Andre's Indie Game Chosen Ones: Weird West, Chinatown Detective Agency, Norco, Stacklands. Patrick's Parabox | GDC 2022: Superfuse, Flat Eye | Steam Early Access Report | Kickstarter Spotlight
Andre’s Indie Game Chosen Ones Issue #13
This is a reminder that anything below that is underlined is a clickable link.
Not every section will be included in every issue. My Indie Game Discovery Roundup will always be included! This is explained in the About section.
Indie Game Discovery Roundup #62
(PC, PS4, Xbox One, Xbox Game Pass)
Weird West, developed by WolfEye Studios, is a story-driven game with a combination of ARPG combat and CRPG storytelling. This has a very colorful visual art style, and an isometric presentation that fits both of the genres the game is trying to tackle. The other great thing about the game is your story decisions impact your journey. There are multiple characters that give a different stories for you to learn, giving you many hours of gameplay. Weird West is a game I’ve been looking forward to, so I plan on really diving into it soon. If you have Xbox Game Pass, give it a try!
Release Date: March 31, 2022 (OUT NOW!)
Weird West on Steam
Chinatown Detective Agency
(PC, Xbox One, Switch, Xbox Game Pass)
Chinatown Detective Agency, developed by General Interactive, is a point-and-click detective game set in Singapore. Playing as Amira, you are a private investigator that takes on clients and solves cases. I played the demo of this over a year ago, and the one unique aspect about the game that helps set it apart from other games is you have to go outside of the game to research cases using your web browser. It really does make you feel like a detective. What I like even more about the game is the voice acting that enhances the overall experience, plus you have many different tools to use to travel and communicate within the game. Chinatown Detective Agency is definitely a game I expect to play before this year ends. This is also on Xbox Game Pass.
Release Date: April 7, 2022 (OUT NOW!)
Chinatown Detective Agency on Steam
(PC, Xbox Games Pass)
Norco, developed by Geography of Robots, is a point-and-click narrative adventure set in Louisiana. You set off to search for your missing brother after your mother’s death with a robot android, while also encountering and learning about the environmental effects of local industrial operations. I’m generally not a point-and-click type of gamer, but I played this demo a year ago at the first ever Tribeca Games Festival and found myself invested in the story and various interactions. The pixel art is also very beautiful and well done to keep you engaged. Norco also ended up winning the first ever Tribeca Games Award. This is definitely a game I will play again before the year is over.
Release Date: March 24, 2022 (OUT NOW!)
Norco on Steam (Act One Demo Available)
Stacklands, developed by Sokpop Collective, is a village builder that uses cards. This is a game I just recently discovered because it caught my attention due to the art style and the relaxing vibe the game gives off. It reminds me of a game I reviewed years ago called Cultist Simulator (2018), except Stacklands seems less complex and more straight forward. Generally, I have a “don’t discuss price” policy when writing reviews or discussing games, but this is priced at $4.99 to start, so I’ll definitely jump on it and give my thoughts on it at some point down the road.
Release Date: April 8, 2022 (OUT NOW!)
Stacklands on Steam
Patrick’s Parabox, developed by Patrick Traynor, is a puzzle game that involves pushing and moving blocks within other blocks. Think of it sort of like blockception, inception with blocks! Watch the trailer below to see it in action. Patrick’s Parabox is already shaping up to be the hit indie puzzle game of 2022. As a puzzle gamer, this is a game that I will definitely play before this year is over. Kudos to the one guy making it happen, Patrick Traynor.
Release Date: March 29, 2022 (OUT NOW!)
Patrick’s Parabox on Steam (Demo Available)
Subscribe FREE: Get the Indie Game Discovery Roundup in your inbox every week!
Game Developers Conference (GDC) Coverage
As published on GameReviewPad.com:
I was lucky enough to be given a special hands-on GDC virtual preview of Superfuse, a new comic book style ARPG developed by Stitch Heads. I played a very early build of the game while conversing with the developers. Superfuse puts the player in control of superheroes sent to stop The Corruption from spreading as superpowers are controlled by elites, The relationship between society’s elite and the superheroes as The Corruption spreads appears to be the cornerstone of the plot based on the opening cinematic of the demo I played. What is also extremely clear to me is that Stitch Heads is serious about telling a solid story fit for a comic book universe. Just watch the trailer and you can see the beautiful comic book aesthetic. I was lucky enough to see and hear a cinematic featuring Eli Harris, an award-winning voice actor. His clear crisp voice does a fantastic job of narrating the story. He was present during the preview presentation and spoke about being allowed input during development, something normally not given to black voices, The entire game is fully voiced, something I’m also excited about.
