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Under the Radar Games we Cannot Wait to Play

under the radar games

Like moths to flames, I am drawn to under the radar games. The odd, the unusual, and the unorthodox, and sometimes those that are shunned by the broader gaming audience. Finding these hidden treasures amidst the noise of hype culture is in itself a reward.

Someday, I’ll take you on a journey through some of the most extraordinary experiences I’ve had playing these hidden gems. For today, however, we’ll talk about potential. Below I list five upcoming games that you’ve probably heard about, and it might’ve even sparked your interest, but the roar of triple-A marketing stunts perhaps silenced its voice.

Atomic Heart

  • Developer: Mundfish
  • Release date: 2019
  • Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One

Atomic Heart first caught my attention when NVIDIA announced their new ray-tracing technology. Watching the video, it felt like I was looking at art in motion. A painting by perhaps Salvador Dali or Max Ernst. The short video enticed me with its bizarre scenery, joyful danger, and dark undertones.

The video comes wrapped in the cheery tunes of the Weary Sun Tango by Isle of Klezbos. It further adds to the confusion the video firmly embeds in the mind of the viewer. As a whole, it repulses, and it draws, and I cannot wait to explore its world.

The official description states that Atomic Heart is a first-person shooter, “set in an alternate universe during the high noon of the Soviet Union.”

Call of Cthulhu

  • Developer: Cyanide Studio
  • Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
  • Release date: 30 October 2018
  • Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One

Any video game based on an H.P. Lovecraft novel has to be unusual, right? He is one of the most loved and respected authors in the horror genre, and his work is described as having “an incalculable influence on succeeding generations of writers of horror fiction.”

It is one thing to read a horror book or watch a scary movie, but it’s quite another thing to play as the main character in such a tale of dread. The former assaults your imagination and hearing, while the latter immerses you to such a degree that it only excludes the physical.

You play as a private investigator who is also a struggling alcoholic. Just imagine the things an alcoholic induced imagination can conjure when thrown into the nightmarish world of Call of Cthulhu. You investigate the deaths of the Hawkings family on Darkwater Island just off the shores of Boston. It is a classic investigative game with pen and paper RPG elements, occult undertones, and a lot of mystery.

The official description: “In this world, nothing is as it seems. Sanity is an irregular bedfellow, all too often replaced by the whisperings in the dark. Your mind will suffer – balancing a razor-thin line between sanity and madness, your senses will be disrupted until you question the reality of everything around you.”

Transference

The premise of Transference is a fascinating one; you have to escape a corrupted mind. I am sure that at least some of us have at times felt that we live inside such a mind.

Although “one mind” is your prison, the game is played from the perspective of three characters, all family members. You are a mad scientist, and by piecing together fragments of memories, you unravel a deeply personal mystery. The main characters are the scientist, Raymond Hayes, his wife Katherine, and their son, Benjamin.

Transference mixes the mediums of video games with that of film, and you can play it with or without VR. I am fascinated by the premise, love the art, and the unique approach to storytelling.

The official description: “Imagine an escape room set in a deranged mind.In this first-person narrative mystery, you must explore the walls of this family’s home to interpret events and discover your truth.”

The Occupation

  • Developer: White Paper Games
  • Publisher: Humble Bundle
  • Release date: 09 October 2018
  • Platforms: PC & PS4

White Paper Games is the developer behind Ether One; an extraordinary game that allows you to experience life through a beautiful, yet deranged mind. It’s a clever and sensitive reflection on a very difficult subject. The game also had a very surprising twist and received praised from critics and fans alike.

The Occupation tells a completely different story than Ether One, but I expect that same quality, if not better from WPG’s second title. Last year, I interviewed the developer, and he pulled back the curtain on one of my most anticipated releases of 2018.

You play as a journalist, and the whole game plays off in a single building, and in real-time over four hours. The main theme is political unrest over The Union Act; something that threatens the civil liberties of the British population.

I find the gameplay mechanics fascinating, for example, there is no health system. When the player makes wrong decisions, the game punishes them by taking away 15 minutes of game time. Your game time is limited to four hours, and you’ll need every second to obtain knowledge.

“The game’s plot starts at 3:27 PM on 24 October 1987. The player character is a journalist that is researching The Union Act, players have freedom of choice on how to act; become a whistle blowing journalist fighting against the act, or do nothing as the game progresses on its own.”

I am hoping that The Occupation will be the unexpected Indie hit of 2018.

The Last Light

The first thing that will strike you about The Last Light is the art. It looks like a retro-styled, animated love letter to the Cyberpunk genre. It reminds of the original Blade Runner movie with its misery, flashing neon lights, and otherworldliness.

The story plays off in a futuristic, post-cyberpunk era. You are Charlie, who is a second-class citizen because he cannot use augmentations because of a childhood accident. Something changes his fate, and Charlie enters the world of a “gamified existence.” Whatever that means. All I know for sure is that I want to play this game to marvel at its pixelated art. The article cover image shows a scene from the game, and it is exquisite.

The official description: “Humans first knew the era of survival. Then they knew the era of work. Now they live in the era of leisure. Machines have surpassed human labour not only in strength, but in precision, intellect, and creativity. The fight for survival doesn’t mean food and water, but a purpose for living. People now define themselves by what they consume, not what they create.”

Do you have any under the radar games you can add to this list? Let us know in the comment section below.

Han Cilliers

Han Cilliers

Lola puts the cobalt back in all things blue. An active, but odd master of the unorthodox, with more than three decades of sore thumbs under her belt. Oh cat! Writer at Glitched Africa
Han Cilliers
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