Diamonds in the Rough – Week of June 30th 2019

Last Updated on July 13, 2019

The state of indie games on Steam is somewhat bleak. There are so many new products released every day that it can be very difficult to figure out what games are actually worth it, especially with minimal guidance from the site. However, Steam’s lack of curation does have one upside. Brand new and very small indie developers have the ability to get their game on a platform and sold. However, that doesn’t mean much if no one ever sees their games.

This is why I have decided to take it upon myself to sift through the asset flips, countless DLC, shovelware, and just plain old crap to every week bring you the best looking and most promising indie games from truly independent developers. These games are not perfectly polished, nor are they likely to be the best indie games you’ve played.

I am not necessarily looking for the next Braid or Bastion, and I am definitely not interested in giving free advertising to indie games and studios that are already well-known and are guaranteed to make a profit no matter how good it is. Instead, this is supposed to spotlight the smaller games that likely would not get their chance if it wasn’t for someone pointing them out.

With that out of the way, let’s look at the rules for this adventure before actually getting into the list:


  1. None of these games can be from a well-known indie developer or an ”IndieA” studio ,since these indies should have no problems getting the word out on their games and recouping their losses (Examples include: Supergiant Games, Kojima Productions, The Behemoth, Lucus Pope’s games, etc.)
  2. Kickstarted games are acceptable, because not all successful Kickstarter projects inherently become well-known or commercially successful.
  3. The game must be currently released, available to purchase, and in a final completed state. A store page is not enough and neither is early access, as we do not want to be recommending incomplete games that may never see a full release. This also means we will not be looking at DLC.
  4. The game must come out on Steam and look interesting, promising, and as though genuine heart and effort was put into the product. The games may not actually be good, as we do not have the time nor money to be purchasing and reviewing all the games that come out on Steam, but the trailer, screenshots, and description should be enough to convince someone the game is interesting and polished enough to be a full game.
  5. The game must release on Windows. This is for two reasons. Firstly, it helps narrow the scope, so I don’t have to look at Linux or Macintosh releases. Also, Windows is still the most popular OS, especially for gaming.
  6. None of the games can have exploitative monetization or be a rerelease of a mobile game. This should be self-explanatory.
  7. All games must at least support the English language. An English trailer would be nice but not necessary. Since I can only speak and read English, it will be difficult to judge the game if I cannot understand the promotional material.

All genres and types of games may show up on this list. This includes games with obvious adult themes or games with an explicitly adult focus. However, if a game has these obvious adult themes, this will be listed before the description as a content warning.

We do not want to ignore or let these games slip through the cracks solely for having adult themes, however, we also respect that some individuals would not be interested in these products and would prefer to skip them.

Click the titles of the games to to their Steam page.

Don’t Go into the Woods

This game may look like another RPG maker survival horror game and the developer’s previous game, an RPG Maker game called Empire, lends some credence to this theory. Despite that, Don’t Go into the Woods is far more ambitious than that. DGitW includes crafting and survival mechanics more reminiscent of the modern “survival” genre while seeking to tell a deeper, more involved story than most survival games.

While it clearly is no Subnautica, highlighting games like that is not the purpose of this endeavor, and DGitW is making some bold and interesting moves in its own right, promising a story that tackles themes of child abuse and neglect.

Whether the story and gameplay actually hold up to these promises has yet to be seen. However, the developer’s previous title was well received by the handful of people playing it, and the RPG maker style graphics and the top-down view are certainly endearing and charming.

I personally wish Clecota Games success in their future endeavors and hope that this article helps get their little indie project some needed and well-deserved attention.

Investi-Gator: The Case of the Big Crime

  • Genre: Detective Point and Click Adventure game.
  • Price: $4.99
  • Demo: No

The second I started watching Investi-Gator’s trailer, I knew that this game had to make it on this list. The trailer just exudes charm and gives me all the nostalgic feels. From the Banjo-Kazooie style “voice acting”, to the game’s charming punny name, everything about this game has so far put a smile on my face. Investi-Gator reminds me of Detective Grimoire, in the sense that they are both short adventure games where the player is a detective and the focus on humor.

