Okay, with the Steam Winter Sale in progress, I figured it's a perfect time to do this. I've kinda been meaning to do this for some time, but am lazy, so I didn't. But now is the time to do this.
None of these games I'll be listing and talking about in here are AAA games or other "major" titles. Part of the point of this is showing games that you might not have heard of... the "major" games out there speak for themselves, and don't need me pointing them out.
Nearly all of these games are found on Steam. There is one exception, but it'll be coming to Steam later.
I'm going to list each one and provide a bit of info on it. These games can be fully released, or in Early Access... as a rule, I tend not to care all that much. If a game is good, then it's good... simple as that. I am however not going to list something that's REALLY unfinished. Anything I list here will either be finished, or so far along that it'd be indistinguishable for many players.
I'm too lazy to do screenshots. Look the blasted things up. No particular order for these, either... I'm just going to list at random. And LOTS of these games are going to be using procedural generation, since that's a thing I tend to really like in games in general (tons of replay value). If you don't like that, well... what in the heck are you even doing here? This is Arcen. Everything is procedural here. Well, almost everything.
Also, please feel free to leave your own recommendations for games here. The whole point of this topic, after all, is to point out games that others on this forum may not know about. What with Steam being a hideous, bloated mess currently (which is a fact that I haaaaaaaaaate, it's SO easy to miss awesome stuff right now).
Let's get started here:
Actually, rather than me rambling about this directly, I'll link you to this: https://pcgamesnnews.wordpress.com/2016/11/15/review-xenoraid/
Which is a detailed review I wrote up for the game. Yes, I do reviews/previews now, it's a recent thing for me. This particular game is kinda quirky... in my case, I'm extremely picky about shmups in a general sense. I enjoyed it, but found it to be flawed in some areas. However, for those that aren't seriously obsessive about tiny specific bits in this genre, this might be excellent, which is exactly why I'm listing it here. It is a very polished game by the same people who made Neon Chrome. Quality is pretty darned high, and it's never unfair or broken. I'd love to see some DLC for this, really.
Okay, if you know me on Steam at all, you might have noticed that I never shut up about this game. Of all of the different games I've bought over the course of this year, this might be my favorite, period. This is a roguelike/roguelite/walrus/whatever, I hate all these bloody terms. Let's go with "action roguelike". As in, real-time. This doesn't play whatsoever like Isaac though, unlike much of that genre. This game actually adheres to a lot of traditional ideas used by the "core" roguelikes, while putting it's own twist on a lot of things. For example, you do have unidentified items in this game. A mechanic I normally LOATHE. But unlike in freaking Nethack, it's actually done WELL here. I cant even tell you how bloody rare that is. It's done in such a way that it's not frustrating, and you can approach it in a logical fashion WITHOUT those moments that games like Nethack is where you die almost immediately because you HAVE to trial-and-error at least a couple of things and one of them killed you. That never, ever has to happen here. Aside from having numerous different ways of identifying things (or half-identifying, which means that it wont tell you exactly what it is, but will tell you if it's positive or negative), your character will also sometimes randomly identify something automatically when you pick it up. I can think of one, and ONLY one other game that does this, which is another one of my favorite games of all time, and it used this very mechanic extremely well. The most noticeable thing about this game though is the dungeon itself. It uses "cyclic generation", which I'm not going to pretend to fully understand and wont try to explain, instead of traditional level-gen methods. What this leads to is what is probably the best level generation I've ever seen; as I've put it elsewhere, these levels feel hand-crafted rather than procedural. This aspect of the game is *fantastic*. And going along with that is what the game does with the concept of "locks and keys". In traditional games, locks and keys are exactly that... a locked door, to which there is a key somewhere. In this though, that's not the case, as it takes that idea and abstracts the hell out of it. A "lock" might be a room full of death turrets... the "key" might be a potion of invisibility found elsewhere, allowing you to pass through that room without being vaporized. Or perhaps you are on a floor, looking for the exit down... and find it to be totally walled off. A bug? No... you notice suddenly that the game has been handing you ropes, an item that lets you climb down into pits to skip down a level. And maybe you do that, and then happen to find the stairs going back UP, entering that closed off section to find a magic whatsit inside as a reward for finding a way in there. It does this a lot, and I've never once hit a situation where I get stuck because I already used some important item. I have no bloody clue how the game manages to prevent that from ever happening. It's very well thought out. Though, really, everything about it is... this is an extremely polished game. Another thing to note is the combat. This is NOT like other action roguelikes where you run into a room and kill 80 robots by firing deathrays in all directions. Combat in this is a lot more careful and calculated (which fits the "traditional" sense of the game), with you having to be very aware of your timing, and the options available to you (as in old roguelikes, you are expected to be using things in your inventory to assist you, not just stabbing everything). Unlike other games of this type, you can pause the action at any time to access your inventory, switch equipment, assess the situation, or whatever. This is not a game that's going to obsess over twitch mechanics. That being said, you still have to try to NOT get hit by enemy attacks. This isn't the sort of action game where enemies can still "miss" you even when their attack clearly hits your character in the face. There's tons of content here. I have no idea how much. I've been playing this for about 45 hours total right now and the game hasn't even run out of bosses yet (seriously, there's freaking legions of the things), let alone anything else. This is a game with fairly long runs, and a heavy emphasis on exploring. It is pretty difficult and there are a million different ways to die. And loads of mechanics that I wont even go into here, because it'd take ages. This game is in Early Access, but it's one of those where they could just stop and sell it right now if they wanted to, because it's that far along. The developer is very friendly and interacts with the community a lot, so that's another good thing. My random complaints get listened to.
