UPCOMING 2D GAMES!
2D RADAR is a list of all of the promising new 2D games that are in development right now. We will continue to provide updates with new blips as they appear.
In our dire and medically dangerous love for 2D games, we tend to keep a lot of lists. Among these is a list of every in-development game that looks like it might be something our readers would enjoy. Some of these games will eventually have full overviews written for our Upcoming 2D section.
But then we thought: why keep this list to ourselves? Wouldn’t our readers like to put saddles on our brains and ride them around for a while, perusing the ethereal stables of not-yet-released 2D video games, while speaking entirely in inappropriate and incomprehensible horse metaphors? The answer to that question is ABSOLUTELY!
So here it is, unlocked for everyone to see, the 8 Bit Horse 2D RADAR:
Aaru’s Awakening | PC, Mac, and Linux via Steam, PS3 and PS4 via PSN | 2014
Aaru’s Awakening is a stylish platformer from Lumenox Games, featuring the eponymous Aaru, the champion of Dawn who must travel to the Night’s realm restore the balance between the domains of Dawn, Day, Dusk and Night and save the land of Lumenox. Aaru’s moveset is basic, offering cursor-controlled dash that allows him to charge through environments and smash through walls, as well as a teleportation move that lets him slip through tight openings and pass through hazards. The game has a strong focus on visuals, with a hand-drawn illustrative style in the art and animations.
Adventures of Pip | PC and Mac via Steam, Wii U via eShop | Release Date TBD
TicToc Games introduces Pip, a single pixel with the ability to absorb the pixels of his enemies to evolve into a little boy of ever-increasing pixel resolution. But these transformations are more than cosmetic changes; they grant the player new abilities. The single pixel form has limited movement abilities but can fit into small areas. The 8-bit boy can run, wall jump, and jab, and the 16-bit version can break blocks, push heavy objects, and use weapons. Players can purposely revert to a lower resolution as well, giving off a shockwave in the process that damages enemies and breaks certain blocks. Adventures of Pip is a platformer with some light puzzle solving elements. The 2D CRED is high here, with the design talents of folks who worked on the A Boy and His Blob remake, Contra 4, BloodRayne: Betrayal, and the original Shantae on GBC.
Aegis Defenders | PC and Mac via Steam | Q1 2015
Aegis Defenders, from developer GUTS Department, is an action adventure title which mixes platformer-based exploration, weapon-based combat, and strategy-based arena battles as enemies close in on you from all sides. The game features a man named Bart and his granddaughter Clu, whose home was destroyed by a robotic god, and so they must seek out a powerful weapon known as Aegis to spare the world from its future attacks. Bart is able to use his abilities to craft turrets and other defensive items, make repairs, and smash baddies to bits with his giant hammer, while Clue can shoot at enemies directly and set up traps, and the player must swap between the two characters to make use of their varied skills… or team up with a friend to control them both simultaneously.
Aerannis | PC | Q3 2015
Aerannis, from developer Ektomarch, stars a trans individual named Ceyda, who is a trained assassin in a world where government-sponsored assassination has become the common way of dealing with troublesome people, particularly women. The developer hopes that players experiencing this 2D action adventure will gain insight into gender identity and oppression. The game features an open world and focuses on stealth as Ceyda sneaks into facilities, and even takes hostages to access secure areas. Ceyda has tools with which to distract enemies, set traps to destroy them from a distance, or get up-close for a silent execution, as well as some traditional shooting.
Airscape: The Fall of Gravity | PC, Mac and Linux via Steam| 2014
Daniel West presents Airscape: The Fall of Gravity, a gravity-focused platformer starring an octopus on an alien world. As the octopus explores oddly-shaped planetoids, it is affected by odd gravitational pulls. Jump upward toward another surface and gravity pulls you up toward it, climb a curved surface and the world spins around you, ride a tumbling block downward and jump away at the last moment to pull yourself toward more solid ground. The octopus remains at the center of the screen for much of his adventure, with the world spinning around based on his perspective of the downward force of gravity, and forcing the player to consider how his movements affect his abilities. The game also features swimming sequences through floating bubbles of water intermixed with the gravity mechanic.
Angus Hates Aliens | PS3 and Vita via PSN | Release Date TBD
According to Team Stendec, Angus Hates Aliens, and who can blame him, given the fact that these offworld interlopers have come to take over the world? Angus is a bit of a redneck, but his love for guns is just what the world needs. Angus has access to more than a dozen different limited-ammo weapons with which to stop the extraterrestrial invaders. Some tactics are required as well, as aliens enter the screen in large numbers, leaving Angus to choose the best weapon for the job while avoiding being overrun, with combat similar to that found in Dead Pixels.
A.N.N.E | PC, Mac, and Linux via Steam, and Wii U via eShop | Q4 2014
Developer Gamesbymo mixes several genres in A.N.N.E, a game featuring platforming, shmuppery, Metroidvania, and RPG elements. You play the part of Number 25 who must search for the pieces of his (literally) shattered girlfriend – the eponymous A.N.N.E – on a planet called Gomi. In your ship, you can fly about and explore the environment and tug along heavy physics-based objects, but you can also dock and get out of your ship Blaster Master-style for some more traditional running, gunning, and platforming. On foot, you deal damage with multi-directional fire and independent movement and aiming as you blast your way through the chunky sprite-based world. There is a large open world to explore, objects to collect, and quests to complete in order to open up new areas.
Apotheon | PS4 via PSN, PC via Steam, with Mac and Linux versions planned | January 2015
Alientrap, the developers behind Capsized are working on a new title that mixes platforming and action-RPG genres in Apotheon. In this tale, Hera has overthrown her husband Zeus and assumed the role of God of Gods. She’s none too impressed with the people of the mortal world, so she figures the place would be much better off without them. You take the role of a champion who seeks to save the world from Hera’s wrath, working your way from the depths of Hades to the doors of Mount Olympus itself. The single player experience features a large open world where the player must defeat the old gods and take their powers for himself, and online multiplayer battles are planned as well.
Axiom Verge | PS4 and Vita via PSN, PC | Q2 2015 (PSN), Q4 2015 (PC)
Axiom Verge has been a labor of love for Tom Happ since he began the project in 2010. He has been working on the game as its programmer, artist, and composer, whilst otherwise employed at Petroglyph Games. This is a Metroidvania title with obvious influences pulled from the 8- and 16-bitters of yore, with Metroid-style exploration, Turrican-style gunplay, and some decidedly Abadox-style gore. Despite the on-the-side nature of the game’s development, the final product is expected to offer 8 hours of gameplay, with a large world to explore, more than 20 upgradeable weapons, and over 60 items and powerups to be found by players who opt to probe every dark corner of the grotesque game world. And of course, no such game would be complete without some pulse-pounding battles against hideous boss creatures.
Band Saga | PC, Mac, and Linux | 2014
Band Saga is under development by Roger Hicks, a.k.a. rekcahdam, who was also one of the developers behind Celestial Mechanica. This time, he’s teaming up with artist and animator Hillmon Ancrum to create a music-based roguelike action game. Completing levels allows the player to unlock new characters, each of which is associated with a specific instrument. The content of the FM-synth soundtrack determines the appearance of enemies and items, as well as the configuration of the levels. At the end of the level, the player can export their music creation to MIDI or WAV formats, and players may also import their own music into the game to create custom levels. Combat takes place across a series of interconnected isometric arenas where 1 or 2 offline players blast away at enemies and collect musical notes.
Below | PC via Steam, Xbox One via XBLA | 2014
Developer Capybara, known for their stylistic adventure title Sword & Sworcery, returns with Below, an atmospheric roguelike with a deep focus on exploration. You play a lone character who heads out into a dangerous world with a sword and shield to battle his way deeper and deeper into the unknown. While you will be able to acquire new weapons, you will be very limited in what you can carry, which forces players to learn the combat system in order to survive. The game features realtime combat and random environments, and it is meant to be very challenging. Death will come frequently, and is permanent per roguelike standards, but you will learn more about how to survive on your future runs and go even deeper. The game is built primarily around single-screen dungeons where your player character is very small and surrounded by darkness. The talented Jim Guthrie (Sword & Sworcery, Indie Game: The Movie) returns to compose the music for the game.
Blackhole | PC, Mac, and Linux, PS3, PS4, and Vita via PSN, XB1 via XBLA | January 20, 2015 (computers), Q3 2015 (consoles)
Blackhole, from developer FiolaSoft Studio, is an adventure platformer starring an astronaut whose job it is to seal up black holes, but one was so huge that it pulled the ship and its crew inside where they discover “The Entity”, a large planet-like object within the black hole itself. The player must find the other crew members and collect nanobots to repair the ship by exploring a block-based alien environment. The player is able to use special platforms to rotate the environment in 90 degree increments to reach new areas and solve environmental puzzles… as long as he’s careful not to fall too far and die.
Bloom: Memories | PC, Mac, and Linux via Steam, and possibly consoles | Release Date TBD
Bloom: Memories is an action adventure game from Studio Fawn. While the game does feature combat, it is actually possible to complete the entire adventure without harming a single living creature, if you should so choose. So, rather than killing some giant creature that blocks your path, you may actually be able to speak to it, or simply sneak past. Or you can play the game as a traditional hack-and-slash, killing everything you see and growing stronger along the way, but the world will react to your violent solutions in kind. The game is presented in an isometric perspective with characters built using 3D models animated as 2D sprites.
Blossom Tales: The Sleeping King | PC | 2015
Castle Pixel, the studio behind Rex Rocket, returns with a top-down action RPG inspired by The Legend of Zelda, starring a young girl named Lily. Blossom Tales offers a modern take on the classic formula by presenting things as a story told by the protagonist’s grandfather. As the tale unfolds, Lily interjects her own ideas, thus changing the story and game elements. As such, the game features a mix of preset and random dungeon layouts and enemy encounters. Lily has a traditional sword and shield combo that can be used to unleash a variety of attacks, and she is also able to make use of items that include a bow and arrows, a torch, and a magic wand.
Brave Earth | PC | Release Date TBD
Brave Earth is under development by Michael “Kayin” O’Reilly, the guy behind the freeware hit I Wanna Be the Guy. Brave Earth is a Castlevania-esque action-RPG with a deliberate pace, gothic art style, and pickups that can be grabbed by breaking hanging lanterns. The player faces off against bats, wolves, spiders, armored knights, and various magical creatures. There are 3 playable characters, each with his or her own stats, story line and boss encounters, and each equipped with a primary weapon and a number of magic and secondary attacks available that can be picked up along the way, sometimes in hidden areas.
Broforce | PC and Mac via Steam, PS4 and Vita via PSN | Currently in Steam Early Access
This game has a full-length overview in our Upcoming 2D section. Here’s an excerpt from the article:
As it says on the (virtual) tin, Broforce is a patriotism simulator. This run and gun takes its inspiration from American action films of the 80’s and 90’s, and the over-the-top badass characters portrayed in them. The story is America vs. terrorists, kill them before they kill you, I ain’t got time to bleed, I pity the fool, I’ll be back, I am the law, thank you for your cooperation, groovy, get away from her you bitch, Machete don’t text, call me Snake, and yippee ki-yay… And if any of that just made sense to you, then consider yourself the target demographic for this game.
Broforce starts you in the jungles of Vietnam with a muscular machine gun-toting, bandana-wearing dude with long hair and a bad attitude. This fellow is known as “Rambro”, a caricature of Sylvester Stallone’s John Rambo character from First Blood and its sequels. Throughout the game, you unlock numerous other characters, each with a “bro-ified” name, but all recognizable as their action hero counterparts.