While the most important part of any detective game is the actual mystery, and while this aspect can’t be tested without actually playing the game, a lackluster mystery isn’t necessarily the death of one of these games. It is pretty easy to figure out the culprit in Detective Grimoire before finishing the game and finding all the clues for example, but because that game is so charming and fun, as well as short, you aren’t sitting on that knowledge for too long before the end of the game.

If Investi-Gator can pull off something similar, and it looks like it can, it would be well worth your time and money.

The Breach: A VR Escape Game

  • Genre: Virtual Reality Escape Room
  • Price: $9.90
  • Demo: No

The Breach is a sci-fi VR Escape Room game where the player is tasked with repairing a broken anti-matter reactor. I don’t have much experience with VRs or Escape Rooms, but from the trailer and screenshots, The Breach looks like a very competent and well-designed VR game. However, due to its nature as an Escape Room and a VR game, I worry about the potential audience and replayability of the game.

However, the price of the game is competitive and even better than most in-person Escape Rooms. If you are a VR enthusiast and already have a VR set, this certainly looks like a good game to pick up, but I personally wouldn’t go dropping the $200+ just to pick it up.


  • Genre: JRPG
  • Price: $9.99
  • Demo: No

Noyo-! wears its inspiration from the Mother series on its sleeve. Everything from the character designs to the battle screen screams Earthbound to me, which is a good thing. While I’ve never played the series myself, I’ve heard exclusively good things, and taking inspiration from the series can’t be a bad idea.

This is probably the most unique JRPG I have seen while doing this list, with a very colorful and modern urban setting and character designs. While the dev’s have decided to keep most of the story a secret, if it does take inspiration from Earthbound, we can at least hope that there is a deeper meaning beyond just the cute, kid-friendly design. Even if it doesn’t, the aesthetic itself is just too cute to not recommend.


  • Genre: Side-Scrolling Pixel Horror game
  • Price: $1.99
  • Demo: No

Forgotten is a claustrophobic side-scrolling horror game. While I get a Lone Survivor vibe from the game, the pixel art is simultaneously clearer, but also simpler and the camera is even closer to the player avatar, making the game feel even more claustrophobic. The game is also very cheap at only $2. Give it a whirl if you’re not scaredy-cat like me and hate horror games.

Illusion of L’Phalcia

  • Genre: JRPG
  • Price: $12.99
  • Demo: No

Another Final Fantasy inspired JRPG. Illusion of L’Phalcia is very polished and looks great, with very flashy 3D battles and well-illustrated characters. This game looks like a must-buy for any fan of the JRPG genre. There isn’t much more to say about this game without actually playing it, but it certainly looks promising, check it out if you’re a fan of classic Final Fantasy games.

Lemons Must Die

  • Genre: Action Plaftformer/Boss Rush
  • Price: $14.99
  • Demo: No

To be honest with you, Lemons Must Die frankly just looks weird. That is not a bad thing, however, the premise is that you’re a sentient lemon racing against the clock while juice leaks out of you. You must kill evil bosses to restore your juice supply while you search for the ghost of your partner. Again, the game is pretty weird, but it looks like an interesting and unique boss rush game.

Also, the cutscene art reminds me of The Binding of Isaac which is a good thing, as the art style for that game is fantastic. If you’re looking for something a bit weird and different, I’d give this game a shot.

Unearthing Mars 2

  • Genre: Virtual Reality First Person Shooter
  • Price: $19.99
  • Demo: No

A VR FPS, Unearthing Mars 2 is a visually impressive game. The art reminds me a bit of Warframe, though not the gameplay, which looks like it might be inspired by SUPERHOT.  However, I’m unsure of whether that is the actual nature of the gameplay or just the editing for the trailer.

The story seems pretty standard for a first-person shooter, but considering a story-focused FPS hasn’t really been attempted yet in VR, I don’t think that is necessarily a terrible thing. More diversity and ambitious VR games are good, and I hope this game does well so we can see more from the developer and the platform.

