Aww, a game about lonely robots evokes the best children’s animation

A young boy, seen through a viewfinder, discusses the ocean with his mom. The screen buzzes; the boy disappears; two eyes blink open. They belong to a little metal carapace that scrambles around an empty room, tugging at switches and saying, “Hello?” The boy is nowhere to be found, but the bot keeps looking, earnest and determined. This is Abi, a new story-focused puzzle game from Grant&Bert Studios. It resembles WALL-E (2008) in its story, which similarly follows a pair of robots wandering around the remnants of Earth after human beings’ mass exodus. You play as two droids that used…


ReCore downplays its robot dog, which is all we care about

When ReCore’s first trailer premiered at E3 2015, the protagonist Joule and her scrappy robot dog charmed everyone with their expeditious tag-team adventure. Evoking Rey’s lone scavenger vibe from Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015), the brief blast of combat at the trailer’s end promised creative, cooperative action—and a canine companion with the trick of interchangeable bodies, so you never need worry about the dog dying. Joule and co. seemed sweet, despite their attacking prowess, and the idea of an open desert to romp through and explore was tantalizing. weird, hidden garages full of violence Pre-release material has since hinted…


Be a magical fox that can change the seasons on September 2nd

Though the strangely-specific genre of “fox adventure game” isn’t exactly lonely this summer, the upcoming platformer Seasons After Fall is determined to assert its individuality. A fox wandering through a forest: good. A fox wandering through a forest in order to collect fragments of every season in order to fulfill a magical ritual: even better. Developed by Swing Swing Submarine and charmingly hand-painted, Seasons After Fall isn’t scared to follow its own ideas. Switching between seasons is the signature of the game During his quest for the fragments, the protagonist (i.e. the fox) has one significant advantage over his environment:…


The wordless beauty of Pan-Pan

There are no words in Pan-Pan—just bubbling variations of boops and beeps. After crash landing on Pan-Pan’s colorful low-poly world, you’ll be introduced to a bunch of little dudes with bushy ‘staches. They’ve come to your aid after the crash, and despite there being a language barrier, they’re trying to fix your ship. But you’ll have to help. Scattered through Pan-Pan’s knotted puzzles are the pieces needed to fuel your ship and head home. Curiosity is the language in Pan-Pan. It’s a curiosity powered by the world’s design. Developer Spelkraft uses a visual language to express its intentions; it’s not always…

Cosmic Express

Cosmic Express will give you the opportunity to swear at cute space trains

There’s something magical about travelling by train. It’s something that participants in the yearly Train Jam—a 52-hour game jam set on a train ride between Chicago and San Francisco—try to harness to make games. Alan Hazelden’s latest game, Cosmic Express, has it origins in that very train jam, and is consequently a “puzzle game about planning the train route for the world’s most awkward space colony.” Back in 2015, Hazelden found himself boarding for the 52-hour train journey less than 24 hours after releasing his game A Good Snowman Is Hard To Build for the PC. “In hindsight, perhaps it wasn’t the best idea in the…


Venineth promises nothing but ancient alien landscapes

Venineth’s internet presence is currently composed of three narrative-less videos, a handful of screenshots, and a loose description of an exploration-based puzzle game. Besides that, what you’ll be doing in its world is unknown. Their website mentions “ancient alien technology,” but the worlds that have been shown so far are barren but for a few beams of blue light. There are no characters, at least that have been shown so far, and no words, just a pinball-esque reference point for the player—you literally play as a ball—that rolls gently around the desert. It pushes one of the blue lights to…

Return of the Obra Dinn

Stare upon the ghostly faces of Return of the Obra Dinn

One could almost consider exploring history a form of puzzle solving. Extrapolating facts and events through ruins and artifacts and documents, putting together a cohesive story through the remnants of times. Lucas Pope’s upcoming Return of the Obra Dinn, his narrative-driven follow-up to Paper’s Please (2013), is a game that encompasses that process. A mystery of a lost ship pieced together by discovered documents and flashbacks triggered by the remains on board. In Pope’s latest updates in his TIGSource devlog, those documents and artifacts are slowly taking shape. Recent GIFs show the lengthy manifest, revealing the crew names, their roles, and…


Indirect combat is all you’ll have to tackle ENYO’s labyrinth monsters

In an industry that likes to stab stuff almost as much as it likes to shoot people, an “indirect combat” game might seem a little out of place. In fact, the concept has more in common with puzzles than fighting games, as the inability to directly attack your opponent means that the player is forced to use the terrain and any abilities they might have to their advantage. It’s the same idea as forcing a spider to fall off a cracked wall in Lara Croft GO (2015): if you can’t approach them directly, lure them to another doom.   drag…

The Sexy Brutale

The creators of Rime are also working on a murderous masquerade ball game

I have never attended a fancy socialite soirée before. On the chance occasion that my mind wanders as to what such experience would be like, my imagination inevitably concocts a scenario not unlike Edgar Allan Poe’s The Masque of the Red Death (1842) mixed with a particularly fiendish round of Clue. A grand celebratory occasion equal parts bacchanalian and cockamamie. A new puzzle adventure announced by Tequila Works, called The Sexy Brutale, does little to disabuse me of this admittedly far-fetched fantasy, instead choosing to go all in on the inherent absurdity that permeates the glossy allure of high society. Set at…