All games from the last year that didn’t get the attention they deserved.
Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in! Barely three months after my winter sale roundup (opens in new tab), they start slashing prices again. Good thing there’s a seemingly boundless well of cool and obscure games from the past year just waiting to be featured, and I’m just the man to find them.
The rest of the PC Gamer crew got together like some kind of bargain-hunting Voltron to assemble this list (opens in new tab) of the big must-haves and better-known indies from the current Spring sale. For those looking for something a little weirder and wilder, here’s 15 that you’ve probably never heard of but are no less worthy of your time, attention and money. All of the below games are undersold and were released in the past year. Most are on the shorter side, but boundless and overstuffed open worlds are what AAA is for, right?
Blood Nova (opens in new tab)
Price: $7.19/£5.57 (opens in new tab) (40% off) | Developer: Cosmic Void
A strikingly retro point-and-click adventure, presented in chunky DOS-era style with a moody palette of greens, blues and purples. The late ’80s vibes run deeper than the aesthetic—this feels like a playable pulp sci-fi novella. A galactic princess and her retainer visit a space station on the eve of her coronation, but an assassination attempt throws the future of the empire into jeopardy. Heavy on the prose, not too intense puzzle-wise and low on heteronormativity.
There’s a demo if you want to take a low-commitment peek, too.
Kowloon High-School Chronicle (opens in new tab)
Price: $14.99/£11.99 (opens in new tab) (25% off) | Developer: TOYBOX
Originally a Japanese-only PS2 game, recently remastered for PC and one of the weirdest RPGs you’re likely to play. Part Indiana Jones-styled first-person dungeon crawler (with about an even divide of puzzles and tactical turn-based combat), part high-school drama visual novel. Imagine Persona, but with an unhinged dialogue system where you pick a combination of moods and actions instead of words – a system reused and doubled down on in its (also-discounted) Ghostbusters-inspired successor Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters (opens in new tab).
Jitsu Squad (opens in new tab)
Price: $14.99/£11.61 (opens in new tab) (25% off) | Developer: Tanuki Creative Studio
A Kickstarter success that launched to surprisingly little fanfare. A fast, messy arcadey cartoon brawler in the style of the recent Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot, but even faster and heavier on the juggle combos. 4-player co-op (local or remote play), or if you’ve only got two players, each can pick two characters and tag between them mid-combo. There’s enough depth at the higher difficulties to reward mastery while being chill knockabout fun on the lower levels.
Princess Farmer (opens in new tab)
Price: $8.24/£6.26 (opens in new tab) (45% off) | Developer: Samobee Games
This story-heavy match-3 puzzler is cute, bouncy and extremely gay. Princess Farmer alternates between multi-choice dialogues (no straight answers) and surprisingly varied puzzle challenges with ranked scoring. Charming art, characters of all shapes and sizes, and a catchy soundtrack. There’s even co-op, although if you’ve not got your best bun to hand, you’ll have to rely on Steam’s Remote Play feature. If you like the vibes but would prefer a different genre, check out Super Lesbian Animal RPG (opens in new tab) too, which only slipped my shortlist as it’s better known.
Automaton Lung (opens in new tab)
Price: $10.49/£8.39 (opens in new tab) (30% off) | Developer: Luke Vincent
Among the last games released for the Nintendo 3DS, the upcoming store closure threatened to consign this surreal gem to the void. Thankfully, it’s on PC and no less strange. It (intentionally) feels like an unfinished prototype for a 3D Metroid-like. The focus is exploring dozens of strangely connected, often-desolate environments populated with abstract enemies to fight and collectibles to discover. It’s a wordless, dreamlike experience, and seeing the ending will require some lateral thinking.
Salamander County Public Television (opens in new tab)
Price: $4.99/£3.59 (opens in new tab) (50% off) | Developer: Tinzone Games
Recently featured at Awesome Games Done Quick (opens in new tab), SCPTV is built wholly out of generic photo and video clip art, and voiced by robots. It’s also one of the most (intentionally) comedic games I played last year. Your goal: Produce TV to an audience of nobody (because everyone in the county has disappeared) through the time-honored art of fumblecore minigames. It is deeply weird and extremely funny, both in terms of screwball gameplay and the between-minigame writing.
Graze Counter GM (opens in new tab)
Price: $11.24/£9.59 (opens in new tab) (25% off) | Developer: Bikkuri Software
An excellent vertical-scrolling shmup that’s all about risk-taking. ‘Graze’ against bullets by having them hit your ship (but not the central pixel-sized hitbox) to quickly charge a special attack that can clear bullets for when you’re feeling too pressured. It’s relatively easy to survive, with a recharging shield and frequent extra lives, but scoring big will require learning the (branching) levels, patterns and particulars of each of the 16 unlockable characters. A full run will only take around half an hour, but this one holds up after dozens of playthroughs.
