Skip to main content

You don't know about these 15 games, but you're going to want to


Platforms: PC/Unspecified consoles
Release date: 2017

The Zelda-likes continue to come in full-force, though Riverbond shares a bit more of its DNA with cult classic 3D Dot Game Heroes. You'll explore a voxel world, solve puzzles, and hack and slash your way through a variety of blocky foes and watch as they explode into hundreds of tiny, satisfying cubes. While there's a fully-featured single-player quest complete with a story to experience, at PAX I played a four-player score attack mode, which thrust me at a gauntlet of enemies as we competed to find out who could collect the most coins. The already explosive-looking combat gets ratcheted up several notches here, as voxels rain down around every surface as players slice through grass, stab swarms of spiders, or chuck massive pillars at the final boss.


Platforms: PC/PS4
Release date: 2017

Hob has been a few years coming now, but it appears to be entering the home stretch, as I played through two different slices cut right out of the final game. Both areas take place in this massive clockwork world that you're piecing together by wending through its environments and activating its mysterious artifacts. There are stretches of solitude, with nothing but a handful of peaceful creatures going about their business as you trundle toward the next puzzle, and these moments are punctuated by bits of intense combat. Enemy types are wildly unique - some require you to punch through shields, while others teleport between magic poles that need to be destroyed before you can lay a finger on them. With a moody, contemplative atmosphere and that "if you can see it, you can go there" thrill only games can provide, Hob is definitely one to watch for.

Death Squared

Platforms: PC/Unspecified Consoles
Release date: Early 2017

Death Squared hurts my brain in the best possible way. It's a two-to-four player co-op game (though a single player can control two characters with individual analog sticks, if you're feeling particularly bold), and your goal is to get each of your multicolored robot buddies to its respective goal. If only it were so simple. Each level is a process of learning by doing, then dying, then trying again. Step on a button to activate a platform, which also inconveniently sends a dozen spikes out of the ground, killing your buddy. Moving forward allows a rotating platform to move into place, but it'll also cause giant block to appear out of nowhere and shove you right off into the abyss. Only through communication and co-operation will you make it through Death Squared's devious puzzles alive.


Platforms: PC/Unspecified consoles
Release date: PC: September 22, 2016, Console: 2017

Klang is a unique rhythm-based platformer where each level is built to move and flow with the blaring dance track playing in the background. You'll hop between walls in time with the beat in order to avoid lasers, attack enemies from all sides while running around a set of platforms which turn deadly at periodic intervals, and hunt for secrets in each level. The coolest part is how the tempo for each combat scenario is built into the natural peaks and valleys of the music, and when that bass finally drops, things go off the rails in the best way. Figuring out its rhythm is tricky at first, but once you get into the zone, Klang becomes a truly sublime experience. I played it back at PAX East and really liked what I saw, and the updated build I played at PAX West has been improved and fine-tuned quite a bit since then. With the PC version just about ready for release in a handful of weeks, the console versions have just entered production and will be ready by next year.

Mages of Mystralia

Platforms: PC/Xbox One
Release date: 2017

Mages of Mystralia is an action-RPG that gives you full control over your entire repertoire of magic spells. You have a melee attack, a fireball spell, an area-of-effect freezing spell - you know, the usual. But as you progress, you'll unlock various nodes, which you can connect on a hexagonal grid attached to each individual spell. These nodes add various effects to your spell, which can make your melee attacks explode with each hit, make your fireballs curve to the left, and much, much more. Later, you'll even be able to unlock conditional statements, which really let you go wild. You can program your fireball to launch three balls straight forward, explode on hit, and then make that recursive, so they keep launching as long as you have mana available. Mages of Mystralia's combat has the kind of depth that encourages you to really get in there and see how badly you can break it, and that's all on top of a story written by Ed Greenwood, aka the guy who created Dungeons & Dragons' Forgotten Realms. 

David Roberts
David Roberts lives in Everett, WA with his wife and two kids. He once had to sell his full copy of EarthBound (complete with box and guide) to some dude in Austria for rent money. And no, he doesn't have an amiibo 'problem', thank you very much.