Some Thoughts on Release Dates

I know I’m being hyperbolic here, but it seems like about half of the gaming news I stumble across as I meander through gaming-related internet spaces are about release delays. In fact, it’s not at all uncommon for me that the first I’m hearing of a game that has piqued my interest is when the developers are announcing that they’re not going to make the target they set for themselves. Most recently, I saw the trailer for Nightingale, a first person survival crafting game that looks so damn cool, for the first time in an article explaining that Inflexion Games was pushing back its release to sometime in the first half of 2023.

Now, this is nothing new. It wasn’t even new when everyone and their brother started complaining about pandemic-related delays back in 2020. Roughly a quarter of my (admittedly excessive) Steam wish list is taken up by games that aren’t out yet, and at least one of those has been on my wish list since 2017. Games take a long time to make, and indie games often take longer as they’re passion projects rather than full time jobs for dozens or hundreds of people. Even when I back a game on Kickstarter, I don’t ever expect it by the anticipated release date, and am usually pleasantly surprised when the key shows up in my email.

At the moment, my backed projects page on Kickstarter has four games that have missed their estimated delivery dates, one of which is over a year late. I’ve tried to take a back-em and forget-em approach, which works for me most of the time.

Now, I understand why AAA publishers drop release dates early. They need a lot of hype to validate their big budgets, and many also come with physical releases, which retailers like to be able to plan for. But when it’s so very easy to set the release date on steam as “Coming Soon” or “TBA” – why do developers publicize their targets and risk disappointing their intended audience?

Dwarf Fortress is doing estimated release dates right.

I’d already been ruminating about this a bit, when Naithin made a post talking about the games he was looking forward to that are supposed to release before the end of the year. In it, he talked about a couple of titles that would have been on his list, but have already announced their delays.

Fellow blogger Nimgimli also talked about delayed games recently over on Twitter. Although games get delayed all the time, the end of the year seems to be particularly hard on release schedules.

For me, I prefer if a developer doesn’t guess at a release date until it’s fairly close, but I also have no qualms about wish-listing games that may not be out for years, if they ever show up at all. What I have noticed is that the discussion threads on Steam tend to get a little heated when dates keep getting pushed back with little or no other communication. Since obviously, Steam doesn’t require a concrete date in order to get a store page up, why use projected release dates that are months or years in the future? Is the attention gained from goals that go unmet better than from the honesty that a game will release when it’s done?

I do find these fun non-date release dates rather refreshing.

Obviously, I’m not a developer, and I really have only the slightest inkling of how long it should take for a game to go from an idea to a finished product (or, at least to a playable Early Access build, if that’s the route one chooses to go). I do know that constantly shifting release dates, even in these unprecedented times erode consumer confidence, and to me, that feels like a direct route to devaluing your brand.

Release Radar – July 2022 – On My Wishlist

At this point, probably about a full third of my wish list is made of games that aren’t available for purchase. This wasn’t always the case: for most of my adult years, I subscribed to the “patient gaming” philosophy, and rarely bought games anywhere near their release date. Since I don’t play a lot of multiplayer focused titles, there’s no pressing need to make a day one purchase, and – generally speaking – waiting means that you get better prices, and better games, as bugs are squashed and additional content added.

However, as my tastes have shifted away from AAA titles, and towards more and more quirky indie games, I find I’m more interested in being an early adopter. I still don’t make many day one purchases, but it’s not uncommon for me to wait between a few days for the first reviews to trickle in, to a few months, when games are likely to receive their first significant discount.

Even now, just more than halfway through 2022, I only have picked up a handful of titles that have become available for purchase just this year (although I did own quite a few that made the transition from early access into full release), but there are several titles I’m very interested in that are becoming available to play later this month.

I played the Escape Academy demo during the most recent Steam Next Fest, and I enjoyed it quite a bit. I did waffle a bit on whether or not I’d be picking it up, but now I don’t have to decide, as it’s also going to be a Day One Release on XBox Gamepass for PC in just a few days.

Clanfolk is another title I’m intrigued by that is dropping on July 14th. Although I haven’t played it myself, there is a demo available, but I may have a hard time resisting this one. I love the idea of a multi-generational colony builder, and I find that I don’t mind the quirks of early access in this type of game.

It’s been more than two years since I played the demo for The Final Earth 2, and a good 18 months since the initial expected release date has come and gone. The fact that I’m still looking forward to it after all this time means I’m going to have a hard time waiting to grab this one.

