Song of Horror is one of the best indie horror games out there. Taking the key aspects of genre classics like Silent Hill and Resident Evil, and combining these with an encyclopaedic knowledge of the genre in other media, Song of Horror really gets under your skin and, just like The Presence, will haunt the dark corners of your mind. But don't worry, that noise was just the wind. Or was it…
Röki is a brilliant and emotional adventure that will appeal to all lovers of adventure games and well-told stories in general. The mature themes are handled in such a wonderfully appropriate way that it would make a perfect family game, and I loved the time I spent with Tove. Rather than a flatpack indentikit product, this is a game that has all the hallmarks of true artisanal craft and skill.
Pixel Ripped 1995 is a VR love letter to an integral part of gaming history, building on the strengths of the original as it once again blends authentic retro games with an innovative VR world. If you remember the golden days of home gaming and the thrill of waking up at Christmas to see a console shaped box under the tree, then this is the game for you to relive. If not, then there's still plenty here to enjoy without the nostalgia.
Skelattack is a fantastic platformer with a real sense of character and gorgeous aesthetics. Blending cutesy graphics with challenging platforming and some strategic boss fights, it manages to really stand out and deserves to do well. Here's hoping for more adventures with Skully and Imber in future.
Summer in Mara is a lovely experience with an abundance of charm and a welcome engagement with environmental and emotional subjects. It makes for a perfect introduction to the genre for younger gamers, and a great relaxing escape from the real world for more mature sorts. It doesn't have the depth of last year's My Time at Portia but is both more accessible and has more developed characters. While there may be little prospect of a summer trip to sunny islands in reality, you could do a lot worse than take a holiday with Koa and explore the wonders of Mara.
Project Warlock is a Doom-like that packs a punch. The levels are full of secrets, the enemies have a great range of behaviours, and the weapons – boy, the weapons – are a joy to use. Add all of that to the 60 levels to learn and explore and the challenges provided by the higher difficulty levels and you have a winning formula. Even if the pixel graphics aren't your usual cup of tea, Project Warlock is more than worth your time. This is a journey to Hell that is well worth the ride.
Mutazione is a great example of how games can immerse you in a world in a manner that no other medium can achieve. Whilst it doesn't push any envelopes, it is easy to recommend to anybody who is interested in games that can get an emotional response. Don't let the description soap opera put you off; this is a movingly, melancholic and meditative experience.
Moons of Madness is a welcome addition to the wider Lovecraftian catalogue, and its cosmic aspects really get to the heart of the mythos' insanity. While there are annoying moments when the developers see fit to include some of the worst excesses of modern horror games, the quality of the writing and the atmosphere is enough to justify seeing things through to a conclusion that is as epic as it is satisfying. This is one trip to insanity that you shouldn't pass up.
Simulacra 2 is a worthy sequel and an immersive take on the role that our digital presence has in defining who we are. The different playable characters help to give a different perspectives to the sotyr and the suspects are sufficiently flawed to keep you guessing as to where blame may lie, but the wider cast of characters don't feel as focussed as the original. While the virus in question here is completely digital, it's uncannily topical given our enforced switch to virtual interactions.