It seems like there’s always that one game that just kind of sucks the air out of the room. You know what I’m talking about: your God of Wars, your Red Deads, them Dead Cells, that there Mario. There are so many games that come out every day, it’s inevitable that really great stuff will just sort of fall below the radar, even big-budget, long-awaited titles.
So as we close off the month, let’s look back at some underrated greats from August.
Hope you like 2D exploration games with platforming and progression mechanics, because there sure have been a lot of them lately. Between Chasm, Dead Cells, Iconoclasts, Yoku’s Island Express, that’s a metric boatload of Metroid and Castlevania-style games to go around. So where does Death’s Gambit fit amongst this lot? …How about if you threw some Dark Souls into the mix? Also, pretend the Souls-influenced Hollow Knight and Salt and Sanctuary don’t already exist. Look, it’s just a really nice-looking one of those which has a ton of cool, enormous monsters, some that just hang out, some of which you fight. Throw in some lore, some big mood aesthetics, some decent action, and you got yourself a stew.
Extreme Meatpunks Forever
Technically Extreme Meatpunks Forever by Heather Flowers debuted its first two episodes back in July, but half of it released this month, so it basically counts. Its itch.io page refers to it as a merging of visual novel and mech brawler (see also: Heaven Will Be Mine) wherein four people pilot giant robots made out of meat to beat up fascists while on a decidedly unsavory road trip. It’s a strange concept for a visual novel to have, when one considers the often laidback timbre the genre is known for. I’m not a huge fan of its background art, but its wide-sweeping road trip aesthetic is peachy, and punching the ideological version of human excrement in or out of a game is never a terrible idea.
Buy on itch.io
I’ve been waiting for this one a long time. Donut County by Ben Esposito of the gamepunk troupe Arcane Kids sees the player embodying a literal hole in the ground. It’s kind of like Katamari Damacy meets metaphysical quandary; as the hole moves, it swallows up anything big enough to fit in it and grows in circumference. Where do all the objects go? I haven’t played Donut County yet (not available as of this writing) but my guess is the answer to that question has something to do with a raccoon, a lady, and the phenomenology of thingness. Mostly, I’m just there on day one for its pleasant low-poly, high-vivacity aesthetic.
The follow-up to Blendo Games’ Flotilla is—audaciously given the dour state of VR these days—a virtual reality game. Like its predecessor, Flotilla 2 is a single-player turn-based strategy game wherein you command over a fleet (or rather, a flotilla) of space ships to win battles against opposing fleets. It’s not currently clear as of this writing if the sequel will mirror the original’s randomly-generated macrostructure, as Brendon Chung has yet to reveal much about the game. Commands are issued with either the HTC Vive controllers or the Oculus Touch controller, depending of course on which headset you play with. Judging by its sparse announcement trailer alone, the game seems to be keeping with the madcap yet earnest spirit of past Blendo works like Quadrilateral Cowboy and Gravity Bone. It’s this snappiness and panache which Blendo are known for, and more of that is never a bad thing.
Buy on Steam
I kinda like Flipping Death’s whole thing. You play as Penny, dead person, in a 2D flat world. One side is the domain of the living, the other a necropolis to those passed. The hook here is that Penny can embody characters on the living side of the world. High jinks ensue. It’s pretty blatantly an ode to old Tim Schafer Lucasarts joints and the oeuvre of Tim Burton, neither of which have ever really been to my taste. So I’m not sure then why what I’ve seen of it thus far has worked for me. I just like its humor. I like its aesthetic presentation style. I like its bizarre title. I like that you take over a chef who owns a meatball cannon, you shoot the meatballs at a dog attached to a balloon somewhere in its rear end which reads “Happy B Day”, then you become the dog. You hear the thoughts of the dog. This is a game of listening and perspectives.
That’s it for this month. Have a gem you think we’ve overlooked? Give us a shout on Twitter!