Flipping Death

During the Nintendo Indie event, Zoink Games revealed its newest project called Flipping Death. Billed as a spiritual successor to their past game Stick It to the Man, Flipping Death is a whimsical and bizarre puzzle platformer about a young woman named Penny, who is tasked with becoming a grim reaper following her death. You make your way through the afterlife by throwing your scythe to different ledges and using it to teleport. Along the way, you can possess the living. When possessing a human, your world flips and some objects and locales look similar but have different functions. For example, a monster in the afterlife takes the shape of a paint can in the real world. Taking control of different, funny characters is incredibly amusing, and each have their own strange ability. For example, a dentist can use his drill to help you solve a puzzle, but you can also terrify others with it for kicks. I enjoyed Flipping Death's strange premise, and look forward to its release. Flipping Death is coming to Nintendo Switch and other unannounced platforms. –Elise Favis

Into The Breach

Into The Breach is a recently announced strategy game from Subset Games, the makers of FTL. I got to watch a brief demo of the game in action and was pretty impressed with what I saw, both in how enjoyable the gameplay looked and how different Into The Breach was from FTL. Into The Breach basically takes the concept of something like Pacific Rim, pitting monsters against giant robots, and has you seeking to minimize damage to cities and populations. This isn't a "punch the enemy until they're dead" kind of game but instead one where your units, various mechanized suits, have special abilities that help you keep monsters away from the cities, which basically serve as increments of your health bar. An example, one unit can punch enemies down a tile, preventing them from attacking a city.

Into The Breach is, according to its developers, a good bit away from release but the slice of gameplay I watched demonstrated accessible but also deeply strategic gameplay set in a fun universe. –Javy Gwaltney

Anamorphine

Similar to games like Gone Home and Dear Esther, your only job is to explore and unravel a story in Anamorphine. The tale is dark, focusing on coping with depression and trauma. The game uses surrealism to explore dream-like memories of Elena, a woman who falls victim to an accident that robs her of her livelihood.  What’s unique is you see the game through the eyes of her significant other Tyler who revisits milestones that define their relationship. Tyler struggles with his guilt due to his inability to help Elena through her struggles, and as you explore you find metaphors to represent his feelings. For instance, the world will start falling apart as the character feels that way. There is no voiceover – simply music and the environment convey the tone. There’s an uneasiness and beauty to Anamorphine.  In my hands-on time, I explored wondrous backdrops; one took me to neon forest outside, only to have ugly plants get in the way, creating this feeling of dread inside me, as if darker times were ahead. You never know what’s waiting around the corner, and I was instantly intrigued about the characters and where the story would lead. Anamorphine launches this year on PC, Xbox One, VR devices. – Kimberley Wallace

Necrobarista

Necrobarista is an upcoming indie visual novel from indie developer Route 55 Games. There are lot of visual novels out there but what makes Necrobarista special is both the fact that the game's in 3D as well as its colorful artstyle and the world it presents, which channels the goofy humor of Grim Fandango. The game takes place in a cafe where the dead and the living can mingle. The gameplay segment I played through was goofy and enjoyable, though only a small slice of what the full game will be. Necrobarista is worth keeping an eye on even for those who don't like visual novels. Necrobarista will be out in early 2018. – Javy Gwaltney

TumbleSeed

TumbleSeed is described as a "rolly roguelike" where you balance a seed that easily rolls around on a horizontal vine that you can tilt left and right. You make your way up a colorful, procedurally generated mountain, all the while avoiding obstacles such as large holes you can fall into and dangerous foes. The gameplay is addictive and fun, requiring both patience and skill to carefully balance your way through hazardous environments. It has roguelike mechanics, such as permadeath and upgrades for each of the seeds you unlock. Each seed character has unique abilities, such as SpringSeed which lets you temporary fly and ThornSeed which throws tiny thorns at enemies if you wait and aim correctly. TumbleSeed arrives this spring on PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and PC. – Elise Favis


Graceful Explosion Machine

Debuting on the Nintendo Switch in April, Graceful Explosion Machine is a colorful, side-scrolling arcade shooter that has you control a 2D spaceship as you blast your way through hordes of enemies. I had a chance to play it at GDC briefly, and as someone who isn't big on the arcade shooter genre, I nonetheless came away impressed. As you progress, you unlock different abilities and upgrades, such as a sniper beam that deals a heavy hit and a 360 wave of damage called an energy sword that you can swing at enemies close by. What makes Graceful Explosion Machine stand out, however, is that every time you use abilities, you also use up the ship's power. It's a careful balance of using resources mindfully and figuring out how to blow up enemies in the most efficient way. The difficulty ramps up quickly, and these considerations become even more important as you progress to later levels. – Elise Favis

Knights and Bikes

This colorful and playful debut from Foam Sword, a new studio comprised of former Media Molecule developers, hardly lacks charm. Calling to mind adolescent focused period films like Goonies, Knights and Bikes transports players to a fictional island in '80s Britain. With their hometown facing financial ruin, two well-intentioned kids with vivid imaginations set out to save their city and slay its metaphorical demons. The cooperative adventure brims with nostalgia, from protagonists Ness and Demelza cruising the town on bikes to the duo facing off against each other in impromptu action-figure battles. The action/RPG gameplay encourages exploring the various locations in town to gather useful new items and a helpful companions. Look for the game on PS4 and Steam sometime in the future. –Matt Bertz

Pyre

Hot off the back-to-back success of Bastion and Transistor, Supergiant Games is once again making an action/RPG. But Pyre plays unlike anything the studio has made to date. This party-based game is grounded in its compelling fiction, which chronicles the life of an exile seeking to find a way back into society. As he learns from a pack of wanderers who saved him from the brink of death, a competition called the Rites is his best bet for redemption. This rugby like competition has two teams of players competing for control of an orb placed in the middle of the battlefield. Players must transport this orb through obstacles and past defensive positions to the opposing team's goal to score a point. Each player on the field has a unique set of skills, making some faster or more powerful than others. The fantasy action is fast paced, and we're curious to see how it intersects with the narrative as you take these exiles toward the promised land. Look for Pyre on PS4 and PC later this year. –Matt Bertz