It's a big one today: Episode 20 of The Indie Corner! I give my impressions on three awesome titles: The Wandering Village, Regiments and Cult of the Lamb. Three different and excellent games with their own quirks. There's something for everyone in today's episode!
Announcing TacticCon: Press Release! September 22nd-26th
Previous Gamedev Interview: Han Zhiyu (Chaos Galaxy)
It’s a big moment. We’re on Episode 20 of my Indie Corner series!
When I started writing these for the website, they were created as bite-sized snacks for people to sink their teeth into. With so many games released, it’s difficult for companies to get the word out about their products. I didn’t expect this to reach Episode 20, but I’m happy I did. I’ve said it a lot this year; while 2022 has been a bit thin on the ground for major releases, the indie scene has been killing it with hit after hit. Many games are delayed into 2023 and beyond, just one consequence of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. Despite what some people have said, I’ve found this to be a strong year for gaming. My GOTY series in December might be expanded.
I have three games for this episode to share. I’ve spent a while exploring what they have to offer! As always, these are impression reviews, so my overall opinion on the games is subject to change.
I got the opportunity to interview the developer of this game last month, and you can read that by clicking on the link down below:
We need more strategy games on the market. Back in the 2000s, they were all the rage, but they’ve fallen off the radar as of late. Two publishers have been stepping up: Slitherine and the resurgent Microprose. It’s nice to see strategy titles still have a home in this gigantic entertainment industry, although most tend to cater to their direct fanbase. We see this a lot with the games Slitherine publishes. They’re often complex, expensive games that focus on their limited demographic. I’ve played several of their games and enjoy them, although I wish they were slightly cheaper to get more attention.
Microprose’s return to the limelight last year was a pleasant surprise with two releases: Highfleet and Carrier Command 2. I played Highfleet and while it’s an immersive experience, I found myself frustrated with the brick walls the game hurls at you. Regardless, it’s one of the most unique strategy games on the market and I recommend it to anyone who wants a challenge. I wish I enjoyed Highfleet more. I’ll pick up Carrier Command 2 at some point, but it seems like another strategy game with real promise.
Regiments launched this August to solid reviews, something I was pleased to see. It’s rare having a solid strategy war simulator launch these days. Warno from the Steel Division developers is the closest thing I can compare to Regiments, but after spending time with both games, I find Regiments the more complete experience. There are no Early Access concerns with this one: Regiments is a complete package with a competitive price tag for this genre. Unlike many games like it, Regiments is a solo experience only. While some may be disappointed by that, I like the focus on single-player. There are plenty of games for those who want to fight each other, after all!
It’s hard to master, but easy to learn. Regiment caters to players of all backgrounds, and even novices to the genre can get into it. It’s a quick military simulator that focuses on fast-paced, fluid combat. War is brutal and can change in a flash. It’s not as complex as other strategy games, but that doesn’t matter: fast tactics are the way of the game. You’ll learn how to bring your strategic genius to the field. You won’t have unlimited troops to call upon, though there are plenty of support options available. The terrain is important, as are flanking and morale. For the price tag, there’s a lot of content. With hundreds of units and several factions, Regiments come out of the blocks swinging.
The game has a dedicated time limit on its missions, so that might turn some people off. There are ways to increase the duration, but no way to turn it off completely: this might pull some fans away from the game, but I think there’s enough leeway to enjoy the missions regardless. It does encourage you to think out of the box to achieve objectives. While the graphics do the job, it’s not going to win any prizes in the looks department. It’s also surprisingly intensive on the CPU, although any reasonably modern system should be able to run it well. As with many strategy games like it, there are a lot of interface boxes and things to learn. The tutorial is robust and there’s a fantastic in-game codex that’s there to help a player learn about the game, but I do wish the interface was clearer.
Most of these are minor nitpicks. While I hope Regiments improves in optimization, there’s plenty to like for strategy fans. I’m really excited to see how it goes, and I recommend it to any fan of strategy titles. It might be the sleeper hit of 2022.
Cult of The Lamb
Devolver Digital is one of my favorite gaming publishers; they usually back fascinating games with unique twists. Cult of the Lamb is their most recent published game, and it’s deserved the massive attention it has received. Developed by Massive Monster, it’s proving to be a classic. Even in its Early Access state, I’ve enjoyed my time with it greatly. The developers have two other titles, Never Give Up and Adventure Pals. Cult of the Lamb is a major swing in their usual game design, blending elements from other games like Hades and light colony simulators into a delicious sundae.
Cult of The Lamb is at its heart, an action RPG with roguelike and colony management elements. In a dark, twisted world of animal cultists and cruel gods, your embodiment is cast away but rescued by mysterious forces. Creating a cult of broken slaves to destroy the gods, it’s your task to free the world. It has a cool premise and the art design sells the world beautifully. Few roguelikes look as good as this game except Hades. Your job is to recruit new cult followers for your new realm, power up, explore the realms of the gods, and destroy them, unlocking more features and powers as you grow. It’s a strange mix of genres, and I haven’t seen a game that does it. It’s like combining Hades with an evil Stardew Valley, and while I wish the management/base-building side of the game was more robust, it’s still an addictive mix.
