Since the days of old, it has been drilled into us that it is sometimes the underdogs that end up victorious, knocking fan-favourites off the pedestal; the biblical tales of David and Goliath have taught us as much. Gaming, it seems, is no exception to this fundamental rule of underestimation: the smaller often overlooked indie games can at times rise up and win the hearts and minds of gamers across the globe, the original Psychonaut title from back in 2005 being an obvious example among many. With some mammoth announcements being made throughout the Gamescom 2021 convention, it would be easy for some promising indie titles to get lost in the ether, trampled on by the triple-A titles like Call of Duty Vanguard and Far Cry 6. To keep some deserving games afloat, we decided to give them an article of their own. Before we get started, though, we just wanted you to know that most (but not all) of the games will be coming to a mix of Switch, Xbox, PlayStation and PC, but we will not be stocking every game mentioned.
The Hinokami Chronicles
What is better than a cracking anime series? A cracking anime series that you can play, of course! Introducing The Hinokami Chronicles – Demon Slayer, a game that, using a fantastic means of conversion, allows you to practically gamify and play the cult-followed Kimetso No Yaiba anime series. The game follows, as it does in the series, protective big brother Tanjiro Kamado as he joins the Demon Slayer Corps so he can eventually, after many tribulations and sundry battles with various demonic entities, exorcise and emancipate his little sister from the evil forces. Employing a sophisticated combat system pieced together by many varying attacks, the game is a must for those who enjoy the archetypal offensive system of anime-styled games, like Scarlet Nexus and Code Vein, with a plotline written as though it was a TV series – well, it was!
You know a game has something worthwhile waiting inside when over 10 million people (and counting) have downloaded it. Even better, when the game in question crashes because so many people are trying to play it simultaneously. The game we are hinting at is Splitgate, a free-to-play, cross-platform first-person shooter. Splitgate has been described in dialogue as a confluence of Halo and Portal games, but I would add the multiplayer feel of Unreal Tournament games as part of the recipe too. Encouraging some silky area-to-area transitions, manoeuvring to shoot perplexed enemies from behind has never been easier – oh the wonder of portals! With a myriad of competition modes, team deathmatches and 4 v 4 modes being two examples, this hectic shooter, and hectic is what it is, allows users to jetpack and jump around the shot to both kill and avoid enemies. Splitgate has some astonishingly satisfying shooter mechanics, making sniper, shotgun and machine gun firing a thoroughly smirk-evoking experience. Instead of set and upgradeable loadouts, maps are scattered with weapons and armour you can scavenge, keeping gameplay as fair and competitively accessible as possible – you really can just pick up and play, and boy is it addictive. The only feature that requires a bit of practice is the use of portals, yet the maps are perfectly built with ‘split-gates’ in mind – if anything, the portal function rejuvenates the type of game Splitgate is while separating it from other free-to-play FPS titles. Of course, Electric Games won’t stock Splitgate, but take it from us: this game is worth the play.
In the past four years or so, Battle Royale games have become very much in vogue, with Players Unknown Battleground paving the way and Fortnight, Warzone, Firestorm and other popular titles not far behind. Not so commonly featured are vampiric Battle Royale games, that was until Blood Hunt was announced at Gamescom 2021, a game that looks like it will rise up from the shadows and quickly become a classic within the genre. Blood Hunt is a cyberpunk-feel, vampiric combat game complete with guns, katanas, bloodlust and magical powers, I am pretty sure I saw one of those Dimetrescu daughters from RE8 in there somewhere too. Each selectable clan, of which there are three, have some innovatively designed abilities that they can employ on the large urban map the game opens with. Though Blood Hunt looks to have excellent shooter and movement physics, my only criticism thus far is that it seems to take an awful lot to kill an enemy, a feature I can only imagine is present to preclude the game from being too overpowered – how many times have you spent ten minutes gathering ammo, armour and weapons only to be snuck up, ending the game within an instant? I get it. That said, Blood Hunt has about one hundred pros for each con, the pros including parkour and wall-scaling in a way competing with Ezio Auditore, dual visual modes, one of which allowing you to scope out where resources are stashed, and the ability to cruelly feed on some unsuspecting members of the public. Needs must, eh! This is Battle Royale baby! Of course, there is only so much novel content a game in an established genre can bring to the table, Fortnight’s weapon grading system and Battlefield Firestorm’s concept of gas storms do feature within the game, but the sombre cityscape visuals and the vampiric context differentiate Blood Hunt from its competitors, making it a game that will live on, as vampires do, forever.