New characters are discovered by rescuing POW’s from cages spread around the environment. However, rather than simply adding that person into your stock of playable characters, you instead instantly swap to that character and start playing as him. Each POW you rescue represents an extra life, which is quite valuable given game’s 1-hit kills and explosion-packed environments. Also, new playable characters only become available after you have made the requisite number of POW rescues. Read more >>
Bullet Bros. | PC via Steam | Q4 2014
Bullet Bros. is a Contra-style shooter showcasing over-the-top action, a wide array of devastating weaponry, and ground- and air-based vehicles that can be linked together for full-on physics-based nuttiness. In addition to guns and machines, players also have access to grappling hooks for swinging, grabbing their co-op buddies, and latching onto enemies. The game also features parachutes that let players glide around, slow their falls, and deliver a high probability of lead storms to enemies below.
Castle in the Darkness | PC via Steam, iOS | Q4 2014
Castle in the Darkness, from developer Matt Kap, is a retro-style action platformer inspired by classic NES titles. You hop over spike pits, stab bad guys with your sword, and collect the gold coins that spew forth from your slain foes. This game is meant for those players who enjoy chunky graphics and simple animations, combined with fast action.
Catacomb Kids | PC and Mac via Steam | Q4 2014
Developer FourBitFriday, a.k.a. Tyriq Plummer, has worked as an animator on a number of 2D games, including Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion and Adventure Time: Explore the Dungeon Because I DON'T KNOW! Now he’s offering up a game of his own in the form of roguelike platformer Catacomb Kids. Navigating this procedurally generated world requires nimble fingers and apt use of swords and sorcery to destroy loads of enemies who wish to end you. Weapons include swords, axes, spears, and daggers, while magic powers allow you to freeze your opponents, poison them, or simply burn them alive. Enhanced weaponry can be found by exploring the dungeon and opening treasure chests. The game features 20 floors with four different gameplay-altering themes, more than a dozen spells, numerous character classes, several bosses and minibosses, and local competitive multiplayer.
Cataegis - The White Wind: Ziggurat Chapter | PC | Release Date TBD
Cataegis - The White Wind: Ziggurat Chapter is here to Shinobi your pants off. Ácido Cinza is crafting an 8-bit retro actioner with melee-based combat, a restricted color palette, and a bit of sprite flicker. There’s even an elevator sequence! Players can jump, double jump, and ground slide their way through several challenging environments, avoiding spikes and other obstacles along the way, all while doing a bit of precision platforming. The player faces hordes of enemies and some tough bosses with an arsenal of selectable weapons and limited-use special attacks.
Chasm | PS4 via PSN, PC, Mac, and Linux via Steam | Q1 2015
Discord Games, the developers behind Xbox Live Indie Games titles Take Arms and 48 Chambers, returns with an action-RPG that mixes roguelike and Metroidvania elements. Chasm focuses on exploration through a procedurally generated cave system as you fight your way through enemies and bosses, grab loot, hunt for secrets, and hopefully return home alive. Players are able to equip weapons and spells, along with armor and passive buffs, as they fight enemies to gain experience points and level up, similar to the neo-Castlevania titles. As is typical of rogelikes, the dangers increase as you descend further into the depths of the mine, but you may return to the surface to do things like purchase weapon upgrades from the local blacksmith before heading back into the fray.
Chester United | PC, Mac, and Linux via Steam | Q4 2014
Chester United is a follow-up to Brilliant Blue-G’s platformer Chester, originally released on Xbox Live Indie Games in 2011. As in the first game, Chester United features multiple playable characters (which are all different versions of Chester) with different abilities that can be upgraded, as well as numerous visual styles that may be swapped at will once they have become unlocked. Changing the style does more than just alter the visuals, however, as some themes cause platforms to move more slowly and make enemies easier to kill.
Children of Morta | PC, Mac, and Linux | Release Date TBD
Children of Morta, from developer Dead Mage, is a roguelike dungeon crawler where you hack and slash your way through legions of dark creatures. The game focuses on the Bergson family, each of whom has a different set of weapons, ranging from a sword and shield combo, to a bow and arrows, to an up-close short range weapon that requires quick movement to use effectively. Players may also visit the blacksmith to increase the power of their weapons, and a chemist mixes magical potions that can be tossed for area effect attacks. The game features incredibly detailed spritework and animations.
Chroma | PC, Mac, and possibly Linux | Release Date TBD
Clawhammer Games presents Chroma, an atmospheric puzzle-platformer centering around the use of light and color. Lately, there have been numerous games that use retro-styled graphics with modern lighting effects. In most games, the lighting is in place merely for show, but in this case the lighting is used for environmental navigation and puzzle solving. You control a white creature that gives off light within an otherwise dark environment, and casts hard shadows as a result. However, you can also split off into a shadow form, leaving your light-emitting self behind. This dark form can walk on the shadows that you create, using them as platforms to reach new areas. You also use light to activate switches, and placing your light form in the correct place is often the key to progressing. The game takes place in a large open world and features non-linear action-adventure play.
CJR | Flash | Release Date TBD
Developer 2BAM is developing an over-the-top Metal Slug-esque action game with a muscle-bound hero who uses major firepower to blast his way through alien hordes, leaving sprays of blood and entrails in his wake. Players who have enjoyed any shooting game from Contra forward will be right at home here, with running, jumping, 8-way fire, and weapon types including the ever-popular 3-way spread gun. A bit of adventuring is in place as well, with players hopping over spike pits, double jumping, and grabbing keycards to open locked doors. The difficulty level his high, as is the gore, but checkpoints are frequent and your firepower is heavy.
Cloaks & Spells | PC | Release Date TBD
Cloaks & Spells, from developer Ian Sean Menzies, is a game with an old school look and feel. This action adventure game takes place in a dark world filled with monsters and demons, and the player takes on the role of a mysterious character wearing a cloak. The action focuses on melee combat, with a Castlevania-esque whip as your primary weapon, but you have access to magic as well, including a flame spell for roasting enemies and a magical barrier for defense. The game also focuses heavily on exploration and puzzle solving as a means of progression, with no small amount of box pushing and lever pulling to be found.
Clockefeller | PC and Mac | Release Date TBD
Clockefeller from Mighty Menace Games features gravity shifting gameplay, as players move around a magical clock looking for pieces of broken keys. The clock has broken down, and you must reach an elevator in order to fix it, which you may access by collecting all of the key pieces spread throughout various platforming environments. You are able to jump around corners and rotate the effect of gravity by 90 degrees in order to reach new areas. The game features dozens of levels and a number of boss fights as well, and players may collect coins in each of the levels which allow them to purchase useful items such as bombs and a jetpack.
Cloudface | PC, Mac, and Linux | Release Date TBD
Cloudface is a platformer that focuses strongly on its lighthearted aesthetics, featuring animations by Corey McDaniel, programming by Craig Johnston, and music by Calum Bowen. The game stars a cloud businessman who is searching across various pastoral landscapes for his lost documents while avoiding enemies like roly-poly pink cats. Jumps are high and floaty, and – being a cloud – our hero can also sustain long jumps to reach distant platforms for out-of-the-way documents. Animations for the hero are goofy and over exaggerated, giving him quite a bit of character, and this is further supported by colorful and cheerful hand-drawn backgrounds, loads of cute little creatures, and a charming upbeat soundtrack.
CoinOp Story | PC, Mac, and Linux | Release Date TBD
Developer KaMiZoTo harnesses his nostalgia for classic arcade cabinets to create CoinOp Story, the tale of an old arcade cabinet who must collect Jamma cards to save the world. In the not-so-distant future, all of the world’s arcade cabinets have been tossed into a garbage heap, but a generic cabinet gets struck by lightning and comes to life. With the help of his friend, a floating calculator named Professor Delta, he must seek out various arcade cabinets – designed after their real-world counterparts – and collect their Jamma cards. Each card he collects grants him new abilities, allowing him to reach previously inaccessible areas in an open Metroidvania world. For instance, the game begins with his discovery of the Donkey Kong cabinet, which gives him legs and the ability to jump. Later, after defeating a boss, he finds an Operation Wolf cabinet and gains the ability to shoot. The villain of the tale is another generic cabinet who has been loaded with illegal bootleg cards, which drove him mad. The developer plans to have around 30 arcade cabinets to unlock, along with their associated abilities.
Cosmochoria | PC, Mac, Linux, Wii U via eShop | Currently in Steam Early Access
Cosmochoria, from Nate Schmold, features a naked cosmonaut (with a helmet) jetpacking through space and blasting away at aliens, all while planting seeds to restore the galaxy. The cosmonaut is able to hop from planet to planet, destroying bad guys and bosses who are attempting to destroy him. Along the way, you plant seeds to grow plants, which in turn yield more seeds, and you can even build bases on planets to blast away at aliens while you work. The game features a procedurally generated galaxy and a shop system that allows you to upgrade your abilities.
Crawl | PC, Mac, and Linux via Steam | Currently in Steam Early Access
Crawl, from developer Powerhoof, is a multiplayer dungeon crawler where one player controls the hero, and the other players control the monsters. Up to four players can join in on the action simultaneously, and the creature who manages to kill the hero instantly takes his place and becomes the hero himself. All of the creatures take the form of ghosts that wander the dungeons and can manifest themselves as various corporeal creatures, or even inhabit traps. In order to survive, the hero must level up and increase his stats while collecting weapons to dispatch the rats, spiders, demons, zombies, and dragons hat he faces on his quest through a procedurally generated dungeon.
Creepy Castle | PC, Mac, and Linux | 2015
Dopterra presents Creepy Castle, a sidescrolling action-RPG with an old-school aesthetic. Like You Have to Win the Game and VVVVVV, this game features a low resolution and limited color palette like the computer games of old. While many classically-inspired titles are happy to cast off other hardware restrictions, Creepy Castle takes things a step further by presenting the game with the same janky scrolling offered by the limited technology of the day. The game has a rather unconventional star in the form of a moth (or perhaps not so unconventional given the name of the studio) who must travel through an expansive castle to uncover its mysteries. The game also mixes in turn-based elements, including duels against powerful enemies. The game also features guest appearances from Shovel Knight and Plague Knight from Shovel Knight and Dr. Fetus from Super Meat Boy.
Crypt of the NecroDancer | PC, Mac, and Linux via Steam | Currently in Steam Early Access
There are loads of roguelikes on the market these days, but Brace Yourself Games has taken a different route with Crypt of the NecroDancer, opting to incorporate rhythm action into the experience. Your character hops along space by space while slashing enemies, grabbing loot, buying items, finding weapons, and running away from the occasional toothed treasure chest. As the tempo of the music increases, so too does the pace, as all movement is tied to the rhythm, and keeping your multiplier going requires that you move along with the pace of the music as well. You also have a few spells at your disposal, including health restoration, a freeze spell that stops monsters in their tracks, and a fire spell that can blast through a row of enemies. Music for the game is being provided by Danny Baranowsky, of Super Meat Boy fame, although you can provide your own music as well to further tailor the experience. Just be mindful of the fact that faster music means faster gameplay as well. Also, you can even play the game with a DDR mat… if you’re not prone to heart problems.
Cuphead | PC, Xbox One via XBLA | Q4 2014
StudioMDHR delivers Cuphead, a fighting game -slash- shooter with a very unique art style. Modeled after 1930’s-era cartoons like Popeye and some of the Disney classics, the game features colorful characters, washed out backgrounds, simple piano tunes, and some rather odd humor. Our hero is a guy with a teacup for a head and a straw sticking out the top. Dear old Cuphead gambles with the devil and loses, and finds himself defeating enemies to pay the fiend back. The poor fellow can’t seem to keep himself out of trouble and is constantly struggling as a victim of his own failures. The game features projectile-based combat in enclosed arenas against a variety of cartoonily menacing foes.
