New month, new list, new batch of games that may have flown under your radar this past month. I think this is actually the biggest list I’ve done so far for the series – 10 games – so let’s not waste any more time. Thanks to the developers and publishers who sent these games to me and let’s go ahead and get started.
I don’t know why I keep wanting to read the title as Mr. Pepper, but this is Mr. Prepper and it’s a very interesting take on the base-building genre. It’s a survival, crafting, time management, simulator of sorts that has you building a secret bunker underneath your house with the goal of eventually escaping the dystopian society you find yourself in. To do this, you’ll need to trade for supplies with neighbors, go out and scavenge for materials at the forest and mines, and build up a self-sustainable bunker that provides you with all the necessities, such as food and power.
The catch is that this all has to be done secretly, as an agent will come by to check the home every week and will report anything suspicious to the agency. Stuff like having too many barrels in the backyard or even not having enough cups in the kitchen will all raise suspicion and given that you can only do so much in one day, it becomes this balancing act of expanding your bunker, while also making sure to prepare for these visits. Although it can be a bit clunky in some areas – like combat – it’s still a fun experience and one that base-building fans should check out.
Steam page. Mr. Prepper retails for $20 USD and is available exclusively on Steam.
The Life and Suffering of Sir Brante
The Life and Suffering of Sir Brante is as dark as its title implies. It is a choose your own adventure game where you are born into this broken, cruel world, one where social class decides everything and life is simply unfair for the majority (not unlike our real world in a way). But the catch here is that you are in complete control of Sir Brante. You make every decision, you decide which personality strengths to emphasize, you decide how he will live his life.
Will he fight against this inequality? Will he simply live with it? Or perhaps go in a completely different direction? It is a very freeform game with a lot of difficult decisions to make. You certainly can’t please everyone or accomplish everything you set out to do, but it’s a fun journey regardless and a great example of the quality contained within this often-overlooked genre.
Steam page. The Life and Suffering of Sir Brante retails for $20 USD and is available on both Steam and GOG.
Now this is a brilliant little strategy game. Simple concept, but fantastic execution. That’s Dorfromantik, a casual, yet challenging strategy game built around the concept of building an entire world using nothing but hexagonal tiles. You’re given a limited number of these tiles to start with and the game ends when you run out. However, completing in-game objectives adds more tiles to the deck, so the challenge comes in the form of seeing how long you can keep building up this little world before your deck runs dry.
These objectives can be anything from creating a forest of this many trees to having a river of this specific length, you have to balance where to place tiles in order to create biomes (which earn you points) while also satisfying these different objectives. It’s such a simple setup, but one I easily found myself drawn into and before I knew it, I had this massive web of forests, cities, trains, and rivers going everywhere. It’s a very fun little strategy game and an easy recommendation, even for those that don’t really play the genre.
Steam page. Dorfromantik retails for $10 USD and is available on both Steam and GOG as an Early Access title.
Venus: Improbable Dream
On my hunt for unique and interesting stories, I play a ton of visual novels from both established studios and these more indie creators. I find that many overlook the latter due to the lack of production values, but if you’re like me and just looking for a good story, then Venus: Improbable Dream might be worth checking out.
You play as Akane Kakeru, a 17 year old born with a disfigurement that he despises. He leads a life of depression and severe anxiety, rarely stepping out of his comfort zone. That is, until he decides to change and try to join the school’s music club. This is where he meets Fujiwara Haruka, a disabled girl that loves music, but is incredibly shy. A dynamic forms here and you get a story that explores both of these characters while also tackling serious subjects along the way. It honestly reminded me a lot of Katawa Shoujo, both with its balancing of the two subjects and the fact that both come from indie creators. Of course, it may be a hard recommendation given its subject matter, but a recommendation I’ll make nonetheless.
Steam page. Venus: Improbable Dream retails for $13 USD and is available on Steam and itch.io.
Rogue State Revolution
I play quite a few of these geopolitical strategy games, but I think Rogue State Revolution might be the first one to do that while also being a roguelike. The experience is divided into different “runs” and there’s procedural generation to match, so it’s not like your everyday strategy game. It plays very quickly, only allowing you to take a few actions per turn, but often giving you more to worry about than what you can achieve with just those four actions. This gives each turn a lot more weight than what we usually get with these games and I won’t deny it is VERY difficult as a result.
However, if you can get over that learning curve and get into things, it’s a reasonably fun strategy game. It’s got the genre staples on lock, a decent amount of depth, and even some FMV cutscenes to tell the story. It may not look the best and the UI could use some work, but it’s worth a look for fans of strategy games.
