12 cool games that risk getting lost in Starfield’s black hole—including one that I can only describe as pure, irresistible evil
My gaming schedule is in absolute ruins. Nothing but a smoldering calendar remains. I didn’t even make it out of act 1 in Baldur’s Gate 3 before I was whisked away to Rubicon to review Armored Core 6, which I’ve played through twice and am still not remotely sick of. With Starfield now here, I’m sure I’m not the only one feeling the squeeze on both my time and especially my attention as a packed summer barrels into a nonstop fall.
Even if you’re not devoting your every spare hour to a behemoth like Baldur’s Gate 3 or Starfield, they suck up so much oxygen that smaller promising games tend to suffocate in the vacuum. Here are 12 games coming out during one of the busiest months in gaming history that I hope survive September’s Starfield-sized black hole and get some attention—once we all come back down to earth.
Developer: Frozenbyte | Release date: August 31 Link: $29.99 on Steam
I think my last Trine game was Trine 2 in 2013, but there’s something comforting about this co-op puzzle platformer series still chugging away a whole 10 years later. I completely missed its August 31 launch, and I imagine a lot of other folks did, too, judging by the fewer than 250 reviews it has on Steam as of this writing. It’s sitting at a Very Positive rating, though, and most players seem to agree it’s right up there with the series best. We’re not exactly starved for quality platformers these days, but the three player co-op design of Trine really does remain unique today; I’m glad to see it still kicking.
Developer: System Erasure | Release date: September 1 | Link: $11.99 on Steam
We’ll have more to say on this one in a future article, but Void Stranger is generating some buzz for being much more than it appears at a glance. And, well, at a glance it doesn’t look like much at all: it’s a Sokoban-style block pushing game with a black and white Game Boy aesthetic, on the surface. Venture into spoiler discussions, though, and you’ll get a sense that there’s some weird, weird stuff going on here. Expect to hear more about this one as more folks catch wind of it.
Chants of Sennaar
Developer: Rundisc | Release date: September 5 | Link: $19.99 on Steam
Chants of Sennaar initially caught my eye because of its striking visual style, but it’s got a lot going on behind that pretty facade. It’s inspired by the myth of Babel, and the core of the game is about decoding languages and restoring communication and harmony between the disparate peoples of a great tower. The complexities of translation are smoothed out by simple-but-smart tools designed to make the task as accessible as possible, and it’s not like you’re just sitting around poring over old books: Chants of Sennaar is sprinkled with environmental puzzles, NPC interactions, occasional stealth bits, and probably quite a bit more than I didn’t get into during my playthrough of the demo. And yes, there is a demo, so you can get a taste of what it’s all about before you commit. —Andy Chalk, News Lead
Dokapon Kingdom: Connect
Developers: Idea Factory, Compile Heart, Sting | Release date: September 7 | Link: $49.99 on Steam
I don’t know if there’s a single person in the world I could convince to play Dokapon Kingdom instead of Starfield, but if I did… I’d owe them an apology. Dokapon Kingdom is the nine circles of hell in videogame form—a sort of RPG Mario Party with even more bullshit balance. I sank full days of multiplayer sessions into this game back on the Nintendo Wii and it still haunts me that much of its secrets remained out of my reach, because the hours I spent crossing the board game-style map could go up in cinders the second I ran into an enemy that could destroy me in an instant. There are abilities that let you steal everything your friends have spent hours accruing.
It is a terrible game, and I love it. I’m so happy and frightened that this new version of it is available on Steam. No one should play it. Everyone should play it. Unforgettable in the way that all scars are.
Developer: Phoenix Labs | Release date: September 8 | Link: $40 on Steam
It’s hard for farm life sims to stand out these days, but as I wrote back in June, Fae Farm impressed me with the sheer volume of stuff it’s got packed in. There’s four-player co-op, quests, combat and farming, and a whole magic system that integrates into the other areas of the game. I think there’s a touch of the generic to the art style, and I don’t know if Fae Farm is different enough from the other life sims out there to really be anyone’s favorite. But the maximalist approach may still grab a bunch of people looking for a new, giganto list of tasks to work through.
Developer: Terrifying Jellyfish | Release date: September 12 | Link: Steam
Nour has been a regular on the indie festival circuit for years, and I still appreciate its simple premise of highly detailed 3D models of food + jiggle physics. Shake that bowl of ramen! Spill that boba! Slop that steak! I worry that after years of exposure Nour may arrive with a whimper, but I remained charmed by its aesthetic.
Developer: doinksoft | Release date: September 13 | Link: $14.99 on Steam
This game is called Gunbrella. I don’t feel the need to elaborate further.
Developer: Nexon | Release date: September 20 | Link: Steam
I’m not sure Warhaven will (or should) pull people away from the great Chivalry 2, but it honestly looks like kind of a blast: a messy, For Honor-esque large-scale multiplayer battle with some anime flair to its over-the-top combos. I’m spellbound by the bit in the trailer where a knight hits someone with a giant magma sword, turning them into ash and disintegrating them in the same blow. This is one of those games I’m pretty sure I’d enjoy the hell out of while having no idea what was going on.
Astrea: Six-Sided Oracles
Developer: Little Leo Games | Release date: September 21 | Link: Steam
A deckbuilder in the Slay the Spire lineage, but the first I’ve seen to throw away cards in favor of dice. The dice rolling system and variety of dice available to you quickly opens up tons of possibilities, and I thought Astrea held a lot of promise when I played it last year. The art is striking, too. I don’t know if there’s been a true breakout deckbuilder since Monster Train, but I wonder if this could be the one.
Mineko’s Night Market
Developer: Meowza Games | Release date: September 26 | Link: Steam
Like Nour, Mineko’s Night Market has been a fixture of events like PAX for years, and after gestating for eight years it’s dropping in the wake of one of the biggest games of the decade. Maybe not the best timing! But any game that takes this long to come out—and actually does—has my curiosity. A quaint adventure game full of cats might hit the spot after a hundred hours of rocketing around in space.
Developer: Team Fortune | Release date: September 27 | Link: Steam
Last year we called the demo for Fortune’s Run “like the Jedi Knight 4 we never got,” and went on to make a pretty strong pitch for the cyberpunk atmosphere of this stealth FPS. There’s some immersive sim DNA in Fortune’s Run, and we came away from the demo with high expectations—and a question of whether the full game can keep up that level of quality. Fortune’s Run is only launching in early access this month, so it still has time to cook.
The Lamplighters League
Developer: Harebrained Schemes | Release date: October 3 | Link: $49.99 on Steam
We’re drifting out of September with The Lamplighters League, but a new strategy game from the devs behind Battletech and the Shadowrun series deserves the extra attention. According to our recent hands-on, it’s approachable and light on numbers and menus compared to many other XCOM-alikes, which does make it feel a bit run-of-the-mill. Hopefully the 1930s pulp style helps the full thing cohere into a worthy Battletech successor.