It was hard to ignore the Pearl Abyss production that is Doke V, a light-hearted, sanguine open-world exploration game that is just packed with colour and eccentricity. If the world of K-Pop got their hands on GTA and had to turn it into a kid-friendly cartoon and introduce some strange animals as friends, the result would be Doke V. Initially beginning as an MMO in 2017, Doke V has since turned into an open-world title where we skateboard, bike, roller skate and fly about the shot without a care in the world. It is not often I say this, but Doke V gets a 10/10 for its graphics, looking as all games should in 2021. Seasons change from tropical summers to snow-laden cityscapes in the urban environment Doke V finds itself in, it seems as though there is a ceaseless amount of fun and exploration to be had within the game; various climates, an expansive city and plenty of ways to get around – and we haven’t even heard much about the storyline yet! A non-angsty, anti-grunge and pro-butterfly and rainbow version of Neo: The World Ends With You, Doke V will warm your heart and keep you feeling as though you are on cloud nine. We have seen some combat sequences, but many of the details on that front are yet to come.
Jurassic World Evolution 2
I am a sucker for dinosaurs, just love ‘em to death. I also love the Jurassic Park movies, especially when some of those gargantuan crocodiles breach and just so happen to eat a helicopter at the same time - hate it when that happens! You can understand now my excitement at seeing Frontier Developments’ Jurassic World Evolution 2 title, toted as an authentic Jurassic World simulation experience wherein we get to build our very own dinosaur park. How neat is that? I can imagine this game basically being a pre-historic version of The Sims, just with a bit more death and teeth. Described as an ‘immerse narrative campaign’, Jurassic World Evolution 2, coming on November 9th, lends us almost 80 species to converse, all with their individual predilections for different environments that your park will have to account for. Some animals are ground-based mammalian herbivores, some are marine, and some are aerial; JWE2 gives us the whole shebang. Hosting four gaming modes, Chaos Theory being a new addition, bringing what if scenarios to some of the movie series’ most pinnacle moments, players can essentially play this game in any which way they desire. I am impressed at just how many elements of park maintenance there is to attend to in the game: building construction, staff recruitment and management and even formatting tactics based on tourist attraction, it seems the game leaves no stone, rock or asteroid unturned. Of course, affairs are not always going to be as cool as a cucumber; your pesky collection of cute little blood-thirsty dinosaurs will always pose some problem or another, yet you can keep them happy by diligently choosing which species cohabitate with each other, as well as tailoring paleo-botany within enclosures to suit the bespoke needs of each dinosaur. JWE2 gives us the toolbox and lets us run away with our imaginations – we can even design and edit our ancient animals! This game looks absolutely fascinating, and though I haven’t tried my hand at a game from the series yet, I can’t wait to become obsessed with this one! I mean, Jeff Goldblum reprises his Dr Malcolm character in the game – doesn’t that tell us everything we need to know?
Cult of the Lamb
OK – we don’t know how to feel about this one, but I can’t deny that I am excited for Massive Monsters’ publication Cult of the Lamb, an adorable Rogue-like RPG lending us control of an evil lamb. I am torn: this game is occult, but at the same time it isn’t – too cute. Our task, as this demonic lamb (why is it always lambs?), is to construct a cult in order to appease a dark lord, quite literally offering sacrificial lambs and defeating in battle any foes or adversaries who look to jeopardise our baaa-rilliant cult. Come on! I thought that was pretty good. Don’t feel sheepish, now! With a concept so simple yet dark, Cult of the Lamb went down a treat at Gamescom with many fans and critics hailing it as one of (if not the) best announcements made. You won’t be able to rise to the top of a super-cult until 2022, but it’s worth remembering Cult of the Lamb… who am I kidding, how can you forget this game?!
It seems that wherever you look Amazon have got their hand in a different pie: books, TV, retail, rocketry and now the art of video gaming. Amazon have not been too successful hitherto, trying and failing to make their mark on the industry. That said, their most recent project, a sizeable MMO named New World, launching September 18th 2021, might well be the third-time-lucky Amazon are looking for. Offering Expedition, Invasion, Outpost Rush and War modes, New World is set on the island of Aeturnum, a land reflected the early America’s, containing dangerous human tribes, monsters and a powerful mineral containing magic that goes by the name of Azoth. As esoteric as Azoth’s secrets are, the basis of the game’s narrative is that everyone wants in on them. I don’t need to tell you what happens when two people want the same thing, do I? New World gives players carte blanche, allowing them to treat the title as a standard progression-oriented open-world RPG, or they can join factions, build battalions, forts and settlements and opt for the PvP gaming modes. Either way, you’ll level up by crafting, gathering and refining resources as well as employing bows, gauntlets, hatchets, hammers and swords among many other weapons in fierce combat. It would be a mistake to write off New World as another one of ‘those MMO’s’, we think that, should fans want it to be, New World could go down as one of the most iconic games of its genre in recent years.
