Captain Orion’s bestest video games picks of 2020!

BESTEST

VIDEO GAMES

OF 2020!

2020 was a great year, for video games releases!

A lot of great games were released for this year. Many of them, I wish I got around to or had the consoles including Ghosts of Tsushima, Microsoft Flight Simulator, Doom: Eternal, Ori and the Will of the Wisps, and more. We deserved fresh entertainment for this ongoing global pandemic crisis with the quarantines and social distancing shadowing much of 2020. Meanwhile, the interactive industry thrived with consistent sales, new consoles selling out, and plenty of new content for every player of all types.

Many of these fresh screen games set out to be enjoyed alone and/or socially online. We have more advanced gaming technology and means for online downloading, connecting, streaming, social discussing, cheering, and complaining. They all provide great distractions from the current time stresses as we may build upon new and renewed friendships with our shared love of gaming. Or, just pass the time and our best modern remedy for boredom with some single player escapism!

But for me, I’m a little bit of both types. I enjoy gaming alone, and with friends. Such depends on my mood and state of mind. Though, I steered more toward budgeting with big sales in games and freebies. There was plenty out there for those with the thinnest of wallets. I meanwhile, stayed mostly on my PC and Xbox One, no new consoles for me yet. I do want a Nintendo Switch, with time to play the many past games I missed for it.

Anyway, here are the games I personally present as the most important game awards to for 2020!

BEST NEW GAME OF 2020

HADES

Developer and published by Supergiant Games
System: PC, Nintendo Switch

This is the BEST game of 2020, for many reasons that go back decades in what I ask for in a a best-tier video game. Make it challenging, story-deep, visually awesome, sensible controls, gratifying, constant surprises, great music, unique style, and heart. Hades has all of this and more, with aspects reminiscent of other personal favorites – Disgaea, Diablo, Dark Souls, Smash TV. But with Hades, the more you die, the more the game is revealed with more story and gameplay elements. There is so much more I would like to say, but just go play it if you’re into something that feels both old-school but also super modern in its approach and complexity.

BEST COOPERATIVE?! GAME OF 2020

AMONG US

Developed and published by Innersloth
System: PC, Mobile, Nintendo Switch

A surprise that was released in 2018, but earned a huge boost in popularity thanks to its fans, developers, its very affordable price, online streams, and all around fun this game holds; all perfect for this time of mass quarantines and social distancing. Among Us is that connects us, as each game has its own story creating tension on just who Among Us is sus.

BEST KICKASS GAME OF 2020

STREETS OF RAGE 4

Developer: Dotemu, Guard Crush, Lizardcube  Published by Dotemu
System: All the current consoles and PC

HELL YES!!!! I freakin love the old Streets of Rage games for the Sega Genesis (and later mods, fan-made remakes). Streets of Rage 4 is THE damn great, official successor to all of that, including all that made the game great – action, complexity and variance to the button mashing, awesome musical tracks that your fists can dance to. The graphics are perfect with expressive visual style, vibrant colors, detailed backgrounds, and hella fun for co-op action too.

BEST PLAY AND CHILL GAME OF 2020

TOWNSCAPER

Developed and published by Oskar Stålberg
System: PC

It’s not really a game, but it should be someday. It’s hard to explain. Just watch the trailer, and from there, explore the crazy insane possibilities and let your imagination figure out the direction. The more you tinker and discover new aspects of the game, the more more awesome your wierd little world. I love the animation, sound effects, every little detail no matter how small; making Townscaper worth checking out.

BEST VISUAL NOVEL GAME OF 2020

QUANTUM SUICIDE

Developer and published by Cotton Candy Cyanide
System: PC

This particular Japanese anime style visual novel sets itself off apart with a very unique story, and choosy situations that center around mechanics that are very science fictiony, flirty. with deadly sub-games that take a bit more thinking than I would expect. I much enjoyed this all as I watched and chimed in for some very entertaining Twitch streams from a gamer friend that you should follow (twitch.tv/aechonex).

BEST PUZZLING PUZZLE GAME OF 2020

HELLTAKER

Developer and published by vanripper
System: PC

A fun puzzle-adventure with dating and cooking themes game? Helltaker is that and so much more. It’s very unique, with catchy beats, and a whole lot of fun. It’s also free!