Stitch Heads Creative Director, Tim Baijen, answered my questions and helped walk me through this Superfuse demo experience. Although the demo only included the Berserker as a playable character, the menu showed at least three other characters that I’m eager to try eventually. What gives me a lot of hope and promise with Superfuse is the complexity of the character building. Although I was limited to playing as the Berserker, the game features deep levels of customization that can and likely will set everyone’s Berserker apart from one another. Every character has a talent tree, but even better, every skill has its own passive tree where you’ll insert skill fuses to manipulate your skills to your liking. For the sake of the demo, I was provided with plenty of skill fuses with different effects and talent points to play around with and really explore the deep customization of the game. Path of Exile players will feel right at home with the skill fuses because they operate essentially the same way as support gems, except they insert into the skill tree. I could add things like elemental damage, honing, fork, and many others. What I find the most intriguing about the skill trees is that they expand like a web. It was difficult for me to see just how far the skill tree web can go, and I’m intrigued to see what that answer is in the finished product. Based on my experience with ARPGs, my current assessment of the skill system is that it will be more complex than Diablo 2, but less daunting and intimidating than the skill system in Path of Exile.
What makes me feel really good about the future of Superfuse is that all of my questions were answered with a level of confidence and a sense of direction that Stitch Heads knows exactly where they are going with the game. As a veteran player of dungeon-crawling ARPGs, like Diablo 2, Path of Exile, Torchlight, Grim Dawn, and even smaller indie games of the genre like Victor Vran and Aluna: Sentinel of the Shards, I walked away very impressed with the quality of Superfuse. I was very surprised that this early on in development the mouse hover item comparisons were already implemented within the game. The passion for the ARPG genre was clearly evident during my conversation. It didn’t get past me that the town portal looked almost identical to the Diablo 2 tp,
Superfuse has a lot of what you’re already familiar with in the ARPG genre, like item rarities and the same kind of inventory system, but Stitch Heads also has a very unique opportunity with this game that I hope they take advantage of. They already have a very beautiful comic book aesthetic with a somewhat more visually pleasing NPC dialogue system. I remember when Diablo 3 released it was criticized for being too bright for a Diablo game. Superfuse has the opportunity to really play with the visuals and design of the genre in ways that games like Diablo and Path of Exile don’t have the liberty to do without criticism due to their dark nature. I really want Stitch Heads to lean into the comic book universe of storytelling and mold a superhero experience that feels like ARPGs of old, but also brings a very unique experience with new systems and interesting boss fights that can’t be done elsewhere.
Superfuse is currently scheduled to launch into Steam Early Access later this year. The game will feature both solo and online co-op play.
As published on GameReviewPad.com:
I had the privilege of being shown a virtual preview demo presentation of Flat Eye during GDC. Monkey Moon Narrative Designer, Anthony Jauneaud, played and showed me a bit of just how this narrative management simulator actually works. Set in a gas station, you play as a clerk and interact with customers to tend to their needs by using various advanced technology powered by A.I.. Like other games in the management genre, you can pause the game and place objects within the given space, From what I was shown, the UI doesn’t seem to be that difficult to understand and navigate. You can place objects called modules into different areas of the gas station that perform different functions. The game also operates within a “Day” system, so you can move from Day 1 to the next day when you feel the need to.
Flat Eye does have inspiration from games like Theme Hospital, as the game’s premise and presentation really make that apparent. The customer interactions within the gas station is the narrative aspect of the game, as you’ll engage with “premium” customers that have their own stories and decisions for you to make. Decisions matter, so it’s possible to have a different experience in a subsequent playthrough if you really try.
As much management as there is to do. storytelling is still a central focus. It will be interesting see if the game can satisfy both management simulator gamers and gamers who focus primarily on narrative games. Aside from the clean UI, I really like the colorful visuals of the game. A lot of management games are usually stale and standard looking, but Monkey Moon is presenting a very visually pleasing experience that will no doubt keep eyes peeled to the screen to want to keep playing. The AI voice acting also brings some life to the game and I can’t wait to see what crazy technologies are available to build to use on customers. Flat Eye explores the potential perils that technology can bring. Just how bad can it get? I can’t wait to find out myself.
Flat Eye is currently scheduled for full release in 2022.
Steam Early Access Report:
Battle Bands: Rock & Roll Deckbuilder (Launch)
Disclosure: A copy of Battle Bands: Rock & Roll Deckbuilder was provided for free.
Battle Bands: Rock & Roll Deckbuilder, developed by Aerie Digital, is a game I played the demo of in 2021 that I enjoyed. Battle Bands is not your typical deckbuilding game, as you play in a band that is more designed for co-op play than solo. I’ve only played solo so far, but I definitely plan on playing co-op very soon for progression reasons I’ll explain further below. You can play the guitar, bass guitar, drums, or keyboard, with each instrument having a somewhat different variation of cards, but they all generally play the same within the card game. This is a roguelike experience, as each solo run can end when you run out turns (sorry I forget the official name). As a solo player you can add cards to other instruments for the AI to play, but when a tour mode run ends you only gain experience and unlock cards for the instrument you play. As a solo player, this makes the game feel grindy and encourages co-op and sticking to one instrument. I wish this changes. When starting out, this means that as a solo player I have to rotate instruments in different tour mode runs just to make myself stronger solo so the AI has stronger decks.