I am a big fan of astronomy and all things cosmos, you can often find me peering down (or up?) my telescope at the skies on a clear night. Well, now that Stutter Fox Studios’ title Falling Frontier is set for a near-future release, I might have to focus my interstellar eyes back to my Xbox. Shame. Created by a lone developer, Todd D’Arcy, Falling Frontier is real-time sci-fi strategy game that mixes the grand scale of the cosmos with some seaborne combat tactics, picture a submarine or ship-based warfare game set in the endless medium of outer space. D’Arcy has done his research: we find ourselves in myriad cosmic environments, nebulae, planetary systems and asteroid belts as we battle for universal superiority. Falling Frontier is ultimately a combat-strategy game, and it has both the cogent warfare physics and the many customisable elements to back up such claims; users can build a flotilla of ships, construct bases, design and edit their ships as well as edit weaponry, components and crew. At the end of the day, this is a war; Falling Frontier, a title describing our in-game aim of infinite power, even allows us to take war criminals to interrogate them and the like – jeez! I absolutely love the look of Falling Frontier, it is as if Space Invaders has been rendered into 3D, given a 2021 makeover and been converted into a minutiae-appreciative strategy title. I have no qualms in giving the personal opinion that D’Arcy and Stutter Fox’s polished Falling Frontier game is the most exciting indie game to come out of Gamescom 2021, and if you read the YouTube comments on the game’s trailer you might discern that I am not alone in my beliefs.
Many of us don’t want to dilly-dally around when starting a game – we just want to get straight to the point, if you can resonate with this then The Waylanders might be a wise choice for your next play, especially so if you like medieval party-based RPG games that get progressively darker as you explore them. Donning a notably flamboyant art style, The Waylanders allows you to pick a character, pick a class and then throws you straight into the deep end. The game is still early in its development and so a clear-cut narrative has not yet been achieved, but from what material is accessible it seems as though The Waylanders is set in Ancient Spain, though it is also infused with Irish and Scottish Celtic iconography. Our character is ‘detached from a cycle of life and death’, free from the mortal tribulations of rebirth, meaning we break the conventional rules of living by stepping outside the bounds of time and nature. We are, in a sense, ascended into a nirvana-of-sorts, a power we use to save and preserve a land devastated by the rise of civilisation. Is the ancient magic lost for good, or will we find a way to wrap it up in a time capsule? This is the question The Waylanders forces us to answer, and it does so with a compelling plotline reinforced with some respectable graphics. We’re expecting to see a lot more coming out for this game, so hold tight and we will divulge what we know when we know it!
If you are part of the enormous community that adores games like Dark Souls and Bloodborne, I need you to take a look at Team 17’s Thymesia – I think you might be interested in this one. A dark, medieval fantasy RPG, Thymesia follows the story of a half-human-half-raven plague doctor named Corvus, the Latin genus for the birds of death: Ravens and Crows. We as Corvus, the bird of death, must set about rescuing a dark, dank and blood-curdled world ravaged by disease, which we do so by employing a deluge of sword and magic-based combat approaches, improving our skill tree as we go on battling the mutant monsters who try to siege our mission. Executions in this game are brutal, camera angles and all: Corvus takes absolutely no prisoners! Multiple endings, some wretched imagery and a shuddering storyline, Thymesia is a revision of all things the dark-fantasy RPG community knows and loves. Sure, Team 17 hasn’t re-invented the wheel here, but they have taken on a idolised concept and made it somewhat into their own.
At the end of our don’t-miss-these list is Medieval Dynasty, an unusual game flirting with survival, life-simulation and RPG open-world aspects. Adopting a first-person perspective, Medieval Dynasty takes us back to a time before welfare and civilisation, to a time where it was Man vs Nature, forcing us to do all we can to survive. Build settlements, attract denizens and delegate to them jobs crucial for the running of your tribe, craft, gather and hunt resources in order to trade them, Medieval Dynasty is a slow-burn of a game, yet it is this authenticity that imbues the title with its charming appeal. Medieval Dynasty has some laudable visuals as you zoom around on horseback that you do not expect – this game looks phenomenal at times, but it is not the absolute zenith of graphical fidelity - this is a lower-budget indie game, not an enormous triple-A title! All things considered, Medieval Dynasty is a seriously impressive title, competitive graphics, a voluminous storyline, a map fit for adventure and a persuasive and manoeuvrable interface system; there is a certain allure, a pull into games like Medieval Dynasty because of their being from grassroots. If I had to sum up Medieval Dynasty in a short sentence, I would say it was the precocious little brother of prestigious works like that of Skyrim and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt: it has things to learn, but you can tell it is of the same blood.
The above line-up has quite some talent, with several works harbouring the potential to supersede many upcoming releases surrounded by hype. From mini-leagues to the big time, you never know just what might happen in this industry; all the games above are worth our collective attention, and though Electric Games might not stock all titles mentioned, we hope to see you join us as we give these indie titles the love they deserve. With Gamescom 2021 wrapped up, we have dozens of games and updates to look forward to – don’t go omitting the Davids for the Goliaths!
Images sourced from Steam.