BEST FINALLY GOT AROUND TO IT GAME OF 2020

FINAL FANTASY XV

Developed and published by Square Enix
System: All the current consoles and PC

Final Fantasy XV came out a little over 4 years ago and has been in constant development all the way until 2019 with tis final DLC. This open-world game is freakin massive, giving its players much homework into other media for a wider complete experience. I found the 19.99 price for the Royal Edition (main game plus mostly all the DLC) the best I can get for my single-player RPG Final Fantasy loving needs. I enjoyed this far more than expected, delve deep into worldbuilding, and will forever treasure what it brought in this tough pandemic time.

BEST DEMO GAME OF 2020

THE LIFE AND SUFFERING OF SIR BRANTE

Developer by Sever published by 101XP
System: PC for the demo

A surprise treat among I discovered among the PAX Online demos. It’s a visual novel that reads like a lifetime biography, but with choices that do indeed tell a story of about the life and suffering of (you can choose his name). It’s a series of very unfortunate events, where you do your best to make the best out of it, and find deeper meanings though it all. It’s different and worth checking out for visual novel fans, and something to watch out for when it’s fully released.

BEST GAME OF 2021, MAYBE..

CYBERPUNK 2077

Developer: Playstation, Xbox, and PC

The game I was most excited for its delayed release. And, I still am. But after seeing (and laughing) the glitches, problems, frustrations that seem to be a trend for these big, crazy games where play-testing continues with the player after its release…not playing or judging this until the final product is done with enough updates, patches, DLC, whatever it takes to experience as intended. Maybe it will be awesome as its hype. I will remain excited, and wait till the finished product.

That’s all the game awards for 2020 I got. If there was something else I should have played, please share in the comments below!

Persona game artist Shigenori Soejima, Art Works 2 book, releasing this Fall

Udon Entertainment recently announced a new release of famed artist Shigenori Soejima work with Shigenori Soejima & P-Studio Art Unit: Art Works 2.

Shigenori Soejima is best known for his directional artwork in the Persona series of role-playing video games, published by Atlus. He also worked on the Shin Megami Tensei series, CatherineStella Deus (a highly underrated classic), and more.

“This book contains a collection of art that spans around eight whole years, so it gives me a lot to reflect on,” says Soejima. “Whether you’re an old school fan or you recently got into this kind of thing, I’m really thankful that you’re joining me on this journey.”

Filled with amazing visuals from the Catherine and Persona 5 video games, Shigenori Soejima & P-Studio Art Unit: Art Works 2 also includes a bevy of new pieces for other installments in the Persona series and its many spin-offs. Topped off with exclusive, in-depth interviews with the artist himself and the creative team at P-Studio Art Unit.

Udon Entertainment will also bring the long out of print Shigenori Soejima: Art Works 1. This beautiful art book features Shigenori Soejima’s best work from the Persona 3 and Persona 4 games, as well as other projects such as Stella Deus and Momoiro Taisen Pairon. Shigenori Soejima: Art Works 1 also includes an exclusive interview with the artist himself!

Shigenori Soejima & P-Studio Art Unit: Art Works 2 and Shigenori Soejima: Art Works 1 will be released on October 29, 2019.  Both are not available for preorder now.

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E3 2019 Gaming Preview: Valfaris

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New publisher Big Sugar (formerly Digital Uppercut) brought a little extra heavy metal to the recent Electronic Entertainment Expo Show, with a new look at its stylish upcoming side-scroller, Valfaris.

The game looks freakin awesome. Here’s the latest trailer for it…

 

Set in a far corner of space, Valfaris is a heavy metal infused 2D action-platformer. Developed by Steel Mantis, a two-man dev team that previously worked together on Gothic gore fest and love-it-or-hate-it indie hit Slain: Back From Hell, Valfaris transports players to the eponymous space citadel where they must run-and-gun with extreme force to purge the evil that has corrupted it.

Valfaris is my take on some of the games I loved playing when growing up, such as Gryzor/Contra and Turrican,” explains Andrew Gilmour, the creative driving force behind Valfaris. “Relentless action, cool environments, insane bosses, crazy weapons… those aspects have a timeless quality – they kept me hooked then and are still every bit as appealing to me today. I want to capture that special formula of classic old-school fun with Valfaris.”

Story synopsis- After mysteriously vanishing from galactic charts, the fortress of Valfaris has suddenly reappeared in the orbit of a dying sun. Once a self-contained paradise, the grandiose citadel now plays host to an ever-growing darkness. Therion, a fearless and proud son of Valfaris, returns to his home to uncover the truth of its doomed fate and to challenge the arcane evil at its very heart.