Although Stray isn’t actually a wish listed title for me, the hype around this particular game has been assaulting me from all directions. I wouldn’t have expected a cyberpunk cat adventure game to be the most wish listed title on Steam, but obviously there’s something about the combination that’s calling out to folks.

I played the demo for Beasties in October of last year, and found it charming. Although there’s been an early access build on for awhile, and it came out for Nintendo Switch earlier this month, I wanted to wait for a Steam release. I probably won’t pick this up until I know whether or not it play nice with the Steam Deck, as that’s how I would most like to play it.

Wrapping up the list of July releases on my radar is Bear & Breakfast. This is one I tried out during the June 2021 NextFest, and I remember spending a lot of time with the demo. I expect it’s going to be more story focused with a definitive ending than your average management game, so I’ll likely wait on some reviews before pulling the trigger.

Did I miss the July release that you’re most excited about? Tell me about it in the comments!

Steam Next Fest – June 2022 Edition – Part Three

This iteration of the Steam Next Fest is just about over, and I couldn’t resist sneaking in a couple of extra demos before they disappeared again. I had six left from my original batch of downloads, and nabbed a couple more last minute additions that I missed on my first pass through. This brings my total demos played this time around to 22.

Although I’ve enjoyed most of what I’ve played this time around, I can never seem to resist saving quite a few of the best for last. In case you missed the rest of my super quick reviews from the past week, part one is here, and part two is over here. If you were hoping to play any demos yourself, don’t dally – at the time this post goes live, there’ll be just over one day left in the event!

There was a lot of things to like about Dragon Forge, but the actual game play of it is very much not for me. I knew as soon as the game explained that I would continue earning resources while the game was closed, that it was not going to fit the way I play games. It is very pretty, though, and if you don’t mind some real time mechanics & a bit of a mobile game feel to your games, this might turn out to be pretty great.

While I didn’t dislike Dome Keeper, I tend to prefer my games to give me a little more direction than this one did. Since it appears to be a controller-required title, I played the demo on the Steam Deck, and it runs perfectly well. I’m still not sure what my actual goal was, but I like the loop of dig for resources to upgrade your base, and defend your base from the bad guys. It’s not a game I’m going to be in a rush to buy, however.

Farlanders is another game that seems to want to err on the side of explaining too little rather than being overly hand-holdy. It looks great, but it was just a little bit obtuse for me to get a good feel for the gameplay. You’re tasked with setting up a colony on Mars, and believe me when I say the planet’s surface is not inclined to cooperate with you. I like the idea of having terraforming as a key game play component; I just wish it were a little bit more transparent how exactly it works. I think this one might take a little time to warm up to, but I can also see myself losing hours upon hours to it.

I played the demo for The Spirit & the Mouse to completion, and it was everything I wanted it to be. It’s a puzzle adventure game with collectibles, and light platforming mechanics, and it’s highly likely to give you a warm fuzzy feeling. This one recommends a controller, but I didn’t struggle too much on mouse & keyboard. If this game were already available, it’d be in my shopping cart by now.

I can see a lot of potential in Above Snakes, but it definitely feels a bit rough around the edges right now. The core game play of explore, harvest, and build with survival mechanics is great, and the gimmick of building your world one tile at a time is fantastic. However, resource balance is not great in the demo build – one quest requires you gathering three of a specific resource to upgrade your workbench, and I didn’t encounter even one in my play time. Hunger & thirst feel a little overtuned right now as well, but assuming they work those kinks out, the bones of the game are solid.

Colony builders have just gotten adorable with Catizens. The current demo build showcases the objectives based campaign game play, and although it’s feels a little too micro-management heavy, it was enjoyable enough to play. Your starter cats have important jobs, and all your recruits have their own quirks. Right now, it looks like it’s aiming to land on the chiller, more wholesome end of the colony management spectrum, and that might just be enough to set it apart.

Potion Permit may just do for alchemy what Stardew Valley did for farming. Gather ingredients to brew potions to help a small town who’ve had a previous bad experience with chemists from the big city, and maybe make some friends along the way. The potion making mechanic is an untimed packing puzzle, rather than a set list of required ingredients, which I appreciated. Nearly an hour went by in a flash, and the demo feels polished enough that I wouldn’t be surprised if this title drops in a full release rather than early access.

