Mushroom 11
Developer: Untame

This fascinating puzzle game is immediately accessible, but the mind boggles at the potential for complexity once you grasp the core mechanic. You control the movement of a single mass of fungus, but the only way to progress the mushroom is by erasing/destroying parts of it with a circular onscreen reticle. Immediately, the other side of the mushroom begins to grow to make up for lost mass. The visual effect is of a rolling ball, until your mind begins to see it’s not rolling at all – it’s simply growing in the only direction it can. You can split the mushroom by erasing its middle, thus allowing one section of mushroom to be moved onto a switch, opening up a passage for the other section. Elsewhere, the mushroom can grow its way through a series of tunnels, but only if you keep it from growing back in the wrong direction. The mushroom only regenerates on the ground, so you can’t just fly through the level. Mushroom 11 is strange and fascinating, and developer Untame aims to release it on PC next month, with a likely port to mobile to follow.

YIIK: A Post-Modern RPG
Developer: Ackk Studios

You are a an unemployed, liberal arts grad hipster with an extensive record collection. Rather than get a job, you’ve opted to follow your dreams and track conspiracy theories online, including one about a girl kidnapped by a rogue elevator. The story evolves from there to focus on 90s internet culture, the occult, and the end of the world, or so its creators at Ackk Studios tell me. Targeting a December release on PS4, Vita, Wii U, PC, Mac, and Linux, YIIK is equal parts absurdist social commentary and homage to the RPGs of the PS1 era. The JRPG style battles include a bizarre but fascinating mechanic – every skill requires that you complete a short Warioware-esque microgame. The game includes 9 playable characters, each with around a dozen skills, so there’s a lot to learn. The story pops back and forth between off-the-wall humor and sudden moments of potent tragedy. I’m very optimistic that the project can provide something unique to players willing to give the strange concept a go. 

Dusty Raging Fist
Developer: PD Design Studio

This prequel to the earlier released Dusty Revenge aims to improve on its predecessor and offer a mix of sidescrolling action and classic brawling dynamics, all with up to three cooperative players at once. You control an anthropomorphic rabbit named Dusty, along with his buddies, a deer named Derg and a Fox named Kitsune. The three fight their way through hordes of bad guys, along with the help of two support characters who wait in the foreground for you to call in their attacks – rockets or sniper bullets, respectively. Beautiful art frames the tight action framework, and the variety of combo-based attacks and elemental skills offers a lot to learn. Developer PD Design Studio is punching for a mid-2016 release on PS4, Xbox One, PC, Mac, and perhaps even Wii U. 

Pavilion
Developer: Visiontrick Media

This puzzle game is something of a mystery, and it’s meant to be that way. You attempt to progress your lead character (an Indiana Jones-esque explorer, perhaps?) through a surreal world of strange architecture and objects, but you can’t control him directly. Instead, you’re forced to interact with objects in the environment that may guide him to your intended destination. Ambient music accompanies your discoveries, which are completed from an isometric view of the evolving environment. The story is clearly minimalistic, and the indirect control method takes some getting used to, but I’m thoroughly intrigued by what Visiontrick is trying to do here. Look for a PS4 and Vita release late this year.