It’s a new month, therefore I have a new list of cool games to talk about. In fact, this might be one of the biggest I have done in a while – there are ten games here from all sorts of genres. As usual, thanks to the publishers who sent these games to me in order to make this list possible and let’s get started.
Image & Form Games – the studio known for the excellent SteamWorld series – decided to shift away from that completely and design a full-blown 3D platforming action-adventure called The Gunk. You play as a space hauler who lands on a mysterious planet filled with – you guessed it – gunk. I was a bit skeptical, but honestly, it’s kinda fun. A bit basic gameplay-wise, yeah, but it’s oddly relaxing to explore these environments, suck up gunk, and solve these simple puzzles.
The movement is good, the levels look great, the story is decent, and it’s just the right length for its style of gameplay – around four hours. Is it necessarily something I would go out of my way to recommend? No, but if you have Game Pass, it is worth a look – it’s one of those perfect “Game Pass” games. But yeah, fun experience regardless.
The Gunk retails for $25 USD and is available on Steam, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X|S. It is also available through Xbox Game Pass.
Forgive Me Father
It may not be obvious, but I kinda like these “boomer shooters” – the simple, yet fast-paced FPS games done in the style of classics like DOOM or Quake. Forgive Me Father is a sort of cthulhu take on that genre, with enemies being these weird occult-looking things and the whole aesthetic just giving off that vibe, although with a sort of comic book front to it. However you describe it, the game looks really good and plays just as good as it looks.
You’ll find yourself whipping around corners, swapping between your small, yet effective arsenal, and blasting bad guys across a wide variety of stages. There are boss fights, weapon upgrades, and plenty of secrets to find as well. And yeah, there’s a Lovecraftian story to wrap it all together, but if I am being honest, I played with such a fast pace that that story may have just flown right over me. The whole thing takes around five hours to clear, so it’s not too long, but fun regardless and I’d say it is worth the recommendation.
Hatsumira -from the future undying-
Frontwing coming in and dropping a new visual novel out of nowhere – and one with a very cool plot. It’s called Hatsumira and the story revolves around a Japanese fighter pilot who crash lands during the Pacific War and somehow finds himself in this unfamiliar fantasy world. Yes, this is one of those rare isekai visual novels that we don’t get enough of. Anyways, he gets saved by a princess and suddenly becomes involved in the politics of this world while trying to find a way back home.
I have yet to finish the game, but what I’ve read has been some good stuff so far – better than a similar VN I played a while back by the name of Jeanne at the Clock Tower. The common route is this long, but focused story, the heroines are interesting, and the story – despite a seemingly lighthearted surface – actually gets pretty serious as it goes on. Really, I’m just happy we’re getting more fantasy VNs, we definitely don’t get enough of them and I might actually end up doing a full review on this one once I finish it up – it’s like a 40+ hour VN though so it might take a bit. In the meantime though, it’s looking good.
Hatsumira -from the future undying- retails for $40 USD and is available on Steam. A free 18+ patch is available.
ABRISS – Build to Destroy
Sometimes you just want to sit back and break things. Well, ABRISS is here to fit that very mood. It’s a minimalist physics puzzle game all about destroying large structures in the most magnificent way possible. Maybe you’ll need to make a trebuchet to launch some bombs onto a target or maybe you’ll need to strap those same bombs to a rocket. You start off small with simple “toppling blocks onto each other” style gameplay, but then eventually move up into this really cool stuff and the game does a good job keeping the experience going by introducing these new mechanics at a consistent rate.
Make no mistake though, it’s not an easy game by any means. There were quite a few levels I got stuck on for some time because I couldn’t figure out the physics of how to destroy a tower or how a rocket would attach to a platform. I mean, I didn’t really do too well in physics back in school anyways, but I can’t deny I like blowing stuff up so if that is your thing – give this one a look.
ABRISS – Build to Destroy retails for $17 USD and is available on Steam as an Early Access title.
Dune: Spice Wars
So maybe this one may not be so much a hidden gem, but a gem regardless. It’s called Dune: Spice Wars and if the title did not make it obvious – it is a game based on the classic Dune series, which had an excellent movie release last year. The game plays pretty much like a sci-fi Civilization game, and no – Beyond Earth does not count. You get plopped down onto Arrakis and have to gather spice, set up production for other materials, manage diplomacy, take over surrounding villages and factions, do some tech research – basically all you would expect from a 4X strategy game.