Curse Crackers: For Whom the Belle Toils (opens in new tab)
Price: $9.74/£7.40 (opens in new tab) (35% off) | Developer: Colorgrave
And the award for best pun title in this list easily goes to Curse Crackers. A Game Boy Colour-styled pixely platformer with a focus on agility and chaining jumps, flips and bounces, befitting its adventurer-acrobat heroine. Thankfully the GBC limitations only run skin deep, with this feeling like a sharp, modern widescreen platformer with a great high-energy soundtrack. My only real complaint is that all of the enemies are cartoon skellingtons. Varied and charmingly designed skellies, all those angry bones start to blur into each other eventually. Give them a rattle in the demo if ten bucks seems a stretch.
Anglerfish (opens in new tab)
Price: $5.99/£4.31 (opens in new tab) (40% off) | Developer: Professional Villains
A surreal horror-comedy adventure where something changes almost every time you die, which will be often. A bunch of dudes roll up on the Anglerfish bar for a costume bachelor party. The horrors of dating quickly pale in comparison to the From Dusk Till Dawn weirdness that ensues, sending you and your unlimited-ammo shotgun into the monster-filled caverns below. Even the ‘end’ is a new beginning, introducing new systems, scenes and secrets for three distinct loops.
Shinonome (opens in new tab)
Price: $9.49/£7.94 (opens in new tab) (50% off) | Developer: WODAN, Inc
A very different take on horror where things change when you die. Shinonome is an action-roguelike with a difference; it’s a puzzle-esque hunting game. As an exorcist sent into a series of haunted towers, you’re almost always at a disadvantage in a straight fight, but have a bag of tricks, traps, environmental gimmicks (and a gun that will happily blast through doors and walls) to use against the traditional Japanese ghosts, ghouls and goblins. This one’s in early access still, but likely launching in full soon.
Splatter (opens in new tab)
Price: $10.04/£8.56 (opens in new tab) (33% off) | Developer: Rat King Collective
For once, we’re not doing a retro FPS. Not mechanically, at least. Splatter is a wave/horde-style shooter absolutely soaked in Y2K Geocities and Winamp Skin vibes. While not quite as bad a trip as Cruelty Squad, it’s an adventure in sensory overload, with all your weapons being paint-splattering finger guns, your enemies being lurching neon club burnouts, and a cast of weirdos from the deepest corners of the early internet chattering over your redecorating rampage. If the trailer has you intimidated, there’s a demo too.
Undetected (opens in new tab)
Price: $9.74/£7.40 (opens in new tab) (35% off) | Developer: Antonyio Freyre
Is it possible for a stealth game to be TOO sneaky? Considering that Undetected is a polished tribute to Metal Gear Solid that slipped under everyone’s radars, the answer seems to be ‘yes’. Set in near-future Mexico, there’s a Kojima-adjacent story of geopolitical intrigue, but the action doubles down on the sneaking. There’s no killing allowed, so no going in guns-blazing here. Fortunately the stealth is fleshed out nicely, with lots of distraction devices and a Thief-esque shadow system. There’s a demo if you want to scout before on-site procurement.
Byte Lynx (opens in new tab)
Price: $14.99/£11.61 (opens in new tab) (25% off) | Developer: Artful Games
Bucking the trend of the safe-and-familiar RTS revival, Byte Lynx is a grid-based solo strategy game with no independent units. Everything is a fixed structure hooked into a grid of power cables that can be severed and patched into to capture buildings. For offense, you can build multi-structure war platforms that can be pushed into battle, laying cable in their wake. Not a huge game, but smart and creative with more missions and a map editor coming soon.
Resist (opens in new tab)
Price: $13.99/£10.84 (opens in new tab) (30% off) | Developer: The Binary Mill
The first of two VR picks. Be Spider-Man With Guns, swing from buildings and fight giant walker mechs bristling with turrets. There’s also a bunch of ranked side-missions around the (small but vertical) open world. Originally Quest exclusive, Resist is now on Steam with an assortment of enhancements and graphical upgrades. Takes only 3-4 hours for the main story, but it’s built for replayability, with higher difficulties adding more weapons to enemy mechs. Lots of accessibility options for those who think swinging through the sky might be a bit too fast and intense, too.
RuinsMagus (opens in new tab)
Price: $24.49/£17.49 (opens in new tab) (30% off) | Developer: CharacterBank Inc
I’ve been spending a lot of time in VR this year, and this Japanese indie release is one of the most charming games I’ve played. Not the flashiest or most ambitious, but an endearing action-adventure that strongly reminds me of the Mega Man Legends series. As a mage for hire, you explore chunky dungeons, fight their chunky robot guardians, and interact with a cast of goofy but likable characters in a cozy town between missions. There’s just something oddly relaxing about seeing the quest-counter lady hanging out at a cafe with her friends after hours.