I’ve been in a gaming rut. For the past couple of months, unless it was a card game like Magic: The Gathering – Arena
or Hearthstone, I’ve found it difficult to focus on a game for more than 20 minutes at a time.
This changed Friday when my county issued a shelter-in-place order due to COVID-19. Cooped up in the house, I turned to games. And my gaming rig was there for me.
It started with a preview build of Iron Harvest
, a real-time strategy game set in the alternate world of 1920+, as seen in the Scythe board game
. Here, the warring nations of World War I had steampunk mech tech, clomping around the battlefields of Europe. It gives a new definition for “mobile” artillery. The opening hour has you playing the role of a young woman from Polania (this world’s take on a unified Poland), and the tutorial has you learning basic battlefield tactics as you throw snowballs at a bunch of boys. You then get into the game, leading villagers and squads of soldiers against the invading Rusviets (the Russians) as your father protects some mystery. The story is the draw here, and I’m looking forward to seeing more of the mechs.
I then gave Roundguard
a shot, and it’s a gem, folks. It’s from a three-person studio, Wonderbelly, and it’s a mix of Peggle and Slay the Spire that launched last week on PC, Switch, and Xbox One. You fire your heroes from a ballista at the top of the screen, and they bounce around the battlefield, rebounding off treasure pots, health and mana potions, and monsters. As you clear each level, you bounce into new abilities and gear. And it’s charming. The heroes (fighter, rogue, and wizards) make little shrieks as they fight and battle cries of joy as they gather loot. When they hit the cushioned platform at the bottom, they bounce toward the screen, smiles wide on their faces, as they avoid damage. It makes me, my wife, and my kids smile as we play.
The one that has its hooks into me the most is Gordian Quest
, a mix of Darkest Dungeon and Slay the Spire. But that one’s under embargo until the end of the month, so I can’t say much more now.
Besides informing you about a few cool games that are either out now or on the horizon, what’s the purpose of this? Well, I hope to remind you that in this difficult time, when many of us either must stay in our homes, or are practicing social distancing to help delay the spread of COVID-19, that games are one of the best ways to help deal with being stuck inside..
Oh – the other thing? These are all indies, so maybe consider buying some now to help keep cool studios afloat as the economy contracts around us.
And please, wash your hands.
–Jason Wilson, GamesBeat managing editor