Curses 'n Chaos | PC, Vita via PSN | 2014
Tribute Games, the studio behind Wizorb and Mercenary Kings, has revealed its latest sprite-packed action game. Curses 'n Chaos is an arena-based brawler where you beat up craploads of monsters, collect coins, and buy powerups that make you more effective in the beating up of craploads of monsters. Purchasable items include bombs that you can toss at enemies, arrows and stones that fly in from offscreen, and cannonballs that can smash through rows of enemies. Battles are timed, and if you don’t clear out all of the baddies before the counter reaches zero, Death will be summoned and chase you around the playfield, taking one of your remaining lives if he manages to slash you with his scythe. Play alone or with a friend.
The Dawn Star | PC | Release Date TBD
The Dawn Star (formerly Captain Jameson) is an extension of the universe introduced in Captain Forever, a series of Flash-based arena shooters from Farbs that focused on ship construction as a means of progression. When enemy ships were destroyed, their components were left behind and could be collected by the player, adding to his ship’s abilities, such as overall firepower, and reducing the ship’s abilities as components were destroyed. The Dawn Star, on the other hand, takes place in a persistent exploration-based world over a large area. The player begins the game in a desolate area, with a series of nearby space stations that are all offline. As the player visits each station – which can be interacted with via an old-school text-based interface to ping servers and communicate – he can leave people behind to run the stations and bring them back online. Each station serves a purpose and allows the player to expand his reach into the larger game world and activate other stations. For instance, stations may provide oxygen-generation capabilities, or show a map of the surrounding area. Of course, ship construction is still a core part of the experience, and destroyed ships can be stripped of parts and added to your own.
Dead Pixels II: Straight to Video | PC, Mac, and Linux via Steam | Q1 2015
CSR Studios returns with a sequel to Dead Pixels called Dead Pixels II: Straight to Video. As in the first game, this is a sidescrolling shooter that pits the player against hordes of zombies. In addition, there are some River City Ransom-style shops that allow players to upgrade their stats and stock up on shooty bits for their limited-ammo arsenal. The game also allows up to 4 players to blast through the procedurally generated city in online of offline co-op. The game takes place in 1991, following a worldwide disaster that caused the dead to return to life, and it features a VHS-style filter and 80’s rock soundtrack.
Delver’s Drop | PC, Mac and Linux via Steam, iOS, Android, OUYA, Wii U and/or 3DS via eShop | 2015
Developer Pixelscopic is creating a game that combines the dungeon-based stylings of A Link to the Past with roguelike permadeath, loot hunting, and randomized environments. Delver’s Drop features a poor fellow named Delver who must descend into “The Drop” to secure his freedom… or fail and become one of the monstrous Undelver Wights. These Undelver Wights become your enemies the next time you enter The Drop, possessing the items and skills you had at the time of your death. The game features physics-based logic puzzles, boss battles, and cooperative play, and allows the player to grow his character and upgrade character classes, which include fighters, magic users, and rogues.
Dex | PC, Mac, and Linux via Steam, Wii U via eShop, OUYA | Currently in Steam Early Access
Developer Dreadlocks presents Dex, an action RPG in a future where artificial intelligence is on the verge of surpassing human intelligence. Your part in this world changes depending on the choices you make and the skills you choose to develop, allowing you to focus your development on stealth, hacking, and/or weaponry. This allows you the choice of avoiding confrontation altogether, using tools to destroy your foes remotely, getting up close to take down enemies silently, or going in with guns blazing and fists flying. The game also takes place between the real world and cyberspace, with the player character inhabiting an online avatar. The RPG focus allows players to equip modifiable weapons and gear, as well as acquire upgrades to give them the upper hand in a hostile world.
Dorke and Ymp | SNES | Release Date TBD
And now for a bit of history… In the early 1990’s a Swedish developer called Norse was working on a game called Dorke and Ymp (also known as Dorque and Imp). However, the studio was unable to find a publisher to pick up the game, and it the project was cancelled. Piko Interactive secured the incomplete source code from one of the developers and has been working to pull together all of the game’s assets into a fully functional game, at which point it will receive a physical release on the SNES… about 20 years late. Sadly, Jim Studt (also known as Satrio), who created the game’s story, characters, and graphics, did not live to see the completion of his project, as he passed away in April of 2014 at the age of 42. The game is a platformer starring a green fellow named Dorke and his flying devilish pal as they navigate a hellish underground environment and seek out treasure chests full of cupcakes and other treats. The imp is able to toss bouncing projectiles at enemies and use bombs to blow up obstructing walls, and he can also grab Dorke's shoulders to fly him short distances.
Dusty Raging Fist | Wii U via eShop | 2014
Singapore-based developer PD Design Studio is working on a couple of games that feature Dusty the rabbit: Dusty Revenge and Dusty Raging Fist. Dusty Revenge is the first game slated for release, and Dusty Raging Fist is a prequel, taking place before Dusty meets his allies. Instead, other characters will take the supporting roles, and these characters are available for player control for a bit of cooperative gameplay. Dusty Raging Fist takes its inspiration from sidescrolling beat-em-ups like Double Dragon and Streets of Rage as well as hack-and-slash games.
EarthNight | PS4 and Vita via PSN | 2014 (PS4), 2015 (Vita)
EarthNight, from Cleaversoft, is an auto-running action game with a simple control scheme set in a dragon apocalypse. You select a character and run across the back of a serpentine dragon as its body ripples up and down. Along the way, you take out a variety of enemies and surf along its back until you eventually reach the dragon’s head, at which point you rapidly punch it in the eye until you are flung off into the sky. From there, you freefall back toward the earth while flying dragons swarm below you. Line yourself up with one of these creatures and you will fall onto its back and begin the next stage.
Echoes of Eridu | PC via Steam, and eventually Mac and Linux | January 2015
Batterystaple Games invites you to dust off your blaster and dive into Echoes of Eridu. The game features colorful fast-paced robot action inspired by the gameplay in Mega Man X, while mixing in multiplayer and roguelike elements. In the year 2045, an online retail computer system becomes sentient and starts a robot revolution that wipes out most of humanity… but it feels really guilty about it, so the AI imbues some of the surviving humans with cybernetic enhancements so that they can fight back. You play the part of one of these cyborgs (or two in 2P co-op), with a heavily modifiable weapon loadout that you can expand by finding blueprints, allowing for a huge array of possible weapons, abilities, and support items. Taking a page out of the Blue Bomber’s handbook, you get new weapons by defeating bosses. The game mixes precision platforming with air dashery and fast-paced combat sequences.
Ecotone | PC and Mac via Steam | 2014
Developer Sundae Factory presents Ecotone, a platformer that begins each level with a sentence, which offers a clue to what you need to achieve to complete each of the 45 levels. Some of these solutions involve puzzle solving, while others require quick movement or completion of a level with a unique configuration, such reversible gravity. The world is filled with strange creatures that range from shadowy things to translucent jellyfish-like creations, all with peering eyeballs. You play a shadowy creature equipped with a white mask who must run, jump, and trampoline its way through the mysterious world, while also solving block pushing puzzles and manipulating objects using a reverse/negative version of itself.
Elliot Quest | PC, Mac, and Linux via Steam, Wii U via eShop, OUYA | JUST RELEASED!! (Steam), 2015 (Wii U)
Elliot Quest is an action adventure game from developer Luis Zuno, under the Ansimuz Games label. Here, the player travels across Urule Island, exploring its cliffs, forests, caves, and deserts, defeating enemies and searching for treasure. Our hero is armed with a bow and arrow, but may also use various spells to destroy creatures and solve puzzles, although some enemies and bosses are resistant to certain attacks. The main character may be leveled up and customized to fit your play style, and the game features multiple endings based on your actions. On your journey, you will speak with NPC’s, buy items, fight numerous boss creatures, solve puzzles, and explore a nonlinear world filled with secrets and hidden passages.
Elsys | PC | Q4 2014
Developer Fervir presents Elysis (formerly SpookyQuest), an action adventure inspired by the Game Boy iterations of The Legend of Zelda series, offering top-down action, swordplay, and dungeon crawling. Players slash away at monsters – and the occasional shrubbery – in the overworld, defeating enemies, discovering secrets, and gathering money to be spent in shops. While the overworld is a bit unfriendly, the bulk of the action takes place in the dungeons, which are filled with bats and undead creatures that hope to suck down your health bar. In addition to health, you also have a stamina meter that drains as you use your sword and secondary items (like a boomerang that can stun enemies and activate switches), but it refills on its own over time. The game isn’t just a Zelda clone however; it offers some changes to the old series, like scrolling environments and 8-way movement and attacks. Progress is made by solving puzzles, discovering new sub-weapons, and defeating large boss creatures.
Enamel | PC via Steam | Release Date TBD
Enamel, from Ehnenu, is a dark and gruesome action RPG, starring a gun-wielding protagonist going up against a horde of disgusting mutant creatures. As the player explores the monster-filled wasteland, he hunts for weapons to cut down on the walking meat population, with RPG elements allowing for weapon mods, item crafting, and new skills that open up as the player progresses through this dark and dreary world.
Environmental Station Alpha | PC and Mac | 2014
Environmental Station Alpha, from Arvi “Hempuli” Teikari, is a heavily Metroid-influenced title, featuring nonlinear exploration through a number of lo-fi pixelated environments. The player takes on the role of a robot who must explore Environmental Station Alpha, a station used to house natural environments and unique species as a means of preservation, but which was abandoned decades prior. A number of dangerous mechanisms and creatures await you, as well as no small number of bosses. Abilities include grappling, underwater travel, and weapon upgrades.
Enyo Arcade | PC, Mac, and Linux | Release Date TBD
Dev Zoo presents Enyo Arcade, a game featuring a woman who has just burst forth from a cryo-tube to find herself in some kind of large warehouse-like complex. From there, she runs, jumps, and climbs to explore the environment and fights enemies with hand-to-hand combat and a variety of upgradeable weapons. The game features three large themed areas brimming with strange technology and organic enemies, each culminating in a boss encounter. The game was built using 3D objects animated as 2D sprites.
Even the Ocean | PC, with plans for Mac and Linux later | Release Date TBD
Analgesic Productions, the studio behind the pixelly action-adventure Anodyne have returned with an all new adventure, this time focusing on platforming. Even the Ocean is divided into two parts, and each may be completed independently. “The Ocean” portion features light and dark energy, which impact your abilities depending on how much you’ve absorbed. Dark energy makes you move more slowly, while light allows you to move more quickly and jump further. However, if you absorb too much of either kind of energy, you will die. You also have a shield that allows you to block energy to manually adjust your meter in certain situations. The other half of the game, “Even”, follows the life of a woman named Even who interacts with various townsfolk, and enters daydreams that change the movement mechanics in “The Ocean” portion.
Everworld Island | PC via Steam | 2014
Nijumi Games invites you to experience Everworld Island, a place of pastoral platforming and coin collection. The game may be enjoyed as a single player experience, with up to four players in local or online co-op. You can also create and share your own levels to play with friends or on your own, and you are able to purchase new objects to place in your levels by collecting coins in the main game. There are multiple character classes, each with its own set of abilities, so it benefits you to go in with a diverse party in the multiplayer mode. For instance, the wizard can use spells, the diver can swim, and the mechanic can fix broken objects.
