Day of the Devs does know how to put on a good show, and its latest indie games spotlight – officially a special The Game Awards edition – was another winner, bringing release dates for the long-awaited likes of Open Roads and Flock, plus a bunch of other reveals. We got a psychedelic sequel to 2021’s acclaimed jazz adventure Genesis Noir, the second entry in Digital Eclipse’s stellar Golden Master Series – this time focusing on the legendary Jeff Minter – plus a load of weirdness, from landlord witches to callcentre horror, to enjoy. And if you missed the showcase live (which is still worth watching, seeing as some of the footage included hasn’t yet been published as standalone trailers), you can see everything you missed below.
Yes, the big policeman game is back for another showing and it continues to look wonderfully, beautifully weird. The gist, if you’re unfamiliar with developer Tall Boys’ Militsioner, is that you’re trying to find a way to catch a train and escape the city, all while trying to not rouse the suspicions of the aforementioned massive law enforcement officer looming in the sky. The city has a routine, with people, trains, and even the policeman all operating on their own schedule that you’ll need to work with if you’re going to escape (perhaps triggering a car alarm at night to wake the slumbering policeman so he falls asleep during the day), and you can also befriend the locals using a Tamagotchi-style mood system. Militsioner doesn’t have a release date yet (you can wishlist it on Steam though), but I’m watching this one closely.
Loose Leaf: A Tea Witch Simulator
Loose Leaf is a tea witch simulator from Kitfox Games, the team behind the acclaimed Boyfriend Dungeon, and sees players managing a tactile tea room in what the studio calls the “most in-depth tea-making sim ever”. You’ll need to control temperature, timing, ingredients, and more to make the perfect brew and soothe your customers, unlocking new ingredients, tools, and recipes as you go. But remember that witch part? You’ll also spend time with your customers, reading their fortunes through tarot cards to help them make sense of their problems and anxieties. There’s no release date for Loose Leaf just yet but you can wishlist it on steam.
Thank Goodness You’re Here
Thank Goodness You’re Here is a distinctly British cartoon comedy caper set in an imaginary northern England town. Developed by Coal Supper, it slings players into the role of a salesmen who ends up embroiled in the local residents’ lives, and tasked with satisfying their variously weird demands, after arriving far too early to meet the mayor and venturing into town to kill time. It’s all brought to life through colourful handdrawn animation and by a voice cast of northern comedians, and it’s due to launch for PS5, Switch, and Steam sometime in 2024.
Kind Words 2 (Lo-fi City Pop)
Developer Popcannibal’s original Kind Words was a lovely thing, a game about helping other people – real people – by writing letters and sharing worries. It proved to be a huge success too, and Popcannibal has now unveiled a sequel that aims to expand on the original’s communication-orientated premise in a host of new ways. The first big difference is that you’re no longer confined to a single room, instead free to explore the city outside with different areas encouraging different forms of communication – the coffee shop is for sharing poetry, for instance, while the mountain top is a place to share your wishes on the night sky. Popcannibal calls Kind Words 2 a “game about being yourself, talking about what you care about and being good to other people”, and it’s coming to Steam sometime in 2024.
Flock, the latest collaboration between Hohokum and I Am Dead developers Richard Hogg and Hollow Ponds, is all about exploring a vibrant natural landscape on the back of a giant bird, discovering wild creatures, and charming them to join the flock. We’ve seen plenty of its solo and co-operative creature collecting action before, but its latest showing offered a closer look at is creature guide, a catalogue of discoveries that first requires players to correctly identify the creatures they encounter before a record is made. Flock also now has a release date, and is coming to Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, Game Pass, PS5, PS4, Switch, and Steam on 22nd February next year. Or you can try a Steam demo now.
Hermit and Pig
Hermit and Pig from Heavy Lunch Studio is a turn-based adventure RPG about – and its name is a bit of a giveaway on this point – an old man and his truffle pig. Taking inspiration from Zelda and Mario, with a bit of Streetfighter thrown in thanks to its unusual multi-directional combat system, it sees our reclusive twosome set off to discover the legendary mushroom known as Jumbo Fungo in an adventure that’ll see them forage, explore, and attempt to socialise with the locals. There’s no release date for Hermit and Pig just yet but you can wishlist it on Steam.
