Time for another one of these lists where I give you the rundown on some cool games you may have missed this past month. I have six of them this time, so thanks to the publishers who sent them to me in order to make this list possible and let’s go ahead and get right into it.
If you couldn’t already tell by my other videos, I love these arcade side-scrolling shooters. Huntdown is a perfect example as to why. Simple, yet effective game mechanics, a wide variety of fun weapons to use, and some solid level design are just a few things it has going for it. It’s a game where you play as a bounty hunter and each level has you go through a platforming bit before reaching your bounty. There are 20 of these levels, including 20 unique boss fights that really bring out the genre’s strengths.
And of course, it is a difficult game on top of that. I probably died over 100 times during my playthrough, but I had a blast during the three or so hours it took to clear – and that was only on normal difficulty. Other than that, it’s also a good-looking game and a good-sounding one, with some nice pixel art displayed at 1440p 60 fps in its full glory. It’s easily one of the best I’ve played in the genre in years and 100% one I would recommend.
Steam page. Huntdown retails for $20 USD and is available on Steam and GOG as well as Switch, PS4, Xbox One, iOS, and Android.
Tanto Cuore is probably one of the most weeb games I’ve ever played, but it’s a pretty good time once you get into it. It’s a deckbuilder based on an actual card game where you rack up points by employing maids to your mansion. These maids can have a variety of different effects, but winning ultimately relies on how many of these maids grant victory points. Some give a flat amount, whereas some only give points as a set with another card or even sets of itself with different effects for odd or even totals.
So, while the goal is simple, there’s a lot of stuff on top of it that really elevate it – and that’s before you get into stuff like illnesses and bad habits that you can inflict on your opponent’s maids. Rounds last around 30 minutes or so and the gameplay is fairly fast – there’s no real downtime here (at least in singleplayer). The multiplayer may be mostly dead – but I had a good time with the singleplayer and if you’ve got some weeb friends to play it with, then you’ll probably like it even more.
Steam page. Tanto Cuore retails for $10 USD and is available on Steam
I honestly cannot remember the last time I played an FMV game, but Erica shows that I definitively should give the genre more attention. It’s effectively a multi-route movie, where your decisions determine where the story goes and which of the six different endings you end up with. The story is a mix of psychological thriller, horror, crime, and a bit of action too and, while it does have its fair share of writing issues – it is a reasonably fun mashup and the interactive elements on top of it really sell the experience.
I went into it expecting decisions to freeze the game before cutting to what I chose, but it is a lot more interactive than what I was expecting. Being able to open doors, move around objects, making decisions while characters are speaking – it’s pretty advanced compared to the FMVs I’ve played in the past. As a massive movie buff and fan of interesting stories in general, it was quite the experience and – although not for everyone – worth a look if any of that sounds interesting.
Steam page. Erica retails for $12 USD and is available on Steam and on PS4.
Before We Leave
Another month, another neat, laidback city-building strategy game. Before We Leave is a bit bigger in scope though, as you’re not just building one city, but multiple across a bunch of different islands and eventually even planets. You’ll quickly grow out of your one little island and then have these trade routes going everywhere, mines all over the mountains, and pretty much every tile occupied with at least something.
It has all of the genre staples, including resource management, economics, pollution, happiness, transportation efficiency – quite a lot underneath that seemingly casual art style. Still, it never loses that laidback nature, with nice music and an overall gameplay style that doesn’t have you worrying about every little thing. Definitely a cool city builder overall and worth a look for genre fans.
Steam page. Before We Leave retails for $20 USD and is available on Steam.
I don’t know what it is with 2D weeb games lately and dropping young girls into super-dark game worlds, but that’s pretty much Lost Ruins. You play as that young girl on a quest to recover her memories and figure out the secrets behind the Lost Ruins – a dark and dangerous dungeon full of all sorts of baddies.
Combat is done in real-time and there are quite a lot of weapons to choose from, including all sorts of blades, throwables, and even magic. Exploration is done in Metroidvania style, with a large map and connecting rooms everywhere, encouraging you to come back and explore once you have the proper tools. When you are not doing either of these, you’re probably dying, as this is a brutally difficult game and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t already die ten or so times by the first hour mark. Still, it is a fairly fun 2D action-platformer and if you can handle such a challenge, do check it out.
Steam page. Lost Ruins retails for $20 USD and is available on both Steam and GOG with a planned release for PS4, Switch, and Xbox One.
Essays on Empathy
Essays on Empathy is quite unlike anything I’ve ever seen on Steam. It’s essentially a packaged collection of ten different indie games. And these are VERY indie games, like the type you would see on itch.io. They span a bunch of different genres but all with the goal of providing a narrative gaming experience. One game has you doing pottery while working to improve the human race through technology, while another has you browsing a bookstore looking to find the perfect comic to gift your father for his birthday.
My favorite of the bunch was a deckbuilding game where you played as a comedy duo. It’s all over the place like this and – although not all of them land quite right – I did like the overall package. It was very cool to see a development team tackle so many concepts through all these different games. And yes, some of these concepts are pretty heavy – if the title of the game didn’t already make that obvious. It’s probably the toughest sell among all the games I discussed today, but it’s just so unique that I had to share it.
Steam page. Essays on Empathy retails for $13 USD and is available on Steam, GOG, and itch.io.
And that’s all for this month’s list. A bit shorter than what is usual, but some solid games regardless. A fun arcade platform shooter, a movie, a card game about maids – hopefully at least one of them caught your interest and as usual, I have included links to all of them (including the intro and outro games) in the description. So, check them out if you are interested and do subscribe for more from this series – I’ll catch you guys with the next one in July.