Video Games

Soccer Story Heads for the Goal, Plus 4 More Indie Games to Watch This Week

5 new indie video games to watch for: Ship of Fools, The Knight Witch, Soccer Story, Season: A Letter to the Future, and El Paso, Elsewhere!

Welcome to a new week of looking into the crystal ball of the indie game world for another diverse selection of upcoming goodness. The last stretch of 2022 is filling up, and we can’t wait to share the adorable, the frightful, and the thoughtful to see out the year. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. This week, the menu is made up of five indie games that all feel like explosions of color, though they share little else: Ship of Fools, The Knight Witch, Soccer Story, Season: A Letter to the Future, and El Paso, Elsewhere.

Indie Games Coming Soon

Ship of Fools

PC, Switch, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X | S – November 22, 2022

First up (and pushing the boundaries of “Coming Soon” because it’s out today) is Ship of Fools. So, batten down the hatches, hoist the mainsail, and prepare to weather a storm of apocalyptic proportions. Until now, the world of the Archipelago has been kept safe by The Great Lighthouse. With its fall, however, everything is under threat.

Ship of Fools is a rogue-lite, and you’ll start out by choosing your Fool, each of which comes with a unique buff, from faster reload speeds to greater damage. You’ll then leap aboard a rickety boat and set out on a tile-based journey into the unknown. As you progress, you’ll find treasures, shops, and other opportunities to upgrade your ship and your skills as you prepare to sail into the heart of the storm to end its threat.

Luckily, you’ll be able to bring a friend along on this swashbuckling adventure because Ship of Fools has been created with co-op as a focus. The game will support online and local multiplayer, and both bickering over the best course to chart in paused time and trying to fight off nasties in real time promises plenty of opportunities for a grand adventure with a partner.

The Knight Witch

PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X | S – November 29, 2022

A combination of shoot ’em up, Metroidvania, and deck-based combat skills sounds like the fever dream of some 1990s arcade fiend, right? Enter The Witch Knight, a game that can only be described as dazzling thanks to the mash-up of fast-paced, overwhelming gameplay and a delightful hand-drawn aesthetic.

The stakes are high, as the underground city of Dungeonidas (Yeah, those kinds of names seem to be a Thing for the developers.) is besieged by an army of war golems. As Rayne, one of the eponymous soldiers, you’ll be battling all manner of monsters with your assortment of skills. That gives rise to RPG-ish elements of the game. As you gain the support of the city, you’ll grow in strength — and be able to choose whether to focus more on shmup mechanics or deck-based magic skills. It promises to give a lot of freedom in making sure the gameplay is tailored to your preferences.

But the accessibility goes further than that, with the studio focusing on making The Knight Witch a game anyone can enjoy. Players can take the hardcore route of turning off assists or activate a range of options, including invincibility, auto-aim, a navigation system, and more. So, don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t look like your thing; it should give you a pretty soft landing on entry.

Soccer Story

PC, Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X | S – November 29, 2022

If that’s still not appealing, maybe a sports RPG is more your speed? Soccer Story is launching at the perfect time to tap into the zeitgeist around the FIFA World Cup, but it’s a fascinating project in its own right.

You can probably expect that you’ll be kicking a ball around and taking part in soccer matches throughout the game. But Soccer Story takes inspiration from Golf Story and similar games to make it into a lot more than just what you expect. You’ll also be exploring a zone-based world that’s stuffed with collectibles, upgrades, and side activities, like fishing and treasure hunting.

As for the story, it’s an aspirational thing about bringing the world together around something people love. Soccer has been banned after an event referred to as The Calamity, but a magic ball has selected you to help everyone else realize they can’t be pushed around by a tyrannical corporation. Although kind of absurd, it’s in keeping with the eyebrow-raising tenor of the rest of the game. And who knows? It may turn out to be a little heartwarming.

Indie Games Coming Later

Season: A Letter to the Future

PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5 – Q1 2023

Season: A Letter to the Future is one of the games that I fell in love with as soon as I came across it. Nestled pretty much bang in the middle of The Game Awards 2020, the game’s debut trailer was a chill, painterly affair where the questions about the gameplay were as compelling as those about the story.

At a high level, Season: A Letter to the Future seems familiar: It’s something like a hero’s journey wrapped up in a narrative adventure format. In this world, seasons span epochs, rather than months, and the latest is ending. As Estelle, you’ll set out on a bicycle to chronicle and understand the changes that are occurring, in addition to helping other people through their little hardships.

From the information available, it doesn’t seem like dialogue options play much of a role in your engagement with the world. Instead, that comes from riding your bike across an utterly gorgeous world and capturing its textures through audio recording, photographs, and more. It’s about being in the world, and digging into Estelle’s senses will give her a chance to find out exactly what is going on and what comes next.

El Paso, Elsewhere

PC – TBA 2023

From the team behind An Airport for Aliens Currently Run by Dogs and Space Warlord Organ Trading Simulator comes the much more manageably titled El Paso, Elsewhere. Thankfully, in this case, a less bonkers name doesn’t necessarily indicate a less bonkers idea.

This time around, the team at Strange Scaffold is putting together a third-person shooter. The result: a dark fantasy, hip-hop-infused Max Payne. With maybe a little bit of LSD mixed in. You’re a man in a trenchcoat fighting your way through a mystical hotel on a quest to hunt and kill Dracula — whom you were apparently in love with at some point?

It sounds utterly wild and seems to have the gameplay to match. There looks to be a wide array of weaponry to choose from, a bevy of different enemy types to slay, and a lurid, lo-fi world to shoot through. And let’s not forget the bullet-time leaps of Remedy’s classic hero as a way to more smoothly take down the monsters. If the idea of all that tickles your fancy but you’re not quite sold, an FPS prequel, El Paso, Nightmare, is available right now. It’ll give you some idea of the kind of madness you can expect in the full game.

And that’s a wrap for another week. Let us know what you think of the selection of indie games this time around and what you’re most interested in among Ship of Fools, The Knight Witch, Soccer Story, Season: A Letter to the Future, and El Paso, Elsewhere.

About the author

Damien Lawardorn
Editor and Contributor of The Escapist: Damien Lawardorn has been writing about video games since 2010, including a 1.5 year period as Editor-in-Chief of Only Single Player. He’s also an emerging fiction writer, with a Bachelor of Arts with Media & Writing and English majors. His coverage ranges from news to feature interviews to analysis of video games, literature, and sometimes wider industry trends and other media. His particular interest lies in narrative, so it should come as little surprise that his favorite genres include adventures and RPGs, though he’ll readily dabble in anything that sounds interesting.