Extreme Exorcism | PC | Release Date TBD
Golden Ruby Games presents Extreme Exorcism, a game whose difficulty increases due to your own actions. Mae Barrons is a ghost hunter exploring a large haunted mansion. The trouble is, the ghosts can copy her actions. So, when you start out, you have only one ghost to fight, and you just need to run over and grab a weapon from a spawner and kill it. But in the second round, the ghost follows your previous movements exactly, even running over and grabbing the weapon. Still, you will have remembered your movements, so this is not terribly difficult… but after several rounds and several ghosts imitating all of your previous movements, things can get pretty crazy. Even more so when you consider that the game offers 4P co-op. The player has access to more than 20 weapons with which to eliminate the ghosts of their former selves, and you can stack up to three weapons and use them simultaneously.
Flightless | PC and Mac via Steam | Release Date TBD
Nitrome is a developer known for its detailed sprite art across a number of freeware releases, although Flightless will be a commercially-released title. Flightless is a puzzle-platformer featuring drop-in drop-out 2P co-op, where players take control of ducks who have been caught stealing and had their wings clipped… thus making the birds flightless. In order to pay restitution, you must travel through a number of dungeons and use your magical ladder to collect gems. In addition to being unable to fly, you also can’t jump, so you must use ladders to reach higher areas, but you can also send them upward to kill enemies and grab gems. Complex puzzles will see you using the ladder on moving platforms, or hitting objects to make the ladder turn at 90 degree angles. In 2P co-op, players can team up and work together, or split up and explore different parts of the environment.
forma.8 | PC, Mac, Linux, PS4 and Vita via PSN, Wii U via eShop, iOS | Q4 2014
Developer MixedBag offers up forma.8, a sci-fi action adventure title that stars an exploration probe on alien planet. Stranded and alone, the probe must set out to find a power source deep within the planet. The game features a large open world with puzzles to be solved, powerups to be collected, enemies to be defeated, a vast territory to explore, and some huge boss creatures as well. The game features high contrast visuals along the line of Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet (although with a stronger focus on subdued color gradients), featuring 2D environments mixed with some 3D elements.
Four Sided Fantasy | PC via Steam | 2015
Four Sided Fantasy is being developed by Ludo Land, headed by designer Logan Fieth, who previously developed The Fourth Wall, a puzzle platformer that played with the idea of wrapping around the edges of the screen. Four Sided Fantasy is a continuation of that vision, allowing Logan and the team to experiment with a wider range of puzzle solutions in a larger, more fleshed out world. As the main character moves through the game world, the screen scrolls along with him, but the player is able to stop this scrolling at any time and make the edges of the screen wrap around. So, moving off the right side of the screen will return you to the left, and falling off the bottom of the screen will make you fall down from the ceiling. This mechanic, used in combination with a number of other mind-bending abilities, is used to overcome various platforming challenges. This one is better understood in motion, so here is a video outlining many of the mechanics:
Ghost Song | PC, Mac, and Linux | 2015
Ghost Song, from developer Matt White, is a Metroidvania title. More than that, it draws heavy influences from the design and style of the mother of all Metroidvanias: Super Metroid. The game focuses heavily on atmosphere, with detailed subterranean environments and a haunting soundtrack. You have set out to explore a moon known as Lorian V, a mysterious place in which many have perished, leaving ghosts behind in the form of roaming corpses full of anger. But by destroying their bodies, the ghosts can be freed. In addition to the wandering dead, you will also face a number of creatures, many of which are hostile, as well as some large boss creatures. As is typical of the genre, acquiring new weapons and abilities allows you to proceed through the large open world, although there are numerous optional items to be found for those who explore thoroughly.
Glorious Leader | PC via Steam | Q4 2014
The Steam community is a curious crew, and so they have greenlit Moneyhorse Games’ Glorious Leader... presumably just to find out what the hell this thing is all about. The game features Kim Jong-un singlehandedly destroying the imperialist regime, taking down hordes of soldiers and bosses with a wide array of weaponry across seven levels. The game also sees him occasionally riding a flaming unicorn and a narwhal, which as you may know, is the unicorn of the sea. The dictator’s repertoire includes zipline skills, American flag burning skills, riding horned animals skills, and befriending Dennis Rodman skills.
Grapple Knight | PC, Mac, and Linux via Steam | 2014
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again… The world needs more grapple-based action games! Red Knight Games steps in to assist us with our goal/fantasy with Grapple Knight, an action adventure game featuring an axe-wielding knight who can swing through the environment and pull himself toward enemies with the use of a grappling hook. As you play, you unlock new abilities to assist you in your adventure. The game is inspired by classic 16-bit games and features colorful environments, numerous enemies, and the occasional boss creature.
Gravity Ghost | PC, Mac, and Linux via Steam | January 26, 2015
Developer Ivy Games presents Gravity Ghost, a game about a little girl named Iona and her fox friend Voy, both of whom are ghosts, and both are attempting to make their way home. Along the way, you meet some rather strange people whose world has been sucked into a black hole, and you must help them to reassemble it. You use gravity to help you swing around planets and build up momentum to collect all of the stars across several constellations. Gathering stars allows you to open up new constellations with new levels. Different planets have different properties that affect how you move, including rubbery planets that bounce you away, hollow planets that shatter when you hit them at high speeds, and ice planets that you slide across, making them difficult to land on.
Gunslugs II | PC, Mac, Linux, Androd, iOS | Q1 2015
The original Gunslugs was available as a mobile and handheld title, but developer OrangePixel is bringing the sequel to computers as well. Gunslugs II is a rambunctious Vlambeer-esque shooter with a constant barrage of bullets, lasers, rockets, and screen-shaking explosions. Players are able to take advantage of a wide array of weaponry to slaughter hundreds of pixel people and big bad bosses, and they can even commandeer a tank for maximum explodiness.
Heart Forth, Alicia | PC, Mac, and Linux via Steam, PS4 and Vita via PSN, Wii U via eShop | Q2 2015
Alonso Martin presents Heart Forth, Alicia, a Metroidvania action-RPG that centers on a young wizard named Alicia who grew up in a cursed land floating in the sky. In this land, no children have been born in many years, except for Alicia and her best friend Hostra. Bad things happen, and Hostra gets turned evil by a spirit, tossing Alicia off the edge of the island and raining destruction down on their village, and causing old people to explode into bloody puddles of goo (not a joke). Alicia awakens in the world beneath the clouds, adventuring through the land and building her power so that she may return to her home in the sky. The game features melee-based combat supplemented by magic, and Alicia slowly gains abilities that allow her to reach new areas of the world.
Heat Signature | PC, and possibly Mac and Linux | Release Date TBD
Tom Francis, the developer behind the excellently crazy spy/electrician game Gunpoint, is back with a brand new adventure, this time focusing on infiltrating ships in space with a focus on sneaking up on them by keeping your heat level low… thus the Heat Signature title. As you hurtle through space, you encounter ships, each of which has a radius of sensors looking for heat signatures. By lining up a solid thrust outside of this radius, and minor tweaks within it, you can slide past their sensors unseen and dock with the ship. From there, the game goes on-foot in a top-down perspective, as you infiltrate the ship and attempt to make your way unseen by patrolling guards… or at least unheard as you come up from behind and knock them unconscious. Different objectives include disabling ships and their weapons, killing a specific target, stealing technology, or even taking control of an entire ship.
Here Comes Launchman | PC, Mac, and Linux | On Haitus
Development on this title has been suspended and may be revisited at a later date. The Layabouts proudly present the newest 2D gaming hero, Launchman, as he makes his debut in Here Comes Launchman. When a wealthy businessman purchases a planet, he is surprised to find that it is filled with numerous traps, so he hires Launchman to take care of them and to keep any treasure he finds along the way. Launchman gets his name from his primary ability, which allows him to fling himself through the air at high speeds, a skill that he uses to explore various monochromatic environments. Fortunately, he also has a high-powered air brake, which he uses to avoid sending himself headlong into walls of spikes and other bits of nastiness. In addition to flinging himself around the environment, Launchman can also move objects telekinetically, which is required to move objects, activate switches, and solve the game’s many physics-based puzzles. Despite the game’s puzzle-centric nature, the player has a great deal of freedom and speed when it comes to getting around each of the areas.
The Hero Trap | PC, Mac, and Linux via Steam, PS4 and Vita via PSN | Release Date TBD
The Hero Trap, from developer Smashworx, is a top-down action roguelike that allows the player to use the abilities of three different heroes. The player is able to take one physical character into battle, along with the ghosts of two others. Each hero has a different moveset, making some of them better at head-on attacks and others better at avoiding damage. The player is able to swap between heroes a will, but the selected hero will return to its ghostly form if it takes too much damage. Players travel through randomly generated dungeons with more than 20 levels of escalating difficulty, with numerous gameplay-altering items available to purchase and upgrade. The game also supports 3P local co-op.
High Strangeness | PC, Mac, and Linux via Steam, and Wii U via eShop | Q4 2014
Crystal Labs has spent the last 4 years developing an action-adventure title that is meant to appeal to fans of 8- and 16-bit games. In fact, you eventually gain the ability to switch between 8- and 16-bit worlds in order to solve puzzles and uncover writings that are only viewable in one world or the other. High Strangeness begins with a boy living in modern day America, who finds his home occupied by strange figures known as Shadow Men. The boy finds himself pulled into another world and must uncover its mysteries and defeat the evil to save the multiverse. You will find yourself fighting shadow creatures, speaking with NPC’s, switching between worlds, and… consorting with cats.
Hive Jump | PC and Mac via Steam | Q4 2014
Graphite Lab’s Hive Jump is a multiplayer co-op shooter where soldiers must descend into a procedurally generated alien hive. Players work together to blast hordes of slime-spitting bugs with pulse rifles, flamethrowers, and bombs, all of which are upgradeable by gathering resources from within the hive. Players are able to move and aim independently to deliver maximum destruction, and jump boots allow them to soar over critters and aim downward to give them free hot lead acupuncture treatments. At the bottom awaits the hive queen, and the crew has a nasty surprise for her, as they plant a transporter beacon that allows their orbiting ship to beam a nuke right into mommy’s lap.
Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number | PC, Mac, and Linux via Steam, PS4 and Vita via PSN | Q1 2015
Dennaton Games returns with a sequel to their brutal, disturbing, amazing 80’s murder extravaganza Hotline Miami, a game that was never meant to be a big hit. The sequel takes place a few years after the events of the first game, set in the early 90’s, and features different playable characters, although “Jacket” from the original game will make a brief appearance. Some of the musical artists that set the tone of the original game will be returning for the soundtrack, joined by a few new groups. This game is meant to end the story of Hotline Miami with no additional sequels planned.
Hyper Light Drifter | PC, Mac, and Linux via Steam, PS4 and Vita via PSN, Wii U via eShop, Xbox One via XBLA, OUYA | 2015
Hyper Light Drifter from developer Heart Machine is looking quite promising… so promising in fact that the game has obliterated its $27,000 Kickstarter goal with over $645,000 pledged. The game is a colorful action-RPG constructed with chunky pixel art. Drifters explore the ancient depths in search of knowledge and technology that has been lost to time, and this particular Drifter is looking for answers to stop a terrible disease that has infected him. Players slash through enemies, upgrading weapons and discovering new equipment as they explore a large world filled with treasure and secrets. Your primary weapon is a sword made of light, although you’ll discover a number of limited-ammo projectile weapons as well. You also have a shield to absorb direct attacks and a dash move to evade enemies, avoid traps, or charge forward to bash baddies in their hurty places. Players can go it alone or team up in 2P local co-op.
The Iconoclasts | PC | Release Date TBD
This game has a full-length overview in our Upcoming 2D section. Here’s an excerpt from the article:
The Iconoclasts is a colorful action adventure title starring a girl named Robin who is a mechanic in a world where her particular craft is considered to be illegal. As is typical of this developer, the game is set in a beautifully crafted world filled with gorgeous sprites, detailed animations, and loads of character and humor. More than just an aesthetically appealing title, the mechanics are solid as well, with precision platforming, varied gameplay, and a compelling Metroidvania structure.
