Today, Panic put on its very first game publisher showcase. The showcase was short but very sweet, featuring some of the most interesting and innovative indie games coming to PlayStation, Xbox, PC, and Switch. Here are all the highlights, including a surprise announcement from the makers of Untitled Goose Game.
Arco comes from an international team of developers, artists, and storytellers. It’s a tactical action game that pits regular people against an all-powerful corporate gang. In the reveal trailer, the diverse landscapes exude so much ecological detail rendered in pixel graphics, and the combat seems like a real-time action game. Arco is due on Steam in 2024.
Thank Goodness You’re Here
Thank Goodness You’re Here, or TGYH for short, is a new game from Coal Supper that’ll be out on PC sometime in 2024. Billed as a comedic “slapformer,” which, I imagine, is an attempt to combine slap-stick with platformer, TGYH looks like Gravity Falls: The Video Game, which is in line with the whole “slapformer” thing. TGYH was revealed during last week’s Opening Night Live showcase and is about a traveling salesman exploring the very weird British town of Barnsworth ahead of a very important meeting with the town’s mayor. As the salesman meets Barnsworth’s inhabitants, they’re keen on making him do weirder and weirder tasks as the town changes around him with each odd job completed. If the game’s anything like its trailer (I’m more than positive it features a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it sex joke), it’ll be patently absurd.
Nour: Play With Your Food
Back in 2020, I remember being intrigued by Nour: Play With Your Food’s promise of recreating my adolescent years of making unholy food creations with leftovers from the school cafeteria but without all the mess. My chat with the game’s developer, TJ Hughes, was one of the first developer interviews I’d ever done. During the interview, Hughes told me that Nour — a shortening of “nourish” — was born from a social media challenge that tasks artists with rendering food with the same quality and fidelity as those anime clips that go viral every so often. Back in 2020, the game didn’t have a set release date, with Hughes partnering with publisher Panic to get the game the assistance and polish it needed. But now, I’m really excited that Nour finally has a release date — September 12th on PC and PlayStation.
Despelote, a game about growing up and playing soccer in Ecuador, has a new behind-the-scenes developer trailer. In it, Julián Cordero, the game’s designer and programmer, talks about how Despelote embodies its play-on-words name that combines the Spanish word for ball — pelota — and a Spanish saying for “this is a mess.” In Despelote, you can get messy with your soccer ball, being a good-natured adolescent nuisance in a world featuring designs and sounds that were taken from real-life places in Quito, Ecuador. Despelote messes things up in early 2024 on PC, Xbox, and PlayStation.
Time Flies was one of my favorite games featured during last year’s Day of the Devs showcase at Summer Game Fest. In it, you play a fly with numerous and lofty goals for its seconds-long life (that’s based on the actual life expectancies for a fly in your region!). You’re given a list of accomplishments like get drunk or get rich and a limited time to complete as many goals as creatively as possible before you die. Or, if hustle culture isn’t your thing, you can enjoy our short fly life just vibing. I love this game. I love how it conveys the message of “life is short” in such a unique and funny way. I can’t wait to play the full release when Time Flies comes to Xbox, PlayStation, and Switch in 2024.
Panic closed its presentation with two announcements regarding forthcoming projects. First, Panic is partnering with Okomotive, makers of FAR: Lone Sails and FAR: Changing Tides, on a brand-new game. And finally, Untitled Goose Game developer House House is back, working on a new game that Panic was very clear was not a sequel to a certain game featuring a knife-wielding, annoying avian.
I love small, indie showcases. I love that these tiny games, made by tiny teams with equally tiny budgets, have so much to say about life and humanity — either silly or serious — in ways that just aren’t done by their bigger, flashier AAA cousins.
The big presentations like Opening Night Live and Summer Game Fest are all well and good and serve a necessary purpose. But today’s little Panic publishing showcase and other indie showcases like it are what really get me truly excited about video games.