Welcome back to your regularly scheduled Indie Insights, highlighting my favorite indie games and demos I’ve played in the last few weeks. As layoffs continue across the industry, with studios and media outlets all suffering, it feels like we are in the middle of a full industry collapse. It feels like there’s nothing you can do to stop it.

Well, I’m here to say that there is. You can support studios, amplify releases, and purchase those $8 Steam games you’ve been putting off. Wishlist upcoming titles, and try out a genre you haven’t played before. It may seem small and pointless, but these things matter, especially if more people do it. Or you could go on the internet and complain that a woman in Mortal Kombat isn’t showing enough cleavage while she punches someone’s head in, but I know which one will make more of a difference.

 Here are some games and demos I have played in the last few weeks, enjoy!

The Wandering Village – Early Access

Image Credit: Stray Fawn Studio.

The Wandering Village from developers Stray Fawn Studio is a city building and management sim with a twist. Yes, that twist is that your village wanders. In a world filled with poisonous plants that choke the land and air around them, you are a tribe that happens upon a giant beast known as an Onbu. These gigantic beasts are like rocky dinosaurs whose backs are flat and rich with resources, so of course, the natural next step is to hop aboard, build a settlement on it, and form a symbiotic relationship with it.

As you begin your journey, you are given the chance to name your Onbu. What name could you give a creature of such magnificence? One that will be your home and provide for you and transport you through this harsh, unforgiving world? I called mine Jeff. On Jeff’s back, where my tribe made their home, I began to build. A berry gatherer to get food, a research post to learn about more resources and processes, and simple tents to house us. All the while, Jeff plods ever onward.

More options become available as you progress through the game. You can create scavenger parties to search the map for resources or more survivors to join your tribe. There are environmental changes and natural disasters to deal with that could devastate your crops and buildings. This isn’t an idle management game where you can set things in motion and leave it for a bit. You must remain ever vigilant lest your tribe, or more importantly Jeff, come to harm.

It can be a lot to take on at first with the multiple menus, branches, and random events (a lot of poisoning happens; you cannot avoid it, and people will die. Accept this.) However, the tutorial is in-depth and is a great balance of actually challenging gameplay and learning before gradually transitioning to a regular playthrough. The game is still in early access but will hopefully release version 1.0 this year. Long live Jeff.

The Wandering Village is available now in early access on PC, Mac, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S.

The Lost Legends of Redwall: Feasts & Friends

Image Credit: Soma Games.

Based upon the enduring Redwall series of books by Brian Jacques, this cozy cooking sim from Soma Games puts you in charge of feeding the anthropomorphic animal residents of Lilygrove. You don’t have to be familiar with the 22 novels in the Redwall series to play or enjoy Feasts & Friends; all you need to do is read recipes, collect ingredients, prepare them, and cook them.

The game operates with basic Cooking Mama mechanics. Slice, dice, and peel your ingredients before following the cooking timeline at the bottom of the screen, ensuring you add the correct ingredient, change the heat level, stir, or shake the pan at the right time. It’s a straightforward game. One that works better as a mobile game. The actions of preparing the ingredients and cooking the recipes are much more fun on a mobile device with touchscreen options. This new PC version is still a cozy way to spend some time. It’s just clear that it is an experience designed for and improved by mobile devices.

The Lost Legends of Redwall: Feasts & Friends is out now on Steam and iOS.

Harvest Hunt – Demo

Image Credit: Villainous Games Studio.

Villainous Game Studios is bringing a touch of Halloween Harvest Haunts to Steam with the demo for their upcoming survival horror game. In their desperation to escape the spreading pestilence of the Black Death, a group of villagers have become isolated in the “promised land” of Luna Nova. You are their Warden. You’re their savior. You are…going to pee your pants while running screaming through corn fields.

Every harvest season, a new Warden is selected to protect the village. This Warden must survive five nights (no animatronics here) scouring the fields for a substance called ambrosia that the villagers rely on to survive. Ambrosia looks a lot like clusters of cold sores on the earth. Delightful. Every season, there will be a set target of ambrosia to collect, and each Warden will begin with a unique strength and face a different mutation of The Devourer. The Devourer is a sluggy/No Face/demon thing that blights the fields, contaminates the ambrosia, and tries to rip your head off whenever it sees you. No thank you, sir, I will take my ambrosia and leave.

At the end of each night, you gain new cards to choose between that will bolster you or your villagers. There will also be nightly whispers that include a boon, a disadvantage, and The Devourer’s mutation. You can also spend some of your vigor (HP) to place tools at landmarks around the map before you go in. You can banish The Devourer or simply gather as much ambrosia as possible and escape. Banishing requires combat, stealing bits of the beast’s body, and creating an effigy. Running away is considerably less dangerous.

The demo has a great atmosphere, fantastic sound design, and interesting takes on familiar mechanics. The only drawback is accessibility/ease of control. When The Devourer attacks, you have to alternate by clicking the left and right mouse buttons. I can’t do that very easily because I have arthritis and neuropathy in my hands. Mashing one button is a bit easier because I just pigeon-peck and smash it, but dexterity isn’t my forte. Thus, I generally choose the sneaky coward escape route. This control issue aside, Harvest Hunt looks to be shaping up to be a heart-pumping fright fest.

I’m looking forward to seeing a full release later this year.

Harvest Hunt has a free demo on Steam now.

Upcoming indie releases can now be found in their own post every Monday! If there are any games on the horizon that you think I should try, sound off in the comments.