Nestled away in the middle of the Tentacle Collective area of EGX 2018 was a game that blew my socks off. Astrologaster is a game about a real world “Doctor” Simon Forman who lived and practiced in London in the 1500’s. The word “Doctor” is in speech marks there because Simon Foreman was actually anything but, using astrological readings to help cure people’s ailments and predicaments instead of using any proven (for the time, anyway) medical practices. What’s interesting about “Doctor” Forman is that he kept detailed notes of his consolations with his clients which have survived to this day and serve as a basis to this game. Packed full of dry wit, long tail humour and minute to minute decision making, Astrologaster is a real curio. It’s even presented like a virtual pop up book. Due to release on PC in Q1 2019, ensure you arrange an appointment with this “Doctor” when he is released.
Have you ever played the Dreamfall Chapters game series? If not, stop reading now and head off and play them…*waits for a week*. You back? They’re great right? Well, developers Red Thread Games’ next project – Draugen – is a bit of a departure from the themes in their previous games but it still looks to be carrying that high quality that the studio are now known for. A single player, first person “Fjord Noir mystery”, this game is set in a 1920’s Norwegian costal town that might be picturesque to look at but hides a darkness just below the surface. The 2 main characters – American traveller Edward Charles Harden and his ward Lissie – both seem like enigmatic people and the hunt for Edward’s missing sister – the McGuffin for the game – is sure to turn up some mysteries along the way. The teaser trailer above was enough to whet our appetite for Draugen and we’re looking forward to picking it up in 2019 (on PC’s or Consoles).
You’re a taxi driver in Paris. There’s been a recent spate of gruesome murders and they were all recent patrons of your taxi firm. You were often the last person to see the victims alive. That’s the grim, grizzly premise being Night Call, a unique visual novel/Noir adventure that’s suitably moody in its presentation. Investigating the murders from your unique vantage point – because who doesn’t open up a little to the innocuous Taxi driver on a long fare? – you interview clients, collect clues and piece them together to stop the killer. Night Call is a really smart idea that’s been married with some lovely visuals, aiming to solve the case in 2019 on PC, Mac, Linux and mobile devices.
Million To One Hero
When I started this list, I sent out a few tweets directed at the indie games community asking them to show me their 2019 wares. My list quickly rose from 14 entries long to nearly 50 (and as you can now tell with the final number, way beyond that too). I thought I’d finished my list when I received probably the most ingenious way I’ve ever seen of bringing a game to my attention…
So close… pic.twitter.com/tZTVMdkBVE
— Apoonto (@apoonto) November 20, 2018
What developers Over The Top Games didn’t know though, is that there game was already on the list. I’d managed to take a quick look at Million To One Hero at EGX 2018 and it had piqued my interest because of its inherent humour and art style that reminds me of Not A Hero. In this game you travel through the memories of Chronos, the god of time, as he reminisces about the adventures of try-hard hero Epicus. As well as boasting a single player campaign full of “traps, puzzles, mystical artifacts, and mythological creatures”, Million To One Hero has an extensive level editor that allows you to piece together everything you can see in the game to create your own levels and campaigns, with dialogue, quests and a plot. If this title finds its way into the hands of the right people, that creative community of gamers that like to spend time making levels as much as they do completing them, there’s oodles of potential that could come from Million To One Hero when it releases on PC in 2019.
Lost Words: Beyond The Page
You know a game will be good when it’s winning awards before it has already released and Lost Words has already picked up more than 5. A plot penned by Rhianna Pratchett (Rise of The Tomb Raider/Heavenly Sword) and bought to life by a team boasting decades of combined experience in games design and creation, Lost Words is an atmospheric puzzle game that’s set within a fantasy land and the pages of a diary. The game originally began as a Ludum Dare game jam entry but grew from there, attracting investment, talent and a publisher, Modus Games. The game looks stunning and the premise is something that facilitates powerful story telling, something that Pratchett is renowned for. Lost Words is one to keep an eye out for in 2019. It has all the hallmarks of an indie classic.
