Cast your mind back to last Thursday. You may have been wrapping presents, last-minute shopping, or getting ready to set your emails to ‘out of office’.
Indie publisher PID Games (Plug in Digital) was busy too, showcasing their 2023 line-up in their ‘No Rules, Just Games’ conference.
The games shown span all kinds of genres, developed by studios across the world. This has resulted in a diverse-looking catalogue, ranging from pixel art platformers to first-person horror adventures.
Here’s a recap:
Skabma – Snowfall
After an accident at a nearby tar-burning pit, Áilu, a young Sámi herder, is tasked with preventing a disease from spreading across their village.
The story draws inspiration from the northernmost indigenous people of Europe, involving four familiar spirits that must be reunited to reconnect with nature.
Áilu is armed not with weapons, but rather a drum – which can be used to reveal hidden magical paths and elements. Environmental puzzle-solving will play a large part.
Originally released on PC, where it gained positive reviews on Steam, look out for it on consoles during April 2023.
Mari and Bayu: The Road Home
Developed by Skinny Bandit, this bug-filled side-scrolling action platformer is a Switch exclusive aimed at families.
It has been designed with co-op play in mind. Older, more experienced, gamers take control of ant Mari – with the camera following this character at all times – while younger gamers play as firefly Bayu, who cannot be hurt and has the ability to fly freely around the screen.
It features a soft visual style, with A Bug’s Life cited as an influence, and sees the duo teaming up to take on spiders and other predators – including pesky humans armed with bug spray – as they explore and find a way home. Expect this one to surface early 2023.
Spirit of the Island
On first glance, Spirit of the Island is yet another farming-based life sim. As the trailer reveals, this isn’t quite the case – there’s a focus on two-player, and the tropical Archipelago Island setting also helps set it apart.
It’s your job to help restore a tourist paradise to its former glory, establishing new shops and reviving landmarks to increase visitor numbers. This, in turn, boosts the island’s economy.
Farming, mining, and fishing are amongst the ten skills available, with each of the four seasons promising to shake up the island’s way of life. It’s also possible to explore the surrounding islands to discover and unravel a mystery.
Sorry, PC gamers – this appears to be a console-only title for now.
The horror genre revival is still in full swing, with not one but two sinister adventures incoming from PID. Lempo is viewed in first person and takes inspiration from Finnish folklore, with the team choosing a nondescript ‘Average Joe’ as the protagonist – simply because they wanted to story and events to feel like they could happen to anyone.
In this 4-5 hour adventure, protagonist Paul finds themselves trapped in a peculiar forest – following in the footsteps of those who’ve become lost before him. Paul soon learns that this is no place for a mere mortal, with unspeakable sights and psychological elements coming into play. Combat takes a backseat, putting a focus on puzzle solving and exploration instead.
Powered by Unreal Engine 5, and developed by One Trick Entertainment, it’s due on PC Q2 2023.
Heralding from France, Elypse is a dark and gloomy Metroidvania that’s gunning for PC, PS5, and Switch.
Every ten years a sacrifice must be made to protect a civilization. Chosen as the unlucky soul to fill this prophecy, Fay is thrown into the abyss but manages to survive. It’s here they meet Nyx, another survivor who has spent the last ten years trying to find a way out. Together, they believe they can overcome the traps and dangers within the abyss and escape.
Being a Metroidvania, we can expect the usual drip-feed of new abilities, including dashes, wall slides, and double jumps. Hopefully some unique skills, too, that will help set it apart.
From Metroid to Mega Man. This fast-paced action platformer comes from Finland and is expected on PC, Switch, and PS4/PS5.
Robot Kai sets out to stop the Rebel Circuits while saving citizens found within 12 different stages. Initially armed with a grappling hook, Kai can eventually upgrade himself with 20 different abilities, including a double jump and an upper cut.
Expect around 5 hours of gameplay, with a bunch of secrets to discover.
Proving just how popular Metroidvanias are, PID Games has found room for another in their catalogue. Vernal Edge is more combat focused than Elypse, while also being brighter and featuring a storyline centered upon rivalry.
Taking place in a world formed of floating islands, you play as Vernal – a feisty female who clashes with Alstroemeria, a girl with a completely opposite personality.
This adventure comes from a four person team working remotely, who have amassed experience with the genre after creating Cave Story mods and simple Java games.
After three years in development, it’s set to be unleashed on all formats in Q2 2023.
Guardians of Elderon
PID has a free-to-play title for PC and mobiles on the horizon too. Guardians of Elderon is a strategic ‘base builder’ with a focus on summoning creatures to attack other bases.
The developers aim to remove much of the toxicity associated with real-time MP games by offering casual gamers a PvE experience, gradually building up to PvP.
“I wanted to provide action and stealth elements you can find in MOBAs, but without direct interaction with players; for example,in team-based games you can get harassed if you make a mistake, or if the others think you’re not doing something right,” said developer Tiberiu Stefan.
Let Me Out
Here’s the second of PID’s horror adventures. Also referred to as Who Is He – Let Me Out in the press release, you play as ten-year-old Alvin who’s out to find his mother and escape an ancient village.
Alvin isn’t alone in his quest, taking along his pet spider and also joined by his little sister – who can brew potions. Featuring a cartoony art direction, it’s set in the 1960s, and will feature sections where Alvin’s spider is playable.
Medic – Pacific War
This leaves us with Medic – Pacific War, which is perhaps the most promising of PID’s upcoming library. As the name suggests, it casts you as a US medic during the Pacific Front.
While the war is raging, you’re forced to make moral choices of which lives to prioritise and save – with limited resources available. Will you choose to save soldiers, or their superiors? These decisions will impact future events too.
Developed by HypnothicAnts, it’s PC only currently. Hopefully, that will change – we’d like to see it on consoles too.