Beneath the beautiful and colorful world, dark forces are at work, and it is up to Robin to set things right by upsetting the status quo and upending the power structure of the oppressors who have made such activities as excavation, mapping, and mechanics illegal. Unsponsored archaeology, cartography, or mechanical work are considered to be sins against the gods, and are punishable by death. According to the imposed law and religion of the land, holy agents of the gods are meant to control the world and ensure that it remains unaltered by earthly hands, which includes strict provisions surrounding the use of a rare fuel source known as ivory. And if that’s not enough, the moon is slowly breaking apart and pieces are falling to earth. Read more >>
Imagine Me | PC, Mac, and Linux via Steam, Wii U via eShop | Currently in Steam Early Access
KinifiGames presents Imagine Me, an adventure platformer starring an amnesiac boy named Robbe. Robbe wakes up in a dungeon with no recollection of what has happened, and he must complete platforming challenges and defeat bosses in order to restore his memories. The game features nonlinear progression, randomized dungeons, and puzzles that may be solved in more than one way.
In the Dark | PC, Mac, and Linux | Release Date TBD
In the world of In the Dark, developer Escapement Studios explains why monsters hate the light. For a monster, light is a solid object, and getting caught in direct light traps them and eventually causes them to disappear. However, one monster, a cat/bunny-like creature named Bump, makes use of this quality to navigate the environments and defeat other monsters. As Bump shoves objects around, beams of light can be blocked or broken, allowing him to make progress. He can even run along beams of light as if they were solid surfaces, allowing him to reach new areas while avoiding dangers like swinging lamps and light sources that turn on and off intermittently.
Inexistence | PC and Android | 2014
Inexistence is an action-adventure title from developer Pixold, inspired by games of the 16-bit era. Players move through platforming environments, take on enemies and bosses with melee attacks, avoid obstacles, search for hidden passages, and even ride the occasional moving platform. In addition, the game features a number of RPG elements such as acquiring new equipment to deal more damage, earning experience points to level up, and speaking with NPC’s to further the story and purchase items. Players may purchase potions to restore health, and equip items to provide passive buffs.
Insanity’s Blade | PC, Mac, Linux, and Wii U via eShop | 2014
Causal Bit Games presents Insanity’s Blade, a game designed as a throwback to 8- and 16-bit actioners, but without all of that pesky sprite flickering and slowdown. Gameplay combines brawler based combat, projectile tossing, and platforming action, with some RPG elements mixed in for good measure, allowing the player to acquire new weapons and upgrades. In addition to punching and stabbing his foes, the warrior can pick them up and tear them in half, and even grab certain enemies to jump on their backs and ride them down slopes. He also has the ability to jam his blades in the walls to climb up and slide down vertical surfaces. You may go it alone or bring a friend in 2P co-op as you fight against the forces of evil across 18 stages with classic Ninja Gaiden-style cutscenes, giant end-level bosses, and an authentic 8-bit NES soundtrack.
Inside My Radio | PC, consoles TBD | Release Date TBD
Originally a Ludum Dare winner from TurboDindon, Inside My Radio is returning for a full-fledged release, courtesy of Seaven Studio, the developers behind Ethan Meteor Hunter. This platformer requires that players pay attention to the beat in order to time their jumps, wall jumps, dashes, and ground slams. Each world features a different heavy-hitting musical style and accompanying throbbing visual aesthetic, as well as different gameplay themes with focuses on dashing, bouncing, and more.
Interference | PC, Mac, and Linux via Steam, iOS, Android | Q4 2014
Interference, from Anthony Beyer, is a stealth-based puzzle platformer set in a neon-lit dystopia. The player sets out across an open world, using stealth to avoid confrontation as he searches for the truth behind a tyrannical government and mechanized police force. In addition to sneaking past guards and avoiding traps, the player can also use a strange device known as the Glitcher, which allows him to shift sections of the environment to change their layout and create a safe path of travel, block lasers, and reposition patrolling guards.
Jack the Reaper | PC | Release Date TBD
Jack the Reaper, from developer Dream’s Bell, begins when the moon crashes into the earth. As it turns out, the moon is where all of the world’s souls go when they die, and this recent event has caused them to return to life on Earth. It is up to Jack to restore order by re-killing these creatures and returning their souls to the Afterworld. This action-platformer is inspired by the Kirby series, wherein enemies’ abilities can be used against them – and even combined ala Kirby 64 and Gunstar Heroes – for a number of interesting possibilities. By killing enemies and absorbing their souls, you gain their abilities, including a number of different projectile types, like boomerangs and energy shots, as well as other powerups like increased speed and a shield.
JForce: Unstoppable | Xbox 360, PC , Mac, and Linux via Steam, iOS, Android, WP7 | Release Date TBD
There are a lot of top-down shooters on the market these days, but not many that fall into the action-adventure category. JForce Games’ JForce: Unstoppable is packed to the brim with weapons – over 40 in all – ranging from short- and long-range melee weapons, to machine guns, bombs, glaives, lasers, rocket launchers, and all sorts of non-traditional death dealing instruments of destruction. Environmental navigation tools include a hookshot-style grappling device and a Portal-style teleportation gun. The game is presented in a cartoon style with bright-colored environments and fluid character animations, and even some humorous fully-animated cutscenes. The game is also planned to include cooperative and competitive multiplayer and a level editor.
Jotun | PC, Mac, and Linux via Steam | September 2015
Jotun, from developer William Dubé, stars Thora, a Viking who has died an ignoble death and finds herself in purgatory. There, she must prove herself to the gods by fighting gigantic elemental beasts known as jotun, with the hopes that her victory will prove her worth and allow her to pass into Valhalla. The scale of each jotun is immense in the same way as Shadow of Colossus, with towering enemies that can smash the life out of you, but instead of a 3D environment and colossi, this is a top-down action adventure with hand-drawn animations. Fortunately, your relatively small size allows you to dodge their attacks and use your hefty 2-handed axe to move in and strike quickly, slowly whittling down the monsters’ long life bars.
La-Mulana 2: The 0th Body The 9th Spirit | PC | 2015
Developer Nigoro returns with a sequel to La-Mulana. This game picks up many years after the events of the first, and focuses on the original protagonist’s daughter, Lemeza Kosugi. Fortunately, she seems to be has handy with a whip as her father before her. Rather than adventuring through Egyptian tombs and catacombs, Kosugi takes to Norse-themed locales, although the look and feel is very much in line with the (enhanced) original. The adventure promises to be somewhat more forgiving than the last, at least in terms of directing players toward puzzle solutions, although the difficulty level is still planned to be high.
Legend of Iya | PC, with later ports to Mac, Linux, and OUYA planned | 2015
Developer Andrew Bado is an industry veteran, having worked on numerous major studio releases, including a number of cult favorites like Phantom Dust, Raze’s Hell, and Psychonauts, as well as several 2D titles including Blowout, Shantae: Risky’s Revenge, Batman: The Brave and the Bold, Monster Tale, and NG:Dev Team’s Turrican-esque actioner, Gunlord. Legend of Iya is a Metroidvania title set in a lush, detailed world, featuring gorgeous sprite art and loads of animations. The game centers on the exploits of a 12 year old girl who finds herself transported to a magical fantasy world populated with strange creatures, bio-mechanical beasts, and huge bosses. The game offers melee based combat, as well as numerous upgrades and new abilities which will help her defeat enemies and reach new areas.
Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime | PC and Mac via Steam, Xbox One via XBLA | Release Date TBD
Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime, from developer Asteroid Base, is an odd little 2P co-op experience that places players in a pink space station facing off against an onslaught of invaders. Players run around the inside of the station, manning various control panels to operate turrets and lasers to destroy the attacking ships, using shields to defend the station, and activating thrusters to push it away from danger, frantically dashing from one control panel to the next as the situation outside the station changes.
Luminesca | PC and Mac via Steam | 2015
Luminesca is an underwater exploration game from developer Matt Glanville. The player controls a small creature called Lum through various dark and shadowy environments, using light to solve puzzles and open up new pathways.
Magnetic By Nature | PC, Mac, and Linux via Steam, Ouya | JUST RELEASED!!
The game industry seems to have a fascination with magnet-driven platforming, with some notable successes (Teslagrad) and failures (Super Magnetic Neo) along the way. Team Tripleslash continues to explore this tradition with Magnetic By Nature, a puzzle-platformer that allows the player to attract and repel himself from various surfaces. The game features more than 120 levels, as well as an unlockable speedrun mode and higher difficulty mode.
Master Spy | PC, Mac, and Linux via Steam | 2014
Developer Turbo Gun presents Master Spy, a stealth-based action platformer. In a dystopian future, you don a prototype stealth suit that lets you turn entirely invisible. With it – and your twitch platforming skills – you sneak past guards, security cameras, dogs, and other obstacles to infiltrate various facilities and uncover a vast conspiracy. Expect to grab a lot of keycards and dodge the occasional laser beam and spinning saw blade, as you run through limited color palette worlds and watch Ninja Gaiden-style cutscenes. The final game promises 50 levels across five themed environments.
Midora | PC, Mac, and Linux via Steam | Q3 2015
Midora, from developer Epic Minds, stars a young white-haired girl named Snow who – per fantasy game conventions – sets out on a simple errand and finds herself embroiled in a conflict that spans the world. This is a top-down action adventure title inspired by the likes of The Legend of Zelda and Secret of Mana, featuring sword-based combat, as well as shields and bombs. The player adventures across a colorful world map and into the depths of a dozen dungeons to solve puzzles and fight large boss creatures, with over 200 items to discover along the way, as well as a crafting and enchantment system.
Mighty Retro Zero | PC and OUYA, with Mac and Linux ports planned | Release Date TBD
Mighty Retro Zero, from developer KronBits, is an incredibly minimalistic action game using only eight colors and a very low resolution. The main character’s design is inspired by Mega Man, only he is represented by a 5x5 sprite. Per genre standards, the player is able to run, jump, and shoot. In addition, he can pick up and carry boxes to reach higher platforms, as well as toss bombs at enemies and use a jetpack. The game has numerous references to other action games, including Arkanoid, Bangai-O: Missile Fury, and Pang!.
Mort The Intern | PC, Mac, and Linux via Steam | 2014
Polymath Games brings grappling hooks back into fashion (why isn’t everyone doing this!?) with Mort The Intern. Poor Mort is an intern in Hell, and he has found himself working for a company responsible for the delivery of souls. His adventure begins when an unfortunate clerical error causes a number of souls to be diverted into Hell when they should have gone the other way, and Mort must set out to find them in this nonlinear action-adventure title. Being a grapple-focused experience, the game offers smooth grapple mechanics, as well as grapple points that offer temporary enhancements, such as wings that allow Mort to double jump, and some grapple points act as switches. Mort is no platforming slouch either, as he can move quickly, jump, wall jump, and wall slide. Much of the game’s challenge centers on environmental navigation which requires Super Meat Boy-level precision to make jumps, avoid spikes, dodge projectiles, and generally keep yourself from exploding in a pile of bones.
Mother Russia Bleeds | PC, Mac, and Linux | 2015
Mother Russia Bleeds, from Le Cartel, is a vigorously violent and bloody beat ‘em up set in an alternate 1986 Soviet Russia where a drug addicted former boxer breaks free from prison to murder the bejeezus out of every person he sees. The game features copious amounts of blood spewing forth from every face-mashed thug you encounter, mixed in with lots of leather, BDSM, some naked man-penis, and frequent drug use… In Soviet Russia, winners do use drugs! Players can team up with their fellow comrades for 4P local gangbanging.