No need to consider if I want to buy Roots of Pacha – I backed this one on Kickstarter! The game is currently already in beta, and is expected to hit full release before the end of the year. The hook for this life sim is that you’re part of a primitive tribe, and the members of your community will come to you for help with their ideas for progress, enabling the player to determine the way the society develops. You won’t be running to the shop for supplies, though, so plan to forage and craft whatever you might need.

I’m fairly sure at this point, my wish list contains more unreleased games that ones that are already out, and Next Fest certainly didn’t help with that problem! Even sticking mainly to my favorite genres, there were just too many great games out there to try out.

Did any of the Next Fest demos blow you away this time around?

Steam Next Fest – June 2022 Edition – Part Two

My main issue with these virtual game conferences being so damned short is that I find I either need to be really particular and miss out on stuff, or I’m going to end up playing some demos when I’m just not feeling them. Which, I suppose, is also an issue with non-virtual game conferences, but it somehow feels worse to miss stuff when you can play at home in your pajamas instead of waiting in line all day.

This batch maybe didn’t get me quite as excited as they might have on a less brain-foggy sort of day, but I also think I was successful at figuring out which ones I would be most likely to enjoy.

Zombie Cure Lab is a game I think I’d really enjoy if I were in the mood to figure things out. As is, the tutorial could use tweaking – it dumps the information, and then you seem to need to close the tutorial box to progress. I got hung up on the early building, and realized I’d probably need to restart, but I liked that it combines both pre-fab buildings you drop down with some you need to actually design & build one wall segment at a time. I’m not 100% sure about the zombie-cure premise, but I’ll keep an eye on it as it gets closer to release.

Paper Trail is every bit as lovely as I had hoped, but it leans far more towards pure puzzle gameplay and away from a compelling story to go alongside the beautiful art. Unfortunately, it didn’t take too long for me to get stuck – I’m not sure if I just couldn’t figure the puzzle out at that point, or if I did something to soft-lock my progress. Changing things via folding the background felt great, though.

Alchemia: Creatio Ex Nihilo feels like the next step in the evolution of the deck-building roguelite. Instead of drawing cards, you draw elements from your pouch, and use those elements to craft spells. I played through one run (which ended in my death), and while I’m not sure how much staying power the gimmick is going to have, I was glad to see there’s some meta-progression. I also really liked the spell book mechanic; I feel like there’s probably some benefit to memorizing combos if you play a lot, but you can also just have the game remind you of what the spells you know during a run look like.

Thus far, Spirittea was the biggest let down for me this time. Everything about the control scheme was completely unintuitive, and having to WASD my way through an onscreen keyboard while I was playing with both a mouse and an actual keyboard kind of ruined the character creation for me. The opening was super slow, and when I couldn’t find the destination of my very first task, I gave up in annoyance. This might be a great title for someone with more patience than I have, but the demo experience completely turned me off rather than left me wanting more.

On the other hand, I played the Escape Academy demo right up until the end. I managed to get through the first three escape room puzzles, and I thought they were clever, if not particularly challenging. Price relative to length is probably going to be the biggest factor in whether or not I pick this one up early or wait for a discount as I don’t expect it’ll be very replayable.

Lonesome Village feels like it has a lot of potential, if it can manage to get out of its own way. Everyone has disappeared, and it’s up to you to rescue the whole town from a creepy puzzle tower utilizing a few tools and the power of friendship. I expect the puzzles to become more cerebral as you climb higher, but you’ll need to take frequent breaks from your mission to help out the folks you’ve already rescued, and to find the resources the tower requires of you to progress. It’s a great concept, and the artwork is fantastic, but the controls are a bit clunky, and everything feels like it’s running at half speed.

Steam Next Fest – June 2022 Edition – Part One

For the last two Next Fest events, I made a concerted attempt to keep the number of “must play” demos manageable. I ended up covering only five in October 2021, and eight in February 2022. However, with this most recent iteration coming right on the heels of Wholesome Direct, meaning I already had more than a few demos downloaded, I’ve decided to go all in.

Initially, I had 21 demos downloaded. One I immediately decided was not for me, and another ended up being a VR-required title, so that pared it down for me to 19. That’s still way more games than I wanted to cover in a single post! I realize I have a tendency to get in my own way sometimes, so I may not get through all of them, but I’ve already played through 8 demos, which seems like a good number to post about at once without being overwhelming.

