Merry Christmas to those who celebrate and happy holidays to those that don’t! I wish you all a happy new year, full of success and joy.
Looking back, 2023 was one of the best years ever for games and it seems that the bangers aren’t stopping anytime soon!
2024 will of course yield big time hitters such as Tekken 8, Rise of the Rōnin and Star Wars Outlaws but I want to really shine a light on the smaller teams focused on telling amazing stories through their games. Read on to find out which ones piqued my interest the most!
1. Crow Country
(Developed & Published by SFB Games)
Release Date: 2024
Platforms: PS5 & PC
I managed to get my hands on the demo late last year and on paper, this game is the complete opposite to my tastes. The game looks like it should be on the PS1, the aim-and-shoot mechanic is nothing like your modern day shooter and it’s horrifying (I hate horror games).
But this game has a certain je ne sais quoi about it. As I played through the demo and explored more areas, I was piecing together the story and was fully focused on solving the mystery of the Crow Country theme park.
Where this game shines is in its layered problem solving structure. Having to go back-and-forth to find passwords and secrets had me returning to the same rooms multiple times and playing the demo for a lot longer than I thought I would!
I was getting frustrated with one specific puzzle where I knew what the answer was but couldn’t solve it. The answer was a specific year but until Akira suggested I enter the year backwards, I couldn’t really progress.
If you like mystery, horror and games like Resident Evil, you will definitely get that retro horror itch scratched by Crow Country. And the game has an ‘Exploration Mode’ if you want to play the game at your own leisure without the threat of death.
I’m not sure when exactly but it’s a safe bet to expect this game to be out in 2024, hopefully in the first half.
You can wishlist Crow Country here: https://store.steampowered.com/app/1996010/Crow_Country/
Or play the PS5 demo here: https://store.playstation.com/en-gb/product/EP6092-PPSA19319_00-0733206963627086
2. Trash Goblin
(Developed & Published by Spilt Milk Studios)
Release Date: 2024
Trash Goblin is the cosy wholesome experience I’ve been waiting for!
This is a great game to learn about the values of quality, trading and time management. I played this demo at EGX and even though this isn’t my usual cup of coffee, I really enjoyed my time playing this and can’t wait to play the full game.
You take control of a goblin shopkeeper and you have to uncover and clean various valuable items in order to sell them to eccentric customers who make all sorts of requests!
There was a really satisfying feeling when I found the specific item a customer was looking for and was able to sell it to them! It felt like levelling up and I was always on the lookout for the next big item.
One of the features of the game I really appreciated was the day/night mechanic. It basically exists as an anti-crunch statement and teaches you that while there is plenty of time to play and work, there is just as much time to rest and rest is important.
I think this is a game I could play with my kids (if I had any) without any fear of over-the-top violence or coarse language.
Plus, this game is being developed by our very good friends over at Spilt Milk Studios! They supported us for a long time and have even featured in our Indie Game documentary episode, which you can watch here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8fZTef4MXEE&t=1s&ab_channel=Streamcast.
Make sure to follow Spilt Milk Studios and wishlist Trash Goblin on Steam: https://store.steampowered.com/app/2407830/Trash_Goblin/
And back the game on Kickstarter while you still can: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/spiltmilkstudios/trash-goblin
3. Tales of Kenzera: ZAU
(Developed by Surgent Studios, Published by EA)
Release Date: 23/04/2024
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, Xbox Series S/X, PC & PS5
This was my personal highlight from The Game Awards! Watching Abubakar just give himself to the audience in attendance and those watching via various livestreams was simply inspiring.
Sometimes you don’t realise how much you need something until you get it, right? And that’s what Abubakar’s powerful speech made me realise. This is the representation that I’ve sought for as long as Streamcast has existed. Abubakar is a first generation Brit from Kenya who grew up in the ‘90s when he enjoyed playing a number of games including Kingdom Hearts.
Abubakar shared his passion with his dad, who sadly is no longer with us but Abubakar has done quite possibly the coolest thing ever (yes, even more cool than working on Assassin’s Creed and Black Mirror) - he’s made a game to honour his father. That alone is enough to make me want this game but this game is also a colourful and spiritual side-scroller.
Tales of Kenzera reminds me of Kena: Bridge of Spirits as well as Black Panther, whilst also managing to look a LOT like another big time side-scroller set for release in early 2024, Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown. Kena was a fantastic game and I’m sure Prince of Persia will be too but I can’t wait to uncover more about the ethereal world of Kenzera and play around with the pinpoint accuracy of the game’s hazards.
Also, I’m extremely happy we are getting games focused on other mythologies than just Roman and Greek. Diversity is the spice of life, after all.
We don’t have long to wait for the Tales to be available to everyone but you can pre-order the game now so you can celebrate St. George’s Day the best way possible!
4. South of Midnight
(Developed by Compulsion Games, Published by Xbox Game Studios)
Release Date: TBA
Platforms: Xbox Series S/X & PC
Speaking of ethereal games based on non-Greco-Roman religion, this game is pretty much at the top of my wishlist!
Set in the Deep South, Hazel looks to weave together the secrets of her family while battling creepy and dangerous creatures in a third-person action-adventure.
Little is known about the game based on Southern folklore but in the reveal trailer, Shakin’ Bones can be seen (and heard) playing “Death Don’t Have No Mercy” - I sincerely hope this is just a taste of the rich history this game will tap into, in relation to both the story and music.
This one is a cheeky, selfish entry on my part as there has been no update from the same team behind We Happy Few but this is the first time I’ve ever wanted to play an Xbox game so I might just pick up a Series S so I can play this bad boy on Game Pass whenever it comes out.
Find out more about the South of Midnight here: https://compulsiongames.com/games/south-of-midnight/
5. Lost Records: Bloom & Rage
(Developed & Published by DON’T NOD)
Release Date: Late 2024
Platforms: PC, Xbox Series S/X & PS5
Life is strange. That’s all I could think when I saw this game premiering at The 2023 Game Awards. It was incredibly enjoyable watching Troy play through Life is Strange: True Colors on our YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLqv3bcVi5jNTznWR_zNTEIVCJvphhuzWx) and if this game is going to continue that great narrative work, I’m all in!
Similar to South of Midnight, not a lot of information is known about this game but in the summer of 1995, four high school girls shared a lot of quality time… and then didn't talk to each other for nearly 30 years. What happened? What did they do? Or should I be asking, what did they experience? All seems set to come to light whenever this game gets released.
‘Lost Records’ makes me think that music will play a central role in this game, evidenced by the Freaky Friday-esque rock music playing in the trailer. ‘Bloom and Rage’ implies relationships will be formed, broken or even mended over the course of the game.
I can’t wait to find out just what happened in 1995 and why the events of that summer are still sending ripples 27 years later. We don’t have a release date but fingers crossed we get to experience the emotional rollercoaster before 2025.
Find out more here: https://dont-nod.com/en/games/lost-records-bloom-and-rage/
And there you go! A brief insight into five indie games I am excited to play at some point this year.
Which indie games are you most looking forward to playing in 2024? Let me know!