About the only thing I can say with real confidence where Dome-King Cabbage from Cobysoft Joe is concerned is that it’s a “short visual novel” with some wildly trippy visuals. It follows the adventures of a cloud-person named Mush who’s grappling (as per Dome-King Cabbage’s Steam page) with their ability to perceive the world through the lens of a monster-collecting RPG. It’s coming to Steam at some unspecified future point and you owe it to yourself to check out its absolutely baffling trailer.
Ultros from Hadoque is another one that’s been doing the showcase rounds for a while now; it’s a Metroidvania set in the Sarcophagus, a “cosmic uterus where every realm offers outlandish beauty”. Waking up with no memory of very much at all, you’ll need to make your way around the world using your propulsive Extractor, with combat, exploration, and even gardening (where you’ll gather seeds to grow food and unlock forgotten skills) crucial to success. And, of course, it features that dazzling psychedelic artstyle too. Ultros launches for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, and Steam on 13th February next year.
Take a quick glance at developer Sonka’s Holstin, a psychological survival horror game set in early 90s Poland – and first impressions are decent enough. It’s a grimly atmospheric Metroidvania unfolding in a semi-open world – featuring the likes of puzzles, exploration, and combat – with a striking isometric pixel artstyle. Watch it in motion, though, and the whole thing just comes alive, the pixel art revealing itself to be cleverly mapped onto a 3D world, allowing for some wonderful striking lighting effects, and an especially neat trick that sees the whole thing seamlessly shift to an over-the-shoulder persective during combat. There’s no release date for Holstin yet but a demo’s out now on Steam.
Oddada is a “no-pressure roguelite music builder” all about experimenting with wonderfully weird machines and modding their sounds using the tools stacked up on your adorable little wooden train. Each playthrough consists of a randomised set of levels and instruments, and the various musical sounds you collect on your journey can be combined into snippets and saved to cassette, which you can share with others. Repeated play unlocks new levels, instruments, and machines, and you can stack new tools onto your train for more musical options, even customise your cassettes with stickers. Oddada launches for PC via Steam sometime next year.
Cryptmaster from developer Akupara Games is a word-based dungeon crawler RPG with a striking black-and-white artstyle set in a distinctly weird underground kingdom. I’m not exactly sure how it all plays out based on its swift Day of the Devs showing, but its Steam page promises “endlessly evolving gameplay” incorporating everything from creature collecting and card combat, to bard rap-battles, all of which – conversations, quests, combat – is built around spelling and word puzzles. It’s coming to Steam in 2024 and a demo is available now.
LlamaSoft: The Jeff Minter Story
LlamaSoft: The Jeff Minter Story is the second entry in Atari 50 developer Digital Eclipse’s Golden Master Series, following on from this year’s acclaimed The Making of Karateka. Like that game, LlamaSoft sets its sights on an industry legend – in this case Jeff Minter, the designer behind the likes of Tempest and Attack of the Mutant Space Camels – but this time we get an exhaustive delve into an entire career. It’ll feature design documents, vintage photos, plus all-new interviews to help players “get inside the mind of Minter”, as well as 42 playable Llamasoft games – including the new Gridrunner Remastered – spanning eight different platforms. LlamaSoft: The Jeff Minter Story arrives on PlayStation, Xbox, Switch, and PC next year.
If it’s a drag queen fighting game you want, then say hello to Drag Her from Fighting Chance Games. It gathers together a selection of real-life drag performers – including Alaska 5000, Asia O’Hara, BenDeLaCreme, Kim Chi, Laganja Estranja, Landon Cider, and Manila Luzon – in all their “camp, queer kickassery” for a game that’s designed to be as forgiving as it is daft. There’s a local versus mode, a four-player round-robin mode, a single-player arcade mode with stories for all characters, auto combat, cinematic specials, assist characters, plus online multiplayer with rollback netcode. And if that takes your fancy, you can currently wishlist Drag Her on Steam.
Braid, Anniversary Edition
Braid’s Anniversary Edition is something we know pretty much all there is to know about at this point ahead of release, but this lavish 15th birthday reworking of Jonathon Blow’s acclaimed time-manipulating platform-puzzler got another airing during Day of the Devs. If you’re unfamiliar with this new version, it features enhanced visuals – intended to give the game the look of a living painting – as well as improved sound, remixes of the original soundtrack, plus a mammoth 15-hour developer commentary. It’s coming to Xbox, PlayStation, PC, plus Android and iOS via Netflix on 30th April 2024.
