Okay, so this month I got quite a few games to talk about. In fact, there are nine of them, which I think is the most I have ever featured in one of these lists. With that said, thanks to the publishers who sent these games to me in order to make this list possible, and now let’s get right into the games.
Hotshot Racing is a reminder that you don’t need fancy visuals and complex game mechanics to make a fun racing game. All you need is a car, a track, some opponents, and a nice sense of speed and you’re good to go. In fact, the game really nails that last one – one of my first thoughts while playing it was: “wow, this is fast”.
It is a racing game done in the style of the arcade classics, like OutRun, Daytona USA, and Sega Rally. This applies both to its gameplay and its visuals, the latter of which are bright and colorful and definitely have that arcade look going for it. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised to see this as a cabinet in an arcade somewhere. The racing mechanics are simple, yet effective, the track designs look great, and it’s just fun to play. Sure, it’s a short game (took me about an hour to clear all the Grand Prix events), but for fans of retro racing games, I’d say it’s worth a shot.
So this is pretty much the video game equivalent of zen. It’s just a laidback indie game where you grow plants over abandoned wasteland dioramas. You click and place these plants, place objects around them to have them grow, and slowly turn each little level into this nature sandbox of sorts. That’s pretty much the entirety of the gameplay, but oddly enough, it works.
You’ve got these nice graphics, relaxing background music, and this stress-free gameplay to wrap it all together. It is 100% not a game for everyone, but I had a good time just sitting there, growing my plants, taking some screenshots, and playing around with the different objects to create some really cool dioramas. If that sounds like your thing, do give it a look.
As Far As The Eye
At first glance, I thought this was going to be some sort of traditional turn-based strategy game. I was surprised to learn that it’s actually a top-down survival game, but with a heavy emphasis on resource and worker management – two staples of the turn-based strategy genre. And then on top of that you have RPG-style skill trees and city builder elements – it’s quite the combo.
Your core goal is simply to make it to “The Eye”, the final level in the center of the world. To do this, you will need to recruit workers, task them with harvesting food, wood, and other resources, and construct the buildings and tools necessary to move to the next area before repeating again until you finally reach the Eye. Sounds simple enough, but that’s before you consider the flooding, as you’re only allowed to stay at each area for a short amount of time before a wave comes in and destroys everything, killing off your village in the process. So despite the cutesy art style, this makes the game rather difficult, and I found my village dying to flood, starvation, and illness on several occasions. Regardless, it’s still a pretty fun little survival-management game – not the best I’ve seen from the genre, but one that should be on your radar if you’re a fan of such.
So what happens when you take the #20 highest rated board game and make it into a video game? Well, you get a good video game. Wingspan is a relaxing strategy card game where you collect birds, place them into different habitats, and combo their effects together to earn the most points by the end of the game. It can be played with up to five players, with the ability to have bots take over any vacant space. This can be done locally or online – I actually ended up using Steam Remote Play to play the game with a friend who didn’t own it.
On top of having some fantastic art and music, the core gameplay is solid as well. It’s got an excellent blend of card drafting, hand management, and short-term bonuses to work towards that end up helping you out later on. If you haven’t tried out the actual board game, or even if you have, the video game adaptation is definitely one to look out for.
Welcome to Elk
I really don’t even know where to begin with this game. It’s an adventure game at its core, but it just does so much different from what’s usual in the genre that I find it hard to simply classify it as such. You take up the role of Frigg, a young carpenter who finds herself at Elk for an internship opportunity. Elk is a small town isolated from the world, and you quickly discover that there’s more to it than what appears.
The result is a Steam disclaimer that goes as follows: “The game contains scenes including death, children experiencing murder, alcohol abuse, sexual assault, prostitution, violence and offensive language.”. So you can kinda already get that this is going to be a dark story, yet it doesn’t really make that obvious when you’re playing. It felt like I was playing some comedy adventure game, as I would go from having a dumb conversation with one character to playing this completely bizarre mini game where I was making human faces on a couple balloons. But then I would end up at some completely surreal scene where the walls were spinning and it was obvious something was up. As I said before, I don’t even know how to properly describe it, but it was just so intriguing to me that I just had to share here.
The Dungeon Of Naheulbeuk: The Amulet Of Chaos
Aside from having a long and difficult to pronounce name, Amulet of Chaos is a pretty neat little RPG dungeon crawler. Its got the turn-based tactics of XCOM, the RPG elements of Divinity, and the comedic storytelling of Magicka all rolled into one. And it does this with a nice little stylized art style to top it all off.
The game is actually based on a French fiction series, but I had no problems following along with it as someone completely unfamiliar. You’re tossed into this dungeon, given a nice tutorial, and then you’re pretty much free from there. There’s a quest system, a bunch of skill trees, and actually a nice amount of depth to the combat. You gotta position units correctly, set up overwatches, and combine attacks together to deal damage efficiently and I had a good time figuring it all out. Granted, I pretty much always like such tactics games, so if you’re also a fan, I’d recommend checking it out.
When The Past Was Around
I’ve always been a sucker for these short point-and-click adventure games, especially if they can tell a good story. When The Past Was Around is exactly that kind of game, taking me just over an hour to clear, but telling a powerful story about love, remembrance, and moving on. It’s depressing for sure, but it’s honestly quite moving, and it does this without any voice acting or even written dialogue. Just goes to show how powerful good art can be in telling a story.
The gameplay takes the form of a hidden object-style point-and-click, with various objects hidden around the level and the goal being to seek them out, find where they fit, and solve different puzzles along the way. The “finding everything” part is relatively easy, it’s the puzzles that can put up a bit of a challenge and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t stuck at some point in the game. The core mechanics may not be all that complex, but if you’re a fan of storytelling like I am, definitely check this one out.
Another month, another cool roguelike to take a look at. This time we got Going Under, a roguelike dungeon crawler that has you exploring the ruins of failed tech startups. Yes, that means you’ll be picking up keyboard, throwing staplers at enemies, and doing all the other usual stuff that comes with such tech startups. If you couldn’t already tell, the game is actually a satire on that very industry, which is quite the setting for a roguelike, but one I’m all for.
It looks goofy, but it plays a lot like what we’re used to from the genre. You enter a randomized dungeon, explore it floor by floor, and take out enemies and bosses along the way. Here you’re able to equip up to three items, pick up stuff off the floor and throw it, and even drive little exploding death cars around. It’s kinda all over the place, mashing together a bunch of genres, but doing so in a way that actually works. For fans of roguelikes, I definitely recommend it.
So why have one roguelike on this list when I can have two? Atomicrops is yet another cool roguelike, bringing all that makes that genre fun, but combining it with a farming sim. On one hand, you’re playing Stardew Valley, but on the other, you’re exploring the surrounding land, picking up seeds, upgrading your gear, and, well, playing a roguelike.
The “Atomi” part of the name comes from the fact that all of this is done in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, so the enemies, environments, and even the crops you grow all reflect this. The game is split into a day and night cycle, with your crops being safe during the day, but raided during the night by enemies. This encourages the player to do their exploring during the day, and planting and defending during the night. After one cycle is over, you get sent back to the town to buy upgrades, weapons, seeds, and other goods. You can even flirt with the NPCs and end up marrying one of them, which again, provides some handy upgrades to aid in your farming and exploring. It’s one of the more unique roguelikes I have played and it’s 100% worth a look for fans of the genre.
So that brings a close to September 2020. Along with discussing more games than I usually do in one of these lists, I feel like we got the most variety this time as well. A farming sim roguelike, a retro arcade racer, and even an award-winning board game adaptation – some really nice games this time around. Thanks again for reading, I’m looking forward to what October has in store for us!