Mute Crimson+ | PC, Mac, and Linux | 2015
Merge the Memory Bit Studios (MTMB) returns with an enhanced remake of their Xbox Live Indie Games classic, Mute Crimson. Despite its basic visuals, the game offers a deep action platforming experience, on par with the seminal 8-bit classics, and it is essentially a study on 2D platformer design. The game features a ninja who must fight, jump, and climb his way through six environments of escalating difficulty and face off against a boss at the end of each. The new version of the game will feature enhanced visuals and music.
N++ | PS4 via PSN | Release Date TBD
Metanet Software is releasing a new update to their minimalist platformer N, which was originally released as a freeware game in 2004, followed by an improved paid release called N+ in 2008. N++ is planned to be the definitive – and final – game in the series, offering a continued refinement on the original formula. The new game will ++ you with more than 1000 levels, including hundreds of entirely new levels, as well as cooperative, competitive, and race modes.
Neon Grey | PC | Release Date TBD
Budapest-based developer László Csengő (a.k.a. Tazi) is developing Neon Grey, an 80’s-style action game set in a dystopian future. The game features straightforward linear progression across eight urban environments, with a pattern-based boss fight at the end of each and cutscenes in between. There are alternate paths and hidden areas within the levels for some added variety on repeated playthroughs. Combat is sword-based, although a number of your enemies carry projectile-based weapons, which means you’ll need to do a bit of bullet-dodging to get up close and deliver your brand of hacky-slashy justice.
The Next Penelope | PC, Mac, Linux, Wii U via eShop | Q4 2014 (PC/Mac/Linux), 2015 (Wii U)
Aurélien Regard is the co-founder of Arkedo, and developed such titles as Nervous Brickdown, Big Bang Mini, the Arkedo Series, and Hell Yeah! Wrath of the Dead Rabbit. Following the studio’s closure in 2013, Aurélien set out to make games on his own. His first project is The Next Penelope, and it stars Penelope, the wife of Ulysses (a.k.a. Odysseus) from the classic Greek tale The Odyssey, but this game takes place far in the future. As in the original epic poem, Ulysses has left for a grand adventure and struggles to return home to his wife. However, in this game, Penelope takes a more active role and sets out on a quest to find him. The game is a futuristic top-down racer, along the lines of F-Zero. Penelope sets out across the galaxy to explore worlds and gain new permanent abilities by racing against classic Greek characters like the Sirens, and defeating bosses like the Minotaur. Abilities include shooting, boosting, dropping mines, and Velocity-style teleportation.
Night in the Woods | PC and Mac, PS4 via PSN | 2015
Alec Holowka, the developer behind Aquaria and Towerfall, is teaming up with animator Scott Benson to create Night in the Woods, a narrative-focused adventure game starring a number of colorful animal characters, including a cat with anger management issues and several of her friends, which include an alligator and a fox. You’ll be interacting with townsfolk in Possum Springs, uncovering the mysteries of the town after nightfall , running, jumping, occasionally astral projecting, solving puzzles, and eventually – of course – heading into the woods.
Nom Nom Galaxy | PC via Steam, followed by Mac and Linux | Currently in Steam Early Access
Q-Games, the studio headed by StarFoxian Dylan Cuthbert (who we interviewed recently), is working away on yet another game in their PixelJunk series, this time featuring loads and loads of robots and soup manufacturing. Nom Nom Galaxy (formerly PixelJunk Inc.) started as a side project at the studio in 2011, with a small number of developers working in the evenings and on weekends before the project was eventually picked up as a full-blown release. The game has a focus on exploration, along with a variety of vehicles that are each constructed with a specific purpose, including flying machines and those built for drilling and digging. Players can scout for resources, dig them up, and haul them back for research purposes, allowing the construction of new vehicles and upgrades to existing ones. Players must also be ready for combat as they collect and defend their goods – along with other players in co-op – and grind up various space creatures for the creation of delicious soup!
Nova-111 | PC, Mac, and Linux via Steam, PS4 and Vita via PSN, XB1 via XBLA, Wii U via eShop | 2015
Nova-111, from Funktronic Labs, is an odd mixture between real-time and turn-based strategic puzzling in which the player must rescue 111 scientists from some sort of time vortex. The game features more than 60 levels and an upgradeable ship that moves one turn at a time, as do the enemies, although certain elements move in real time. This offers up a number of unique puzzle opportunities that are a bit difficult to explain, so here’s the trailer… and even that requires a close examination to see how the real-time and turn-based worlds come together:
Nuclear Throne | PC via Steam, with ports planned for Mac, PS4, Vita, and Xbox One | Currently in Steam Early Access
Nuclear Throne (formerly known as Wasteland Kings) is the latest game from Vlambeer, the 2-man developer behind Super Crate Box, Serious Sam: The Random Encounter, Ridiculous Fishing, and Luftrausers. Artwork for the new game is being provided by Paul Veer, the man responsible for the chunky art style and pixelly explosions in many of these games, as well as those in Celestial Mechanica. The game is a roguelike actioner featuring numerous mutants blasting their way through a radioactive wasteland. In addition to heavy firepower, the mutants can also… mutate their limbs to develop new abilities. The game will feature numerous playable characters fighting their way through bad guys and bosses in a quest to reach the titular Nuclear Throne.
Odallus: The Dark Call | PC | 2014
This game has a full-length overview in our Upcoming 2D section. Here’s an excerpt from the article:
Odallus fits comfortably into the Metroidvania genre, featuring action with a deliberate pace, a focus on exploration, and ability-enhancing powerups as the primary means of progression. You begin your adventure equipped with a sword that allows you to slash while standing, running, jumping, or ducking. In addition to the usual slaughtering of thine enemies, it can be used to destroy blocks and incoming projectiles. You also have a variable height 2x jump, a ledge grab, and the ability to push medium-sized blocks.
A number of secondary projectile weapons are available as well, which can be gained by opening treasure chests. These include a torch, an axe, and a spear. Secondary weapons have limited uses, and a maximum number that can be carried at any given time, although your maximum allotment can be upgraded by finding larger weapon bags. As in the traditional 8-bit Castlevania titles, secondary weapons are used by pressing UP and ATTACK rather than being assigned to their own button. Read more >>
Olympia Rising | Xbox One and Xbox 360 via XBLA, PC via Steam | Q4 2014 (XB1, PC), 2015 (Xbox 360)
Olympia Rising, by developer Paleozoic, features an undead girl named Iola who must fight her way through the Underworld to eventually escape and reach Mount Olympus. The heroine is quit agile and is able to perform great aerial feats, jumping from walls, double jumping, spin attacking enemies, and dashing from one foe to the next without setting foot on solid ground. She can also use magic to cast fire, water, and air-based attacks to take down various baddies and creatures of Greek myth.
Ori and the Blind Forest | PC, Xbox One via XBLA, and eventually Xbox 360 | Q2 2015
Ori and the Blind Forest, from Moon Studios, is an action-adventure platformer set in an atmospheric world. A creature named Ori explores the world and gains new abilities that allow him (her?) to reach new areas, while attempting to escape the claws of Kuro, the dark owl. The game puts platforming first with a capable character who is able to move quickly and reach great heights, jumping from walls and parachuting down through spike-lined caverns. Ori travels with a sentient ball of energy that acts as a guide and also a weapon, allowing players to attack nearby enemies without breaking stride.
Owlboy | Xbox 360 via Xbox Live Indie Games, PC | Release Date TBD
This game has a full-length overview in our Upcoming 2D section. Here’s an excerpt from the article:
Owlboy is a game about a student owl named Otus who wears a cloak that allows him to fly. The world in which he lives is made up of a series of floating islands, which has recently come under attack by sky pirates. Otus has set out on a quest to stop the sky pirates and save his home village of Vellie. But in order to do this, he will need some help.
Otus is a more-than-capable platforming hero – especially given the fact that he can fly freely – but he is lacking in offensive abilities. He has a spin attack that knocks enemies back, and he can pick up items such as rocks and toss them at the baddies, but he has no projectiles of his own. To assist him in this department are a number of gunners that can be carried through the environment, and the player is able to use them to aim and fire in any direction.
At first, the player will have access to only a single gunner, a somewhat meek friend named Geddy, who has the advantage of firing at a high rate of speed. Throughout your journey, you are able to recruit new gunners, and switch between them at will, giving you a number of different offensive options. Each gunner has different projectile types and firing rates. Read more >>
Pale Blue | PC, Mac, and Linux via Steam | Q3 2015
Pale Blue, from Tinker Games, takes a look at the flipside to the familiar superhero origin, focusing on someone who has chosen to take the dark path. A young girl named Ellen was created as a weapon by the nefarious Cocoon organization, and she spends her days murdering superheroes and eating humans, as do her sisters, Tammy and Frei. Ellen unlocks new forms and abilities that allow her to reach new areas, hack and slash her way through enemies, and lay waste to the environment. New abilities open up along a skill tree as you kill certain people or destroy certain objects, thus enforcing your path to the dark side.
Paradise Lost: First Contact | PC, Mac, and Linux via Steam, Wii U via eShop, OUYA | Q2 2015
In Paradise Lost: First Contact from Asthree Works, the player controls a form of alien plant life that is not only highly intelligent, but also highly mobile. The plant arrived on Earth by way of an asteroid and awakes to find itself being studied in a laboratory. As the plant, you use your tentacles to move about the underground research facility, searching for a way out via nonlinear exploration, with new areas opening up Metroidvania-style as objects are acquired. Generally, you need to avoid direct confrontation with the machine gun wielding guards, so you will instead sneak about, set up distractions, and even spawn small tentacle plants that you control with your mind. However, there are also times when direct action is needed, such as the game’s boss encounters.
Path to the Sky | PC, Mac, and Linux | 2014
DekDev continues the recent trend of roguelike action platforming, but flips the old structure on its head. Rather than descending ever deeper into more deadly and dangerous dungeons, the action in Path to the Sky focuses on ascent. As the player climbs ever higher in this vertically oriented procedurally generated world, the enemies become ever more difficult to defeat. The chunky sprites and outdoor environments are reminiscent of Risk of Rain, but focuses much more on climbing, melee attacks, and aerial combat.
Perennial | PC via Steam | Release Date TBD
Perennial by Step 1 Games is a fairly straightforward platformer in which you bop enemies on the head and collect doodads for points, with combo bonuses if you are able to collect several of them in quick succession. The game has a very simple visual style, with a lo-fi presentation that runs fast while you, well, run fast. The game is somewhat reminiscent of Cannabalt with a simple color scheme and birds that fly away as you pass them. There’s even a ground slide move that is commonly found in auto running games. However, unlike these auto runners, Perennial offers full control over the character and more complex environments with curved surfaces and angles.
Pig Eat Ball | PC, Mac, and Linux | Q1 2015
Mommy’s Best Games delivers yet another oddity in the form of Pig Eat Ball. This game features a young pig princess named Bow living on a space station filled with clam people. Her father, King Cake, has decided to host a competition to win his daughter’s hand in marriage. But Bow has a different idea… she dons a disguise and enters the contest herself. The game features a number of different level types, most of which center around eating tennis balls. However, if you eat too many tennis balls, you get too fat to fit through narrow corridors, so you have to barf them up, slip through, and then re-eat the barfed up balls… called “barfies” for short. The game also features a number of competitive multiplayer modes for up to four players where players race each other, fight over tennis balls, and even build sandwiches. The game also includes a level editor.
Rain World | PC and Mac via Steam, Vita via PSN | Q4 2014
Developers Joar Jakobsson and James Primate present Rain World, a game featuring a smoothly animated “slugcat” who must explore an atmospheric yet dangerous world in search of food… without becoming food himself. This odd creature is capable of climbing up and across narrow poles like a mischievous feline, which is used to traverse the large open world, discover secrets, and even sneak up on unsuspecting critters. Players can also join up with other slugcats in various 4P competitive modes.