What’s surprising is that all of this is so fleshed out already and the game has only just launched into Early Access, so there’s only more to come. What is there is solid though and I’m a big fan of the Dune twist on the classic 4X formula. Sand worms, for example, are a big problem if you’re going to be marching around a bunch of units or trying to take over a village – as I quickly found out when one came up and devoured a handful of my first units. There is definitely more I am missing about this game, but from what I have played it is some good stuff and well worth a look for strategy game fans.
Another month, another action roguelike – this time one based on the Zodiacs. As in, each Zodiac gets its own boss battle. A cool concept and, although the game may be in Early Access, the base is all there and feels great to play. The combat is fast, fluid, and has a good amount of customization through the spell system. You get four spell slots and can equip new spells, modifiers, and upgrades to each slot as you progress in a run. It is a roguelike though, so the maps are not a set thing and you may get a god run or just get slapped in another.
Whatever the case, I had a good time playing through these runs. The game plays well, has some good music, and has some absolutely solid pixel art. An easy recommendation for fans of the genre and I am excited to see where the final product goes.
Astral Ascent retails for $25 USD and is available on Steam as an Early Access title.
Okay, this is a difficult one. It’s the type of retro 2D hack and slash platformer with all sorts of stuff out there to kill you – whether that be enemies with their random ranged attacks, environmental damage from hitting a spike that just had to be there, or getting slapped around by a boss and his screen-clearing attack patterns. That’s Ganryu 2 and it is as retro as they come. Great visuals, standard, yet fun gameplay, challenging level design – it’s got all that down. And it has reason to as well – given that it’s actually a sequel to 1999’s Ganryu released for the Neo Geo. No idea what caused the sudden sequel now over twenty years later, but I am all for these random retro Japanese games and Ganryu 2 is exactly that. It’s a tough recommendation to make for modern audiences, but one I will make regardless. And no, you don’t have to play the original first. At least, I didn’t.
Kapital: Sparks of Revolution
Okay so this one is a bit of an interesting case. It’s called Kapital: Sparks of Revolution and it’s a city builder with a heavy emphasis on resource management. In fact, that very emphasis leads to one of the most difficult city builders I have played in a while. Because unlike others in the genre, your city never stops growing. People are always arriving regardless of the living conditions and would much rather be homeless and sleep on the ground than not live in your city.
So not only are you researching, building, and upgrading your existing town, but you have to manage this constant inflow of people and if you let up on that – resources drain to the point where it is extremely difficult to recover from. So yeah – definitely not an easy or casual city builder by any means, which will make it a bit of a tougher recommendation. Regardless, it does have a solid base – including tons of different stuff to build, policies to implement, and the UI isn’t that bad either. Do give it a look if you are a city builder fan.
Peglin is a Pachinko Roguelike. That’s pretty much all I need to say about that one. I used to go hard at Peggle back in the day and nowadays I play a lot of roguelikes, so a combo of the two? Definitely sign me up for that. It has just launched into Early Access and, although kinda lacking in content with just three levels, the content that is there is great. The core gameplay is Peggle, but you get different orbs with different properties, different pegs with their own properties, and racking up points through the combination of these two is essential to taking out the enemies blocking your path.
Each board is its own thing and then you get to move on to the next – either an attack, a random event, a boss fight, all that usual roguelike stuff. And as you progress, you can upgrade your orbs and get other passive abilities to make your stuff even more overpowered and there is a nice sense of progression there. However, as this is a roguelike, do expect to get slapped at some point. I was doing completely fine my first run and practically killing it until this one room popped up and just annihilated me. Difficult, but still fun and for an Early Access title, it’s worth a shot.
Peglin retails for $20 USD and is available on Steam, GOG, and itch.io as an Early Access title.
So Dune isn’t the only space colonizing game we got this month – we also got Terraformers. This one is a bit different though, because the goal is less so domination and politics and all that and more so just survival. You’re plopped down onto Mars with just one city and have to build that up into this massive thing, all while keeping your various resources in check, your population’s happiness up, and making sure to explore every little bit of this new land. Just as with Kapital earlier in this list – this game does not mess around and within an hour I was already struggling with colony happiness despite having some decent resource spread.
It’s not the most in-depth strategy game, but I liked its laser focus on resource and colony management over all the extra politics, military, and transportation stuff. It kinda gives it a more casual feel without shedding that sense of challenge. And the fact that it is turn-based adds to this even more. Whatever the case, it’s another great Early Access release this past month that I would recommend to genre fans.
Yeah, so that’s it for this month’s list. A bit of a beefy one this time around, so hopefully at least one of these games caught your eye.