Total Party Kill

  • Genre: Puzzle Platformer
  • Price: $4.99
  • Demo: No

Total Party Kill is a cute pixel puzzle platformer where you control one of three fantasy characters: a knight, a ranger, and a wizard. If this premise reminds you of Trine, you wouldn’t be wrong. However, unlike Trine, puzzles are solved by murdering your party members and using their corpses as tools to press buttons or as platforms for your other characters.

It’s a bit morbid, but the pixel art style and the play on the classic RPG trope of a “total party wipe” is cute. The pixel art is well done and animated, and there is plenty of expression and emotion conveyed. The game looks very polished, and for $5, looks like a fantastic little puzzle platformer from an experienced but pretty unknown indie dev team.

Event Horizon – Frontier

  • Genre: Twin Stick Sci Fi Shooter Base Defense
  • Price: $4.99
  • Demo: No

Event Horizon – Frontier reminds me of games like the Star Control series. It’s a twin-stick space shooter where you customize a spaceship and travel the galaxy fighting aliens who are attempting to attack your space station. Unlike Star Control, however, the game is not an RPG. If you want that experience, you might want to try Pavel Zinchenko’s previous game Event Horizon.

EH – Frontier looks like it shares many of the same mechanics as its predecessor, but condenses it into a simpler level-based game with a set objective of defending your base. While I personally think the original Event Horizon looks more intriguing, EH – Frontier looks like a fun if perhaps a little simplistic follow-up.

Shadow Land

  • Genre: Puzzle Platformer
  • Price: $7.99
  • Demo: No

When I first saw Shadow Land I thought to myself “this reminds me a lot of Limbo”. While that might turn off a few people at first glance, continuing to watch the trailer reveals something far more unique under a similar art style.

The game is much more of a traditional Puzzle Platformer with shadows acting as platforms and other smaller mechanics such as the ability to move platforms at certain points. While the game isn’t necessarily the most unique in its presentation it still looks like a fun puzzle platformer, taking inspiration from many of its contemporaries.

异常 | Exception

  • Genre: Programing Strategy/Puzzle game
  • Price: $4.99
  • Demo: No

In Exception the player controls and programs robots to defeat and destroy their enemies. The player has no direct control of their units, and all actions must use programing logic to get the job done, leading to an interesting combination of puzzle and strategy.

Thankfully like most other programming games, the player doesn’t have to actually physically write code and instead just uses a set of predetermined actions and commands in order to control their robots, making the game slightly easier. If you’re a fan of programming-based games this looks like the kind of game you would love.

ROGAN: The Thief in the Castle

  • Genre: VR Medieval Stealth game
  • Price: $39.99
  • Demo: No

The reviews on this game make me really wary of recommending it, but at least from the trailers, it looks fantastic. ROGAN is basically like the original Thief games, but in VR, a concept that just leaves me filled with joy and excitement.

The art and characters look beautiful, and in general, ROGAN looks like it could be revolutionary in the VR industry. Keep an eye on this one, and if the devs pull through and fix the problems and bugs, I would highly recommend picking this up just to support the devs and once again push the boundaries of VR gaming.

Hero Express

  • Genre: Side-Scrolling Vehicle Racer/Platforming game
  • Price: $9.99
  • Demo: No

Hero Express is basically a full game of Happy Wheels or the flash version of the Trials series.

Your goal is to just get to the end of the level alive while your ridiculous vehicles threaten to tip over at any weird change of terrain. It’s a simple concept that has been done before but is almost always fun.

Combo Postage

  • Genre: Action Platformer/Warehouse Simulator
  • Price: $2.99
  • Demo: No

Combo Postage is a very simple game. You are a worker in a warehouse trying to wrap up and deliver packages and get the highest score possible. Higher stacks of boxes allow for more combos and points but are also riskier, threatening a game over.

The pixel art is very cute and the game, in general, reminds me of Downwell. It’s a simple game, with simple controls and execution, but at such a low price, I’d suggest it, if only to help a small and new indie dev get on their feet.

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