Spiritual cultivation, Turnip Boy, and Trench Warfare

We take a look at the coolest new indies released this week.

Spiritual cultivation, Turnip Boy, and Trench Warfare

Hello everyone, and welcome to your first Indie Release Dispatch for the year! I hope you all had a restful end to the year, catching up on what I am sure is an ever-growing backlog of certified bangers. 2023 was an incredible year for games, probably the best since 1998. But it was also a year full of layoffs and turmoil for those of us who work in the industry. Here’s hoping that 2024 is kinder to those who make the games that we all love, and let’s start off the new year by throwing down some cash and support behind some great indie games.

Alright, here’s your Indie Release Dispatch for January 19, 2024.

Watch the video podcast!

What came out this week?

Project Astra Dominium

Developer: Snob Entertainment 
Steam rating: Positive
Store page

If you have you ever wished that Factorio had just a little bit of They Are Billions inside it’s secret sauce of satisfying automation, perhaps Project Astra Dominium could be what your crave.

This futuristic Tower Defense game combines basebuilding, defense, and automation with a dystopian backdrop to boot. You need to build up your base as a critical supply hub for Earth, who desperately needs rare materials and resources to survive. Why are things so dire? Aliens. It’s always Aliens.

You will be setting up bases on new planets as you extract resources, upgrade your weapons and AI capabilities, and automate a deadly base to safely extract materials and defeat the endless horde.

I dig it’s lo-fi art style, and by the looks of it, this is the first release for this studio. If you are looking for something a little strategic, consider throwing this one on your wishlist.

Immortal Life

Developer: YiFang Studios 
Steam rating: Very Positive
Store page

Cozy games are all the rage these days, and this week we have Immortal Life, a life sim game that is playing with Chinese mythology. You are tasked with restoring the Guiyun Sect after it was decimated, while trying to achieve immortality through spiritual cultivation. Wow… that’s heavy.

In Immortal Life you will be doing all the things you would expect from a game like this - fishing, cooking, farming, exploring mystical realms and slinging spells. No word on whether you can romance folks in town, I know that’s big for people who play these games.

But it looks so nice! It’s also really rad to see more Chinese games hitting the top charts on Steam, and even moreso, landing in the Pixels for Breakfast press inbox. If you have played Stardew Valley to death and want to try something new, maybe give this one a go!

All Quiet In The Trenches (Early Access)

Developer: Totally Not Aliens 
Steam rating: Very Positive
Store page

Historical war games are dime-a-dozen, but it does seem we are starting to see some interesting perspective shifts in the genre. Last week War Hospital was released which puts you in charge of a medic team on the Western Front, focusing on saving people rather than destroying your enemies. Today another unique perspective has arrived with All Quiet in the Trenches, a game that puts you in command of a group of German soldiers hunkering down in the trenches during World War I.

This turn-based strategy RPG deals with a lot of heavy themes, focusing not just on the destruction of war, but the mental health of the soldiers who had to endure it. Of course there is fighting, but it’s really nice to see something that shows the emotional fallout after the fact. A line from the trailer really stuck with me:

“Your choices don’t change the war, but they change the lives of your soldiers”

The developers have released a concise roadmap which seems totally achieveable, and I just really love the style of this game. Big shout out to InGameScientist who put this one on my radar.

No Case Should Remain Unsolved

Developer: Somi 
Steam rating: Positive
Store page

I love me a good mystery, and No Case Should Remain Unsolved seems to be one of those. This two-toned adventure tells the story of Senior Inspector Jeon Gyeong who is pulled out of retirement to revisit one of the cases that she never closed - the disappearance of Seowon. One thing is for certain, everyone surrounding Seowon was lying, and Gyeong must get to the bottom of this whodunnit.

Go through conversations, spot the lies, try to make sense of it all. This looks like a fun and simple piece of interactive fiction that will surely appeal to many. The Steam page seems to say it should take 2-3 hours to complete, so this is a nice and quick mystery for a rainy day.

Sovereign Syndicate

Developer: Crimson Herring Studios 
Steam rating: Positive
Store page

If you have somehow managed to finish Baldur’s Gate 3 (I am starting it tonight, I am so EXCITED!), and Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader, and you are jonesing to drop another 753485 hours into a CRPG, then Sovereign Syndicate could be worth a look.

Sovereign Syndicate is a Victorian steampunk CRPG, but instead of using dice it plays out with a tarot deck instead. Explore the tattered streets of steampunkified London, uncovering the motivations of a mysterious cult. If typical RPGs overwhelm you (they certainly do for me), Sovereign Syndicate works with a system that levels up your skills the more you use them, rather than using stat points. Making narrative choices for your characters also will unlock new tarot cards, which expands your ability to make interesting choices in this world.

This one looks pretty neat. I have thrown it on the wishlist to get to when I finish Baldur’s Gate 3 sometime in 2027.

Turnip Boy Robs a Bank

Developer: Snoozy Kazoo
Steam rating: Positive
Store page

I never played it, but Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion was beloved, and it seems that the developers are back with a Enter the Gungeon inspired top-down shooter with Turnip Boy Robs a Bank. I say “inspired” because Turnip Boy Robs a Bank has roguelike elements, and looks a lot like that smooth animation style that Gungeon is renowned for.

Turnip Boy is ready to pull off a wacky heist, but will need to purchase an array of weapons and tools from the dark web to make their way through the sprawling bank. You will be facing off against security guards, the fuzz, and SWAT teams, all while teaming up with the Pickled Gang.

It looks silly and fun, and I probably would like this but did I tell you that I am starting Baldur’s Gate 3 tonight?

The main podcast is returning!

The year has officially kicked off, which started out with some meetings with my cohort Blue about our plans for this year. It was decided that we would be restarting the main Pixels for Breakfast podcast on February 1st. For those who have never listened, it is a bi-weekly show where we cover what we think are the most interesting news stories for the period, and then talk about the games we are playing. “Ugh, I don’t need another one of those” I hear you say? Yeah, you probably don’t! But we have been told that our development experience sometimes makes for some interesting insights, and it’s a livestream video so if that’s your thing, maybe you would enjoy it? I am not very good at selling it, but if you are interested you can follow our feed on Spotify here, or search for it with your favorite pod catcher.

We are also working on our first video essay of the year! I won’t tell you the exact angle, but we are taking a look at The Finals, but probably not in the way that you think we would be looking at The Finals. Vague, I know. But this will be my second video essay ever so it might be a little sloppy, but I want to try doing more of these longer form pieces in the future. For those who prefer reading, it will also be posted as a written article!

And as always, if you want to hang out in our community, feel free to join our Discord. And if you want to help us with our server hosting cost, or help pay for an indie game or two, we have a KoFi and Patreon page available too!