Valfaris’s pixel art is hand-crafted by Andrew Gilmour with a soundtrack by extreme metaller and former Celtic Frost guitarist, Curt Victor Bryant.

Valfaris launches later this year on PC, PS4, Nintendo Switch, and Xbox One. For those who can’t wait, sign-up for an upcoming closed beta is available via the Valfaris offical site at valfarisgame.com, or download a demo from the Valfaris Steam page.

My favorite video games of 2018

Captain Spirit

2018 was a year of many small, yet very shiny gaming gems.

Which, I think is something the industry needs, for just being good games without a ton of DLC, loot boxes, virtual currency, adware, and other deceptive practices disguised within what would appear to be a good game. For me, such as a big turn off. I just want to play a good, challenging game with maybe a story or some visual element I can get deeply involved in.

Still, I did play some games in 2018, but also avoided the popular overly large-world games like the Red Dead Redemption 2, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, God of War. I hear those are good, but I didn’t time to get deeply involved. And, much of that involving additional currency to enhance the game, ended in a huge turn-off.  I also avoided the newer mobile games and multi-player out there for much of the above reason.

Meanwhile, I did have time for some especially great games that made its debut this year. So, here are my favorites for 2018, and the special awards I give them…

BEST ART DIRECTION IN GAME OF 2018

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GRIS

Developer: Nomada Studio    Published by Devolver Digital
System: Nintendo Switch, Microsoft Windows, Mac

I played this at PAX West and was instantly captivated. Not just with the gorgeous hand-drawn, animated visuals but with the fluid poetic gameplay. It feels like every moment is a work of art, backed an amazing soundtrack. Gris made its recent release debut, and I now find myself falling into its allure all over again.

BEST ROLE PLAYING GAME, and BEST SHOOT-EM-UP of 2018

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CROSSCODE

Developer: Radical Fish Games    Published by Deck13
System: Linux, Microsoft Windows, MAC

It’s a role-playing game, and a shooter, and a puzzler sometimes. It’s a beautiful game with old-era graphic done with heavy care and attention, and a fun story added in. While much of it feels like a throwback to the RPG games of the early 90s with anime influences and a large cast of characters, its approach of being a fast-paced shooter throughout gives the style a fresh approach.

BEST RETRO STYLE THROWBACK of 2018

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THE MESSENGER

Developer: Sabotage    Published by Devolver Digital
System: Nintendo Switch, Microsoft Windows

Here is a little throwback to the classic Ninja Gaiden run and slash games. The pixellated graphics remind me of the later NES games which really pushed what it could do back in the day, making it feel timeless, and lost for a time (tired of some “retro games” looking to retro). The Messenger brings that back with some classic gameplay and 8-bit music as well, but with the more solid challenge for aged game players.

BEST NARRATIVE GAME OF 2018

Captain Spirit

THE AWESOME ADVENTURES OF CAPTAIN SPIRIT

Developer: DONTNOD Entertainment    Published by Square Enix
System: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows

Cool little free game with no strings attached, set in the Life is Strange universe. You play the role of a young boy living out his superhero fantasy while dealing with real-life problems. Lots of decisions and some moral questions are raised. There is no need to familiarize oneself with the Life is Strange games, which is nice. I will get around to eventually.

BEST EXPLORATION GAME OF 2018

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SUBNAUTICA

Developed and published by Unknown Worlds Entertainment
System: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows, Macintosh

I played a little bit of this and fell in love with its gameplay, story, deep world that feels like an awesome dream, mixed with tense moments. The underwater feel, playful colors, and use of deep ocean physics has me coming back, looking for more and discovering interesting things at a pace I can control.

BEST REBOOT OF A CLASSIC HERO in 2018

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MEGA MAN 11

Developed and published by CAPCOM
System: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows

It’s the comeback we long-time Mega Man fans deserve. With fluid animations and modern designs without losing all the best parts about the classic games. I love the bosses, silly voice acting, the Double Gear gimmick. It’s awesome, the game is way too short in its final stages. Still, it did well and I hope this will be the standard for more Megaman games to follow.

BEST FIGHTING GAME OF 2018

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SUPER SMASH BROS. ULTIMATE

Developed and published by Nintendo
System: Nintendo Switch

Of course! It’s almost cheating with a roster and winning formula updated with the power of the Nintendo Switch.

THE OTHER BEST FIGHTING GAME OF 2018

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Lethal League Blaze

Developed and published by Team Reptile
System: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Microsoft Windows

Wow, what a crazy reinvention of the fighting game genre, where much of it revolves around dodgeball like physics. Add some crazy music beats, wacky character designs, and wickedly fast, unexpected gameplay and this is a game that will gain more notice and respect in time.