Open Roads has had complicated journey to release; the mother-daughter road trip adventure was first announced by developer Fullbright – the studio behind the acclaimed Gone Home and Tacoma – back in 2021. However, after co-founder Steve Gaynor was ousted from the project following accusations of toxic workplace behaviour, the remaining team members regrouped under the new studio name Open Roads Team. We’ve not seen or heard a lot about Open Roads in all that time, but it resurfaced today during Day of the Days looking more gorgeous than ever. Additionally, it now has a release date, and launches for PlayStation, Switch, Xbox, Game Pass, and Steam on 22nd February next year.
Janet Demornay is a Slumlord (and a Witch)
Honestly, developer Fuzzy Ghost’s Janet Demornay is a Slumlord (and a Witch) was a real show highlight for me. The studio was previously responsible for the acclaimed Queer Man Peering Into A Rock Pool.jpg, but its next project tilts fully into the bizarre, serving up a comedy horror adventure about renting. It all takes place in the confines of a single house, plagued by the likes of black mould and rotting floorboards, and “barely being held together by magic”, what with your landlord also being a witch. The goal is to solve puzzles and navigate the unpredictable house, find out more about Janet – described as “mid-day television’s premier lifestyle witch” – along the way. Janet Demornay is a Slumlord (and a Witch) also features themes of queer found-family and the fun of that alongside its horrors, and is coming to Steam in 2024.
Home Safety Hotline
Night Signal Entertainment’s Home Safety Hotline is another horror oddity that already looks like a winner. It’s a text-based adventure about working at a 90s callcentre, presented entirely from the desktop of your state-of-the-art 1996 PC. Everyday, you’ll boot up, check your email, clock in, and start taking calls from harried citizens. Each one, you see, is having problems with pests, hazards, or more extreme terrors, and it’s up to you – using the extensive reference database at your disposal – to listen carefully to your callers and diagnose their problems accurately… or just let them suffer the consequences. You’ll uncover stranger and more terrifying horrors as you progress, receive weird messages, discover alarming archival material, and learn more about the world – and there are accessibility toggles to accommodate players with common phobias. Home Safety Hotline looks spectacularly atmospheric, and it’s coming to PC and “other platforms” early next year. Better yet, a demo is available now on Steam.
Resistor, from developer Long Way Home, is a “turbo-charged narrative driven caRPG (the emphasis being on “car”) inspired by classic racing and adventure games of yore. It casts players as a teenager who, following the death of their legendary racer father, is exiled from their corporate-run dystopian city home. However, when their mother becomes sick, they’re drawn back into the world of racing, in an adventure taking place both in-vehicle and on foot. You can chat with characters as you explore the world to increase your reputation, then take to the track with your customisable ride and wow the crowds not just by winning but by timing tricks to beat of the music. There’s no release date for Resistor, but you can wishlist it on Steam.
The Mermaid’s Tongue
You might know developer SFP Games from its acclaimed Switch puzzler Snipperclips, but it’s also found success with its Detective Grimoire murder mystery adventures. And The Mermaid’s Tongue is the latest Grimoire tale, following on from 2019’s Tangle Tower, this time challenging players to solve the mysterious death of Magnus Mortuga, captain of the world’s strangest submarine. Was it caused by a member of the sub’s eccentric crew or something much worse? All will be revealed when the fully voiced adventure comes to Steam and consoles next year. And impatient sorts can try out a limited-time demo on Steam right now.
And finally there’s Nirvana Noir, the direct follow-up to developer Feral Cat Den’s acclaimed jazz adventure Genesis Noir. Nirvana Noir asks the question, what if the events of Genesis Noir – in which protagonist No Man traveled through a dying universe to prevent the death of his lover – had simultaneously happened and never happened at all. The result is a adventure set in a Cosmic City split across two timelines: the familiar black-and-white Genesis Noir world of jazz influenced film noir, and the psychedelic neo-noir world of the Constant Testament. Solving the mystery involves ample detective work and tactile clue-hunting, with the game currently eyeing up a Steam, Xbox, and Game Pass release following a round of crowd funding.
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