It’s time for a new episode of our Hidden Indie Gems feature where we bring you fresh indie games to play and be excited about every week.
A number of this year’s massive games have either been delayed, or had late-2020 release targets to begin with. This opens up these weeks to the smaller games, the type we like to showcase in this feature.
The pandemic obviously disrupted schedules for indies, too, of course, but there’s still plenty coming between now and the summer. So without further ado, let’s jump in.
Hot indie games week of April 13
Minskworks, the developer of the slow burn road trip adventure Jalopy, has returned with a new project. Landlord’s Super is essentially a construction simulator where you go about restoring dilapidated houses to convince people to move in.
Landlord’s Super occupies the same space as Jalopy, in that it’s part a mechanics-dense, practical game and part serene commentary on the history, culture and personal affections of its creator.
The game takes place in 1980’s Britain, and you play as a working class builder who takes on loans to buy tools and supplies and spends his days doing construction work. When you’re done with the menial work for the day, you’re free to visit a pub and chat with the game’s characters about issues of the day. It has a similar look to Jalopy’s; a fuzzy image that gives the appearance of a faded photograph, perfect for the tone and setting Minskworks is going for.
Landlord’s Super comes to Steam Early Access on April 30. Hit the link to wishlist it.
Signs of the Sojourner
What if the experiences we gain and relationships we form were decided by an emotive deck of cards? That’s the question Signs of the Sojourner attempts to answer, and it’s the conceit the game is built on.
In Signs of the Sojourner, you roam the world in your caravan, meeting people and finding things to sell in your mother’s store. Each encounter with the game’s characters unfolds over a game of cards. Empathy, cynicism, logic and other emotions take the form of symbols, which you carefully match to impart your own wisdom, or take on their perspective.
The more you meet in your travels the more cards you gain, but as you learn from these characters, you must also leave them with some of what you know. It’s one of the most fascinating translations of human communication and connection to game mechanics I’ve seen. It takes place in a world forever changed by climate change, but not so desolate as to be void of colour. The hand-drawn art gives it a warm, mellow look.
Signs of the Sojourner releases on Steam May 14, with a Switch version coming later this year.
Games you can play this weekend
The pitch for Receiver 2, just like its predecessor, is so simple I am surprised no one managed to replicate it. The protagonist in Receiver is effectively your weapon. It doesn’t matter so much who’s holding it, all that matters is how badly you will fumble operating it in the taut situations the game throws you in.
Receiver simulates every component of its firearms in a way that no doubt makes the Escape from Tarkov developers a little jealous. Just as every weapon's moving part has a job, so too do you have a procedure to follow to load, unload, and clear your guns when they jam.
Receiver treats guns like precision instruments, not extensions of power. It does this, in part, by mapping the different functions to keyboard and mouse inputs. Reloading, which is a button press in most game, is its own operation here. The first-person shooting is secondary. Having full control of the process of, well, handling weapons, will get you to see guns from a different perspective.
The original was a little clunky, and its visuals never quite carried the weight communicated by the mechanics. The sequel already looks to bring big improvements in those areas, and expands on the story, too, which was lightly interspersed with the original’s combat rooms.
Receiver 2 came out this week on Steam, where it’s available for 10% off until Tuesday ($18).
A Fold Apart
A Fold Apart tells the story of long-distance relationships, represented in vignettes made of folding paper. This forms the game’s core mechanic, which mostly involves puzzles built around the idea of folding various parts of the screen.
You get to pick between different couples, each offering both a narrative and mechanical perspective on the game’s puzzles. Though it was created before our current crisis, the game couldn’t have come at a better time. As many in the real world are asked to maintain personal and professional relationships remotely, we’re expected to collectively figure out that puzzle ourselves.
Misinterpretation, presence and what goes unsaid are all things people living apart have to contend with, as do the game’s characters. A Fold Apart is available starting today on Steam and Switch, as well as on Apple Arcade if you’re a member. It supports everything from iPhones to the Apple TV.