As I pointed out in a news article several days ago, another wave of games was recently Greenlit. This time, Assetto Corsa, DreadOut, Ether One, GunZ 2: The Second Duel, Stonehearth, and The Forest made it through. It’s nice to see The Forest in this list, a horror exploration/crafting game I brought up in my previous Greenlight Spotlight. I remember some of our writers discussing Stonehearth rather enthusiastically back when the Kickstarter was announced as well, and after looking into it more, I think that Ether One looks pretty interesting.
Unfortunately, the point of Greenlight has again been brought into question. The recent Paranautical Activity debacle created even more controversy surrounding a service that has been viewed as poorly-implemented for some time now. Valve’s bizarre decision to deny Paranautical Activity a Steam release, despite acquiring a publishing deal with Adult Swim, has become even more nonsensical when it was announced that Fist Puncher was getting the same deal without any issues. Fist Puncher was in the exact same situation as Paranautical Activity. They had an active Greenlight campaign before being noticed by Adult Swim…Except this time, Valve had no problem letting Fist Puncher through, and it has been on Steam for a couple of days now. So why did Paranautical Activity get denied? Is Valve just throwing a temper-tantrum in some misguided attempt to “make an example” of Paranautical Activity? The whole situation just proves how inconsistent Valve’s decisions can be, and how much they screwed up with Greenlight.
I myself agree that Greenlight is very poorly implemented. There is no transparency, no clear rules or guidelines. I feel that Valve’s intentions were good (then again, Greenlight was created to solve a problem Valve brought on themselves), but the way they have gone about handling Greenlight is flawed at best. Even still, Greenlight has allowed games to get on Steam that were repeatedly denied by Valve in the past. So, with that in mind, I’ll continue to write these articles in an attempt to help out interesting games until Valve comes up with something better. Games like the ones I’m about to mention:
Door Kickers by KillHouse Games
Door Kickers is a unique top-down strategy game that feels almost like Frozen Synapse and the mission planning phase of the old Rainbow Six games. You command SWAT operators in real-time with an active pause system that allows you to adjust orders. The alpha demo has a large number of missions right now, with increasingly complex building layouts and objectives that range from rescuing hostages to disarming bombs. The way you issue orders is still a bit rough, with your operators occasionally having their orders reset when you go to adjust the orders of another unit, but there is still a lot of promise here. The missions are fast and challenging, with a single mistake capable of getting your whole squad killed in half a second.
Escape Goat by MagicalTimeBean
I’m technically highlighting two games here; both the original Escape Goat and the still in-development sequel Escape Goat 2 are looking for votes on Greenlight. I know that 8-bit, “retro-themed” puzzle-platformers are a dime a dozen, and it doesn’t help that this one has a groan-worthy title, but I found the original game pretty enjoyable. I bought it when it first came out on Xbox Live Indie games for $1, and it is one of the few games from that cesspool that I would actually recommend. You control a talking goat imprisoned in a dungeon, and with the help of a mouse, you must navigate over 100 levels that constantly change shape to impede your progress. The sequel, due later this year, has really turned up the visual quality, trading in the 8-bit retro look for hand-drawn environments with pretty nice lighting effects. Escape Goat may not look or sound very appealing, but trust me and give the original a chance.
Nekro by darkForge Games
Nekro is a game I’ve been excited for ever since it went to Kickstarter around a year ago. Its Kickstarter struggled for a while, but made it just in time with a sudden surge of support in the final few days. It has been mostly quiet since then, before suddenly reappearing with a Greenlight campaign earlier this month, and the game has come a long way since those rough, early prototypes shown in the Kickstarter campaign. Nekro is a ARPG/RTS-like hybrid where you control a necromancer who has recently been released and is ready to conquer and enslave the land. Over the course of a randomly-generated, semi-open world campaign, you’ll acquire tons of abilities and items that allow you to use the corpses and souls of dead enemies to raise increasingly powerful minions. The art direction has this nice blend between really stylized, almost cartoony, yet dark and twisted.
Tower of Guns by Terrible Posture Games
Tower of Guns, which is supposed to still be very early in development, is an FPS with some roguelike elements being made by just one guy. The core gameplay is heavily inspired by the fast-paced shooters of yesteryear like Doom, Quake, and Duke Nukem. Levels also take inspiration from these old titles, with lots of secrets and power-ups to discover. The roguelike elements come in the form of permadeath and randomly-generated levels, enemies, power-ups, and weapons. All the guns are essentially blank slates where random qualities are applied each playthrough. For example, you could find a shotgun that fires volleys of rockets. The game is designed to be beaten in an hour or two, assuming you make it that far, and then replayed over and over again to see what crazy levels and weapons you find.
Underrail by Stygian Software
Anyone still annoyed with the direction Bethesda took with Fallout 3 might want to pay attention to Underrail. This game is pretty much the indie-developed, spiritual successor to Fallout 1 and 2. In this isometric turn-based RPG, inspired by the classics from the ’90s, you control a single character in a post-apocalyptic future were humanity lives underground in giant “metro-states” after the planet’s surface is rendered uninhabitable and barren. Underrail is shaping up to be a promising isometric RPG with everything that made the old classics so great: extensive character customization, challenging tactical combat, a huge emphasis on exploration, and a deep crafting system. Pretty impressive for just one guy.
Dark Matter by InterWave Studios
Dark Matter is a Metroidvania-style survival horror being made by the same developers behind the highly underrated Nuclear Dawn. I decided to include this game at the last minute because of its struggling Kickstarter campaign. The game is nearly done, but InterWave needs to raise £50,000 to finish up and apply that final layer of polish before releasing. The campaign has nearly a month left, but so far they have raised a surprisingly meager amount of money. One of the main highlights of Dark Matter is the dynamic lighting effects. Beyond merely looking nice and allowing you to see in the dark corners of a derelict starship, the lighting has an actual gameplay purpose. All the aliens in the game react differently to light, be it merely becoming more aggressive or even exploding into showers of acid. There is also an emphasis on interacting with the environment. One video shows the player using a control panel to slam a large metal door onto an alien, smashing it into goo in the process.
As usual, remember to check out previous Greenlight Spotlights for more interesting games that need your votes. Of all the games I’ve highlighted in these articles, only Cradle and The Forest have made it through, so let’s see if we can change that before the next article.