The actual gameplay flow of band battling is very unique. A band member plays a song card, then performance cards have to be played on top of the song card to complete the song and gain hype score. There is no turn order within the band, so for song cards its essentially whoever plays one first, but I’m delighted to say the game has built in communication commands to signal you have a certain card. Energy is used to play cards, as each player starts out with two energy and energy can be transferred among band members when necessary. This unique feature is useful if a player with energy left doesn’t have a performance card if more performance cards need to be played or if the player only has performance cards and a song card needs to be played. Every card can be upgraded after the battle if they are played a certain amount of times. The different types of cards in the game are very interesting, as you can have Crew cards that are like what enchantment cards are in Magic: The Gathering, as they stay on the board giving bonuses to the band until they are removed by the opponent. The band battle ends when you reach a certain band hype score. The entire flow of the card battle is very fun, I just wish I had more control of what cards the AI plays as a solo player. The game does have a good soundtrack while you’re battling, and no, the cards you play don’t affect how the music goes, at least I didn’t notice it.
Like other games in the genre, you can gain cash and buy items to help your band in battle based on your decisions while on the tour map There is a boss on the map, but I haven’t beaten the boss just yet for reasons I mentioned about needing to get stronger and strengthen the decks of all instruments. I have no doubt that once all the instruments are stronger I can beat that boss solo, and I could also probably do it if I stuck to building one instrument in a co-op campaign. Customization is a big plus in this game. You can create your own band name, customize your character’s looks, and also what your instrument looks like. There is a Season Pass that contains cosmetic unlockable items that you can use currency gained through your tours. The game contains no real money microtransactions. The other mode in the game is a 4v4 64 band royale mode that I haven’t tried yet, but plan on trying once I strengthen my decks.
Battle Bands is a game that is clearly designed for co-op, but needs adjustments for solo play. Once my decks get stronger and the game is updated more I will dive into co-op play via the matchmaking and give another Steam Early Access report.
Battle Bands: Rock & Roll Deckbuilder just launched into Steam Early Access and estimates to take roughly 6-12 months to reach version 1.0.
My Version 1.0 Wishlist:
Ability to play with all instruments playing solo with increased turn timer
Gain EXP for all instruments playing solo, not just the one you play.
Kickstarter Spotlight: Kraino ReAnimated
I selected Kraino ReAnimated for my Kickstarter Spotlight because this looks like a very fun action platformer. The game seems well on its way to be completed due to the good trailer with nice quality of graphics and good sounds. Truthfully, there is nothing exceptionally new or unique I can see right now from a game mechanics standpoint, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be fun to play. I also like that the main character is an undead skeleton. Don’t just take my word for it, check it out and judge for yourself!
Release Date: June 2, 2023
Disclaimer: This is not an endorsement of the Kickstarter, nor am I affiliated with the developers. Pledge at your own risk.
WrestleQuest - Announce Trailer
WrestleQuest is a game that came out of nowhere when it was announced a month ago. This pixel RPG wresting game is different than almost every other wrestling game out there because of the genre. I was also shocked to see that this game is basically paying tribute to famous wrestlers of the past like Andre the Giant, “Macho Man” Randy Savage, Jake the Snake Roberts, and many more with their image and likeness. This trailer does a really good job of selling the game, which is why I have WrestleQuest currently ranked as my second most hyped game for 2022.
Release Date: Summer 2022 (PC, PS5|PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Switch)
Wishlist WrestleQuest on Steam
Trek to Yomi
Trek to Yomi | Story Trailer
Trek to Yomi is a game that immediately jumps out to you due to the black and white and because you play as a samurai. This game will naturally be compared to Ghost of Tsushima (2020) because it’s also a samurai game, except Trek to Yomi is a side-scroller combat game. For all of the greatness of Ghost of Tsushima, the story was a bit generic. If Trek to Yomi can put together a solid story that doesn’t seem predictable and boring it can overcome the comparisons to Ghost of Tsushima. The trailer also shows off nice side-scrolling combat and art direction with beautiful use of shadows. I will definitely be playing this through Xbox Game Pass.
Release Date: May 5, 2022 (PC, PS5|PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Xbox Game Pass)
Wishlist Trek to Yomi on Steam
What to Expect in Issue #14:
Indie Game Discovery Roundup (5 Games)
Steam Early Access Report: Vampire Survivor
The next issue will be set within the next week.
The longer newsletter title is to give the newsletter better visibility (SEO). If you feel the newsletter title is too ugly in your inbox then I can go with a different solution.
Thanks for reading and supporting the newsletter!
Subscribe FREE to receive Andre’s Indie Game Chosen Ones and Andre’s Gaming Odds & Ends. Subscribing is the best way to support my work. (Don’t forget to confirm your sign up.)
Check out the About section for a full breakdown of what to expect in each newsletter type.
Introducing Andre’s GameReviewPad: What to Expect is an overview of my approach to covering video games.