Dungeon crawlers are great. Dating Sims are also great. But what happens when you merge the two together? That’s the question that is answered by Boyfriend Dungeon, a brawler that allows you to date (or befriend, in the case of Pocket the cat/brass knuckles) your weapons. It’s an ingenious merger of genres to be honest, allowing you to delve into a dungeon to rescue cute, deadly, eligible weapons from monsters – then date them. Your relationship with the weapons (which take a human/cat form during dates) changes their effectiveness too. Each prospective partner/weapon has their own likes and dislikes which you’ll need to navigate to get the most out of them. The result of a wildly successful Kickstarter campaign, Boyfriend Dungeon is set to slide on into your heart (and your PC, Mac or Linux machine) in 2019
Before “Soul’s-like” was even a genre, there was Eitr. Announced all the way back in 2015, this title exploded across news outlets and social media because of its apparent design similarities to the Souls games but in a new perspective. Visually arresting and promising a “unique Favor System, requiring a choice between permanent level upgrades and more powerful but fleeting perks that can be upon death”. Then everything went quiet for 2 years, which lead to a lot of conjecture on forums and other corners of the internet that the game had actually been quietly cancelled. If people did go searching for it though, updates were out there, the latest from January 2018 which states the dev team took a step back from the social media aspect of promoting the game – which was time consuming – to focus on actually making it. I’m speculating here but 2019 is now likely a release window. I managed to get some hands on time with Eitr a few years back and even back then, you could tell there was something special about it and, most importantly, it understood that the game wasn’t supposed to be simply difficult for difficulty’s sake like so many other games have done since it was announced. Originally proposed for the PS4 and PC, Eitr is one to watch.
The Secret Cove
It feels like it has been years since I’ve written about The Secret Cove. That’s because it has been several of them and 2 whole (now, long dead) websites ago. I originally stumbled across this game way back in 2014 when looking into taking a holiday in Cornwall, a destination my family had visited a few times over the years. It’s a place that holds a lot of happy memories for me, so a game set in the county, about exploring real world Cornish landmarks, towns and locations mixed with fictional ones, still in keeping with the tone of the place, instantly caught my attention. The Secret Cove is a point and click adventure that puts you in the shoes of an unemployed deckhand who overhears 2 fisherman talking about a mysterious secret cove, mired in the history of the smugglers that once used Cornwall as a landing. You set out to explore and find this hidden spot, navigating 3D recreations of real locations, build tools to overcome puzzles and sleuth your way to the treasure. Aiming to hit PC and mobile devices in 2019, I can’t wait for Cheeky Sprite Studios to final unleash its secrets.
Imagine John Woo directed a buddy cop game about kicking down doors and slow-mo blasting the ever living snot out of a tonne of criminals. That’s RICO. It’s F.E.A.R. meets Lethal Weapon. It’s a first person Max Payne meets Tango and Cash. It’s, quite simply, awesome. Developers Ground Shatter (the team behind the underrated SkyScrappers) let Rossko and I have a little play with the switch version of RICO at EGX 2018 and we were suitably impressed. Complete with local and online co-op, procedurally-generated cases making it incredibly replayable and daily challenges with leader boards to attack, RICO is an incredibly promising title that’s hitting all consoles and PC in early 2019.
Knights and Bikes
You only have to look at Knights and Bikes to fall in love with it – but when you get your hands it, which I’ve managed to do a few times now, you realise what a special project this is. A co-op adventure inspired by the likes of The Goonies and Earthbound, from a team with AAA game dev experience, having worked on such projects as Tearaway, LittleBigPlanet & Ratchet & Clank, Knights and Bikes is a game about playing pretend. It bridges that gap between the real world and a child’s imagination while at play and the incredible and intricate world kids build for themselves in a back garden/their own head. Here, Nessa & Demelza, 2 adorable but hard playing girls, are hitting the town to explore the Wizards Tower (a crane), meet Witches (an elderly lady) and save the adults from a peril they know nothing about. There’s Frisbee combat, bike races, swans to hug and puddles to splash around in, all in a gorgeous world that responds to your presence. Disclaimer: I’m a Kickstarter backer for Knights and Bikes and seeing this game come together through updates has been wonderful and I can’t personally wait for it to cross the development finish line in 2019.