Okay, remember Mighty No. 9? Which was freaking awful? 20XX is the game that they were TRYING to make. Or that they SHOULD have made. It got right all the stuff that 9 got wrong, and it's made by TWO guys. It is also part roguelike (yes, this is a theme with me) with procedural levels, and loads of items/powerups to find to get a build going for your character. You'll never become invincible in this game though... this isn't that sort of thing. It *will* eat your face... even when you think you've powered up quite a bit. The game overall plays exactly like the old Megaman X series. It even gets the controls and feel exactly right, which is quite the feat. All of the abilities that X had, are things you can do in this game (like the slide-dash, or wall climbing). Like in those old games, there are 8 possible bosses to fight, each one giving you it's power upon defeat (all of these share the same energy meter instead of having separate ones). The powers are varied and more importantly, actually useful. Learning to use them properly is important. The bosses themselves are interesting. Their patterns and, well, everything about them increase the further along you are when you fight them. A boss that is not too bad when fought on stage 1 could be a freaking nightmare if fought on stage 8. There is no "optimal" route through the game, either; the first stage you go to is always chosen at random, and when a boss goes down, you then get a selection of three random others to go after. So you're going to have to make decisions based on the situation instead of just doing the same bloody route every freaking time. Enemies are challenging (and as with actual Megaman games, learning their patterns is super important), and there's ALOT of dangerous obstacles. Lots of traditional elements from the old games are here, including those vanishing platforms that are so infamous. Some powers can help you here though, as all powers have secondary effects. For example the fire-shield power completely cancels out ice spikes that are fired from traps in the ice zone; they vanish without even depleting the shield at all. Another power has the bizarre effect of locking vanishing platforms into place if you hit them with it. The levels are done in a similar way to certain Arcen games, in that they're made of small, pre-made "chunks" sewn together. It's all very well-made and the levels don't get old. One very important difference though is spikes: They're not instant death in this game like they were in the old games. Well... usually. The game has ALOT of different modes, one of which allows you to set all sorts of wonky modifiers (one of which causes instant death if you hit a hazard, because why not). This being the sort of game it is, there is perma-death. No continues here. Gotta GIT GUD, with this one. I play this one quite a bit, as it's pretty much perfect for me. And yes, there are multiple difficulty modes to pick from too. Highly recommended, but be aware that one way or another, this game gets pretty brutal. But considering that I'm the one making this list, would you really expect otherwise?
This is the one that isn't on Steam yet (it has it's own site, you can get it from there, and it'll appear on Steam later). It's also a turn-based roguelike. This is a game I actually found a LONG while ago, but I couldn't play it until recently because despite the huge amount of info there was for it, it was in a closed-alpha state. As of right now, the game is nearly complete. It is one of the most unique and also one of the most incredibly polished turn-based roguelikes I've ever seen, with an incredible UI (and isn't THAT a rarity). It has an ASCII mode, too, and frankly the game is gorgeous no matter what mode you're using. I'll not go into the actual story here, but this game is all about robots. You're a robot, the enemies are robots, everyone is a robot. More specifically, robots which tend to... fall apart. Your robot, and every other one, is made up of a lot of separate modules. Core, arms, legs/wheels/floaty thing and other stuff. Each of these takes damage separately and has different stats, and when a piece other than the core takes enough damage, it falls off. As you get wrecked, you'll lose parts, and the idea is that you'll keep constantly rebuilding yourself by snatching up the parts of defeated foes (or various things you find lying around by themselves). Combat tends to use a lot of ranged attacks, but you have a lot of options available to you. And "a lot of options" is a big theme for this game. This is an incredibly DETAILED game. Every tiny little aspect of the game has tons of detail and possibilities stuffed into it, and there are a great many advanced mechanics to work with. Fortunately, with the excellent UI and design, things are NOT hyper-cryptic, which is a rarity in games of this type. You don't need a college degree to play this, despite the depth and complexity of it. The game will not explain every freaking thing to you... no "tutorial for total idiots here", instead there's a tutorial for the basics, and then everything else in the game is designed to be learned naturally by the player. That old element of figuring things out on your own and experimenting, just... without some of the crazed nonsense that the core roguelikes tended to have. You know, those elements that make you go "How the hell could ANYONE figure out that bit is even there?!?". None of that here. Not that it'll be easy though. The difficulty of course is very high, and you'll die a lot. Of course. But the actual gameplay is quite approachable and you can learn at your own speed. Even if it's punching your ears off as you do so.
