Indie Insights Vol. 30 – Clawing Eco Battles

PAX East is over. Hundreds of games were on display, and a slew of announcements, and seemingly everyone went but me. I did not spend the weekend of the show experiencing FOMO. You cannot prove that I did (unless you follow me on Twitter, in which case you will know that I am lying.)

Instead, I had my own little event in my house where I played a load of video games. Sure, this may sound like my regular life, but…well, it is. Here’s what I played this fortnight.

Kādomon: Hyper Auto Battlers

kadomon hyper auto battler boss fight
Image Credit: Dino Rocket.

Developer Dino Rocket has just released Kādomon: Hyper Auto Battlers, a creature-collecting auto-battler focusing on strategy in early access on Steam. Taking inspiration from Pokémon, throwing in some roguelite elements, and taking out the ability to choose moves has forged a very addictive experience.

There is an ocean of creature collectors around at the moment. Most of them focus on the actual collecting of beasties. However, Kādomon emphasizes formulating strategies and building up an arsenal of useful items and effects. Of course, there is a Kādodex to fill out, with 180 creatures available currently. There are more to come throughout early access. You hunt because, at any one time, you can only have 10 Kādomon. There is no extra storage. You have four team members and six in reserve, and that is it. To complete your collection, you will have to keep playing.

As in most games featuring beast-based battles, there are several different types: Dusk, Ice, Water, Fire, etc. As is standard, each type has weaknesses and strengths. However, because battles are automatic and you can’t choose your moves, you can overcome them with the power of delicious items!

Various treats, potions, boosts, and defense items can be equipped at the shop screen, where you will end up after every battle. You can purchase either items or a selection of Kādomon at the shop. Bought items will appear in the top bar above your team. You equip them by dragging them onto the mon you want to use them on. If an item is already equipped, it will unequip, and you can keep or sell it. If you purchase a Kādomon that you already have in your team, it will instead become an EXP bonus for that beast.

To play, you pick your path through a region, and you’ll encounter set battles with set Kādomon types, random events, opportunities to upgrade your team, and mini-bosses. Currently, the maximum level of Kādomon is three, and they evolve at each new level. As for content, there are only three available regions to navigate, with a level boss at the end of each region. After two and a half hours, I had achieved my first complete victory, but I was not done. I haven’t encountered even half of the Kādomon yet. They have such great, unique designs that I want to see more. I can’t wait for further content updates.

Kādomon: Hyper Auto Battlers is out now in early access on Steam.

Distant Bloom – Demo

Distant Bloom eco regeneration
Image Credit: Ember Trail.

I discovered Distant Bloom from developer Ember Trail when compiling the new releases for the week this column is published. I was intrigued by the concept of restoring life to a barren planet combined with resource management and some base building, so I decided to investigate the demo. The available Steam demo is a pre-alpha version. It’s a bizarre choice, considering as of March 27, the full game is available.

You play as Alter, part of a crew on a mission to find a new home for your species. Unfortunately, you have crashed on the planet. All the cryo pods of the crew are all around the crash site, and the planet is less than thriving. In fact, the planet is positively barren and littered with trash. With the help of your trusty robot buddy, it’s time to try and find your ship and the Elder who is in charge.

On your way to find the Elder, you will locate some of your basic tools. First, you will find your scanner, which you can use to learn more about the local plants. Or what’s left of them anyway. Everything is currently withered and dead. You can also scan resources and trash you find, some of which you can pick up and some of which will need tools you will find later. You’ll also find your first crewmates’ pod, but only the Elder can open it.

Once you find the Elder, who claims they definitely meant to crash and eject everyone’s pods, they will task you with cleanup. Picking up the stinky scrap metal will reinvigorate the surrounding plant life, sending the world into color. Then, they will give you the key to all the cryo pods, and it’s time to free your crewmates.

I had a lot of fun with the short demo. As it’s a pre-alpha build, the graphics are a little unpolished, but the mechanics and overall vibe of the game are exactly the kind of thing I love. The music is calming and beautiful, and once color comes back into the world, it all begins to mesh together. I highly recommend giving Distant Bloom a look if you are a fan of chill crafting games, so much so that I bought the full version after playing the demo.

Distant Bloom is out now on Steam.

Dungeon Clawler – Demo

Dungeon Clawler battle
Image Credit: Stray Fawn Studios.

No, that’s not a typo.

This is Dungeon Clawler, the upcoming game from Stray Fawn Studios. Part dungeon crawler, part claw machine, and due in Q3 of 2024, this forthcoming release is a left turn from the studios’ previous outing, The Wandering Village. The Steam page describes the plot as” To improve his fortune in gambling, the evil dungeon lord has chopped off your left rabbit paw and wears it as a charm. Replacing your lost limb with a (t)rusty claw, you fight through the dungeon to reclaim what’s yours!”

The demo doesn’t go into the plot but gives you a great idea of the already addictive gameplay. Dungeon Clawler is a rogue-like deck builder that allows you to choose a path through a dungeon, collect items, and fight monsters. Whenever you encounter a foe, you will assume control of a claw machine that is inexplicably in the background of every fight. You have two chances to use the claw machine to grab items in your current turn. The machine initially contains basic daggers and shields. As you traverse the dungeon, you will build up your inventory with a greater variety of items.

There are also random encounters, such as a blacksmith where you can upgrade items for coins, a pachinko machine where you can gamble for perks, and mysterious rooms where you will be presented with a choice to make. Currently, there is only basic content in the game. For example, the claw machine also has fluff in it. Currently, fluff has no use but will be available for customization in the release. I couldn’t stop playing despite the limited content available in the demo, and I will watch for a release date.

Dungeon Clawler will be available in quarter 3 of 2024, with a free demo available now on Steam.



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Written by Emma Oakman

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