A new game from indie developer Studio T-REX is a stealthy callback to the Gameboy era set in feudal Japan, and you can check it out now with a newly-released demo.
The story of Hiro's Escape takes place in 1467 Japan, tasking the titular protagonist with reuniting his family after it was separated during the Onin War. Standing in his way are guards from the Yamana clan, which he'll need to sneak past or bait into each other's swords and arrows. The sole developer working on the game - Austin Dixon - says the narrative is designed to examine life during the samurai period from the perspective of the common folk, shining a new light on the often romanticized samurai.
"Although there were surely some benevolent samurai, what people don't realize is that many of them were warlords and mercenaries who were feared rather than revered. So the narrative threads of this game are sewn from wondering about what it would be like for the common people amidst all these inter-clan conflicts," Dixon tells me.
The beautiful pixel art is a nod to top-down Zelda games, while the Gameboy-like color palette was inspired by the Japan-exclusive Star Ocean: Blue Sphere. "It's really difficult to get a lot of depth and character with only four colors but one of the games that did it the best from that era is Star Ocean: Blue Sphere," says Dixon. "What's crazy is that the character sprites in battle were actually only made with 3 colors and still emote so much character. That's a big inspiration to me."
If you like what you see, you can download the demo here, and add Hiro's Escape to your Steam wishlist here. You can also keep up with development via Dixon's Twitter feed. Studio T-REX tells me they hope to one day release the game on Switch, but for now, it's scheduled for a PC-exclusive release in December.
Until then, here are the best indie games you might've missed last year.