As someone who’s played entirely too much Viscera Cleanup Detail, and Powerwash Simulator, I thought that The Mystery Cleaner would be right up my alley. You’re tasked with cleaning up iconic locations, and you’ll probably discover some secrets while you’re picking up trash. Unfortunately, I found the actual mechanics of cleaning to be rather clunky, and I didn’t feel like that – for me – the “mystery” aspect added anything to the more meditative cleaning gameplay loop I was looking for

Grand Theft Gato: Vice Kitty feels like a proper spiritual successor to Goat Simulator. There’s a bit more structure in this one – there are lots of quests to find and complete – and the physics feel slightly less wacky. I doubt this is going to be anyone’s Game of the Year, but I expect it’ll be a fun romp nonetheless. If you ever wondered what it would feel like to drive a stolen car while being a housecat, you might be a fan of this one.

My lack of significant playtime in the Horror Tycoon demo is a little misleading. Once I closed the game, I spent probably 40 more minutes watching the developer stream. I’m not sure that I am in love with the storyline on this one – you need to build haunted house attractions good enough to scare your patrons to death to fulfill a bloodline contract to collect souls. However, the mechanics of building a haunted house attraction look like something I could lose myself in for days. This one is still a bit rough around the edges, but I like the bones of it quite a bit.

The bit of Garden Simulator I got to try out has nothing egregiously wrong with it. You clean up the small patch of yard available in the demo, buy a pushmower and mow the lawn. Then you can start buying other important gardening tools like a shovel and watering can. Get some plants, keep them watered, harvest them for money to buy more gardening goodies. For me, I felt like I’d played enough in less than 15 minutes, which doesn’t say a whole lot for the game’s staying power.

If Townseek hadn’t been the last demo I played in this batch, it might have enticed me to stick around just a bit longer. The demo really could have benefited from some sort of tutorial, but I muddled my way through. You explore the world in your air ship, visiting different cities to trade goods & complete quests. It feels like the main focus is on buying and selling, but you can also gather materials as well as do some fishing if you need more inventory. It feels super accessible, and the art style is delightful.

The wholesome level is off the charts in Hello Goodboy, but the actual game play is so simplistic it may turn players off. I stuck with it through the entirety of the demo’s available content, but it’s definitely far more story-focused than mechanically interesting. You help people through a series of choice-based conversations & simple minigames, and is potentially a great game to play with younger children.

Fashion Police Squad has been on my wish list for what feels like forever, but as far as I’m aware, this is the first time a demo has been available. This delightfully cheesy FPS tasks you with fixing crimes against fashion with your arsenal of weapons designed for exactly this purpose. Unfortunately for me, I struggled even on the lowest difficulty. Still, I liked the execution of the concept even more than I expected to.

I downloaded the demo for The Fabulous Fear Machine on a whim and with low expectations, and it turned out to be my favorite game of the bunch so far. Plant the seeds of urban legends, send out your operatives to explore, infiltrate, and extract resources, and spread your message before your opponents can. The comic book art-style just seals the deal, and this is probably going to be a day one purchase for me.

My Top Picks from 2022 Wholesome Direct

I usually skip most of the gaming conferences, but last year I discovered Wholesome Direct, and it felt for the first time like someone finally made a game show that was specifically tailored to my interests. So this year, I blocked out the time to sit and actually watch it live, but it’s still available to watch on YouTube for anyone who might have missed it. If you’re into this type of chill game, you’re likely to find something to get exciting about in the 94 new and upcoming games featured during the hour-long run time.

There were quite a few titles I was already aware of – several of which have had a place on my wish list for a year or longer – but there was also a handful of news-to-me games that I can’t wait to find out more about.

I actually took notes during the show – I knew from last year that they would be covering far more games that I could hope for my middle-aged brain to remember. There were eighteen titles on my notepad at the end of the hour. One of those turned out to be a VR-required title, which means that I won’t be playing it. From the remaining seventeen, I managed to whittle it down to a short list of seven titles that I’m really jazzed to find out more about.

From the Steam page: An Action-RPG that’s (not-so) secretly a Personality Test. Use Physics-based telekinesis to make your mark on a strange world of Spirits. You will not be told when you are making decisions. You will never be judged in terms of Good or Evil. You will simply face the consequences of your actions.

Can I just say how much I love the idea of Freeride? It seems like a natural progression of the tried-and-true RPG trope of good versus evil. There’s no demo currently available, but there’s a short play test build. Even knowing what the gimmick of the game was, I got drawn into the very brief mechanical tutorial, and was surprised when the game judged me based on my actions.