Even if the base building is fairly simplistic, there’s a lot to manage. Your cultists require feeding, maintenance, and health if your cult is going to survive. Hungry, sick, and sad cultists will reduce their faith which can spell disaster for the campaign. If they lose faith, you lose! So you gotta keep on top of it. There are plenty of buildings to unlock and build, several resources to find, and rituals to conduct. There’s a lot to unlock and make in the base, which is nice to have. It’s a cool combination of genres, and there’s full customization for the cultists as well for that little extra personalization. It’s great to return to your budding cult after a world crawl and expand it. It makes for an enjoyable gameplay loop.
The gorgeous graphics and fluid movement make for a solid combination. There’s a fair variation of enemies and scalable difficulties, with branching paths similar to Slay The Spire. Some offer tarot cards for special powers, others offer cultists to ‘rescue’ and so on. There’s a good selection of weapons and powers to collect, and while the combat isn’t anything revolutionary, it’s fast-paced and does the job.
Cult of The Lamb is more for the casual player base which is a nice thing; there are plenty of accessibility options. It’s a little easy for my liking, even on harder difficulties. I found enemies and bosses a bit too easy to kill. There’s a decent amount of starting content for its price tag, although that’s due to improve as Early Access tends to go. While I wish the ‘base building’ side of it was more in-depth and the content was longer, it’s high-quality stuff. It’s become one of my favorite games to play when I need to unwind after a day of work, and it runs smoothly on the Steam Deck as well. While there are so many cool games battling it out for my Top 10 GOTY series, do not be surprised if Cult of The Lamb makes that list.
The Wandering Village
So my original plan was to cover just Cult of the Lamb and Regiments, but I got the lovely opportunity to try The Wandering Village thanks to the guys at Stray Fawn Studio. I hope to have an interview with them at some stage, but they kindly gave me access to the game for my impressions. A big thanks for the review request! Besides, it’s Episode 20. Why not make it more special!
Out of all the games this year so far, this was high on my priority list. Watching the trailers, I was blown away by what potential they could possess. By the time this article comes out, it will be released in just over a week. I’ve spent a good few hours in the game so far, and it’s a unique colony sim that oozes charm and potential. Building a new life in a world broken by deadly spores, our little tribe has found potential salvation in a gentle giant known as an Orbu. It reminds me a little of that Doctor Who episode with Matt Smith, where the British escape a dying Earth by building a ship on a gentle star whale that came to its aid. Wandering Village is an interesting premise for a colony sim, and my early experience has been positive.
To start off, the visual design is great, a mix of 2D and 3D sprites. While I wish the colonists were better animated, the game looks gorgeous with a lot of camera trickery. Being able to zoom in from the village, onto the Orbu’s pondering pace through the destroyed world, right out to the campaign map is a treat, and the Orbu’s animations are well made. Everything looks crisp and sharp; certainly one of the prettier city builders. Being able to make a village while on the move is a great concept, and I can only think of one other example: Airborne Kingdom.
Wandering Village combines some pretty nifty game types together. There’s the survival mechanics like any city builder: keeping the village growing while sustaining resources. Then there’s the Orbu as your mobile platform: do you treat them like a pet and loyal friend, or is the survival of the village the most important? With the overhead map, there are plenty of different choices and options to make, using parties to explore the map.
Sometimes colonists will come looking for refuge but brings the danger of deadly illnesses. It’s like someone combined Banished, Tamagotchi, and a mini RPG. The survival mechanics are increasingly challenging but never overwhelming and there’s an emotional aspect to the Orbu. There’s huge promise for a story campaign if the developers want to go that route. Even if there’s ‘only’ one mode right now, there are a few difficulty options and all the branching paths offer solid replayability. It looks great, and it runs well: I won’t expect anyone to have trouble getting it to work on their computers, providing it’s relatively modern.
I have a couple of suggestions: for one thing, I wish the game had more graphical options. There’s a decent amount but the interface text is small. I’d prefer to see more accessibility options. I’ve had to squint a few times when reading the text. The other suggestion is providing a few more things for the colonists; seeing more interaction with them would only improve things. You can customize their names, but more wouldn’t hurt!
These are minor niggles of mine, however. So far, The Wandering Village is an impressive game. With its varied biomes, beautiful visuals, great music, and a mix of gameplay types, it’s living up to the promise. Early Access is still a stigma for many people, but from my experience alone this year, there are many great games out there. Wandering Village is up there, and huge congrats to Stray Fawn Studio. If this doesn’t make my Top 10 this year, I’m going to be surprised. Then again, with so many amazing games out there, this year is going to be hell in deciding!
We’re officially past Episode 20 of the Indie Corner! After months of hard work and troubles with my mental and physical health, it’s nice to bring people more content. One of my high points of 2022 has been my continued work with developers and showcase their games, and it’s something I plan to continue.
I’m not sure when the next Indie Corner will be, but I’ve received several upcoming games, so it’s going to be a busy few months! I hope everyone stays whole and safe.