BEST RESTORATION OF A CLASSIC GAME

Zone of the Enders 2nd Runner: M∀RS

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ZONE OF THE ENDERS, THE 2nd RUNNER: M∀RS

Developer: Cygames   Published by: Konami
System: Playstation 4, Microsoft Windows

A beautiful re-render of Hideo Kojima’s awesome PS2 game that doesn’t have Metal Gear in the title, and far more polished than the HD Ps3 version, and also formatted for virtual reality. The story, characters, mech-designs, physics is full of originality and brings out a special uniqueness for those looking for more than great gameplay. The original I feel still isn’t appreciated enough, and now it’s built better for a new generation to enjoy, while fans can enjoy it further.

That’s all the freshness for 2018 from me. If there was something else I should have played, please share in the comments below!

E3 2018: Indivisible, a new animated gaming adventure revealed

 

Another overlooked gem from this year’s E3 Expo is Indivisible, a fully animated game with a hybrid of platforming and turned based classic RPG elements.

This new adventure is developed by Lab Zero (the creative team behind Skullgirls) and published by 505 Games.

Indivisible stars Ajna (AHZH-na), a girl who sets out on a globe-spanning journey to discover the truth behind her mysterious powers. On her quest she’ll be joined by a variety of unique heroes and gain new abilities to traverse the environments and defeat the enemies they’ll encounter along the way.

In addition to a fresh spin on RPG gameplay, Indivisible features a deep storyline inspired by southeast Asian and other world mythologies, Lab Zero’s trademark feature-quality 2D hand-drawn animation,

For the soundtrack, Lab Zero brought aboard Secret of Mana composer Hiroki Kikuta. The game will also have an animated opening by popular anime studio TRIGGER.

Indivisible is planned for release in 2019 for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and Steam for Windows / Mac / Linux. For more info, check out the official site at www.indivisiblegame.com.

E3 2018: SABLE, a new indie game with Moebius inspired animation

Through this year’s E3 show event, an announcement trailer for a new game Sable stands out for something different and exciting for gaming fans.

The trailer gives a style must be stylized after the classic artwork and storytelling of Jean Henri Gaston Giraud, more known through his pseudonym Moebius. As for the story itself, it follows through its description from Shedworks, the developers behind the new game:

Sable is a coming-of-age tale of discovery through exploration across a strikingly rendered open world desert. Go on a deeply personal journey across an alien planet while learning its history and discovering Sable’s place in the world.

This is Sable. Created by Gregorios Kythreotis and Daniel Fineberg from a studio they’ve founded called Shedworks. Original soundtrack (including the song for the trailer) composed by experimental pop artist Michelle Zauner of Japanese Breakfast. Narrative crafted by the talented Meg Jayanth. Sound design from Independent Games Festival award-winning audio designer Martin Kvale. Animation by brilliant newcomer Micah Holland.

Sable is planned for release on the PC and consoles in 2019. For more info, visit sablegame.com

Final Fantasy Cosplay outside the 2018 Sakura-Con

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continued from the recent Outside 2018 Sakura-Con post.

This time, focusing attention on two huge Final Fantasy games franchise meetup for its fandom and cosplayers. All happening outside the recent 2018 Sakura-Con in the afternoon among the freshly bloomed cherry trees and other fandoms. I thoroughly enjoyed the Final Fantasy games since the early 90s, playing them and collected choice merch. Many characters and styles have held a special place in my heart, ever memorable to their place in grand, interactive stories. Seeing them brought to life in cosplay with the amazing fan representation fills me with much joy.

That being said, here is a collection of pics from the Final Fantasy XV and Final Fantasy all-games cosplay meetups…

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Udon brings video game fantasy to manga shelves with ‘Dragon’s Crown’

Udon Entertainment recently announced its upcoming new video game based manga, Dragon’s Crown; with an invitation for new readers to “join an epic journey through catacombs, castles, and labyrinths.”

An adventure is now set for “The Fighter, the Sorceress, the Elf, the Wizard, the Amazon, and the Dwarf! These six heroes have come together to a quest for riches, for glory, and for the honor of the kingdom of Hydeland! (Though really, it’s mostly for the riches…)!”

Dragon’s Crown is adapted and drawn by artist Yuztan (Valkyrie Drive: Mermaid), the Dragon’s Crown manga captures all the hard-hitting action, sexiness and silliness of the beat-em-up RPG. Created by George Kamitani and Vanillaware, the game is known for its gorgeous artwork and designs, and the manga certainly lives up to that visual legacy.