From the Steam page: After losing your job you end up in a small town far away from home. As luck would have it you get to stay in an vacant witches house and start building your new life. Build your own garden, grow plants for your potions and spells and build friendships with the town’s folk.

There are quite a few games already out, and oodles more in development that are putting alchemy, magic, and farming into a neat package, but this one stood out to me. Part of that is the gorgeous 3D graphics, and part of it is the feel that – for me – they’ve got the ratios for this recipe just right. There’s no demo (yet) and the devs have recently stated that they are not planning an early access release, so it might be quite a while before I get my hands on this one, but it looks like it will probably be worth the wait.

From the Steam page: A wholesome, non-linear adventure game, where a lost soul and his dog set out on an otherworldly trek through the afterlife. Pass into the world beyond, commit acts of kindness for other souls, and mend mistakes from a forgotten past life. All with a very good boy by your side!

Cats seem to be the more popular video game pet, but personally, I’m a sucker for anything with a dog. I also really enjoy this type of adventure game, where you’re not saving the world, just making it a little bit better. It looks absolutely beautiful. Hello Goodboy does have a demo available, which I plan to dive into soon.

From the Steam page: Discover new beginnings after crash-landing on an undiscovered planet. Join Kokopa and Pollimero as they explore, build, garden, and meet new friends — while uncovering the mysteries of this unknown planet!

Kokopa’s Atlas is another one that checks a lot of boxes for me. A little farming, a little bit of social sim, and a whole bunch of exploration and scanning in a strange land. As weird as it sounds, give me a scanner in a game, and I will contentedly walk around scanning things for hours. The developers are currently polishing up a new demo build; maybe it’ll be ready in time for the Steam NextFest later this week? I hope so!

From the Steam page: Lonesome Village is a puzzle-solving adventure with social simulation.

The description for Lonesome Village is short and to the point – the primary focus for this one is going to be on making friends and solving mysteries. You’ll also be able to customize your house, grow a garden, and do some fishing. There’s also a demo for this one, but I’m almost hoping it won’t spoil too much in the way of story.

From the Steam page: Paper Trail is a top-down puzzle adventure about leaving home, set in a foldable, paper world.

The thing that drew me to Paper Trail was most definitely the paper-folding puzzle-solving mechanic. I’m not sure why the look of actual book pages, and the ability to fold things captivates me, but I have a hard time resisting any game that makes use of this gimmick. This one also has an active demo, so I’m planning to check that out and see how I feel about the actual puzzling part of the game feels, because I’m already in love with the aesthetic.

From the Steam page: Bring kindness and light to the people of Sainte-et-Claire as Lila—a tiny mouse with a big heart! Explore a quaint French village, make electrifying new friends, and do good deeds for those in need in this lush narrative adventure game.

Really, who doesn’t want to be a do-gooder mouse? The art on this one blew me away, and I love the idea of being a tiny force for good in an uncertain world. Add in some collectibles and mini-games, and I feel like this could come together into a gloriously relaxing package of happiness. The Spirit and the Mouse also has a demo available on its Steam page, but I can’t imagine not liking this one.

Did you watch this year’s Wholesome Direct? What games were you most charmed by?

Release Radar – Upcoming Farming Sims for Fans of Stardew Valley

Over the past couple of weeks, I find myself re-playing Stardew Valley. I picked it up shortly after it released back in March of 2016, and played it for well over 100 hours across a pair of playthroughs. I probably never would have loaded it up again, but recently a friend asked me to try out a multiplayer game with him, and after our second session, I started up another single player game, and it’s been all Stardew Valley all the time around here since then.

Over the last five years, I’ve bought quite a few titles hoping to recapture the magic I felt playing Stardew Valley for the first (and well, let’s be honest, the second and now the third) time. Some were pretty great – I really enjoyed Verdant Skies and My Time At Portia. Quite a few more either didn’t do it for me, or I never actually got around to playing them.

However, quite a few new titles are expected to drop over the next year, and if you loved Stardew Valley, you might want to drop some of these on your wishlist. Click the pictures to go right to the Steam page for each game!

Estimated Release Date: October 2021 (Early Access)

Coral Island looked so good to me, I backed it on Kickstarter in order to get alpha access (which is anticipated to be available sometime in June). And I don’t seem to be alone in this – the crowdfunding campaign brought in more than 23 times its original $70,000 goal! Needless to say, that hit all the stretch goals, including console ports, mod support, multiplayer, extra characters, and a more robust endgame than originally planned.

