Indie Games Spotlight is Goomba Stomp’s biweekly column where we showcase some the most exciting new and upcoming indie games. This week we have hands-on impressions of a dystopian time loop adventure, a look at an emotional visual novel from Annapurna Interactive, and even something for cyberpunk and mecha fans alike. If you’re looking for a new indie to get hyped about, we’ve got you covered.
Get Lost in the Overloop
Some of the best fiction of the last 100 years originates from a common core concept: what would happen if humanity makes a brilliant scientific breakthrough and takes it too far? In the case of George Kobyakov’s Overloop, the name of the game is cloning. Be it for monetary gain or genuine intentions, the boss of your organization wants the duplication technology perfected, and as one of the brightest engineers in the business, you have the honors of getting it just right.
The crux of Overloop’s Digital Dragons Indie Celebration demo began when it let players freely create clones to traverse and overcome some rather brutal environmental puzzles. Clones can be created as long as the machine has a charge, and refills are more than plentiful. The carbon copies in the demo could be used to stand on switches, turn off lasers, and give you a boost to tough to reach ledges, but the potential for how clones can be used later on feels near limitless.
What really stood out, however, was the constant moral dilemma of giving clones the same amount of respect and treatment as humans. Overloop presents both sides: clones protesting for equal rights, and “Originals” insisting that clones couldn’t possibly be treated the same as their originators. This folds right into the gameplay, even subconsciously; when I wasn’t sure if I’d survive a laser or jump, I’d always make a clone take the plunge and spare the original scientist despite the sprites looking identical. If Overloop can consistently nail this melding of gameplay, narrative, and moral decision making, it’ll end up being a must-play when it releases “soon” on PC.
Becoming Rogue Heroes: Ruins of Tasos
There’s a certain segment of the Zelda fanbase that holds up Four Swords Adventures and Tri Force Heroes as some of the best entries in the series. Much like those multiplayer-centric titles, Rogue Heroes: Ruins of Tasos hones in on what makes cooperative multiplayer fun: top-down dungeon crawling, an overworld full of secrets to uncover, and intense action that lends itself perfectly to bouts of yelling and strategizing. Instead of an adventure game, however, Rogue Heroes is a 4-player action RPG with an expandable village as its hub.
Though it can be played solo, the real draw is being able to play through the entire campaign via local or online co-op. Procedural dungeons look to keep runs fresh, but Heliocentric Studios also promises that the rooms themselves are hand-crafted to avoid the design pitfalls that can come with random generation. Equally as enticing is the progression loop: after spending time felling enemies in the dungeon, players can use the resources they earn to upgrade their village’s shops and expand the overworld. You’ll be able to build up your village with a buddy when Rogue Heroes: Ruins of Tasos comes to Switch and PC this summer.
If Found… Please Play
If the last five years have taught us anything, it’s that we should take note when Annapurna Interactive picks up a new project. Publisher of critical darlings like What Remains of Edith Finch, Florence, Sayonara Wild Hearts, and The Outer Wilds, Annapurna’s eye for talent is one of, if not the best in the indie sphere. As such, there’s a fair bit of anticipation around If Found…, an interactive visual novel about the erasure of a diary and the destruction of the world.
Set at the end of 1993 on Achill Island, Ireland, If Found… follows the turbulent homecoming, familial conflicts, and uplifting friendships of a young woman named Kasio. Encompassing the events of one month, everything is illustrated via hand-drawn art that feels both rough and incredibly personal. Developer Dreamfeel is still holding the finer details close to its chest (which is understandable since the game is entirely plot-driven), but If Found… promises to be a journey of pain, joy, and everything in-between when it releases May 19th on Steam and the App Store.
Beware of the VirtuaVerse
Be it pirates or roguelikes, the games industry tends to go through waves of thematic trends every few years. Dystopian cyberpunk adventures seem to be next up, and if Theta Division’s point-and-click adventure VirtuaVerse is anything to go by, we’re in for a great next couple of years.
Players jump into the shoes of Nathan, a tech smuggler who makes his living selling modded hardware and software to the highest bidders. In a world where augmented virtual reality has been fully integrated into society, he’s one of the few who can unplug and see the world for what it really is. After the sudden disappearance of Nathan’s girlfriend, players will set out to travel the world, look for clues, solves puzzles, and overcome everything from malicious hacker groups to AVR technomancers.
With early impressions noting a satisfying difficulty curve, smart writing, and a wonderfully atmospheric soundtrack as highlights, VirtuaVerse seems like the perfect title to plug into–and it’s out now on PC!
Only True Soldiers Are Warborn
There aren’t many fanbases in gaming as underserved as mecha fans. Save for a handful of options like the Super Robot Wars series and last year’s Daemon X Machina, there simply isn’t much in the landscape to latch onto for fans of the genre. Enter Warborn, a turn-based tactics adventure with a cartoonish mech aesthetic. Raredrop Games’ latest creation will let players lead a mecha strike force in strategic skirmishes around the galaxy.
Though the art isn’t especially inspired, it’s the tactical warfare that makes Warborn so compelling. Much like Advanced Wars, you’ll command troops around a grid and use different types of terrain to your advantage as you capture structures to gain additional resources. Aside from shaking up the combat by adding in status effects, traps, and unique skills for each playable commander, Warborn promises to boast a story-driven campaign in addition to separate modes for CPU and online matches. Perhaps most exciting, however, is the fully featured map editor that allows you to share your creations online with friends. You’ll be able to get in on the impending war when Warborn releases on all platforms June 12th.