Indie Games Spotlight is Goomba Stomp’s biweekly column that highlights some of the most promising new and upcoming indies. In honor of Valentine’s Day, this week we’re taking a look at a couple of games that embody themes of love and loneliness. We’re also highlighting a strikingly high-quality 3D indie project, the Pikmin game you always wanted, and more!
Find Your Groove with Giraffe & Annika
It’s rare to see 3D projects from indie studios, and it’s even rarer to have one made by a solo dev. Amazingly, that exactly what developer atelier mimina (a.k.a. Atsushi Saito) has done with Giraffe & Annika, a unique third-person adventure/rhythm game in a cute anime wrapper. In it, players take control of the titular catgirl Annika as she explores a mysterious island and defeats dungeon bosses through the power of music.
As one might expect, it’s all very lighthearted and whimsical. Annika’s enemies dance around as they attack her, most of the music is upbeat and catchy, and the visuals have a delightful cartoon aesthetic reminiscent of Dragon Quest XI. The comic panels that tell Giraffe & Annika’s story also perfectly showcase Saito’s background as both a game and manga artist. This charming escapade is available now on Steam and later this year on Switch and PS4.
The Longing – Alone Time is Quality Time
For as much as we enjoy more lighthearted fare around these parts, it’s also important to highlight indies that take a darker approach to storytelling. Embodying the flip side of our Valentine’s Day theme is The Longing, a game about loneliness and solitude that’s steeped in German mythology. It’s equal parts adventure, idle, and sim, putting players in charge of a shade who must occupy his time until the ruler of his underground kingdom awakens in 400 days. The kicker? Those days play out in real-time.
Like many in the idle genre, in-game time passes regardless of whether the game is being played or not. One could simply start it once, leave it alone for a little over a year, and come back to see the ending. Those who do choose to keep up with the little shade, however, will be able to explore the underground caverns at their leisure, collect items to decorate their living room with, read classic literature in-game (akin to Wooden Nickel), and even uncover some hidden secrets in the darkest depths of the kingdom.
Though falling in love is beautiful, spending some time alone can be just as fulfilling. Loners everywhere can rejoice when The Longing launches on Steam March 3rd.
Love Lives on in Later Daters
Have you ever wondered what dating might be like once you’ve retired, or if a dating scene for the elderly even exists? Bloom Digital Media is setting out to answer that very question with their upcoming dating sim Later Daters. In a genre that typically highlights attractive young people, this episodic visual novel is all about the intricacies of finding love at an older age.
The structure of Later Daters is similar to most other VNs: after creating a character (including a customizable romance history and companion pet), players will be faced with a series of social and romantic situations along with eight potential routes to pursue. Though the overall tone seems to be fairly lighthearted—the game takes place in a retirement community called Ye OLDE—the story will touch on heavy themes like confronting one’s own mortality and what searching for intimacy is like in a world society deems inherently sexless.
We’ll see if old age is all it’s cracked up to be when the first half of Later Daters launches on April 16th for Switch and Steam.
It’s Time to Duel, Floppy Knights!
While it was never really gone, it feels like the tactics scene has been enjoying something of a resurgence as of late; critical darlings Fire Emblem: Three Houses, Slay the Spire, and Wargroove all (officially) released just last year. Enter Floppy Knights, a fusion of the latter two that aims to combine the addictiveness of deck-building with classic turn-based strategy.
Like many of Rose City Games’ projects, the key differentiating factor here is the charm. The protagonist, Phoebe, sports a robotic arm that can turn floppy disks into battle-ready projections, Yu-Gi-Oh! style. Enemies announce your presence with jeers like “The losers are here!” Perhaps best of all, though, is that the silliness is captured by the distinct visuals by Marlowe Dobbe of Dicey Dungeons fame. Knights everywhere will begin their cartoony crusade when Floppy Knights releases on Steam later this year.
Only The Wild at Heart Can Command a Small Army
Though people are drawn to video games for many reasons, wanting a break from the stresses of the real world is pretty high up on the list. The Wild at Heart’s protagonist, a young boy named Wake, is dealing with something similar; a complicated home life leaves him longing for any form of escapism he can find. After being led by a mysterious creature into the nearby forest, though, it turns out that a mystical adventure might’ve been within walking distance all along.
Heavily inspired by Pikmin, The Wild at Heart is an action-adventure game where players can recruit and command an army of sprites to battle foes and construct paths forward. A variety of material types, loot, and upgrades look to keep gameplay engaging and fresh, while an enchanting story about childhood wonder and friendship promises to tug at the heartstrings. If you’ve been hankering for a new Pikmin and want something a bit more story-focused, look out for this when it releases on PC and Xbox One later this year.