Source of Madness, King Arthur: Knight’s Tale and more of our favourite indies this week

By Sherif Saed, Friday, 16 October 2020 15:41 GMT

With the latest iteration of the Steam Festival behind us, we return today with a fresh look at the world of indie games with our hidden indie gems column.

Things aren’t much quieter this week, in part because of the IndieCade virtual event, which kicks off today and runs until Saturday, October 24. You can expect a host of developer-lead streams, new gameplay reveals and other conference-like sessions you’ll be able to view from home.

This week’s line-up consists of new reveals, and a couple we missed last week.

Hot indie games week of October 12

Source of Madness

I am not one to usually be allured by the look of a horror game, but Source of Madness’ fusion of otherworldly and grotesque was hard to ignore.

Source of Madness is a side-scrolling action rogue-like that takes place in a Lovercraftian nightmare world. The game’s setting is one where monsters and myths of the pre-Enlightenment era weren’t just limited to the imaginations of clerics and commoners. The cosmic entities in control have made themselves known, and the abominations they spawn hunt down the remaining people.

Perhaps acknowledging that no human creation, however nightmarish, could ever be more horrific than the unknown, developer Carry Castle employed machine-learning to help design these abominations. You’ll immediately see this in the trailer, which shows all sorts of threatening, inexplicable creations that no person could ever envision. AI is also responsible for moving these beasts, and governing the game’s physics-based world.

Making matters worse (better?), Source of Madness takes place in a world that is itself changed with every death. We’ve seen procedural generation before, of course, but this is something else entirely. One of the game’s locations is a non-Euclidian citadel that constantly shifts, just in case you thought there would be any respite of this torment. The game’s washed out look reminds me of Salt and Sanctuary, though what’s actually being shown is orders of magnitude grimmer.

Even if you’re not interested in this style of game, the trailer above is worth watching just to see the wretched creations the AI designed. If you’re down, you can wishlist it on Steam while you wait for the full PC and Switch release in 2021.

Fata Deum

Fata Deum is a new god game inspired by Black & White and the god sims of yore. If the Latin name is too high-brow, you could think of it as Capricious God Simulator.

In Fata Deum, you spur your subjects in any way you see fit. You could help them achieve greatness, show them the path to enlightenment and prosperity, or be a vindictive, insidious omnipotent who manipulates them through sheer divine power.

The reveal trailer even shows some examples of direct intervention, such as unleashing your demons upon them, controlling the weather and inciting conflict in your name. There’s also another element to Fata Deum that may influence the approach you take.

Humanity is being courted by other gods; you’re not the only divine. It has some free will of its own, so you’re constantly fighting a battle of influence over mind. Followers translate to power you can wield to further expand your influence as the one true god, and get the poor sods to spread your message by any means you deem necessary.

It sounds very ambitious for a small team to take on, so hopefully it’ll end up satisfying fans of what has been a bit of a dormant subgenre. Fata Deum is coming to Steam Early Access next spring, with a full release planned later in 2021.

King Arthur: Knight’s Tale

Developer Neocore has taken a break from the action RPG genre it’s mostly known for to work on King Arthur: Knight’s Tale, a tactical, turn-based RPG that infuses Arthurian legends with dark fantasy.

Knight’s Tale brings back the overhead perspective and the focus on character progression, but it’s an entirely different beast to Van Helsing and Inquisitor – Martyr. The new game takes place on two layers: the tactical, moment-to-moment combat layer, and the management component where you take on quests on a map of Avalon and rebuild Camelot.

As mentioned, characters are meant to be one of the game’s core components. You’ll come across over 30 heroes in your journey, split across five classes. This is the pool you’ll be recruiting your Knights of the Round Table from.

Knight’s Tale leans more towards RPG than Neocore’s other games. Player choices will play a big part in how the story progresses, and your Knights will react to your decisions. The developer says some could even end up going against you in extremes.

What could make these relationships more interesting is the addition of perma-death. Your Knights will grow with each battle, earning skills and unique loot, but they could just as easily perish.

King Arthur: Knight’s Tale was revealed this week with the help of a brief trailer that shows many of these elements at a glance. The studio also launched a Kickstarter campaign for the game, with a reasonable goal of $150,000.

The game is set to arrive on PC, PS5 and Xbox Series X/S early next year, and the funds will help deliver it on time, and potentially expand its scope should it break the initial target.

Games you can play this weekend

Nightvision: Drive Forever

Nightvision: Drive Forever is a driving game where the road never ends. That’s essentially the main hook: a mountain pass that you can race on for as long as you like. You have limited visibility, so you can never try to anticipate corners.

All the while, the game is generating the track, other cars and all manner of twists and turns as you go. It’s a neat idea, and one the developer cleverly dubbed “road-lite.” As you drive, a story about taking risks will unfold, with an ominous soundtrack to boot.

If you’re looking for a little more structure, Nightvision offers a sandbox mode where you can tackle set challenges with a pre-made layout that doesn’t change. Endless mode, on the other hand, lets you relax as you drive down these endless trails.

The game’s other bonus modes overhaul the visuals to make them resemble classic, early-80’s racing games, or give the game the look of a retro-future dreamscape.

Nightvision: Drive Forever came to Steam earlier this week, and there’s even a demo which should help you decide if it’s worth your time.

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