Not a spelling error, that's how it's actually spelled. I've played a lot of games in my time. Few are as purely, ridiculously WEIRD as this one is. It's one "WTF" moment after another. At it's core, this is a bit Isaac-ish, in that you've got a dungeon of many rooms to explore, items to find, and bosses to fight. The similarities end there though. This is not an overhead view game, but instead a side-view game. Your character flies, and much like in a shmup, you can only fire to the left or right. No vertical fire. This may sound restrictive, but the entire game is designed around this concept... it never becomes unfair due to this element. This also means that you can have much distance between yourself and the enemy when you fight them. The idea of the game is simple (and weird): The dungeon is a bit like that of Rogue Legacy, in that it's one monstrous area, but it's sectioned off into 5 separate zones, each marked off by a different color on your map. You can enter any of these at any time, but like in Legacy, that's not exactly the brightest idea. Your goal is to defeat the boss of each of the four zones, and then enter the core of the dungeon to face your actual target, before making your escape. While seeing loads of seriously strange things. The game has ALOT of special rooms in it, which break up the pacing nicely. The biggest dungeon type (you can choose a type before you start the game) consists of 110 rooms. Of those 110 rooms, about, oh, 51 of them are special rooms. That's a lot of special rooms, each one different than the last, each serving a unique purpose. They do a very good job of keeping things interesting, and keeping them from getting stale (like in, say, Gungeon, which has hardly any special rooms and thus can feel exceedingly repetitive). Also, the game is freaking gorgeous. And weird, did I mention that yet? The difficulty on this one isn't as high as it is on others in this list. It's a lot of fun though and like everything here, deserves more attention than it's getting. Also it's very strange.
I'm not going to go into huge detail on this one, as this has received it's own topic on the forums here before. But I'm listing it here as a reminder that it exists. It's gotten quite a few updates since it was last talked about on here though. As before, this really is an excellent game. Particularly if you like 6DoF sorts. You know, like Descent.
This is a squad-based, asymmetric RTS (one of the sorts where you can pause and issue orders) with a few tower defense/offense elements thrown in for the heck of it. The basic concept of the game is simple: It's you and your team VS a seemingly endless army of bugs of all sorts. In most missions, your goal is to destroy all of the enemy "hives", the base units that basically everything else spawns from. There's just one problem with this: As you destroy hives, the enemy mutates and gets crazier and more powerful (sound familiar?). There's TONS of creative mutations that the game can pick from, each of them dangerous. But you can also upgrade too. During each mission you have "BP" that you can spend. You start out with a certain amount of BP, and you earn more every time a Hive goes down. You can use this to place special structures that do things, or you can use this to upgrade your guys into different classes, each with their own unique abilities. What's interesting about this is the game's refund system. If you break down a placed structure, or undo one of your guys' class upgrades, you get the full amount of BP back that you spent. This means that you can switch things out as needed, even class changes. This may sound a bit OP on paper, but... no. The game will still beat you over the head with your own face. One thing about this game is that it is VERY well tuned. I'm actually a little stunned at just how good the balance is. There are TONS of different powers and structures on your side, and TONS of mutations on the other. Every single one of them is capable of countering specific others. Like, hard counters, that sort of thing. For example there's a type of bug that can appear that has a very hard shell; it's very slow, but your basic guns do next to nothing against it unless you have a ton of guys firing at once. However, if you use a Flamer-class soldier, they hard-counter that bug type, and can fend off entire swarms of that sort on their own. The enemy, though, can counter your flamer with certain other things. EVERY thing in the game has this aspect. A huge part of the strategy is analyzing what the enemy currently has, and coming up with a combination of things and tactics that will allow you to defeat it. And every time your carefully worked-out tactic works... well, the enemy mutates again. Suddenly your previous strategy may be null and void. It's rather like in AI War where there's generally no easy "cleanup" phase to a mission... it just keeps getting harder and more complicated. And as I mentioned, there are towers. The game doesn't focus on these, but they are structures you can place anywhere at all (like with all structures), and can be used both offensively and defensively. The enemy also has towers, and yes, you absolutely will have to walk right into their range. Now you get to see how THAT feels. One aspect of this game that I really, really like is that the game actually expects you to be splitting up your squad properly, assigning the right number of dudes to the right task. In ALOT of squad-based games out there, you pretty much never split up your guys, making them feel more like one rather bizarre single distributed character that takes up an odd amount of space. Not so here. You'll be attacked on all fronts and have to deal with many things at once. The game features a basic campaign, which is fun enough, but I *strongly* recommend getting the expansions with this one. One of them adds a very unique procedural campaign mode, which plays very, very differently from the other in terms of what happens on the map screen. It's easily my favorite part of the game, and one of my favorite strategy-game experiences, period. But you do need the expansion for this. This also adds in new mission types that the default game doesn't have, which switch things up quite nicely. Really, this is an excellent strategy game, and it goes right up there with AI War and Creeper World as one of my absolute favorites. Endless replay value here, and many difficulty modes; you can get something out of this even if you feel that you're not very good at these.