A bumper month for indie treasures!
I’m gonna put it out there: I’ve been writing these monthly roundup articles for a while now – quite diligently, if I do say so myself – but this month is quite possibly the most exciting I’ve written about to date. There are some real crackers headed our way in August and you’d be mad to miss ’em. Here are the top indie game releases you should be marking on your calendar for this month.
Overcooked brought some of the finest local co-op shenanigans ever seen to our living rooms, in the form of a madcap chef-’em-up. Tell your pals to keep their schedules free, because Overcooked 2 looks to turn the oven up to Gas Mark 11.
Overcooked is all about working as a culinary team to cook up food orders, sharing out the kitchen duties. But after lulling you into a false sense of security with simple burgers and salads, it’ll soon have you scrambling to prepare complex gourmet concoctions across treacherous shifting levels.
This time around we can expect more recipes, more zany characters and even more mayhem, with new dynamic levels featuring controllable platforms and portals that evolve over a play session. Online multiplayer and a handy throwing mechanic are welcome ingredients to the broth. Don your apron for Overcooked 2’s release on August 7th for PC, Xbox One, PS4 and Switch.
Being an Editor of an indie games website, you could say I’ve played a few indies in my time. Picking a favourite is no easy task, but my heart says Guacamelee. A perfect storm of Metroidvania luchador brawling wrapped up in a vibrant Dia de los Muertos aesthetic, I fell in love with its world – both living and dead. Needless to say, I’m pretty stoked for Guacamelee 2.
Guacamelee 2 appears to cling onto the aspects which made its forbear special – 4-player local co-op, Juan’s gnarly wrestling moves and an arrestingly colourful world riffing on Mexican folklore – while implementing a revamped engine and twice as many enemy types for more varied combat. And if its soundtrack is half as addictive as the glorious electronica of the original, I’ll be enraptured.
Guacamelee 2 brawls its way onto Steam and PS4 on the 21st of August.
You know how all the cool kids in indie game dev right now are making rogue-lites or Metroidvanias? Well, Motion Twin must be doubly cool because they’ve made a game that’s both. Enter Dead Cells, a ‘RogueVania’ which launches out of Early Access this month.
Dead Cells cites Castlevania and Dark Souls as inspiration for its harsh interconnected world and the tough combat within it. With permadeath to contend with, however, failure results in having to start all over again. But not all is lost: there’s a plethora of weapons and abilities to unlock, and these all carry over into your next playthroughs.
Dead Cells may be a melting pot of borrowed ideas but its vivid pixel art, polished combat and fascinating world set it apart. It’s reborn from Early Access on PC, Switch and PS4 on the 7th of August.
There are a lot of common themes in August’s indie lineup, for sure: death, Souls-likes, Metroidvanias. This continues with Death’s Gambit, a Souls-like Metroidvania all about death. And it looks smashing.
Death’s Gambit tells the story of Sorun, who strikes a deal with the big baddie himself, Death. In exchange for immortality he agrees to be Death’s right hand man and hunt down powerful guardians throughout the world. Devs White Rabbit have gone all-in on the RPG side of things, with seven classes and a large skill tree of weapon abilities and spells to provide plenty of depth.
I’m also digging the brooding aesthetic, truly dark fantasy at its best. Death’s Gambit is set to slay on August 14th for PS4 and PC.
Note: If two Souls-likes isn’t enough for you this month, an honourable mention goes out to Salt and Sanctuary releasing on Switch today, August 2nd. Fill yer steel boots of stamina +1.
Okay, this is starting to get a little silly now. Another game about dying? This morbidity within one of the sunniest periods of the year is bizarre, unexpected and something I’m completely in favour of. In Flipping Death you’ll help out Death himself to… hang on a minute. Deja vu, anyone?
As if that wasn’t coincidental enough, you’ll be able to switch – or should I say flip – between the world of the living and dead with the tap of a button, just like Guacamelee’s Juan. But for a very different purpose – here you can haphazardly possess the living to make them do your bidding and solve puzzles.
Flipping Death comes from Zoink Games, devs of Stick it to The Man. For anyone who’s played that, the surreal, gangly character design here is instantly familiar. This wacky adventure is sure to provide plenty of dark humour when it flips out sometime this month on Switch, PS4 and Xbox One.
State of Mind
Okay, time for something a little different. State of Mind has a concept that is equal parts fascinating and terrifyingly prophetic. Set in a near-future dystopia, earth is running low on resources and rife with war and crime. The proposed solution? Build The Matrix, essentially, for a virtual utopia in which humanity can finally live in paradise.
Of course, it doesn’t take a sci-fi buff to realise the potential flaws in that plan. State of Mind explores these utopian concepts along with AI, transhumanism and omnipresent surveillance in a cyberpunk thriller that’s sure to root players to the edge of their seats.
I also have to mention the visual design, a perfect juxtaposition of realistic environments with abstract, polygonal characters. State of Mind’s future is not too far off, arriving on PS4, Xbox One, PC and Switch on the 15th of August.
Two Point Hospital
Some ideas don’t deserve to die. But EA or whoever owns the rights to Theme Hospital these days have clearly shown little interest in bringing it back two decades later. Thank Two Point Studios, then, for picking up the medicative slack with the upcoming Two Point Hospital.
What made Theme Hospital so memorable was its disarmingly whimsical approach to the typically serious business of running a hospital. Cute and colourful visuals complemented a range of wacky afflictions – like Bloaty Head syndrome, in which a patient’s head swelled to three times the size and had to be popped.
Two Point Hospital takes this to the next level with diseases such as Light-Headedness, in which the patient’s head turns into a literal lightbulb; Cubism, a Picasso-esque form of bodily mutation; and Premature Mummification. The doctor will see you on the 30th August on PC.