Steam page. Rogue State Revolution retails for $15 USD and is available on Steam.
Alice and You in the planet of numbers
So, fun fact. I actually enjoy these retro, throwback-style games. Those that have a simple concept and can be picked up in mere minutes, but require far more than that to be mastered. That’s basically Alice and You in the planet of numbers, the latest offering from Mindware – a studio that specializes in such games. It’s graphics and gameplay are reminiscent of 80s arcade games, with the goal being twofold: clear as many tiles as possible and earn as high a score as possible. To do so, you have to navigate a grid of numbers, with the catch being that you can only move the specified number in a given direction. So, if the tile says 5, you can only move 5 in that direction or fewer if you manage to hit a wall.
As you can imagine, this grows complex fairly quick, as you’ll want to calculate your moves well ahead of actually making them in order to avoid getting stuck and having to restart. It’s the type of game where certain strategies can excel, it’s just a matter of figuring out the game mechanics and how to work around them. It’s not necessarily a game you play to beat (although there are achievements to unlock), but if you’re a fan of retro games, do give it a look.
Steam page. Alice and You in the planet of numbers retails for $7 USD and is available on Steam.
So what if you took the building and decorating element of The Sims and turned that into a management game? That is basically The Tenants in a nutshell and it just so happens that that mashup really works. You play as a landlord and your job is to go around, fixing up properties, decorating them for clients, and building up your own property empire at the same time. Of course, as any good landlord would do, you have to find that optimal balance between spending as little money as possible and making sure your tenants are happy.
It’s got a touch of economics, a lot of creativity with the decorating and such, and some random events to spice things up along the way. I play a ton of these tycoon games and can definitely say that this is one of the better ones, especially lately when we’ve been flooded with low-quality alternatives. Recommended for fans of the genre.
Steam page. The Tenants retails for $20 and is available on both Steam and GOG as an Early Access title.
Mail Mole is as straightforward a 3D platformer can be, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. Too often we have new 3D platformers come out that fail in areas like level design, gameplay variety, and the like. Mail Mole is a testament that all you need in a fun 3D platformer is to hit all of those staples – nothing more, nothing less. You play as a simple mole, who just so happens to be a mailman on a quest to save Carrotland from disaster.
The gameplay has you cannoning into other worlds Mario-style and venturing forth until you reach a mailbox, both clearing the level and powering up a section of the hub world at the same time. These levels are a mix of traditional platforming, racing, puzzle, and other neat mechanics to really make each world its own thing. It’s definitely not a game for everyone, but worth a look if you’re a 3D platforming freak like I am.
Steam page. Mail Mole retails for $15 USD and is available on Steam and on Switch, PS4, and Xbox One.
Sometimes you need one of these minimalist indie puzzle games to play in-between other, larger games, and that’s exactly what Sizeable was to me. It’s a puzzle game built around the concept of exploration, with each puzzle being a diorama that you can interact with through shrinking and growing of its different elements. Doing so reveals other hidden objects or otherwise opens the way for the solution. It’s not a difficult game by any means, but I quite liked the presentation here. It’s nice, clean, simple, and is the perfect length to play during a small break.
It shouldn’t take you longer than an hour to solve the main puzzles, but there’s also hidden goodies and other extras to find for those that get really into it – I myself only had one out of the four total achievements by the time the credits rolled. I did have a good time with it though and would recommend it to fans of such puzzle games.
Steam page. Sizeable retails for $10 USD and is available on both Steam and itch.io.
Pile Up! Box by Box
Closing out the list with a family-friendly one. It’s called Pile Up! and it’s a co-op 3D puzzle-platformer that is the perfect game to play with a younger sibling or other family members. The gameplay is a combination of the usual 3D platforming – nothing too complex there – but with puzzles designed around the use of different boxes. The basic ones allow you to build staircases and reach higher platforms while the more specialized ones allow you to do higher jumps or even grab other boxes from far away.
Of course, this is all done with a vibrant, colorful, and boxy aesthetic, the perfect complement to its casual gameplay. There’s also minigames, secrets to find, and a lot of collectibles, which can then be used to deck out your boxes. The co-op is drop in/out, so it is a great family game to play in short sessions.
Steam page. Pile Up! Box by Box retails for $15 USD and is available on both Steam and GOG. A version for Switch, PS4, and Xbox One is planned as well.
And that will bring this massive list to a close. I usually have maybe six or seven in these lists, but I had ten this time – and that was after cutting a couple to make the list shorter. Hopefully at least one caught your eye and as usual, all the links and such are included in the article. Do check them out if you are interested and check back around this time next month for a new list!