Welcome once again to the world’s foremost, sometimes fortnightly, indie column. Obviously, many things have happened in the world of video games.
Final Fantasy XVI was released to a lukewarm reception, which honestly is to be expected when your main character is called Clive. In even bigger all-encompassing game world news, the Activision-Blizzard-Microsoft 80s body horror flesh melding has continued to sludge its way to existence. What has this got to do with indie games? Well…potentially a lot.
It’s no secret that large game studios love to roll their blob-like masses over smaller studios assimilating them like foolish teens on Lookout Point. Of course, they promise to operate within the larger studio, getting bigger budgets, IPs, and releases. The reality is usually more in line with being digested and having your skeleton burped out.
The homunculus of Activision-Blizzard-Microsoft is repeatedly promising in courtrooms and press releases that the merger is for “the greater good,” and, yes, please read that like the council in Hot Fuzz. The actual reality is that a man whose last name loosely rhymes with Robotnik will get even richer and have even more control over things he has no business being in control of. Hopefully, Spencer can temper this, but the Magic 8 Ball says otherwise.
This is what you get when I take extended time off. Something to think about. Time for the indie games I have played in the last little bit.
Sticky Business – Steam
I previously talked about Sticky Business from Spellgarden Games as I played its demo during Steam Next Fest. Well, now the full game is out, and I can confirm it is the same as the demo but more. As in the demo, you can create and name your sticker shop and design your stickers. There are many more options regarding assets that you can use in your designs and the opportunity to unlock different packing materials and extras like candy that can be included.
Packaging orders and sending them off correctly and promptly will get you money and experience points that you can spend to unlock more assets to use in your burgeoning empire. There are also small stories to follow through the messages you get from repeat customers, although honestly, they are inconsequential and don’t really add to the game. Happily, my most popular products are a sticker called Self Portrait and one called Crunchy. These are pictured above, and extremely easy to guess as to which is which. Sticky Business is a super chill and creative way to lose an entire afternoon in the blink of an eye, and I will probably keep playing it even though I have already unlocked 98% of the achievements and assets.
Sticky Business is out now on Steam.
Kingdom Two Crowns – Steam
Let’s be honest; this was inevitable after playing Kingdom Eighties (which I have now played through three times, thanks.) Two Crowns is considerably more expansive than its radical standalone counterpoint. I will not divulge how many hours I put into it while convalescing. Two Crowns has several different eras/environments that you can play in: regular medieval times, Norse Lands, Shogun, and Dead Lands. My favorite is Norse Lands, closely followed by Dead Lands. This is because the available mounts include Golden War Pig in Norse Lands and Gross Beetle in Dead Lands.
Golden War Pig is relatively slow but is gold and can dig up coins, while Gross Beetle is moderately speedy and craps out…horrible…tube…things (?) that damage enemies. They might be Larvae, but it isn’t important. The important thing is that it is disgusting and, therefore, awesome. The basic mechanics of Kingdom Two Crowns are the same as Kingdom Eighties if that was your entry point to the series. Collect coins, upgrade your camp, enlist the peasants, and ride increasingly weird beasts. There is more to Two Crowns than Eighties, so if you loved Eighties but lamented how short it is, I highly suggest checking out Two Crowns.
Kingdom Two Crowns is available on Steam
Pumpkin Panic – Itch.IO
Pumpkin Panic is a game that I sought out after seeing a YouTube thumbnail. Yes, it is that easy to get me to play a game sometimes. I went for it because the art style seemed heavily inspired by Over the Garden Wall, one of the best modern animations you could hope to see. The game looked like a cutely spooky farming sim, and all those things deeply appealed to me, so I popped over to itch.io and found the creator Bilalaika’s page.
After downloading and opening the game, I was greeted with my cute pumpkin-masked avatar, spooky surroundings, and friendly crow tutor. Adorable! The crow gives you some seeds and tells you how to farm, fill up your water and use your lantern. Then after you harvest your first crop and begin replanting, he tells you to sprint using shift and hide. “Why do I have to hi…? OH DEAR GOD, WHAT IS THAT?” This was the exact sentence I said out loud as a horrible loping nightmare beast charged at me and munched my pumpkin face off. You die, and you begin again. There’s no real way of knowing when the creature will appear; it is a jumpscare every single time. Simple, gorgeous, terrifying, exactly what a horror game should be.
Pumpkin Panic is available on itch.io
- Platforming adventure Sephonie comes to PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, and Nintendo Switch on July 21.
- Turn-based strategy game The Black Pepper Crew comes to early access on PC on July 24.
- Interstellar gothic exploration game The Banished Vault comes to PC on July 25.
- Garbage collecting beat ‘em up PixelJunk Scrappers Deluxe comes to PC, PS4, PS5, and Nintendo Switch on July 27.
- Narrative cooking puzzle game Venba comes to PC, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, and Nintendo Switch on July 31.
- Timey-wimey adventure A Guidebook of Babel comes to Mac, PC, and Nintendo Switch on August 3.