Manor Lords, Sail Forth, Conscript and more of our favourite indies this week

By Sherif Saed, Friday, 10 July 2020 15:10 GMT

This weekend promises to be big for the kinds of games we don’t cover in this feature. Ubisoft’s not-E3 thing is on Sunday, and Devolver’s trademark zany show takes place the day before.

There’s a good chance one of the Devolver games could end up on next week’s instalment, but let’s focus on the here and now. This week has been a bit light on indie game news, but as always, we brought you some choice reveals and a couple of games you can actually play this weekend.

Let’s get into it.

Hot indie games week of July 6

Manor Lords

Manor Lords is an ambitious city builder/RTS hybrid. The game attempts to simulate how medieval towns were constructed by embracing organic layouts and doing away with the grid systems common in the genre.

As a ruler of your town, you’ll not only dictate what the common folk spend their days working on, you’ll also manage the town’s growth through amicable trade, and sometimes, conflict.

That’s the other, potentially bigger component of Manor Lords. The game promises large-scale, real-time battles not unlike those found in the Total War series. Solo developer Slavic Magic says they wanted to simulate medieval tactics in flanking, unit positioning and so on, as well as the more psychological elements like troop morale.

The reveal trailer looks promising, but I worry the developer might be biting off more than they can chew. There’s a reason most strategy games avoid replicating Total War’s combat, so it’ll be interesting to see if that style of complex simulation could work on a smaller scale.

We’ll find out when Manor Lords hits Steam Early Access this fall.

Supermarket Shriek

Supermarket Shriek is a simple game where two players jump into a shopping cart and race through the aisles of supermarkets and boutique stores, avoiding deadly obstacles along the way.

How it works, though, is the interesting bit. Cart mechanics in Supermarket Shriek are physics-based, but the cart only moves when players scream into their microphones. That’s really it: the game detects players’ mic inputs at the start and each of them can only steer the cart in one direction. When both scream simultaneously, the cart goes straight.

Because it relies on physics, the depth and volume of your screams are what dictates momentum, and turn radius. Not exactly what comes up when you think voice commands in games. Even as someone who prefers to avoid noisy environments, I have to applaud the game’s commitment to the bit.

If Supermarket Shriek sounds familiar, it’s probably because the name is a play on Supermarket Sweep, the 90s gameshow. This is not a coincidence, as 90s gameshows also inform the game’s aesthetics.

Supermarket Shriek came to Xbox One last year, and this week, developer Billy Goat announced that it’s coming to Steam, PS4 and Switch later this year.

Sail Forth

Sail Forth is a chill game about sailing a boat across a vast open ocean, taking in the scenery and occasionally engaging in ship-to-ship combat with pirates. The world is procedurally generated, and the game has a minimalist look that strips away unnecessary HUD elements to allow the visuals and audio to wash over you.

The game’s world is split into smaller areas similar to FTL. You get to decide which direction to take at certain junctions, and the map displays some general information about what you might run into there. Within each segment, you get a set objective which needs to be cleared before you could venture beyond.

Sailing mechanics are inspired by real-world principles, but not to the point of being overbearing. You’ll need to raise and lower sails to change direction, and decide how far to pull in or let them out to catch air.

Combat is simplistic, and it works like it does in Black Flag and most other sailing games. Over time, you get to expand your fleet with more ships, and things get a bit more complicated.

Sail Forth is due out later this year on PC, PS4, Xbox One and Switch. For now, you can wishlist it on Steam.

Games you can play this weekend

Conscript

Conscript is a low-fi, isometric horror game from the one-person team at Catchweight. Though the perspective is different, the game is very much inspired by classic Silent Hill and Resident Evil with its uneasy atmosphere, limited supplies, and methodical combat, not to mention for having puzzles that need to be solved under stress.

Conscript’s setting, however, is not like those classics. The story follows a French soldier in WW1 as he navigates no man’s land in search of his brother. As the battle of Verdun unfolds in the background, you’ll be making your way across the trenches, around soldiers driven mad by the war, and maybe other adversaries.

Conscript’s look relies on low-polygon character models in a pixel art world, and it uses that to create a sense of dread, as you won’t always be sure what you’re looking at.

The game’s demo has been well received, and it continues to be available on Steam. It will take you less than an hour to see all the way through, and the developer even updated it this week with more Easter eggs and an alternate ending.

If you like what you see, check out Conscript’s Kickstarter campaign. It has a little under two weeks remaining, and needs help to reach the funding goal of just $20,000.

Superliminal

Superliminal is one of the better puzzle games out there. Its setup follows a simple forced-perspective formula, where the size of objects changes depending on your perspective.

This the game’s core mechanic, and it’ll frequently get you to make creative use of the environment and think about your place within it. Wrapped around this setup is a story about a lucid dream, which is where the game takes place.

Superliminal plays with the fluidity of dreamscapes in a few of its puzzles, as you slowly begin to unravel the mystery of its plot. It’s easier to get into than most puzzle games because you can just keep poking at it; trying different approaches until one works. The nature of forced-perspective, together with the game’s colourful look make overcoming challenges attainable, even by players who typically suck at puzzle solving.

Superliminal released on PC last year, but this week, the game arrives on PS4, Xbox One and Switch. The console launch also brought free content to owners of the PC version through a new update. Check it out on the Epic Store, PS Store, Microsoft Store and the eShop.

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