E3 season every year is stacked full of trailers, announcements, and updates. It’s an exciting time that has me filling out my wishlist and adding untold numbers of cards to Trello boards while firing off tweets to unwieldy Twitter threads. The only problem with this time is that there is very little I get to play now. That’s not to say that there aren’t new games to check out though! Even within the first few weeks of June alone, there have already been a slew of great releases. So if your thumbs are itchin’ for a new game to crack open, check out these five fresh releases:
Developer: Flight School Studio
Publisher: MWM Interactive
There are few things that make me as excited for a game as a well-done trailer. When you’re able to condense not necessarily what your game is, but how it feels, into a two-minute video, it makes it so easy for people to understand if they’re interested or not. And for Stonefly, I was immediately hooked. From the team that brought you Creature in the Well, this upcoming chill action-adventure game fuses nature and machine in a gorgeous new way. You play as a human mech pilot in a world scaled for bugs.
You’ll meet other characters and go on quests, but the main focus seems to be on upgrading your mech to help you explore more. In the gameplay video shared by the development team, they describe resource gathering as a “king of the hill”-style activity, where you’ll need to push beetles out of the area to grab the sweet, sweet, resources you need to upgrade and enhance your rig. Exploring the gorgeous lush scenery from treetops to bogs to forest floors seems alluring thanks to the incredible art direction and cool soundtrack.
Stonefly is available basically anywhere you want to play it - it released on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation (4 and 5), Xbox Series X|S, and PC via Steam, GOG, or Epic.
Hokko Life (Early Access)
Developer: Wonderscope AB
Publisher: Team17 Digital
Do you guys have those games that you played when you were younger that left a lasting impression, but no one else really remembers? For me, and maybe I just hang out in the wrong circles, it’s MySims. This was a sort of simplified version of the Sims, mostly centered around building houses for people. What I loved about it was that it filled a void Animal Crossing left in my soul by letting me dictate how everyone else’s house was going to look. So when Hokko Life was announced, I was beyond stoked to see a similar level of crafting and design taking center stage.
Hokko Life is a life-sim where your own creativity seems to be at the center of every aspect of the game. You’ll collect resources to design and build your own furniture and clothing with, and decorate buildings around town for new residents to move into. There’s also farming, fishing, and bug hunting - I’m sincerely worried I’ll never have time to play anything else again. I won’t have to wait long to find out either, since Hokko Life released in Early Access on June 2nd to give people a taste of the good life. While it isn't fully complete, you're still able to start building your dream town and exploring all that Hokko Life has to offer.
If you want to check out Hokko Life Early Access, you can visit their Steam page.
Developer: Games From Earth
Publisher: Bonus Stage Publishing
While I wouldn't describe myself as a precision platformer pro or a speedrunning fanatic, somehow Sunblaze turned me into a little bit of both. You'll use snappy controls to jump, dash, and bounce your way through intricately designed levels. Touching any traps or falling out of the map means restarting the level, so you’ll need to execute your moves perfectly. But because requiring pixel-perfect accuracy isn’t enough of a challenge, each level is also a small puzzle. Some blocks will need to be touched in a certain order, or enemies dashed through at just the right time to get you past an obstacle. This makes every screen a test of not only your timing but your planning abilities as well.
I loved it so much, in fact, that I wrote an entire review speaking to my experience with it. The short version goes like this: Sunblaze carries the torch of precision platformers that have come before it while adding intricate puzzle design and a whole lot of heart. The baked-in speedrunning features and bonus challenge levels will keep genre champions busy, and the host of thoughtful accessibility options make this a game that people of any skill level can enjoy. The puzzling level design means Sunblaze works your brain as much as your reflexes, and makes sure that you have a lot of fun doing it too.
Sunblaze is available now on Steam, Nintendo Switch, and GOG.
Developer: Eggnut Publisher: Raw Fury
Three years ago, life was pretty different. Hype for Cyberpunk 2077 was high, we still hadn’t received the life-altering experience that is Disco Elysium, and Discord was just getting off the ground. But one thing that hasn’t changed is just how excited I am for Backbone. It was the first game I ever backed on Kickstarter, and over the past three years of development I’ve seen it go from an indie game with an interesting hook to what I believe is going to be an instant classic.
Backbone is a noir detective adventure game set in a dystopian, animal-inhabited, version of Vancouver. You play as Detective Howard Lotor, a regular raccoon who’s just trying to get by. As is standard for detective games, Backbone is, at its heart, a point-and-click game. First-time developers EggNut didn't stop there though, as they've added in stealth and exploration elements not usually found in games of this genre. Visually, the high-definition pixel graphics are complemented by 3D effects like dynamic lighting and volumetric fog to create a uniquely striking atmosphere. It's rounded out by a deep dialogue system inspired by old-school CPRG's like Baldur's Gate and Wasteland. All of these elements create the perfect storm of an intriguing mystery set in a gripping world I can’t wait to explore from head to tail.
Backbone released June 8th for Steam, Xbox Game Pass, Epic Games Store, and GOG.
Developer: The all-star team of Greg Lobanov, Lena Raine, Em Halberstadt, Alexis Dean-Jones, and Madeline Berger.
Sometimes in adventure games, what ends up being my favorite part are the little side activities you have along the way. These ventures are optional and relaxing, like a good fishing minigame or collecting herbs to make potions. Really, I just like to have chances to stop and smell the roses as I galavant across the countryside. Chicory flips that concept on its head to open up an entirely new way to enjoy the "in-between" parts of your adventure - by making it a coloring book.
In Chicory, you play as a sweet little dog in an animal-inhabited but colorless world. You, as the wielder of a magical paintbrush, can paint the world as you see fit. Everything from the animals you meet, to their houses, to trees, and even yourself can be painted, erased, and colored in again. Paint will also be the mechanic by which you solve Zelda-like puzzles and fight bosses. With music from Celeste composer Lena Raine and local co-op, this is the ideal candidate for having a chill night of painting with a friend over some great music.
Chicory is available on Steam and Playstation.