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Indie Games Spotlight — Sights on Surrealism



Bilkins Folly

Indie Games Spotlight is Goomba Stomp’s biweekly column where we highlight some of the most exciting new and upcoming independent games. This week we’re featuring a touch of the surreal, with indies that take place in other worlds and fantastical dimensions. Whether you want an RPG set in a rodent kingdom, a magical adventure in feudal Japan, or an emotional journey to reconcile with trauma, this spotlight has a bit of everything. Let’s get things started!

GIF: Laura Shigihara

Make a New Start in Mr. Saitou

Over time, isolation, and social anxiety: that’s the white-collar worker life of Mr. Saitou. But after a near-death experience lands him in the hospital, Mr. Saitou finds himself whisked away to a fantastical world full of bizarre creatures intent on teaching him the secret to happiness. So begins Mr. Saitou, a bite-sized adventure game that places a firm emphasis on humor and friendship.

Mr. Saitou is a nonviolent adventure free from combat of any sort. Instead, the focus is firmly on its characters, which include (but are certainly not limited to) the Sphinx of Basic Math, rapping sunflowers, and plenty of gopher-like creatures. Exploration, hilarity, and possibly even some heartwarming stories ensue as Mr. Saitou explores his new environment in a search for happiness. Mr. Saitou can be completed in a single sitting, but the experience promises to be a memorable one when it releases on March 23 on PC via Steam–and in the meantime, there’s a demo available now on PC!

GIF: Jeremy Noghani

Big Adventures, Small Saga

The tiniest critters might just have the biggest adventures in Small Saga. This turn-based RPG takes place in the sprawling kingdom of Rodentia, a medieval realm hidden under the streets of London inhabited by rats, shrews, and mice. The story follows Verm, a rodent whose tail was stolen by the Yellow God of Death–spurring him to embark on a journey where he will fight any beast and titan in his path to recover what he lost.

With no random encounters and no grinding, Small Saga promises to be the best kind of retro-styled RPG. Small Saga focuses on its boss bottles, emphasizing them as climatic encounters against all-consuming foes who must be faced in strategic combat. With lush pixelated graphics reminiscent of classic Super Nintendo and Genesis RPGs like Super Mario RPG or even Landstalker. Small Saga has yet to secure a release date, but there’s still some big news: you can try out its demo now on PC.

GIF: Squid Shock Studios

Walk down Bo: Path of the Teal Lotus

Have you ever found yourself wanting a “delightfully demonic East Asian fever dream” of a metroidvania? Then you’re in luck, as that’s exactly how Bo: Path of the Teal Lotus bills itself. This hand-drawn metroidvania takes place in a stunning hand-drawn world inspired by Japanese folklore, where players will rub shoulders with Japanese yokai, discover painterly vistas, and overcoming a series of platforming challenges.

Bo: Path of the Teal Lotus boasts stunning visuals, with landscapes that burst into color and vibrant characters that come to life with hand-drawn frame-by-frame animation. The world is fully interconnected, with new paths constantly unfolding the more you explore–and that’s not mentioning the screen-filling boss encounters too, which can be taken down with fast-paced aerial combat. Bo: Path of the Teal Lotus looks to be a promising adventure when it launches on PC in the near future.

GIF: Webbysoft

Set Sail in Bilkins’ Folly

There’s a lot to say about Bilkins’ Folly, but there’s one detail that stands out above them all: yes, you can pet the dog. This seafaring narrative adventure game sees players take the role Percy Bilkins, a treasure hunter searching for his missing mother and grandfather. His search is soon rudely interrupted by a shipwreck that leaves him stranded. Thankfully, he’s not alone: with his beloved dog Drayton by his side, Percy sets out on a new adventure to find a new ship, uncover some family secrets, and of course, uncover some buried treasure along the way.

Bilkins’ Folly features your adventure game fare of islands to explore, puzzles to solve, and memorable characters to meet. But most importantly, this is a story about a boy and his dog. Percy’s relationship with Drayton takes center stage: they can level up by spending quality time together, earning points that can be used to gain access to new regions and reach new treasures. It certainly helps that the game boasts an adorable animation style, where pixelated characters bop happily with every step–just look how floppy that dog is! Bilkins’ Folly sets sail in the near future, and was recently confirmed for Switch and PlayStation in addition to its original Steam release.

GIF: The Pixel Hunt

Relive the Moment of The Wreck

Sometimes, one moment can change it all. The Wreck follows a screenwriter named Junon, whose life has been a far cry from what she’d planned: her career is in shambles, her personal life leaves plenty to be desired, and now she’s called to the emergency room where her mother is in critical condition. And to top it all off, the decisions Junon makes today might just determine whether she gets to see tomorrow.

The Wreck is a 3D visual novel where players will have to navigate Junon’s memories and suppressed trauma to make it through this tumultuous day. By tracing Junon’s experiences and helping her find peace with herself, you can determine how she goes about the day, unlocking new dialogue options in the process. The Wreck promises an emotionally impactful experience, and the best part is that it’s available now on PC.

Campbell divides his time between editing Goomba Stomp’s indie games coverage and obsessing over dusty old English literature. Drawn to storytelling from a young age, there are few things he loves as much as interviewing indie developers and sharing their stories.

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