New month, new batch of cool games that may have flown under your radar. This time, I have seven such games to show you all – some big, some small, but hopefully at least one of which catches your interest. As usual, thanks to the publishers who sent these games to me in order to make this list possible and let’s go ahead and get started.
It’s an inevitable comparison, so I’m just gonna say it. Yes, Ex-Zodiac is pretty much a modern, indie take on Star Fox 64. It’s an on-rails shooter complete with a bunch of cool-looking levels, neat enemies to take down, and some very intuitive controls. Not even a few minutes in and you’re already blasting away and even get the little dialogue box at the bottom providing mission updates.
It’s fast, it’s difficult, and unfortunately a little bit light on the content given its Early Access status, but at the end of the day, it’s a fun one and a great recommendation if you’re into these retro games or even if you’re just an arcade shooter fan in general. I am excited to see what the final product will shape up to be.
Ex-Zodiac retails for $10 USD and is available on Steam as an Early Access title.
Perhaps the biggest surprise this past month was Hell Pie. It’s a third person 3D platformer with all the heart and soul that used to go into that genre packed into one obscene little package. You play as Nate, a demon whose sole task throughout the game is to gather the ingredients for Satan’s birthday pie. This will take you all over and it’s here where the design really shines. There’s a ton of little details scattered everywhere, collectibles that are genuinely fun to seek out, and the sheer variety offered by all of these environments is some absolutely solid stuff.
And of course, that is on top of some already solid movement mechanics, a fun little skill tree to go down, and a lighthearted, yet entertaining story to tie everything together. It even has all the RTX goodness like ray tracing and DLSS support. Honestly, it’s a shame that this one has gone as overlooked as it has and I will definitely be finishing this one up.
Hell Pie retails for $25 USD and is available on Steam. It is also available through GOG and on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X|S. You can get an official Steam key 10% off and support the channel using my Gamesplanet partner link.
Over the past year, Cave has solidified itself as my favorite developer in the shoot ‘em up genre and Deathsmiles is yet another example as to why. It’s ridiculously fast, there’s always something to shoot at, there’s like a hundred bullets on-screen that need to be dodged – it is chaos in the best way possible and an exemplary showing of what this genre can offer. And with this release, there’s not just one, but two games to play through and all of the bonus game modes too (arcade, ver 1.1, arrange, etc.).
The aesthetic is really bizarre, but honestly, I kinda like it and am a big fan of how Cave just comes up with this super unique stuff and somehow makes it work as well as it does. 100% a game I would recommend for genre fans or even those looking to get into it – it’s just that good.
Deathsmiles I・II retails for $40 USD and is available on Steam and GOG. It is also available on PS4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and Switch.
I will admit, I did not go into this one with high expectations. The graphics are kind of crude, the UI could use a lot of work, and it just looked like a massive learning curve. Well, I started it up, played through the tutorial, and quickly lost myself to the world of Clanfolk. It’s a medieval survival game set in the Scottish Highlands and comes with all the bells and whistles you would expect from that genre.
Hunting for food, building shelter, learning how to farm, crafting a wide variety of tools, growing your clan, and even trading with others. It is indeed as complex as it looks, but I had a surprisingly good time with it and quickly found myself wanting to learn all these little mechanics and how to best optimize my clan. It’s still in Early Access – and honestly, it’s for the better, the UI could really use some improvement – but it’s still definitely worth a look if you are into the survival genre.
Clanfolk retails for $20 USD and is available on Steam as an Early Access title.
I’m usually the first one to dismiss first-person indie horror games because I’ve simply played far too many terrible ones, but MADiSON is actually pretty good. It’s a horror game that prioritizes its psychological elements over random jump scares and chase sequences (although it still does have a bit of that) and this works to great effect with its simple, yet engaging story. You’ll be solving puzzles, exploring the divide between reality and the beyond, and taking a lot of pictures along the way.
Your camera is a means to gather information and trigger events that otherwise would have been impossible to see or do and this is combined into the puzzles in a rather cool way. Granted, not all of these puzzles land – there are a few that outright are just bad – but I left the experience satisfied with what was offered. A straightforward, fun, and engaging horror game without any of the fluff, technical faults, or overreliance on genre tropes that usually come from such games. I recommend it.
MADiSON retails for $35 USD and is available on Steam. It is also available through GOG and on PS5, Xbox Series X|S, and Switch.
Necrosmith is a bit of an interesting one. It belongs in that same category as Loop Hero where it feels like an idle game, but it’s a lot more involved than just that. Here, you take up the role of necromancer and have to create all sorts of weird skeletons, zombies, and orcs using six different body parts in any possible combination. Sometimes you’ll have a skeleton head with an orc body dual wielding shields, or maybe a skeleton mage with zombie legs, or maybe one that is just a mashup of everything.
These units automatically explore, but can be controlled manually, and in doing so, they find more body parts to work with, more buildings to automatically gather materials for you, and – of course – enemy lairs that will spawn units to go after your base – which, when destroyed, ends the run. It’s got a bit of a deckbuilding element to it, a bit of a strategy, tower defense, it’s a nice little mashup of genres and a little bit of a weird one to recommend, but one I am going to do so regardless.
Necrosmith retails for $3 USD and is available on Steam and GOG. You can get an official Steam key 10% off and support the channel using my Gamesplanet partner link.
The Tarnishing of Juxtia
Another month, another 2D souls-like and as a fan of that genre – of course I had to give The Tarnishing of Juxtia a look. Right from the start, the Souls inspiration is apparent. I mean, the main menu button sound effects are really all you need to hear to get that. Once in game though, it plays a lot like 2018’s Death’s Gambit. You navigate this metroidvania-like map, unlock new weapons, armor, and abilities, take down numerous different enemy types, and – of course – duke it out with bosses ten times your size.
I will admit, the combat is a bit clunky and the environments a bit bare, but I had a good time with it and quickly found myself experimenting with different loadouts while also dying a lot. Not the best I’ve seen from this genre, but decent enough to be worth a look for fans of said genre.
The Tarnishing of Juxtia retails for $25 USD and is available on Steam and GOG.
And that’ll do it for this month. Again, quite the variety this time around. A survival game, a side scrolling shooter, a first-person horror game – my personal favorite ended up being Deathsmiles I・II, but hopefully at least one of these caught your interest. I’ll see you all again around this time next month.