Double Fine and iam8bit’s latest indie-focussed Day of the Devs showcase has been and gone, offering a closer look at a variety of new titles heading release-ward in the coming months and beyond. Most aren’t new new games in terms of reveals but there’s some cracking stuff in there, and, in case you missed it, here’s everything – from the sci-fi sequel-ing of Axiom Verge 2 to the cooking delights of Hot Pot – that put in an appearance during the show. Do note that the livestream features some extra gameplay not found in the accompanying videos below.
Axiom Verge 2
Developer Thomas Happ’s Axiom Verge 2, the sequel to his acclaimed 2005 retro-styled Metroid-a-like, returned with brand-new gameplay, highlighting some the abilities that new protagonist Indra – a melee-based character, in contrast to her gun-focussed predecessor – will wield, including new hacking abilities that’ll even let players complete avoid boss battles. Happ also dropped the news that Axiom Verge 2 will also be coming to PlayStation 4 and PS5 alongside the previously announced Switch and PC versions.
TOEM: A Photo Adventure
Developer Something We Made’s TOEM: A Photo Adventure does exactly what it says on the tin, serving up a calming, casual adventure – with an appealing black and white handdrawn aesthetic – that themes its gameplay around camera-based puzzling. Players, in the role of an amateur photographer on a journey to see magical phenomenon known as TOEM, will need to complete quests for NPCs – using their camera’s zoom function to locate a fault inside a machine, for instance – in order to afford the bus fare needed to travel from region to region and reach their goal. It’s coming to PC later this year.
Phantom Abyss, developed by Team WIBY and published by the ever-reliable Devolver Digital, is a first-person procedural rogue-like that sees players doing their best Indiana Jones impressions as they crack whips and swing into a forbidden temple in search of a mysterious relic – avoiding traps and, eventually, powerful beings known as Guardians as they go. Perhaps the most interesting element is its asynchronous multiplayer game; players only have a single chance to complete a particular temple configuration, and those that die will leave phantoms, providing hints as to how those that come after can survive its tricks. Phantom Abyss enters Steam early access in June.
Picogram’s “charming and chill” Garden Story, in which a sentient grape attempts to fend of the omnipresent Rot and help rejuvenate an island and its inhabitants, showed off a little more of its vibrant life-sim-style action during the livestream. Expect combat, exploration, management, farming, and fishing, when it comes to Steam and PC release later this year.
Soup Pot is a mouthwatering cooking game (or soup simulator as developer Chikon Club would have it) focussed on Philippine, Japanese, and Korean cuisine. It features over 100 recipes from different regions – all browsable via an in-game website known as Cookbook – that, rather brilliantly, work just as well in real-life if you’d rather taste them for real. When Soup Pot was previously revealed, Chicken Club explained players would be able to muck around with an in-game soup pot to conjure their creations, but it’s now also confirmed the presence of a grill and skewer. Soup Pot will be tickling taste buds on Xbox and PC in August.
A Musical Story
We’ve taken a look at A Musical Story before, but French developer Glee-Cheese Studio offered a fresh glimpse of its “meaningful and soulful” 70s-set rhythm-action game – inspired by the likes of Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, and Jimi Hendrix – in today’s livestream. It’s a completely word-free experience that tells the story of protagonist Gabriel as he ventures to the legendary Pine Wood Festival with friends. There are darker themes, including his struggles with addiction, and it’s all wrapped up with unique rhythm gameplay intended to be more “organic” than the norm. There’s no visual playhead during musical segments, for instance, meaning success is based on a player’s ability to listen to the music and understand it. A Musical Story is out on Xbox, Switch, iOS, PC later this year, and a free demo is available from today on Steam.
It doesn’t sound like Kong Orange’s Vokabulantis will be out any time soon, but it’s definitely one that’s now firmly on my radar after its Day of the Devs showing. Described as a “love-driven co-op platform adventure set in a broken world inspired by language”, it has the air of an Inside-ish puzzle-platformer; however, the real pull is its absolutely gorgeous aesthetic, achieved by combining stop-motion character animation with hand-made sets imported into the game via photogrammetry for a seamless look. There’s not a lot more to report right now, and certainly no hint of a release date, but Vokabulantis seems like one to watch.
We’ve already seen quite a of Digixart’s Road 96, but this intriguing attempt at procedurally generated story telling, in which a teenager embarks on a road trip across thousands of miles of countryside in a bid to reach the border, still looks enormously promising. Along the way, players will encounter characters with unique backgrounds, storylines, and personalities, and your interactions with them have the potential to change both the trajectory of your current journey and the country around you, leading to “thousands of combinations”. Expect to see this one on Switch and PC later this year.
