast-paced management games. Cook, Serve, Delicious! 3?! is currently available as an Early Access title, with a full release expected somewhere around 4-6 months from now.
It seems that just about every month now we get a new top-down roguelite in the same vein as The Binding of Isaac. And at the same time, it’s about every month that I am impressed by such a game. Enter Ether Loop, an action roguelite that’s more bullet hell than it is twin-stick shooter. It’s a game with all the makings of a good roguelite, including a bunch of unique enemies, interesting boss fights, cool weapon upgrades and abilities, and all the various random encounters that make each run unique. In the case of Ether Loop, this can come in the form of a challenge room, a shop room, or even a trap room.
It may not be as complex as some of the other roguelites we’ve been getting as of late, but it was addicting enough that I actually lost track of time while playing. It’s a great effort for the genre and easily one that I would recommend.
Through the Darkest of Times
Berlin 1933. Hitler has just became chancellor of Germany and you are leading an underground resistance group against his regime. You are tasked with coordinating your members, sending them on missions, and keeping morale up all while avoiding detection and persecution. That is Through the Darkest of Times, a political strategy simulator that is heavy on story and decision-making. The gameplay is done in a turn-based manner, with you assigning your resistance members to go on various missions. These missions range from spreading anti-Nazi propaganda, to recruiting new members, and to more extreme acts like prison breaks and stealing money and equipment directly from the Nazis.
In-between turns are story segments that force you to make difficult decisions, some with very severe consequences and some that may benefit your group. It aims to capture the struggles felt by average people during the time period, something that I feel it does a pretty good job at. It’s a heavy, yet interesting experience overall and one that I would recommend. If you’re a fan of games like This Is the Police, then you’ll find a lot to like here.
Now, I don’t normally pick favorites in these videos, but in the case of The Pedestrian, it would be wrong not to. That is because The Pedestrian is not only one of the best puzzle-platformers I’ve played in recent years, but one of the most creative video games I’ve played period. I went in expecting just your average puzzle-platformer with maybe a few cool gimmicks, but left completely blown away by just about every aspect of the game.
You play as a little stick dude whose only goal is to reach the exit of whatever sign he’s currently on. Exiting one sign brings you to another, and another, and another, and so on throughout the game. However, along the way you’ll come across a variety of unique puzzle mechanics, some more complex than others, but all of which make for some really cool puzzles. The game is constantly introducing these too, even towards the end of the game, so there’s never a moment where it felt like I was just doing the same thing over and over. Combine that with the game’s incredible visual style and you’ve got yourself a fantastic puzzle-platformer, one that I can easily see myself recommending for years to come.
Not For Broadcast
We got not one, but two political games this past month, this one taking a rather interesting form. Not For Broadcast is a game that puts you in control of the news as a radical government takes power. You get to decide what camera shots to use, what pictures to show, what advertisements to play, what words to censor, and all of the other stuff that comes with running a news program. Given the game’s political themes, it is effectively a propaganda simulator, as you can easily sway the public towards the new government with what you decide to show. However, you can also do the opposite and face any consequences that come your way as a result.
It sounds quite serious, but the game actually has a good bit of humor to it, with some of the news segments bordering on being a straight-up comedy. As it stands, the game is a bit light on content having only three levels, but is expected to grow to 10 by the time it is out of Early Access, around 18 months from now according to the Steam page. Regardless, I did like what was there and am looking forward to how the final game shapes up.
And that will bring my list to a close. This was honestly one of the best batches of games I’ve played for this series and might actually be my favorite batch yet. From the fun platforming brought by The Pedestrian to the unique puzzle solving in Lightmatter, there was definitely a lot to enjoy there.