September is starting to rival June in big-ticket reveals from the major players in games. Just like last week, this week has also been full of AAA and hardware news, most notably, of course, the PS5 price and launch dates.
Away from the headline-grabbing, corporate-dominated news, the indie scene continues to quietly chug along with its own super event: PAX Online x EGX Digital. The show runs until Sunday, so we decided to dedicate one more episode of our hidden indie gems feature to games showing new stuff there.
As with last week’s episode, many of the games have limited-time demos available only during PAX Online x EGX Digital. This is why we’re bringing you the feature on a Thursday this week, to give you a little more time to check out the games.
The games (and their demos) highlighted on last week’s round-up are still there, of course, so check them out while you can at the link above.
Hot indie games of PAX Online x EGX Digital
Justice Sucks: Recharged
Australian studio Samurai Punk has returned with a new project. Well, technically, an evolved version of an existing game.
Justice Sucks: Recharged is the sequel/continuation of Roombo: First Blood, a top-down action game about a killer roomba. Set after the events of the 2019 game, the sequel sees the titular robot vacuum cleaner enter the “TV dimension” where the world is stuck in the 90s.
Stealth is a big component of Justice Sucks. By default, you’ll be hiding under furniture and generally keeping a low profile. The roomba can suck objects and shoot them back at enemies, and can even hack other electronics to set up traps.
All of the game’s worlds are inspired by 90’s pop culture. The demo comes with one such level, set on a cruise ship where you’re tasked with hunting down a band of pirates, but not real pirates: a pop band with a pirate theme.
Justice Sucks is gory, with human giblets exploding all over the place after successful takedowns. By consuming said giblets, you grow in power and unlock new abilities. You also have to clean up every mess you make, because you’re a vacuum cleaner, after all.
Catch the Justice Sucks: Recharged demo on Steam.
It feels like we’ve covered Rustler before, but I checked, we actually never did. Rustler is the answer to the question of ‘what if GTA 2 took place in medieval times?’ That’s exactly what Rustler is, a top-down crime action game where you can choose to take jobs from eccentric characters, or descend into full-on mayhem and senseless slaughter like you could in past GTA games, before they got serious.
So committed to this shtick, in fact, the developer calls it Grand Theft Horse.
The setup in Rustler should be familiar to fans of the classic GTA games, particularly the two originals. Instead of cars, you have horses, hence the name. But don’t be fooled; this isn’t a serious, historically accurate affair, it’s a game where you can drift horses.
Case in point: the developer didn’t want to limit your arsenal to just swords and spears. The usual run of medieval weapons are there, of course, but you also get a full-auto crossbow, and hand grenades, because it’s more fun. If all that fails, you can just run people over with your carriage.
There’s a bigger story about cheating your way through some tournament, which, as a peasant, you never really had any legitimate chance of winning to begin with. There are plenty of Monty Python references, even if they do get annoying at times, and a few name-drops of modern culture objects.
Still, It’s a good time. If nothing else, it’s worth seeing how far a silly gag could be taken. There’s a free Steam demo available until the end of the show, a perfect demonstration.
Paradise Lost is an adventure game with an intriguing mystery at its heart. In this world, WW2 never ended in 1945, but some 15 years later. Desperate, Nazis launch nuclear weapons, annihilating most of Europe, and leaving much of it forever shrouded in radiation.
The game’s story follows a 12-year-old child who stumbles upon a Nazi bunker in the Polish wasteland. But this isn’t a typical military installation; inside there’s an underground city. There’s an overriding feeling that something isn’t quite right. The place is seemingly abandoned, but the technology left behind is a bizarre mix of German machinery of the era, and retro-future tech inspired by Pagan and Slavic myths. Yeah, it’s weird, and the demo gave me a sense that there may more to it than your typical occult-obsessed Nazi scientist story.
You’ll be exploring some parts of the Paradise Lost world in the demo. It’s a fairly passive experience. Most of the action revolves around opening desk drawers, suitcases and the like to find reports and letters that shed some light on what the bunker’s occupants may have been up to.
There’s barely any voice acting, so get ready for a lot of reading. Still, Paradise Lost is visually compelling. Its graphics would’ve been out of the question for an indie game less than 10 years ago. Definitely worth experiencing.
Good thing there’s a free Steam demo where you can explore the bunker yourself. The full game is coming to Steam later this year.
Unpacking is a deceptively simple puzzle game about pulling your stuff out of boxes and finding somewhere to put them in your new place after a move. There aren’t perfect solutions to the game’s scenarios; you’re invited to arrange and decorate as you would in a new home. The idea is that not everything will neatly transfer to the new setup, or even make sense to have anymore.
The game does let you know when things could be put somewhere better, but the mechanics are not meant for puzzle game pursuits. Unpacking doesn’t tell you anything about the possessions’ original arrangement, you’re meant to zone out to the game’s chill beats as you decide what goes where. This is how the story is delivered. The more things you pull out of boxes the better sense you begin to get about the person whose stuff you’re arranging.
It’s a bit similar to Ustwo’s Assemble with Care, but where that game’s narrative was more overt, delivered neatly as you fix peoples’ stuff, Unpacking’s approach is lighter, leaving plenty of room for interpretation.
It may not be the most mechanically engaging game – and certainly not when you consider it comes from a developer whose other work is often cited among the best dual-stick shooters, but I can’t deny how affecting it was. The Unpacking Steam demo has a couple of rooms for you to decorate, and you’ll quickly get in tune with its rhythm.
Blind Fate: Edo no Yami
Blind Fate: Edo no Yami is side-scrolling action game set in a future Japanese dystopia, a world that combines elements from Western cyberpunk with traditional Japanese folklore.
You play as Yami, a blind cyber-Samurai who hunts robot monsters called Youkai, and enforces the will of the Shogun. Though the hero is blind, he’s been augmented with cybernetics that allow him to perceive the world through other senses: sound, vibrations, and temperature changes.
This essentially lets him feel things he wouldn’t otherwise, like detecting a sound through a wall, indicating there’s a crack that can be broken. But those same abilities could mislead Yami, as he only perceives a version of the real-world created by sensor data.
It wouldn’t be a Samurai game without a katana, and Yami also gets a hand cannon. Combined, they make for some spectacular combos, as you’ll see in the trailer.
There’s no demo for Blind Fate, unfortunately, as the game was only just announced, but you should nonetheless wishlist it on Steam to keep up with development updates. The full game is coming in 2021.