New year, new month, new list of cool games that you may have missed! This time I got five of them, all neat games that may have flown under your radar this past month. And I know this list is a little bit late, but I was busy powering through Nioh 2, so better late than never! Anyways, thanks to the publishers who sent these games to me in order to make this list possible. Now let’s get started!
So it’s been a while since I played a game like Olija. At its core, it’s a side-scrolling action-adventure with some simple pixel graphics, but as I played more and more, I grew to enjoy the little changes it offers to this formula. For one, you got some combat that, while visually it looks pretty basic, actually has a decent amount of depth to it. Multiple secondary weapons, combos between those and your primary, and even a harpoon that allows you to zip around the screen by latching onto enemies – it’s quite fun once it gets going.
However, it also has a sizeable story side to it, but not the kind of story you’re probably used to. It’s really out there and honestly a bit cryptic, being mostly told through weird cutscenes, character interactions, and the environment. It definitely caught my interest if anything, even if it may not be one of the game’s strong points. Olija is a short experience at around 3-5 hours, but worth a look if you’re a fan of these more stylized indie games.
Steam page. Olija is also available through GOG and on PS4, Xbox One, and Switch.
Skellboy Refractured may not bring anything new to the table, but it offers up some nice, clean family fun in a bright little package. You play as a Skippy, a skeleton on a journey to save the world from a magician and his army of monsters. Probably one of the most simple setups you could get, but it works well for how straightforward this game is. The gameplay has you going around through all these colorful areas, beating up enemies using a variety of different weapons, and swapping out your own body parts to unlock new abilities and such. You’ll occasionally run into a boss fight or some cool new mechanic or two, like mounted crossbows being used to drop hanging crates to then use as platforms.
It’s nothing too difficult – and there are plenty of checkpoints and health drops too – but it’s a fun little indie game to spend a few hours on (it should take less than 10 to clear). You can even go at it with a buddy in two player co-op and honestly, it kinda reminded me of the time when I used to sit back and play through the LEGO games with my brother many years ago. If that sounds like your thing, do check it out.
Steam page. Skellboy Refractured is also available on Switch.
Slobbish Dragon Princess
Another month, another Sekai Project visual novel. This time it’s Slobbish Dragon Princess, a bite-sized VN of around 3-5 hours, but a nice experience nevertheless. You play as Takeru, who one day comes across a small dragon that just happens to fall from the sky right in front of his home. You take in this dragon as a pet for a while before the story pulls the VN classic of having it turn into anime girl, who just so happens to be in love with the protagonist. It’s a very generic setup for sure, but it’s one the game does a decent job with, on top of doing so at a lightning pace.
I mean, you go from picking up this dragon and taking care of it for a little bit to suddenly dragons taking over the world and mind-controlling humans in like the first 20 minutes, it’s actually a bit insane how ambitious it got so early on. Character relations progress in a similar manner and I gotta say it was kinda refreshing in a way instead of giving us the usual story full of fluff and filler. That and the art is pretty good too.
The story’s not really trying anything new here, but it’s a decent read for the short time it lasts and reminded me a lot of How to Raise a Wolf Girl, another Sekai Project published VN from a little over a year ago. If you want a quick and digestible visual novel, this one might be of interest.
Steam page. Slobbish Dragon Princess is also available directly from publisher Denpasoft and has a free 18+ patch for the Steam version.
HROT is a bit of a unique one. It’s basically Quake, but with a bit of socialism and a lot of brown. I mean, the graphics are almost entirely different shades of brown, so there’s no escaping it. The game itself is also set in 1986 Czechoslovakia, which borders the Soviet Union, so you can kinda see the aesthetic that it is going for. Aside from that aesthetic though, HROT has some fun pretty fun classic FPS gameplay. There’s a decent selection of weapons to choose from, a variety of different enemies out to kill you, and some nice level design packing it all together.
However, it is also a difficult game, one where a single death restarts the entire level. Fortunately, once you know what to do on that level, you can speedrun back to where you were, so it isn’t like you’re losing a ton of progress. In fact, some of the most fun I had was playing it as fast as possible – gunning down enemies while seamlessly swapping between my different weaponry. It kinda reminded me of DOOM in this sense and if you’re a fan of such classic shooters, do give it a look.
Steam page. HROT is an Early Access game.
Snowtopia: Ski Resort Tycoon
Snowtopia is the latest tycoon management game to make its way to Steam, and as the title suggests – it has you building ski resorts. I am a sucker for such tycoon games, have been since I was in elementary school, and I gotta say that Snowtopia is off to a pretty good start for being an Early Access title. It’s got all the foundations on lock – including the actual building of slopes, lifts, and facilities as well as the management aspects of all of those. You have to make sure that the lifts don’t get overcrowded, that the slopes are well-maintained, and that no skier is left to die if they have some sort of accident while going down.
It’s very laidback for a tycoon game as well. The graphics are simple, yet functional, the music matches that, and the overall gameplay is fairly straightforward. The one complaint I have thus far is that the content is a bit lacking, but that’s to be expected from an Early Access game. I’m already looking forward to what the final product shapes up to be.
Steam page. Snowtopia is an Early Access game and also available on GOG.
And that’s the end of this month’s list. Shorter than usual, but cool games despite that. We had a neat action-adventure with Olija, a nice bite-sized VN through Slobbish Dragon Princess, and even a tycoon game to top it off with Snowtopia. Hopefully at least one game featured here caught your interest!