Look. It’s a busy time of year, I get it. And with fabulous indies dropping left and right, it’s easy for a few to zoom past unnoticed. But I’m not going to let you miss out. Just for you, I’ve got a handful of unique, jaunty, meditative, and eerie titles fresh from launch you might have overlooked.
Smushi Come Home – Switch, PC
To my delighted surprise, Smushi released June 10 — right in the middle of the Wholesome Direct. However, its unexpected drop in the middle of Summer Game Fest meant more than a few indie fans didn’t get a chance to jump in immediately.
Which is a shame, because booting up Smushi instantly lightens the soul. Starting on my own little mushroom island paradise, I spend a lovely day encouraging my fellow fungi in their pursuits, whether that’s preparing to take on the wider waters, creating the perfect drawing, or finding a missing pet. Then monstrous tragedy strikes and, from that point on, players will want nothing more than to aid Smushi in this homecoming.
Crime O’Clock – Switch (PC: July 21)
A mix between Where’s Waldo and the Loki show’s Time Variance Authority, Crime O’Clock is an investigative puzzle game unlike most others. Its humorous and detailed black-and-white map hides not only clues but chuckle-inducing references and gags.
It’s my first day on the job protecting the True Timeline. To test my readiness, my AI companion throws a low-stakes simulation at me — the theft of a fashion icon’s jewels. It’s not the burglary that’s important, it’s that the crime wasn’t supposed to succeed. So I comb through time piecing together what happened and detecting the inflection point where I can change the outcome without further damaging the integrity of time’s flow.
A full moon shines over leaves taken away by the breeze, a hunting dragonfly, and a small child — forlorn and alone — sitting on the cold ground. Shattered glass decorates the floor as the boy jolts to attention. A horrifying, skeletal hand covered in sludge bursts from the door in front of our protagonist, threatening certain death. Just then, an unexpected hero offers an escape: An animated teddy bear.
Of course, this isn’t real. Not exactly. It’s an altered memory of the elderly Griffin’s childhood which he is reliving as he lies bedridden and dying. The three-person development team might have been better off with a little more mechanical polish, but Daydream’s unsettling atmosphere and striking conceit are outstanding.
A Little To The Left: Cupboards & Drawers – Switch, PC
Hitting at the tail end of June, this DLC follows up one of my favorite experiences from last year. Like the original game, it gives the player the simple yet irresistible task of tidying up a brightly-colored virtual world. And this new offering is plenty meaty, containing a large selection of new puzzles.
My takeaway, besides the gameplay being just as satisfying as ever, is the sound design didn’t get enough love the first time around. The scrape of metal, the crinkle of paper, and the almost imperceptible click when I place something correctly; it’s wonderfully done. And that’s not to mention the light and uplifting music continuously playing in the background. Don’t forget to treat yourself to this one.