ReVen | PC, Mac, and Linux via Steam | 2015
ReVen, from Varia Games, is heavily inspired by Metroid (as is the name of the studio), featuring a lone android who sets down on the surface of a colorful world whose depths hold mysterious alien ruins and terrifying creatures. As an android, the player is able to divert energy to his various functions, enhancing weapon power, armor, sensors, and movement in real time. This can be used to take down powerful enemies, navigate the game world, or search for secrets and hidden upgrades. New skills can be added to your repertoire by mining for resources on the planet and choosing new traits to construct based on your play style, allowing to hone your skills more toward heavy firepower, exploration, or a mix of both.
RGB | PC, Mac, and Linux via Steam, iOS, Android | Release Date TBD
RGB from Big Boom Games is a puzzle platformer featuring a white pixel moving through a world of three colors, namely red, green, and blue. Every time the player jumps, the background colors cycle, and if a platform and the background have the same color, the platform essentially disappears. There are also some black platforms that are permanent, and bits of static that kill you when you touch them. Since you’re playing the game on and old-school CRT television, there are some additional mechanics revolving around the TV’s controls, including adjusting the tint, changing the channel, and using the volume slider. The game features more than 100 levels as well as a level editor.
RIVE | PC via Steam, PS4 via PSN, XB1 via XBLA, Wii U via eShop | Q2 2015
Two Tribes, the developer behind Toki Tori and a number of other titles, has returned with a fast-paced shooter called RIVE starring a mechanical critter that can aim its turret of death in any direction while it runs through the environment, jumps on platforms, and delivers a buttery spray of projectiles at an array of robotic baddies. But there’s more than just shootery here, as the bot can hack other bots to alter their behaviors or use their abilities to his advantage, such as using a hovering bot to fly through the sky.
River City Ransom: Underground | PC, Mac, and Linux, and consoles TBD | Release Date TBD
For years, developers have been creating brawlers inspired by Technōs’ River City Ransom. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game, Fist Puncher, and many others have attempted – to greater or lesser degrees of success – to recapture the simple joy of cracking skulls while exploring a sprawling city and getting some RPG-style upgrades. And now, at long last, an officially licensed follow-up is headed our way courtesy of developer Conatus Creative. Resurrecting the Kunio art style and old-school look, with a few additional animations thrown in for good measure, players explore an even larger open world, with more shops, items, and upgrades. Go it alone or with some friends in 2-4P co-op, and punch some bad guys until they BARF!
Salt and Sanctuary | PS4 and Vita via PSN, and eventually other platforms | 2015
Ska Studios, the developer behind Charlie Murder and the Dishwasher series, returns with another dark action-RPG in the form of Salt and Sanctuary. The game begins with a sailor who has washed ashore on a gray and desolate land and finds himself battling all sorts of evil creatures in disturbing and macabre surroundings. Inspired by the Castlevania series, the protagonist carries a whip but may also use a number of other melee weapons, as well as magical artifacts that allow him to attack his enemies at a distance. Between battling dark creatures, avoiding traps, and taking down huge bosses, the sailor may find some respite in various Dark Souls-esque sanctuaries that offer protection from the dangers outside their walls.
Seasons After Fall | PC, Mac, Linux, and possibly consoles | 2015
Seasons After Fall is being developed by a France-based indie studio called Swing Swing Submarine, founded by ex-Ubisoft employees. The game features a wild fox that is traveling across the landscape, exploring, platforming, and interacting with other animals. The key to progressing is the player’s ability to change between any of the 4 seasons at will, and doing so may have dramatic effects on the environment. For instance, if your path is blocked by water, you may change the season to winter, causing it to freeze and allowing you to pass. If you cannot reach a high ledge, you may plant a seedling, which will sprout into a full-sized tree before your eyes as you change to the proper season, allowing you to climb up.
Secrets of Grindea | PC via Steam | Release Date TBD
Over the years, many budding developers have sought to capture the essence of the original The Legend of Zelda and The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, mimicking their structure and mechanics, while sometimes lifting creatures, weapons, and puzzle solutions directly from the originals. Others have created new works simply inspired by the game, but with completely different gameplay, such as Konjak’s Legend of Princess. Secrets of Grindea definitely falls into the former category, but rarely has a game borrowed so heavily from The Legend of Zelda formula with so much style. The structure should be familiar to Zelda fans, as the lead character walks through town, chatting it up with NPC’s, hacking hedgerows with a sword, and even scaring off the local chickens. But where Grindea makes its departure from the legacy is in its gameplay focus and character customization. The goal of the hero (or heroine, if you choose) is to become the world’s greatest Collector as he sets off on a quest to collect as many rare and valuable items as he can. There’s also a robust character creation and skill system that allows you to level up and apply points to a number of different attributes, allowing the player to craft a character to his liking. And, the entire game can be played in single player or with up to 4 players in co-op mode. The artwork is notable as well, featuring detailed spritework and animations, and even showing equipment changes on the main character.
Shantae and the Pirate's Curse | Wii U and 3DS via eShop | JUST RELEASED!! (3DS), Q4 2014 (Wii U)
The Shantae series has continues its handheld life with Shantae and the Pirate's Curse on 3DS, a direct sequel to Shantae: Risky's Revenge on DSiWare, which was originally planned as a 3-part episodic release. This game picks up immediately after the events of the last where SPOILER ALERT Shantae was stripped of her genie powers. Shantae’s old arch nemesis, Risky Boots, split her powers into 30 parts and bonded them with her minions… only to be summarily overthrown as her minions go off to resurrect Risky’s old mentor, the Pirate Master, who is even more evil than she is. As such, Shantae and Risky must team up to defeat the 30 minions and keep them from resurrecting the Pirate Master. Unlockable abilities allow Shantae and her partner to reach new areas without her genie powers, using grappling hooks and several dual-purpose weapons in a nonlinear Metroidvania-style adventure (there’s even a minimap). In typical WayForward style, there are gorgeous sprites aplenty, and the game world is larger and more detailed than that of any of the previous Shantae releases.
Shantae: Half-Genie Hero | PS3 and PS4 via PSN, Xbox 360 and Xbox One via XBLA, Wii U via eShop, PC via Steam | 2014
Shantae is finally hitting the big time, starring in her first non-handheld release with Shantae: Half-Genie Hero. The game is under development by WayForward, one of the few major studios still releasing games in a 2D format, including Contra 4 and the Wii release of A Boy and His Blob. WayForward is also responsible for the original Shantae on Game Boy Color, as well as its DSi/iOS follow-up Shantae: Risky's Revenge, and its 3DS follow-up Shantae and the Pirate's Curse. This newest release will retain the core mechanics of those previous, with Shantae whipping her hair to kill enemies, exploring colorful platforming worlds, and doing the occasional bit of belly dancing. Shantae will use magical transformations to explore the land and even return to previous areas to access new paths, Metroidvania style. Like the studio's own DuckTales Remastered this game features 2D characters and enemies with 3D objects and environments.
Sigma Xcidkrd | PC and Mac | Release Date TBD
Developer John Bishop launches the latest volley in the battle against pronounceable titles with Sigma Xcidkrd, a highly technical platformer. John spent a lot of time creating custom maps for another technical platformer, Dustforce, and eventually decided that he’d like to make a game of his own. Like Dustforce, the game requires precision platforming, combined with double jumping, wall jumping, wall sliding, and sliding down angled surfaces, but you’ll also be dodging loads of projectiles and even using them to your advantage by riding them through the level. Spiked walls, floors, and ceilings line the environments as well, and some levels have enemies that pursue you relentlessly, requiring some well-timed pixel perfect maneuvering and deft button presses.
Six Miles Under | PC, Mac, and Linux via Steam | Q2 2015
Six Miles Under, in development by Looney Bin Studios, is a post-apocalyptic brawler that invokes the spirit of Shank, with big action, stylish combos, sprays of blood, and the occasional bit of gunfire. The game is set in an underground city after a nuclear war wiped out everyone on the surface. The game and stars Preston Trencher, who is seeking revenge after he is shot and left for dead. Trencher must punch, slice, and shoot his way through a dark world while evading attacks, stringing together combos, and taking down bosses. Trencher and his enemies are presented in silhouette, adding to the noir style, but also playing with visibility as characters blend into unlit backgrounds.
Slain | PC, Mac, and Linux | March 2015
Slain (originally known as The 7 Towers), from developer Wolf Brew Games, is an atmospheric action game following a sword-wielding hero hacking his way through hordes of enemies that would be right at home in a Castlevania title, including the undead, wolves, skeletons, ghosts, beholders, hellhounds, and other twisted creatures. Blood is everywhere… spread around the environment, gushing from enemies, and spewing violently from the long-haired swordsman when he gets smashed in a trap or dismembered by an enemy. Players must hack their way through a number of gothic platforming locales.
Specter | PC, with Mac and Linux versions planned | Release Date TBD
Specter, from Dario Seyb and Blair Ceradsky, is an action game that focuses on combat and precision platforming. You play the part of a nobleman who once ruled over a huge tower where he threw parties regularly, annoying his demonic neighbors. As a result, the demons invaded his tower and took away his abilities. Now, he must defeat these demons as he works his way through the tower, regaining his abilities as he does so. These new abilities will assist you in combat as well as environmental navigation, and include such things as a charged projectile attack and a dash move that allows you close in on enemies quickly and also slide past obstacles and across gaps. The game will feature some environmental puzzle solving as well, and a number of hidden chambers for those who explore thoroughly.
Starbound | PC, Mac, and Linux via Steam | Currently in Steam Early Access
Developer Chucklefish is working on a Terraria-style action adventure game called Starbound, which focuses on exploration and crafting in an open world… or more specifically, an open universe. The player starts out in a gigantic space station after his ship is shot down by an unknown foe. During your journey, you find materials that will allow you to repair the station, upgrade it, and eventually set out to explore the universe. A procedurally generated universe allows for the exploration of a wide variety of planets, each with their own flora and fauna, terrain, materials, and weather systems. You can even lay claim to an entire planet of your own (you know, just a little place to call home) that you can modify and populate to your needs.
Still Time | Flash (platforms TBD) | Q4 2014 or Q1 2015
Developer Alan Zucconi presents Still Time, a time travelling puzzle platformer that promises headache inducing logic puzzles based around pausing and rewinding time, and being in several places at once. Levels are presented in single screen environments with a goal of safely travelling from one side to the other to pass on to the next level. While you have your typical switches and such that need to be activated, things aren’t so simple... You may need to back up time and create multiple versions of yourself to activate multiple switches simultaneously. New mechanics being introduced as you go, including enemies that can also affect the timeline, making puzzle solutions ever more complicated.
The Sun and Moon | PC via Steam, with Mac and Linux versions planned | JUST RELEASED!!
The Sun and Moon was originally developed in 24 hours and took first place at Ludum Dare 29, and it is now being expanded into a larger game. Devleoper Daniel Linssen is no stranger to the game jam scene, having created a number of award-winning titles, including Javel-ein, HopSlide, and Roguelight. On the surface, the game appears to be a standard platformer, but what makes the game unique is the fact that the player can dive down into platforms, which act as a gravity-negative area, pushing the player back upward into normal space. The goal is to use these unique movement abilities to collect three orbs in each of the 150 levels in a number of themed areas. It’s not the easiest thing to explain, so here’s the trailer:
Sunless Sea | PC and Mac via Steam | Currently in Steam Early Access
Failbetter Games presents Sunless Sea, a game about discovery and survival in a world of darkness and magic. As captain of a steamship, you set sail with your crew to explore the dark world around you, engaging enemies in ship-to-ship combat, discovering mysterious locales, and fighting against the tentacled Lovecraftian beasts of the deep. Players are able to upgrade their ship’s engines and weaponry, or buy entirely new ships, as well a recruit crew members. The game features a mysterious story filled with anachronistic language steeped in a dark Victorian dialect, just as in the developer’s previous work, Fallen London, a free-to-play browser-based adventure. This game takes place in the same world, as you and your crew sail out into the unknown to face madness and death.