Coral Island will offer all the traditional farming sim elements – farming, fishing, raising livestock, mining, crafting, cooking, and socializing with the villagers. What it brings to the table that sets it apart is its underwater world – spend some time cleaning up the coral reefs and you might run into mermaids! I expect there will be enough here that is familiar to appeal to fans of the genre, and enough unique mechanics that will set it apart.

Estimated Release Date: April 2022

For me, Roots of Pacha looks particularly interesting thanks to the setting; it takes place in a pre-technology world! This adds an interesting research tree mechanic, where you decide which of your community’s ideas you want to work towards figuring out. You also won’t get to just pop over to the shop for your seeds and livestock – you’ll need to forage and domesticate wild animals in order to build your farm.

You will have NPC community members, but Roots of Pacha was designed for co-operative play, so it’s a great choice if you prefer farming with friends.

Estimated Release Date: May 2021

Although I didn’t personally back this one, it did have a Kickstarter, and is still accepting late pledges.

Sun Haven is closest to release, if you’re not inclined to be very patient. This farming sim has a distinct fantasy spin; you’ll be able to choose any of seven playable races, the livestock options are far from traditional, and a dragon serves as the protector of your town. Combat options will include spellcasting, and there are significant RPG elements as well as the typical farming sim fare of crafting, cooking, fishing, and socializing.

As if there weren’t already enough here to set it apart from other similar games, Sun Haven will feature a wish mechanic, allowing you to change the world around you through the power of wishing. It will also have multiplayer support at release, so this is another great choice for people who prefer farming with friends to farming alone.

Estimated Release Date: TBD

Ok, so calling Witchery Academy a farming sim might be a (very small) stretch – the concept is that the player is a student at a school of witchcraft. There are farming sim elements, as you will learn to brew potions, so you will need to grow and forage for your ingredients. The game will also include fishing, cooking, and “spell catching” but seems to lack the dating sim element that’s usually standard in these types of games.

Witchery Academy is planned to release on Steam and for Nintendo Switch, and it looks like something I’d really enjoy having on the more portable platform.

Estimated Release Date: TBD

Snacko seems to borrow slightly more from Animal Crossing than it does from Stardew Valley & Harvest Moon, but I still think it fits. You will be able to farm, and raise livestock, but there will also be a lot of mechanics catering to folks who like building and customizing the look of their town. Also, you get to play as a cat, and I mean, who doesn’t want to do that?

The developers are giving monthly updates on their blog, and progress on this game seems to be proceeding steadily, despite there still not being any indication of a release window.

Chances are good I’ll be picking up all of these games at or near their release dates, but I don’t think there’s a bad choice in the bunch if you like the gameplay loop offered by these sort of farming sims. I don’t know if any of these will be the huge success story that Stardew Valley was, but the market for this type of game still seems to be pretty robust.

Release Radar – Three Intriguing Indies Coming Soon

At this point, I have a lot of games on my wishlist that don’t even have release dates yet, which leads to me checking frequently to see if any of them have gotten release dates. Normally, this is an exercise in futility and disappointment, but not so right now. Three games that are potential day one pick-ups for me are all coming out before the end of August!

Ruinarch is releasing into Early Access on August 25.

I discovered Ruinarch during the most recent Steam Game Festival, and was instantly enamored by it. As someone who would have gladly played the demo over and over, Early Access on this one isn’t a deal breaker for me – the game is already fun to play. The demo is available again as part of the Tiny Teams Festival, so if you missed it last time, or want to see the improvements made over the past month or so, you can check that out for the next couple of days.

Best Friend Forever is releasing on August 27.

Best Friend Forever is a game I’ve had my eye on for quite a while – I think I first mentioned it here during LudoNarraCon, but playing the demo catapulted this title from “Looks cool.” to “I must have this now”. Well, it’s just about here, and although I’m still not super excited about dating sims in general, I really want to play with and train all the dogs.

Do Animals Dream? is releasing on August 31.

Although I’m completely sold on the previous two titles, I am more cautiously optimistic about Do Animals Dream? It looks like a pretty chill game to play through, and the store page description puts me in mind of A Short Hike, which I’ve seen people rave about. For me, my interest in this title is going to be probably be tied to both length and price point – I’d find it far more appealing as a compact, sub-$10 title than I would as something more ambitious, especially since as far as I can tell it’s a freshman effort from Black Vein Productions.

Are there any games – indie or otherwise – dropping over the next couple of weeks that you’re super excited for? Drop me a comment and let me know.