The Wandering Village
Stray Fawn’s The Wandering Village – a city building sim set on the back of a giant, wandering creature – returned with a few more gameplay details. The core city building aspect, which sees players constructing a home for survivors escaping a toxic fungus, might be familiar, but it takes on new life as the creature (which can be commanded to a degree) continues its forward march, travelling from biome to biome – each one bringing new opportunities and challenges that require fresh strategies to solve. It enters Steam early access in Q4 this year.
D-Cell Games’ striking anime-inspired rhythm game – “where music is illegal and you do crimes” – has just wrapped up an extremely successful Kickstarter campaign, and isn’t likely to be with us for a while. However, it’s two-button musical gameplay – used for all sorts of scenarios, from fighting rock monsters to playing gigs – continues to look and sounds utterly marvellous. And if you’d like to give it a go, there’s a free demo available on Steam and itch.io.
Death’s Door comes from developer Acid Nerve (the team behind top-down Souls-like Titan Souls), and serves up a striking slice of gorgeously moody fantasy action set in a strange world where nothing naturally dies anymore. Here, crows are charged with maintaining order by reaping the souls of the dead, and players, in the role of one such bird, must embark on a Zelda-inspired adventure across a fully explorable, “hand-crafted” world, incorporating “intense fast-paced brawls” where mistakes are punished and skills are rewarded. Death’s Door is out on PC and Xbox some time this summer.
Behind the Frame
Perhaps the most visually sumptuous title on display during Day of the Devs is Behind the Frame, a point-and-click-style adventure with an art style heavily indebted to Studio Ghibli. The work of Taiwanese developer Silver Lining Studio, Behind the Frame casts players as a painter pursuing her dream to become a professional artist. Much of this plays out by exploring vivid environments in first-person, interacting with objects and solving with art-themed puzzles along the way. Silver Lining promises an adventure, complete with beautifully animated cut-scenes, about “love, life, and how to preserve memories”.
Walk, Elec Head, and Robots K.K.
Today’s Day of the Devs also showcased three upcoming Japanese indies. Elec Head, out later this year, is a side-on platformer that builds its adventure around a tiny robot capable of electrifying everything it touches, while Demolition Robots K.K. is a chaotic multiplayer experience in which giant robots smash up cities for fun and cash. Then there’s the immediately eye-catching Walk by Kazumi Games – a PS1-inspired retro survival horror experience that casts players as a defenceless school girl trying to return home before dark as she’s pursued by shadow creatures. There’s a demo available on the Haunted PS1 Demo Disc 2021.
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Developer Bunnyhug’s Moonglow Bay is a “slice-of-life fishing RPG” set in a 1980s Canadian coastal town where people are afraid to fish. It’s inspired by classics like Harvest Moon and Legend of the River King, and aims to “capture the magic of fishing and make it the heart of everything”. Players can fish, cook, and sell the culinary results in order to upgrade their gear and fishing boat as they help revitalise the flagging town, and connect with its inhabitants, each with their own stories to tell. This one’s coming to Xbox, PC, and Game Pass later this year.
Loot River, from Straka Studio, is an action rogue-like with a twist, melding combat-focussed top-down dungeon crawling with a a Tetris-like sliding block mechanic. Its world of subterranean waterways – procedurally remixed each run-through using handcrafted elements in a similar fashion to Dead Cells – is made up of wooden platforms that players can slide in any direction, informing pretty much all elements of play. They can be used to split groups of enemies, dodge fast attacks, make a hasty retreat, even be re-arranged puzzle-fashion to reach out-of-the-way chests. Loot River looks to be an intriguing take on a familiar formula and is out on Xbox and PC later this year.
Easily the most distinctive game to put in an appearance during Day of the Devs, Despelote, from developers Julian Cordero and Sebastian Valbuena, is a semi-autobiographical game about “how soccer can impact a place and its culture”. It’s set in Ecuador, 2001, with the country’s football team on the verge of qualifying for World Cup for the first time – bringing hope to a population only just emerging from a major financial crises. That translates to a laidback game of kick-abouts and conversations, bound in an immediately arresting art style that combines stylised urban realism with bold black and white character art.
Last up, appropriately enough, is Last Stop, from Virginia developer Variable State. This supernaturally tingled urban adventure, published by Annapurna Interactive, tells the interweaving stories of three London-based characters on one very strange day. Variable State has been showing off Last Stop for a while, but it turns out there isn’t much longer to wait until its mysteries are revealed to all. It’s coming to Xbox, PlayStation, Switch, and PC on 22nd July.