Sony's drip-feeding another lineup of upcoming indie games for PS5 and PS4 this morning, and its opening salvo is the Chrono Trigger-inspired Sea of Stars.
Sea of Stars
Sea of Stars is the next game from the creators of The Messenger, an equally stylish 2D platformer whose air-tight mechanics bode well for developer Sabotage Studios' take on JRPGs. Sea of Stars was recently delayed to 2023, but with today's news it's now been confirmed for PS4 and PS5 (as well as PC and Switch), so at least it will be more widely available when launch comes around.
Today's showcase also gives us some more insight into the flow and pacing of Sea of Stars, with creative director Thierry Boulanger promising a JRPG with "no grinding" where combat is very deliberately paced. You can take your turn as slowly or quickly as you like – perhaps pausing to target elemental weaknesses and break enemy "locks" to weaken or interrupt incoming attacks – but fights are also enlivened through real-time actions.
When launching or blocking an attack, for example, you can press the action button at the right moment to make your turn more effective. Players often joke about pressing a button extra hard, or physically rotating a controller while turning in a racing game, and this sounds like an actual mechanic based on those habits.
Sea of Stars looks remarkably fast all-around despite being turn-based. You can rotate active characters without burning a turn, use energy generated by normal actions to chain attacks together, and stack "Boost" energy to amp up your next attack if you need to land a finishing blow quickly. It seems mighty fluid out of combat as well thanks to platformer-inspired movement meant to "break free from the classic bound-to-the-grid tileset."
Shadow-platformer Schim has also been announced for PS4 and PS5. You play as the titular schim, a creature hopping through the shadows of Dutch-inspired cities and environments in search of the shadow of their destined person. Wait for a car to drive by and dive into its shadow, then leap into the shadow of a passing duck, time jumps with the flicker of a streetlight – Schim uses its central premise in inventive ways. We got to spend a little time with Schim at the recent Summer Game Fest Play Days event, and it immediately became one of our favorite games of the show. This will definitely be one to see when it arrives next year.
Cult of the Lamb
We've seen Cult of the Lamb, a grimdark rogue-like with cute, Animal Crossing-esque animal characters, at multiple PlayStation shows and it still looks great. It's out August 11 on PS4, PS5, Xbox Series X, Xbox One, PC, and Switch. Prepare to build and exploit a cult of your own making through farming, sermons, dungeon-crawling, and some isometric combat when the going gets tough.
Switching gears dramatically, Signalis is a sci-fi survival horror game with one foot in psychology and the other in retro brutalism. You play as Elster, a technician Replika – seemingly some sort of android – who wakes up in an abandoned mining facility which has apparently been restaffed by monsters. There's a bit of Alien-esque retro-futurism to Signalis and the team at developer Rose-Engine says they were also inspired by Blame and Knights of Sidonia mangaka Tsutomu Nihei, which gives its pixel art a cutting edge.
Signalis is coming to PS4, Switch, Xbox One (and Game Pass), and PC on October 27.
The Tomorrow Children: Phoenix Edition
The Tomorrow Children: Phoenix Edition may be the weirdest game shown today. Six years after the original game, the Phoenix Edition of the, uh, adventure-game-turned-dystopia-sim will bring The Tomorrow Children to PS4 and PS5 on September 6 with new features and enhancements. Developer Q-Games has added more ways to rebuild civilization following a failed experiment meant to unite the minds of humanity, including mysterious obelisks, a grappling hook, and an offline single-player mode.
Cursed to Golf
As we saw at the Future Games Show earlier this year, Cursed to Golf is kind of like normal golf except you're dead and the sport is now absurdly difficult. Developer Chuhai Labs has confirmed that the 2D side-scrolling golf roguelike will also be on PS5 and PS4 when it launches on August 18, and it's still so oddly charming that we can't look away. Each run delivers 18 holes with over 70 possible variations spread across the biomes of purgatory, a desert, caverns, and Hell itself, and you only get five shots to make it to the flag. Scoop up some treasure to help you on your way, choose your path wisely, and watch out for TNT.
Part escape room, part deck-builder, Inscryption is an unmissable thriller and one of the best games of 2021. It's hard to describe without spoiling the genius of it, so just know that it's a genre-bending mashup spliced with a live-action mystery, and it gets better every time you think you've beaten it. Inscryption is one of the most compelling psychological horror games in years, and it's finally coming to PS5 and PS4 – with some PlayStation enhancements to boot. We shudder to think how it'll use haptic feedback and controller audio to embellish its already unsettling atmosphere.
A Japanese blog post suggested Inscryption will come to PlayStation on August 15, but a now-deleted tweet from indie lead Shuhei Yoshida hinted at September. There's also no official date in the English blog post, and publisher Devolver Digital has since confirmed it hasn't decided on a date yet, so we'll have to wait for clarification there.
And so the list of upcoming PS5 games gets a little longer and even more promising.