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Most of my recommendations are found on steam, the great unforgiving beast that holds all our wallets hostage with their constant sales, but there are other websites that champion the indie game community and one of them is Itchio.

It is not often I find something brilliant on Itchio, but thunder strikes at some point and it did yesterday with The Hour of the Rat, both wonderfully cinematic and minimalist at the same time. The lightning animations and falling cherry blossoms play the familiar strings in me whenever I watch an old samurai flick.

Following from that I have 3 Early Access games that I think are worth mentioning. Heroine Anthem Zero: Scars of Memories is the second installment in a series that plays like an anime, not just the beautifully drawn and rendered scene cuts but the ability to combine cultures and create something completely new to enjoy visually and narratively.
There is more anime loveliness today with another game called Eve of Souls, also in Early Access. It brings Horror, Suspension... and cuteness. Not too much cuteness, just 20%, which is all you need for a horror game I'm told.
The last Early Access recommendation from me today is Barotrauma. It has been swimming along on my list for a while now, the idea of commanding the crew to control the submarine may seem convoluted, but what you call convoluted I call satisfying my need to micromanage. You control everything on the submarine, not just the thrusters. Oh and there's Jules Verne like monsters in the depths of Europa, who knew?

Check them out below and tell me what you think. Any of these grab your attention like it did mine?

 

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The Hour of the Rat (https://twitter.com/sokpopco)
Genre: Action, Side Scroller, Retro
Price: $3 or more
Developer - Sokpop Collective
Publisher - Sokpop Collective
Release Date - 5th June 2019
Available on PC
Itchio Store

"THE EMPEROR MUST BE KILLED... 3 NINJAS ARE SEND OUT... THE TIME IS NOW... ASSASSINATE THE EMPEROR... DURING THE HOUR OF THE RAT."

The simplicity of design makes this very easy to just jump straight into the action and start having fun. As you can see above, it is quite fast paced and the minimalist art style does a great job at delivering an engrossing atmosphere, showing off cherry blossoms in the wind and the path of your sword slicing through the air, all making for a cinematic experience.

 

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EARLY ACCESS

Heroine Anthem Zero 2: Scars of Memories (https://twitter.com/HeroineAnthem)
Genre: Action, Adventure, RPG
Price: $9.67/£7.29 (12% off till June 12)
Developer - WindThunder Studio
Publisher - Skywalker HK
Release Date - 5th June 2019
Available on PC
Steam Store

Recommended by the developers is to play Episode 1 before this one. It can be found here: Heroine Anthem Zero Episode 1

With a faded promise to fulfill, Shama came to Uzato to find the owner of a lost amulet. The story begins with Shama waking up from a dream, and start this mysterious journey with her companion. 

Inspired from a mix of Siberian culture, Mermaid Folktales, and Taiwanese tribal legends. That is quite an impressive range that all meld beautifully as you can see in the Art and Story design. A love it or hate it aspect for the game would be how closely it resembles anime tendencies to overblow everything. Something that I love about it, along with the many animated scene cuts that have been lovingly created.

How is the full version planned to differ from the Early Access version?

“The completed version will have optimized storyline, a variety of in-game items, and more monsters. Feedback from early access players will be included in the game optimization.”

 

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EARLY ACCESS

Barotrauma  (https://barotraumagame.com/)
Genre: Action, Simulation, Strategy, Co-op
Price: $25.49/£18.26 (15% off till June 12)
Developer - Fake Fish, Undertow Games
Publisher - Daedalic Entertainment
Release Date - 5th June 2019
Available on PC
Steam Store

Overcome crisis and the unrelenting pressure of a frozen ocean. In the not too distant future, where habitable places have become scarce, humanity has arrived on Jupiter’s moon. Europa with its frozen surface is a hostile environment, and life can only be found in the dark ocean beneath the ice – and the small pockets of human habitation are not the only form of life to be found there.

Watching the trailer I get strong vibes of Captain Nemo swimming in his submarine and getting attacked by giant underwater creatures. The games' mechanics can be hard to adjust to at first, as you control the submarine from the inside, everything from weapons to sonar to the engines themselves need to be operated by crew members that you direct. When you can spot an enemy, swiftly swim towards it and man the guns without panicking, you know you've made it and the feeling is great.
For the moment, the game is in early access, so the narrative isn't all there yet. According to the description on what's to come in the full release, there will be more content in the campaign but for the moment there seems to be a big push for multiplayer battles, which many have said is fun, but not for me... I am far more interested in what can be achieved in the campaign and how far they will take that.

How is the full version planned to differ from the Early Access version?

“The full version of Barotrauma will feature a much-improved campaign along with one of our most anticipated features: Physically playable outposts and other campaign locations, allowing us to create a seamless and deep world for both single player and coop games. The full version will also feature a lot more content as well, which means additional creatures, locations, stock submarines, and missions.”

 

 

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EARLY ACCESS

Eve of Souls: Static Pod 
Genre: Adventure, RPG, Horror
Price: $1.19/£1.01 (40% off till June 11)
Developer - LighTea Fish Studio
Publisher - SakuraGame
Release Date - 5th June 2019
Available on PC
Steam Store

Eve of Souls: Static Pod is a pixel game which is made of 10% of horror element, 30% of adventure, 20% cuteness, 20% suspension, and 20% of the hard-core challenge. 
[The pod will break soon. Will she survive the nightmare or find the truth?

I don't normally go for games made in RPG-Maker, a lot of them feel too alike, but occasionally you come across one that stands out and makes you stop. I like horror games and this one promises to deliver without cheap scares, instead it relies on a tense story to creep you out. I won't be able to say too much about this game until an English translation is ready, but some of the mechanics mentioned give this a fresh feel and I look forward to enjoying it when it's ready.

How is the full version planned to differ from the Early Access version?

“We plan to make all chapters available in the complete version and to ensure gamers' experience. We also plan to fully optimize the game to let new gamers instantly play it without any obstructions we also plan to add collectibles and achievements”

 

Stay tuned for more New Releases and Early Access picks tomorrow.



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