Blazing Beaks is a fun roguelite dungeon crawler by Applava. You’ll get to choose one of 8 armed avians to adventure with, and explore randomly generated levels with random loot drops. It’s your standard fare when it comes to Rougelites but does it do enough to keep things fun?
Marble It Up! comes from developers who worked on Marble Blast Ultra, Marble Blast Gold, and loved Marble Madness. And if you know what all of those are, then you probably don’t need to read further. Marble It Up! offers up lots of developer-made content over six chapters, with an incredible amount of levels thanks to the Steam Workshop. Marble It Up! is a wonderful game that never ceases to surprise, and the new Challenge Update adds in a necessary level of difficulty that was missing previously to make the experience feel whole.
Brian Provinciano’s follow-up to Retro City Rampage is finally here. Shakedown: Hawaii bumps up the bits from 8 to 16. This time around Vblank drops the references, the homages, and has made a game that stands on its own, more so than its spiritual predecessor. Shakedown: Hawaii still offers a Grand Theft Auto-style sandbox experience that can be as chaotic as you make it, but this time it’s all about making the most money imaginable. And it won’t be long before you’re your own Scrooge McDuck, albeit a lunatic who’s grip on reality is only held on by the almighty dollar, and willing to kill for it.
As the market and our personal catalogs are increasingly filled with games that are focused on being the pinnacle of realism or visual fidelity or artistry, the idea of what makes games fun can often get lost in the pursuit of other ideals. Rock of Ages 2, much like its predecessor, is thankfully not interested in being anything other than whimsically fun, presented against a backdrop of utter absurdity. There is indeed very little about the game which is rooted in reality, which is a refreshing change of pace from the endless line of military shooters and major visual showcases from big publishers. Are you interested in accurate combat simulations? Do you crave high stakes, competitive gameplay?
Void Bastards came out of nowhere with its announcement back in November, and it looked very promising. The final version has not been a disappointment in the slightest. Void Bastards is FTL meets System Shock while brimming with personality, dark humor, and a devilish charm by being equal parts entertaining and challenging throughout your journey. The gameplay is structured with a focus on the campaign that doesn’t feel like much of a roguelike, though it very much is one. Void Bastards is one of the best roguelikes around, and the most fun game I’ve played all year.
ASTRO Gaming has made a name for themselves with their gaming headsets that a premium audio experience. Now they’ve expanded their repertoire with their first competitive gaming controller, which aims to be a first-class controller for PlayStation 4 and PC. The ASTRO C40 Tournament Ready Controller is basically a white glove service, coming with extras like a carrying case, replacement hardware, configuration via software, and profile switching. As a standalone controller, it’s extremely well designed that’s worth the price of admission, even if it is a bit steep.
The Earth Defense Force series has dug itself into the B-Tier genre of games. It’s campy, it’s rough, it’s janky, and it’s buggy; quite literally. But for the fans of the series, each new release brings excitement and joy. It’s like those of us in the Dynasty Warriors camp who are excited for new releases, even if it’s their not the best. Just like Dynasty Warriors, D3 Publisher has kept the formula the same for many years. But with Earth Defense Force: Iron Rain developer Yuke’s was to take the series in new directions.
Hell is Other Demons might fly under the radar due to its split releases on Switch and PC through Kongregate and now Steam, but it should absolutely be played wherever you can get it. This chunky bullet-hell platformer is tough, but fair. It is as much about skill as it is having a strategy in mind, and memorable patterns help. Cuddle Monster Games have crafted an excellent game in that Hell is Other Demons offers an incredible amount of choice, making this a superb title that shouldn’t be missed.
Fission Superstar X from Turbo Pelvis 3000 is roguelike in which you’re force into doing a bomb run, and literally everyone else is out to stop you from doing so. At times, it doesn’t know whether to be a roguelike or shmup, and it tries to be both to disappointing results. The game presents itself as being an impossible task, and in so many ways, is absolutely true. In time it grew on me, but it is hard to play in long stretches, and is better in short bursts. As a result, Fission Superstar X doesn’t come fully recommended, but there’s a lot of fun to be had with its absurd and beautiful worlds to see how far you can go.
A big part of the excitement of diving into any new SteamWorld title is discovering just how Image & Form have decided to interpret the genre of that game and in which ways they’ll refresh and hopefully reinvent its already established mechanics. Sure, you look forward to some whimsical character interactions and continued iteration and improvement upon the universe’s art style, but a big part of what makes SteamWorld games special is how consistently they are able to take something familiar and tweak it just enough to make you feel like you’re playing a new kind of experience, while simultaneously wondering why every other game before it didn’t do things this way. That’s the magic of Image & Form’s work; it’s a special alchemy that takes the best parts of many games, improves upon those elements where necessary, and brings them together to create a fun, well-polished experience.