Dragon’s Crown: Volume 1 arrives in stores everywhere October 2017. A second and final volume of the series will follow in 2018.

PAX West 2017 Part 2, Outside the Expo Hall

Last week, I attended the PAX West 2017, an awesome event of video and tabletop games. I wrote some words about it in a recent Part 1 post, where I shared my pics and observations on the main Expo Hall.

Now, I share the rest, which I found much more exciting and expansive. Below are more pictures and notes of select moments of this fun show. Take a look!

I spent much time on the sixth floor checking out the PAX 10, a select group of indie games hosted by their creators. Among them, West of Loathing caught my eye for its interesting, fun choice of style.

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Also among the PAX 10, I enjoyed Tiny Bubbles, a puzzle game that feels therapeutic and comforting. I like to see bubbles pop.

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An interesting side thing happening among the indie games out there – cartridge games developed by gaming fans for old console systems. Retrotainment Games showed some interesting new game cartridges, playable for the NES.

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This PAX West, I also attended many panels. This panel, was about the Youtube gameplay streaming scene, hosted by the Gaming Grandma, Shirley Curry.

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Another panel, this on overlooked job opportunities among game company developers. This chart gives a good look at what’s out there for those interested…

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The Nintendo Metroid Panel focused on Samu’s return to the 2-D platform for the 3DS. Much was shown, but the highlight for me is this fan-art by James Franzen (@goshadale)…

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In light of Metroid, here is some amazing Samus cosplay…

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Another panel on game writing. Lots so helpful advice on creating fiction in the world of gaming.

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A personal favorite of PAX in the past years; the Late Night Dub Fight..where a group of comedics improv and dub various (and some very familiar) cartoons and live-action video clips.

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Also around PAX West, many board games. Sometimes, just seeing one with a lot of setup is a beautiful thing to photograph. I didn’t get the name of this, but I really want to play it

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In the basement area kind of hidden, was the Indie Megabooth for tabletop gaming. Some very fresh, and just getting the word out on their games. Here is Sarah’s Singularity, a game of time travel and alternate timelines.

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Also much enjoyed in the same room, Cult Following. A game involving cults, with a lot of goofy aspects to it.

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Someone Had Died, a game that caught my interest most so. It’s a game of winning an inheritance, by building upon a story following someone’s sudden demise.

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Another new game of interest: Now Everyone get the F%$# Out,  a game of drunken party antics. The game creator (I didn’t get his name, argh) gave me a spirited introduction.

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Back to the main floor, and more cosplay. Here is some lovely Final Fantasy XIV presentation.

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League of Legends cosplay!

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Squids from Space Cosplay

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Not sure on this group. I like the costumes.

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Fire Emblem cosplay.

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The final morning of the grand PAX West adventure, greeted by some of the ever-awesome PAX Enforcers (paid volunteers of the show).

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One thing I loved about this convention vs. other shows, is the line entertainment brought on by some of the PAX Enforcers. Some had goofy games to share, others played music. Overall, a great dedication from the managment to try and make more minutes of the show count.

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One of the big PAX West live events, a role-playing session with Jim Darkmagic (Mike Krahulik), Omin Dran (Jerry Holkins), Viari (Patrick Rothfuss), and special guest star, Strix (Holly Conrad)

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One of the many music concerts, tributing game music and culture. Here jamed the Bit Brigade, remixing the old NES Batman while it played on in the background.

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The last event attended for me, was the Omegathon: Final Round. This being a competition of a surprise game chosen (Nidhogg 2) for the 2 final players. The match was quite exciting (but was interupted with some technical difficulties).

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That’s all for now. I very much enjoyed this PAX West, with so much done and new friends made, games discovered, and many cheers put out. I look forward to the next year!

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Path to Mnemosyne, a new experimental indie game in making, trailer revealed

Indie game developer DevilishGames recently unveiled a trailer for its upcoming game, Path to Mnemosyne. It looks interesting…

A recent news release gives a little more:

“After the launch of King Lucas in late 2016, at DevilishGames we opened a phase of ideation and technical and artistic experimentation in search of our next independent project. The premise during the pre-production phase was to seek artistic, narrative and playable innovation to try to achieve a unique experience for the user.”

So far, Path to Mnemosyne is in full development phase in its version for Steam via the PC. The game is planned for the light in the first half of 2018.