February 28th marked the end of 2022 Steam Next Fest. Meant as a way to foster direct communication between developers and fans by way of public demos, developer logs, and streams, the 8-day event has given gamers a sneak peek look of what will be releasing this year.
Among the many games showcased, anime fans have something to get excited about. Whether it’s visual novels, fighting games, or JRPGs, there are plenty of indie releases on the horizon.
Phantom Breaker: Omnia
With less than a week until its March 15th release, Phantom Breaker: Omnia has everything to get fighting game fans excited. Featuring 20 playable characters including a special appearance from Steins;Gate’s Kurisu Makise, customizable fighting styles, and online PVP, those looking for something similar to Guilty Gear or BlazBlue have something to check out.
Coming April 14th, Ghostlore combines action RPG combat and southeast asian folklore to create something unique and familiar all at once. Diablo and Hades fans will recognize the procedurally generated levels and isometric-style art. But instead of referencing Greek or biblical tales, Ghostlore takes players to Singapore, Indonesia, and Malaysia to battle fearsome spirits.
Crimson Tactics: The Rise of The White Banner
Spring is heating up with a turn-based tactical RPG in the same vein as Final Fantasy Tactics and Fell Seal: Arbiters Mark. Take part in a battle between kingdoms divided and lead a cast of over 25 classes to victory. Those wishing to find a game with strategic planning in both in terms of character customization and tactics on the battlefield should keep an eye out for this release.
Sekai Project, who previously translated and published Nekopara and Clannad, have a new game scheduled to be released this cute 2D action game. Following two chibi characters, Usada and Kotora, Alice Escaped! is a wonderland ride great for quick bursts of fun. Currently, there is no confirmation that there will be co-op, but the ability to bring a friend along for the adventure would certainly make the experience even better.
the machine that BREATHES
Sci-fi and horror fans have something to look forward to with the machine that BREATHES. Said to combine the atmosphere and situational gameplay of early Resident Evil and System Shock games, this 2D survival horror game puts puzzles and exploration at the forefront. No official release date has been set, but a free demo is still available for the month of March.
Those wanting to dive into an indie JRPG have this year’s Jack Move set in a cyberpunk world to look forward to this year. With turn-based battles, an eccentric cast, and colorful pixel art, it’s looking promising. And while developers So Romantic may seem like newcomers on the indie scene, the Taiwan-based devs have worked on titles such as Square Enix’s Heavenstrike Rivals.
While popular isekai like Mushoku Tensei have hikikomori transcending into realms unknown, Hikikomori life shows NEET culture from a raw lens. Allowing players to control the protagonist from eating and managing his gambling addiction to taking care of his restroom needs, this game doesn’t pull any punches. Check out the demo on Steam to try out this satirical life sim.
Chronicles of 2 Heroes: Amaterasu’s Wrath
Popular Japanese media has paid homage to sun goddess Amaterasu for years — recent examples include Fire Force’s Battle of Amaterasu arc. Chronicles of Two Heroes is keeping that theme going with their metroidvania game scheduled for this year. Switch between samurai Kensei and kunoichi Ayame in a style similar to Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin. Those wanting to get in on the action early can check out the demo now.
Manga readers have likely dabbled into manhwa — especially with popular works such as Tower of God getting anime adaptations. Those with an interest in stories rich in Korean history (the Joseon period in particular) should check out Suhoshin. Following officer Yuri and his investigation on a series of murders, this visual novel coming out this year has plenty of suspense to keep one on their toes.
Graze Counter GM
The danmaku genre gained popularity in the West thanks to the Touhou series. And Graze Counter GM continues the theme of an endless barrage of bullets and cute chibi girls. Pick your favorite pilot from a large cast and lead her to save humankind from robotic overlords. With any hope, the game will have a photosensitive mode on the release or scale back on flashy visuals that make other danmaku games inaccessible.