By: Maxwell McGee
Greetings, traveler. Why not stay awhile and listen? I am the magical soothsayer, and I shall reveal unto you a bounty of upcoming, lesser-known hits to put on your gaming radar. Clear your mind and let these magical predictions wash over you. From purple goats to keyboard-wielding cowboys to underground technological labyrinths, there is so much gaming goodness to enjoy in 2014, if you only know where to look.
Crypt of the Necrodancer
Crypt of the Necrodancer is the only game in this feature that can be played with a Dance Dance Revolution dance pad. That fact alone should be reason enough for you to check out this rhythm-based roguelike. If you still need convincing, consider the game’s beat detection algorithm, which transforms your music into a dungeon that can be explored in the game. But be careful: you have to keep up with the beat of the music, so maybe stay away from the DragonForce.
Escape Goat 2
Escape Goat was a game of puzzles, platforming, and magical barnyard animals–specifically, a magical purple goat and a mouse wearing a wizard’s hat. Now it’s finally getting a sequel, complete with a redesigned art style, new traps, new puzzles, and, of course, plenty of magic. And while it may not be available the day Escape Goat 2 comes out, a level editor is also in the works so you can design your own mind-bending challenges.
Hyper Light Drifter
A game that captured the imaginations of thousands on Kickstarter (and smashed its goal by a significant margin), Hyper Light Drifter is a 2D action role-playing game that juxtaposes its colorful world with a somber, haunting tone that underscores the game’s deeper mysteries. As a drifter–a collector of lost knowledge and technology–you will hack and slash your way through the forgotten corners of the world in search of treasures unknown.
Robin is a badass mechanic who smashes foes with her trusty wrench. The Iconoclasts is a badass action platformer with a wonderfully vibrant world ripe for smashing. The two were made for each other, and with a bit of luck, they might just smash their way onto our computers this year. This game has been a long time coming, but if it meets the high standard of quality set by developer Konjak’s other games–such as the lovely Noitu Love 2: Devolution–it’ll be well worth the wait.
Jazzpunk. How do you describe Jazzpunk? It’s a game about life and adventure, specifically a first-person adventure through an extreme alternate-universe version of the late 20th century. Sporting an offbeat style and a sense of humor all its own, Jazzpunk tasks you with committing corporate espionage, exploring its absurdist Cold War-era world, and using a wide assortment of tools to generally harass the unsuspecting public.
Everyone knows the world of fencing is filled with danger, adventure, and, most of all, dueling. Therefore, it’s apt that Nidhogg is a game of dangerous dueling adventures played out across a 2D plane. The premise is simple: two duelists enter, and through a combination of swordfighting, fisticuffs, and acrobatics, only one will leave alive. That reprieve is only temporary, however, because the game’s lightning-fast pace ensures another challenger is right around the corner.
Quadrilateral Cowboy is looking to be a truly fascinating cowboy simulator. Only instead of a cowboy, you’re more of a computer hacker. And instead of a gun, you have a laptop. And instead of a horse, you ride a motorcycle. You know what? Let’s not sweat the details! This game is one of corporate intrigue and computer hacking in a bygone era of tape decks and CRT monitors. Armed with your newfangled hacking device, you’ll breach and bypass through the finest security systems of the last century.
Radio the Universe
Radio the Universe mixes classic Zelda-style action and dark science fiction into a distinctly haunting blend that is hard to forget. Armed with a variety of tools, including a shield, a short-range teleport, and various weapons, you will guide an unnamed heroine through a trap-filled labyrinth crawling with mechanized foes. Be mindful, however, because as the game’s Kickstarter pages notes, “Players who die in-game, die in real life.”
Slug cats. That’s one way to describe these oddly animated creatures who inhabit the somber dystopia of Rain World. Snake otters or worm ferrets would have also been acceptable. As one of these creatures, you will navigate mazelike environments while hunting lesser creatures and not becoming dinner for the lizardlike predators who dominate this ecosystem. Test your survival skills solo or with other slug cats cooperatively.
Routine charges you with investigating the disappearance of everyone on a lunar research station. And just as you would expect, these people didn’t go missing due to completely mundane reasons. The tension of your search is underscored by a throwback to the bleeps and bloops of clunky 1980s technology. I mean, if BioShock Infinite’s Columbia can have turn-of-the-century, steam-powered gizmos in the sky, there’s no reason we can’t have a floppy disk on the moon. Right?