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Indie Games Spotlight – Innovation & Refinement

Looking for the best new indie games to try out? This week we spotlight five impressive titles across wildly different genres.

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indie games spotlight

Indie Games Spotlight is Goomba Stomp’s biweekly column where we spotlight some of the most exciting new and upcoming indies. Between the Steam Game Festival, Xbox’s Summer Game Fest, and the regular deluge of new titles coming out the last couple months, this summer has been jam-packed with exciting indie demos and releases. For this spotlight, we’re featuring a mix from all three instances that encompasses everything from RPGs to point-and-click adventure games and more. Let’s have a look!

Change the Future in YesterMorrow

YesterMorrow is a rather inconspicuous-looking game at first glance; it boasts pixel art that’s pretty but unremarkable and platforming that’ll feel instantly familiar to fans of the genre. What a quick glance can’t convey, however, is how well the team at Bitmap Galaxy has infused its game world with life. After her peaceful village is attacked by otherworldly creatures in the middle of a festival, Yu’s island becomes destitute, dangerous, and shell of the happy memories that once were. One day, however, she finds a way to turn back time and try to prevent such destruction from ever happening.

As a narrative-driven platformer with a splash of action and puzzle-solving, players will have to shift between the past and present and battle an array of corrupted creatures on their journey to cleanse the world of the Shadows. The move between the idyllic world of the past–and playing as a younger, less adept Yu–and the dark, treacherous future is both jarring and impressive in terms of how well the atmospheric changes are pulled off. With multiple abilities to master and some of the best worldbuilding and NPC dialogue I’ve seen this year (and that’s just from the demo), YesterMorrow is one to keep an eye out for when it releases on PC “soon.”


Escape from the Disc Room

Much like the fantastic HyperDot earlier this year, Disc Room thrives by hyper-focusing on a core gameplay idea, perfecting it, and building on it. Funnily enough, Disc Room is also a game about avoiding things–in this case, spinning discs of death. The year is 2089 and as a brave scientist, players have to explore a sprawling intergalactic slaughterhouse to get to the bottom of its mysterious existence.

The core concept is simple: run around and dodge discs for as long as possible. Where it gets interesting is when other elements are added, be they various disc types and sizes, dark rooms where just the player is illuminated, or new abilities like dashes. Add in a skill-based progression system and dev team time targets for each room and you’ve got an addicting “one more time” loop right up there with the best in the genre. You’ll be able to avoid all the discs you want when Disc Room releases later this year.


Tohu

Get Lost in the World of Tohu

Point-and-click adventure games are rather rare nowadays, but titles this year like LUNA: The Shadow Dust and now Tohu prove that there’s still plenty of life left in the genre. Fireart Games’ first self-published title is about a young girl with the strange power to transform into a robot named Cubus at will. Together, the two set off on a trek to learn more about the mysterious Sacred Engine that powers their mechanical world and solve plenty of mind-bending puzzles in the process.

Though the main selling point of Tohu might be its vibrant art and charming character animations, the dev team emphasizes the work they’ve put into crafting witty environmental puzzles based on The Girl and Cubus’ unique attributes (thankfully, there’s a built-in hint system should you get stumped). With a story spanning roughly eight hours and a score from Hollow Knight’s acclaimed composer Christopher Larkin, Tohu has a good chance of scratching that classic point-and-click itch when it releases this fall on PC and Mac.


For the People

By the People, For the People

For the People is described as a “social novel” that puts players in the shoes of a state official within a communist regime. Though there’ve been a few titles like this since Lucas Pope’s seminal Papers, Please in 2013, For the People provides a more expansive, narrative-driven take on the core formula. This is a text-heavy game where players will have to review appeals from city councils and citizens alike, decide how to allocate the budget based on need and political goodwill, and pull all the strings at their disposal to make the most informed decisions possible.

Beyond the political intrigue and meetings with council heads, however, it’s the story bits that really had me hooked during the demo. Your character has a name–Francis River–and a compelling storyline as he gradually gets used to his new position. He builds rapport with his receptionist, has chance interactions with workers union reps at rallies, and even starts to establish a social life and meet people at local bars. All of these extra interactions–aided by striking black and white comic book-esque cutscenes–give For the People an identity all its own. You can try it out for yourself in this demo or wait until it releases on PC August 13th.


Another Crusade

Another Crusade Worth Fighting

While we typically try to feature games that’re coming out in the immediate future, it’s also important to spotlight projects earlier in development from time to time. Another Crusade is one such title that stands out not only for its old school art style, but because its goal is to be the successor to Super Mario RPG. From a turn-based battle system where timed button presses are key to platforming elements and unique collectibles, Another Crusade is aiming to bring back that classic RPG feel from more than twenty years ago.

Thankfully, the team over at Dragonvein Studios also seems to be aware of the conveniences audiences expect from modern RPGs. Enemies encountered in the overworld will be killable in one blow if there’s a high enough level disparity, saving time and awarding money/experience instantly. Better yet, weapon and armor bloat is eliminated in favor of unique sets that offer different advantages (incentivizing players to collect them all). If this balance of traditional Super Mario RPG gameplay and modern sensibilities sounds enticing, fans may find it worth checking out the Kickstarter to bring this vision to life in Q4 2021.

Brent fell head over heels for writing at the ripe age of seven and hasn't looked back since. His first love is the JRPG, but he can enjoy anything with a good hook and a pop of color. When he isn't writing about the latest indie release or binging gaming coverage on YouTube, you can find Brent watching and critiquing all manner of anime. Send him recommendations or ask to visit his island in Animal Crossing: New Horizons @CreamBasics on Twitter.

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