February 28 marked the end of 2022 Steam Next Fest. Intended as a way to promote direct communication between developers and fans through public demos, developer logs and streams, the 8-day event has given gamers a taste of what’s coming this year.
Among the many games on display, anime fans have something to get excited about. Be it visual novels, fighting games or JRPGs, there are plenty of indie releases on the way.
Phantom Breaker: Omnia
With less than a week to release on March 15, Phantom Breaker: Omnia has what it takes to thrill fighting game fans. Features 20 playable characters, including a special appearance from Steins; Gate’s Kurisu Makise, customizable fighting styles and online PVP, have something for those looking for something akin to Guilty Gear or BlazBlue to try.
On April 14, Ghostlore will combine action-RPG combat and Southeast Asian folklore to create something unique and familiar all at once. Fans of Diablo and Hades will recognize the procedurally generated levels and isometric art. But instead of referencing Greek or biblical tales, Ghostlore takes players to Singapore, Indonesia, and Malaysia to battle terrifying ghosts.
Crimson Tactics: The Rise of The White Banner
Spring is heating up with a turn-based tactical RPG in the same vein as Final Fantasy Tactics and Fell Seal: Arbiters Mark. Take part in a battle of divided kingdoms and lead a cast of over 25 classes to victory. Those who want to find a game with strategic planning both in terms of character customization and battlefield tactics should keep an eye out for this release.
Sekai Project, who previously translated and published Nekopara and Clannad, has planned a new game to release this adorable 2D action game. Following the lead of two chibi characters, Usada and Kotora, Alice escaped! is a wonderland ride that is great for quick bursts of fun. There’s currently no confirmation that there will be co-op, but the option to bring a friend along for the adventure would definitely make the experience even better.
the machine that BREADS
Fans of science fiction and horror have something to look forward to with the machine that BREADS. Combining the atmosphere and situational gameplay of early Resident Evil and System Shock games, this 2D survival horror game puts puzzle and exploration at the forefront. No official release date has been set, but a free demo is still available for the month of March.
Those looking to dive into an indie JRPG will have this year’s Jack Move set in a cyberpunk world to look forward to this year. With turn-based combat, an eccentric cast and colorful pixel art, it looks promising. And while developers So Romantic may seem like newcomers to the indie scene, the Taiwan-based developers have been working on titles like Heavenstrike Rivals from Square Enix.
While popular isekai such as Mushoku Tensei allow hikikomori to transcend into unknown realms, Hikikomori’s life shows NEET culture through a raw lens. Allowing players to control the protagonist from eating and managing his gambling addiction to taking care of his toilet needs, this game packs a punch. Check out the demo on Steam to try out this satirical life sim.
Chronicles of 2 Heroes: Amaterasu’s Wrath
Popular Japanese media have paid tribute to the sun goddess Amaterasu for years – recent examples include the Fire Force’s battle of Amaterasu arc. Chronicles of Two Heroes is keeping that theme going with their metroidvania game slated for this year. Switch between samurai Kensei and kunoichi Ayame in a style similar to Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin. Those who want to jump into action early can watch the demo now.
Manga readers have probably dived into manhwa — especially with popular works like Tower of God getting anime adaptations. Those interested in stories rich in Korean history (particularly the Joseon period) should check out Suhoshin. Following on from Agent Yuri and his investigation into a series of murders, this visual novel due out this year has enough suspense to keep you on your toes.
Graze Counter GM
The danmaku genre gained popularity in the West thanks to the Touhou series. And Graze Counter GM continues the theme of an endless barrage of bullets and cute chibi girls. Choose your favorite pilot from a large cast and lead her to save humanity from robotic overlords. With some hopes, the game will have a photosensitive mode upon release or scale back on flashy visuals that make other danmaku games inaccessible.