Super Chibi Knight |PC, Mac, and Linux via Steam | 2014
From Nick Pasto, the developer of the over-the-top actioner Abobo’s Big Adventure, comes an action platformer with a tiny star. Super Chibi Knight is being developed by Nick with the partnership of his eight year old daughter, who is drawing sketches for various characters and weapons, playtesting the game, and even providing the voice of the titular knight. You play the part of a young girl with a big sword who must slash her way through foes to gain treasure and experience points. In addition to sword-based combat, players can also learn spells and find a number of different beasts to ride, and the story changes based on whether you chose the path or sorcery or beast mastery.
Super Mutant Alien Assault | PC, and possibly Mac and Linux | 2015
Chris Suffern presents Super Mutant Alien Assault, a side view arena combat game that can be played in single player or 2P local co-op. The game is a fleshed out enhancement of the developer’s Mutant Alien Assault, featuring gun-dispensing vending machines offering random weapon drops. Numerous futuristic weapons allow players to unleash wholesale space-age destruction on armored enemies by using lasers, particle weapons, and heavy explosives, as well as more traditional shotguns and rocket launchers.
The Swindle | PC, and probably other platforms | 2015
The Swindle is under development by Size Five Games, the folks behind Gun Monkeys, Ben There, Dan That, and Time Gentlemen, Please! The game is all about breaking into buildings, hacking systems, grabbing as much cash as possible, and getting the heck out of there. In addition there are some roguelike elements including procedurally generated levels, and if you lose one of your thieves, you have to hire a new one. Thieves are also upgradeable and can learn new skills. The game appears to mix equal parts Deus Ex with Gunpoint and Mark of the Ninja with the ability to slide down walls, bash your way through doors, smash through windows, and drop down from above for silent kills… plus, you know, hacking. The game is set in a mid-19th century steampunk version of London that also has computers and bionics.
Temporus | PC, Mac, and Linux via Steam, and possibly OUYA and Wii U | Q2 2015
Temporus is being developed by Firebelly Studios, which promises to deliver a healthy dose of shmuppery and on-foot platforming action in a time travelling sci-fi adventure. In addition to blasting away enemies, you must also research new technologies and manage your resources as you set out to find fuel for your ship and food for your body. You are able to land your ship at various docking points and exit your ship to explore. You can even walk around the interior of your own ship to change weapon settings and make repairs. The developer compares the gameplay to that of Air Fortress and Blaster Master, both of which featured on-foot and in-vehicle segments.
Timespinner | PC, Mac, and Linux via Steam, PS4 and Vita via PSN, 3DS via eShop | Q4 2015
Timespinner, from Lunar Ray Games, stars Lunais, a young woman seeking vengeance against the ones who killed her family. Using a device known as the Timespinner, the woman travels through time to defeat her enemies throughout history. In this metroidvania title, Lunais navigates a number of platforming environments, using her time-stopping ability to solve puzzles, move across falling platforms, evade enemies, and even freeze baddies in the air to use them as stepping stones to reach new areas. In addition, Lunais may access a number of magical orbs that allow her to unleash projectile and melee attacks that grow stronger as she uses them.
Titan Souls | PC, Mac, and Linux via Steam, PS4 and Vita via PSN | Q1 2015
Developer Acid Nerve presents Titan Souls, featuring a lone hero wielding but a single arrow, with which he must take down a series of gigantic titans and collect their souls in a quest for ultimate power, in an adventure inspired by Shadow of the Colossus. There are more than 20 titans to discover and defeat, and players must study the creatures’ attacks and look for weaknesses to exploit, while avoiding their own death. In this top-down action game, the player must dodge enemy attacks, take aim, and fire off their lone arrow, which may be summoned back to him – and cause damage along the way – and then fired again. The arrow flies further the longer the shot is held, but aiming and firing also leaves you open to attack, and you die if you get hit even once.
To Leave | PC, Mac, Linux, and possibly PSN | Q4 2014
Freaky Creations is crafting a game about leaving the painful world behind. To Leave stars a fellow named Harm who has grown tired of the world and attempts to make his escape by means of a flying door, which he clings to for dear life. As the player navigates challenging obstacle-filled environments, he runs the danger of damaging the door, at which point it will absorb him, and he will have to restart from a checkpoint. The player flies his door around collecting blue spirits while avoiding the often face-packed obstacles that rise up to destroy him. This one is probably best suited toward those gamers willing to accept a bit of metaphor in their gaming experience.
Tower of the Gorillion | PC, Mac, and Linux via Steam | Release Date TBD
Tower of the Gorillion, from developers Steven Circuiton and Colin Marjoram, is a puzzle platformer where you take control of 2 independent characters – similar to Treasure Treasure: Fortress Forage: Extra Edition, except that these characters operate on two separate planes, with one in the foreground and one in the background. The graphical style is modeled after the limited color palette of the original Game Boy, with darker tones marking the background layer and lighter tones marking the foreground. Many of the puzzles involve activating switches to open a path for the other character to traverse, or interacting with objects that impact both planes simultaneously. The objective is to navigate through each of the environments and get both characters safely to the exit, avoiding spikes and other dangers along the way. You can play the game as a single player switching between the two characters, or play it in 2P co-op.
TowerClimb | PC via Steam | Release Date TBD
Not unlike Spelunky, TowerClimb from Davioware is a procedurally generated platformer with roguelike elements, although it goes an extra step in the RPG direction by including permadeath and the ability to upgrade your character’s abilities. Your character has access to a wide range of abilities with which no navigate the ever-changing and deadly platforming worlds, including running, jumping, double jumping, ledge grabbing, wall climbing, swimming, and even the ability to fly and toss limited use projectiles. The player must venture ever-upward, avoiding enemies, pits of lava, and spikes while hunting down treasure chests and grabbing powerups that grant some of the aforementioned abilities. The player must also be careful to manage resources and not be wasteful, lest they warrant their own doom.
Treasure Adventure World | PC via Steam | 2015
In 2011, Robit Studios released a freeware game called Treasure Adventure Game, an action adventure title with a large open world to explore, creatures to kill, puzzles to solve, and treasures to find. The game took Stephen Orlando about 3 years to create. Now, he’s working on an updated (non-freeware) HD version of the game called Treasure Adventure World which features new content, new music, and a new visual style. The player controls a boy who sets out with his parrot to traverse a number of islands – to which he sails in a magical shrinking/growing boat that fits in his pocket when not in use – speaking to NPCs and embarking on various quests, slowly opening up the world Metroidvania-style as new abilities and equipment are earned, such as digging down through piles of dirt that block certain passages.
Treasurenauts | 3DS via eShop | Q1 2015
Developer Renegade Kid, known for its Mutant Mudds series, is working on a project called Treasurenauts, which focuses on a motley crew of adventurers, heroes, and some oddball characters (like a ninja) as they seek treasure. You can customize your character’s appearance and select their weapon, with weapons falling into melee, projectile, and explosive categories, each offering strengths and weaknesses. For instance, the sword is fast but has a short range, whereas the bomb is powerful but has a low speed, and firearms can fire over long distances but don’t do as much damage. Players can go it alone or team up with a second player in local co-op for platforming, boss fighting, and treasure hunting, all the while unlocking new abilities (like a double jump) and entirely new playable characters.
Trestle | PC, iOS, and Android | Release Date TBD
Developer Sets & Settings is working on a game featuring a rather odd amalgamation of Super Crate Box and the battle sequences in Mega Man Battle Network. Essentially, it takes the fast-paced action of Super Crate Box, adds it to 3x3 grid-based combat in Mega Man Battle Network, and removes all of the slow-paced inventory management that comes with the latter. Instead of chip-swapping, weapons now appear directly on the playfield, and the player activates them by moving onto the appropriate grid space. Players must use their knowledge of enemy attack ranges to dodge around the playfield and deliver blasts of fire across the border, and some attacks can cause grid spaces to disappear, offering less room to maneuver.
Twisted Fusion | Wii U via eShop | December 2014
Twisted Fusion is under development by Leuvsion, a studio known previously for games on mobile devices and tablets. But now they are diving headlong into the Nintendoscape with a Wii U exclusive platformer. The game centers on a redheaded girl named Cora who is armed with a water pistol, and she can eventually pick up some limited-use special weapons such as water balloons and garden sprinklers. Fortunately, her enemies’ greatest weakness is water, so she is able to blast her foes into oblivion with the power of dihydrogen monoxide. The game also features a day/night cycle and a weather system, featuring stronger enemies in the evening (what a horrible night, etc.), and enemies that are more aggressive when it’s raining… which seems a bit odd considering the fact that water kills them.
Waldir’s Inferno | PC | Release Date TBD
Waldir’s Inferno, under development by Jani Peltonen (a.k.a. Argamix) , promises top-down beat ‘em up action with procedurally generated levels and RPG elements. The game stars a sword-wielding badass who hacks and slashes his way through numerous chunky and spritely foes, leaving sprays of pixelated blood in his wake. You can also grab a number of subweapons to up your carnage per second and dodge enemy attacks to keep yourself around a bit longer. Rather than simply increasing your stats, new items grant you new abilities (a similar method was used in Risk of Rain), which adds gameplay variety as players attempt to fight their way through a 30-60 minute dungeon slashing experience… or die trying.
Witchmarsh | PC, Mac, and hopefully Linux | December 2015
Witchmarsh, from Inglenook Games, is a spritely action-RPG set in 1920’s Massachusetts, focusing on a team investigating the disappearances of a dozen townsfolk in a supernatural mystery. Players may select from one of several investigators, heading straight in with set template, or customizing their abilities and items. Investigators have different specialties, such as the Technician that can zap enemies with her lightning rod, and the mysterious horned Guardian who can damage enemies with fire. In addition to hacking and slashing evil monsters, players must actually work toward solving the case by speaking with NPC’s and analyzing clues. Investigators may team up via online multiplayer for 2-4P co-op.
Xeodrifter | 3DS via eShop | Q4 2014
Renegade Kid, the developer behind Mutant Mudds Deluxe, returns with another retro actioner called Xeodrifter. This metroidvania title features an astronaut exploring a set of four planets to find materials needed to repair his damaged ship. Players must explore vast landscapes and blast away at enemies along the way, while finding powerups that allow them to reach new areas, as well as health and weapon upgrades. You can even find a submarine that allows you to explore underwater areas. As with the Mutant Mudds games, there’s a bit of plane-switching going on as well, allowing the hero to jump between foreground and background layers.
zX - Hyperblast | PC | 2015
South African one-man developer retroFuture is taking the shmup into action-adventure territory with zX. Gone are forced scrolling environments, replaced with a series of large caverns that can be traversed at will with your small but heavily armed ship. As in many shmups, your ship’s projectiles can be upgraded, but you also have a melee attack in the form of a pair of blades that emerge from the front of your ship. These blades allow you to deflect enemy bullets while also powering up your special weapon, encouraging up-close attacks. In addition to exploration, players will still face the more traditional enemy waves and bullet sprays while they attempt to avoid lasers, lava, and other environmental hazards.
* Because these games are in various stages of development and represent in-progress work, certain elements could change prior to release, including the release date and platform.