I thought there was no way that Baldur’s Gate 3 would suck me in and grip me with its Mindflayer tentacles, but something about it just scratches my Dragon Age itch. However, we all need a palate cleanser between playthroughs and builds, and August 2023 is filled with games that can be just that.
It was challenging to narrow down which titles to showcase this month because we’ve also got Steam’s Visual Novel Fest, which features hundreds of excellent visual novels, all worthy of your attention. Somehow, I have carved the plethora of indie games launching this month down to just four that I think will catch your eye and pull you out of your D&D RPG rut. There’s also a great demo and something for Play Date fans looking for a new handheld addiction.
I Am Future
- Release Date: August 8
- Platform: Steam Early Access
I Am Future is a cozy survival game set in a post-apocalyptic world where humanity is long gone. Players must build a new life for themselves across the remaining rooftops of what remains after the water levels rose so high that nothing but fish could survive.
This game looks incredibly charming and has a great sense of humor. Your friends are small helper robots, a vending machine, and strange plants that might be trying to kill you. I can see an addictive gameplay loop forming between resource gathering and crafting because it looks like everything needs to be micromanaged in a good way.
I Am Future is out now in early access on Steam, but we’re not ready to share our full preview of it just yet. From what I’ve played so far, I can tell that there’s a solid survival heart to this lovely little title, and early access should only help polish it into an outstanding experience.
Verne: The Shape of Fantasy – August 14
- Release Date: August 14
- Platform: Steam for PC & Mac
If you love Jules Verne, then Verne: The Shape of Fantasy is for you. It’s a point-and-click adventure game in which players take on the role of Jules Verne and explore locations from his books. You’re going to Atlantis, the center of the Earth, and so many more exotic locations along the way as the story pushes you forward with a gripping narrative.
The thing that draws me to this game is its visuals. I love a good point-and-click adventure, but there’s something about this one that just ticks all the boxes for me. It’s ambitious, establishing a world within the world with real rules that don’t make sense, and I love that sort of thing. I get a sense that playing it will feel like watching the National Treasure movies, and I don’t think any of you reading will tell me that’s a bad thing.
- Release Date: August 17
- Platform: Steam for PC
Affogato is an RPG with a reverse tower defense mechanic and cafe simulation systems. You explore the world, meeting up with new friends, but they’re a little off, and you can sense some sort of inner turmoil in each of them. With your companions, you must help people overcome their inner demons in a reverse tower defense battle where your characters are the ones moving around the defenses.
Then, when everyone’s safe and relaxed and wants to dig into some conversation, the cafe simulation comes out. It’s not as sophisticated as Coffee Talk, but it does fit both narratively and aesthetically, allowing you to take a load off in the middle of an intense adventure in a quaint way, I think, nails the vibe of a party resting between story arcs in D&D.
Daymare: 1994 Sandcastle
- Release Date: August 29
- Platforms: Nintendo Switch, Steam for PC, PS4, PS5 & Xbox Series X/S
Daymare: 1998 is an incredible survival horror game that gets everything right, even though the story has problems. Prequel Daymare: 1994 Sandcastle is a game I’ve had my eye on ever since it was first announced, and I couldn’t be more excited that it’s just around the corner.
The Daymare series is driven by its story, but it’s the heart-pounding tension and moment-to-moment gameplay that’s the star. If you love classic survival horror games, twists and turns, and surprises that come from nowhere, I can promise this game will deliver.
The best way to describe the feeling of playing these games is that it’s the same as the intro to Dino Crisis. You’ve just landed, people are disappearing, and there’s blood on the ground. Something doesn’t feel right, even before you find half a body. Then, as you open a creaky gate that will almost certainly attract any danger nearby with its horrifically visceral sound, a raptor leaps out and starts biting down on your limbs. Daymare: 1998 recaptured that level of horror for me, and I know Daymare: 1994 Sandcastle will too.
Free Demo – Cabernet (Demo up for Steam Visual Novel Fest from August 7)
- Release Date: TBA
- Platform: Steam for PC
This month’s free demo I recommend you try out is Cabernet. It’s a supernatural RPG visual novel that’s part of Steam’s Visual Novel Fest. In it, you explore a complicated character who finds herself thrust into an upper-class world filled with blood-thirsty monsters. There are also vampires.
Dialogue choices matter more than in most similar games here because they could lead to your death, transformation, or revelation, depending on how the story plays out for you. I’m really intrigued to see how different each playthrough can be based on the depth of the choices, and I just want to suck the blood out of people after charming them away from prying eyes.
Play Date – To Dust
- Release Date: Available Now!
To Dust is the second Play world of The Botanist. It’s a linear story that takes roughly 15 to 20 minutes to complete and walks players through some stunning comic book artwork on the device’s tiny screen.
What I like about To Dust is that it’s clear, concise, and has an endpoint. I think too many games that have been released lately offer masses of replayability for potential new story tidbits. Some even hide the story behind hours of grinding out missions. I think we’re at the point in the year where we all need a few short experiences to complete ahead of the game none of us will ever truly finish. Starfield.
Recommendation – Loftia
I don’t like to throw Kickstarter campaigns out there often because not everyone can get involved, but Loftia is different. This cozy MMO launched on Kickstarter at the start of the month and smashed its goal in 2.5 hours. It’s now working its way through all of its stretch goals and should hit each one.
Loftia is a solarpunk MMO with a focus on community over progress. Sure, you have an apartment, farming mechanics, collectibles, and all that good stuff you want in a cozy title. But you also have a cafe where you buy drinks that set the music so you can sit your character down and get on with some real-life work. Whether you’re studying or reading a book, I think that Loftia’s take on the MMO genre is just truly awe-inspiring.
We all adapted to be so close to each other online in 2020, and I think we’ve lost that in the years since. There’s no reason we shouldn’t still have new experiences with people we meet online. I believe in Loftia because it’ll grow with a community of like-minded people who just want a chilled gaming experience. No min-maxing, no day-one raid parties, just everyone working together for a common goal with similar climate-friendly values.