It’s another Indie Insights, it’s number 12, and it’s definitely not on time again. It’s been a massive fortnight for games in general, with a neverending parade of showcases, directs, and reveals filling up Twitch streams for days on end. With that being said, I’ve been sick again and haven’t had enough time to play all the demos I wanted to play (I’ve got about 50 to get through somehow), but here are my favorites that I have crammed in from Steam Next Fest, featuring stickers, beasties, witches, and cartoons!
A Tiny Sticker Tale
From developers Ogre Pixel, you play as a tiny donkey on a magical island with a sticker album and can turn most things, including other animal people into stickers. Shifting into sticker mode allows you to grab objects and people and place them in your album until you find a platoon to use them. The very first thing I encountered on the beach was a crab which I immediately picked up and placed in my sticker album. Traversing the island with your sticker book, you have to solve the islander’s problems and open up the environment using objects you stickerfiy around the place. It’s very cute and looks like it will be a fun adventure. The Kickstarter for the game can be found here.
More stickers! In Sticky Business from Spellgarden Games, you create stickers, fulfill and package orders, and be your boss. It’s a business building, creative outlet, and time management sim. There are only so many hours in the day, and you must ensure enough time to complete everything. While there aren’t a lot of sticker-making assets available in the demo, I was pleased to see that literally, every person on my social media that has played the demo created the perfect lifeform – sheep with mushrooms growing out of it. This will be a game that you accidentally lose hours to once the full game is released later in 2023.
Stardew Valley meets Story of Seasons through Jurassic Park in this cute ranching sim from developers Italic Pig. Not only do you farm, craft, and make human friends you also have the opportunity to make friends with various adorable dinosaurs. Befriending the wild dinos involves learning their friendship calls and playing it back to them on your trusty flute. Once you learn it to their liking, you can offer them treats to gain their trust and then befriend them by offering them Poppins. Poppins are a type of cakey thing that comes in various tastes and textures, and you have to give a dino its preferred flavor, or it will run off, and you have to try again. The demo stopped short of allowing me to reach the Triceratops behind an unbreakable boulder, and I plan on sitting here until the full release on September 23 to reach my three horned children.
This monster-catching volleyball game comes from Wishes Unlimited, the developers behind Chicory and Wandersong. In Beastieball, you play volleyball with a team of odd little creatures you catch in the wild by offering them team jerseys. The game knows it will be compared to Pokemon. It proudly displays its influence, even containing a character called Redd, a washed-up former Beastieball champion who dresses remarkably similar to Ash Ketchum. Instead of battling against other monsters, you play them in a volleyball game. You must carefully coordinate your offense and defense moves and decide whether you will move up to the net or night between each serve. The demo is a fun peek into a sportier creature catcher that looks like it will be a lot of fun. The Kickstarter for the game can be found here.
We now reach the Saturday morning cartoon portion of this Indie Insights. I’ve had my beady little animation fan eyeballs on Mythforce for a while now. Coming from developers Beamdog, it’s stylized precisely like the cartoons from the 80s and 90s that I grew up watching. It was a seemingly pitch-perfect visual recreation of the medium. In a dungeon-crawling roguelike adventure, you can choose four heroes in all the usual flavors Mage, Rogue, Knight, and Hunter. Each hero has their own unique abilities and weapons expertise and can be upgraded and customized through the use of the in-game coin. (Rico the Rogue has what appears to be a Teen Wolf skin, and I need it.) As with any game of this type, there are perks and upgrades to be found worldwide, along with a legion of skeleton warriors and thieving little goblins who will nick off with your gear if they get too close. It’s a good time, and it plays well. My only issue is that you appear to be playing as someone who is one foot tall, but it’s a small gripe (Ba-dum tsh!) Mythforce is currently in early access on the Epic Store and will come to Steam later this year.
I grew up with reruns of the Toxic Crusaders cartoon. I probably saw it before I saw its progenitor, The Toxic Avenger, although I can’t be sure because, boy, did I watch stuff I wasn’t supposed to from a young age. The game is a 2D sidescroller beat ‘em up from Retroware in the style of the TMNT games, old and new. It is a pristine recreation of the show in visuals and stupidity and plays perfectly. It features all the main characters and enemies from the show that I remembered and basically involves smashing through Killmonger’s minions until you reach the level boss. So accurate is the rendering that immediately after playing the single-level demo, I searched for the show online (it’s free on Tubi!) Cartoon fans and Troma fans should definitely check out this silly tribute when it gets a full release in 2024.
The Cosmic Wheel Sisterhood
Anyone following me on social media will know this game is exceptionally high on my anticipated releases list. It comes from developer Deconstructeam and publisher Devolver Digital. After playing the demo, it’s only risen higher up my list. The first hour or so of gameplay is available to explore and lets you into the world of the Cosmic Wheel. You are an exiled witch with an uncanny ability to make predictions and readings through tarot cards. Exiled for 1000 years by your coven for heralding their doom and stripped of your tarot cards, you summon a Behemoth. So begins a series of contracts, questions, elements, and soul-searching as you craft a new oracle deck alongside a terrible cosmic power that wants more than you may be willing, or able, to give. The Cosmic Wheel Sisterhood releases later this year.
- Building sim and exploration game Nova Lands comes to PC, Nintendo Switch, PS4, and Xbox One on June 22.
- Action-adventure The Bookwalker: Thief of Tales comes to PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox X/S on June 22.
- First-person vandalism sim sequel Sludge Life 2 comes to PC on June 27.
- The investigative hidden object game Crime O’Clock comes to PC and Nintendo Switch on June 30.