June has been a wild month of video game showcases featuring incredible titles. The trouble is, most of them won’t be out until the end of this year, if not at some point in the eerie fog of 2024. However, this month has also seen the release of some incredible indie games available to play right now as of the time of writing this article. This time around, I’ve got four thoughtful, fun indie games for you, a free demo for a lovely game I’m incredibly excited about in the Steam Next Fest, and a new entry to tempt you into the world of Playdate.
Fall of Porcupine (Out Now)
Fall of Porcupine is an adorable 2D adventure game in which players take on the role of a stressed-out healthcare worker just trying to live his life and do his job. It features loads of fun mini-games and quirky scenes that engross you in the experience, but the notes of realism underneath the story and cutesy visuals have me glued to this one. The game is lighthearted, but some of the subject matter is real. It highlights the hardships of working in the healthcare system and how, in some cases, it’s impossible to win. Be ready for this one to pull at your heartstrings if you dive in. Anyone can play Fall of Porcupine on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and PC via Steam now.
Greyhill Incident (Out Now)
A little over a year ago, I was quietly watching a trailer for what looked like a farming simulator. The protagonist went outside to find his cow or brother or something but couldn’t track him down. Strange things like crop circles and other characters acting strangely seemed to be happening. Then, out of nowhere, the trailer showed a UFO, corn moving in the dark, and a big old alien grey bursting out of a field to storm the farmhouse. I screamed, and I’ve been waiting for that game ever since. Greyhill Incident takes aspects of the movie Signs and puts you in the heat of the chapters where the aliens are invading. You’re useless and can barely defend yourself. You’ve just got to hide with your crazy brother, who knew this was all about to happen. I’m a sucker for spooky games, and this one looks like it scratches that itch perfectly. It’s not going to have you as scared as Amnesia: The Bunker or Alien Isolation will, but it’s a perfectly serviceable stopgap. Greyhill Incident is available on PS4, PS5, Xbox consoles, and PC via Steam.
Smushi Come Home (Out Now)
This month’s Wholesome Direct carried with it a fun-sized surprise. Smushi Come Home is a cozy platformer about a tiny mushroom lost in the forest. Imagine Banjo Kazooie without the threatening enemies or giant boss, and you’re pretty close to seeing what this game offers. Players get to explore a larger-than-life environment at their own pace with little pressure to push them along faster than they’d want to. This game is about seeing what’s out there, chatting with the local bugs and other NPCs that pocket the toadstool-high level of the forest floor, and solving a few problems to get Smushi home. The key here is that this is a friendly game that doesn’t need you to invest in a greater evil or enemy force. It’s a mushroom trying to find its way home, it’s cute, and you get to chat with anthropomorphic bugs with impeccable personalities. The game is only available on Nintendo Switch and PC via Steam right now.
Incident at Grove Lake (Out Now)
Incident at Grove Lake didn’t appear at a single showcase this month, but it should have. It is a short, 20-minute sci-fi found footage game that puts you in the shoes of an investigator gathering information from an Area 51 worker. Following the evidence, you need to uncover the truth, and if the X-Files has taught me anything, it’s that the truth is never what it seems. This game absolutely nails the creeping horror and dread that games like Silent Hill manage to instill. Despite the PS1-era graphics, it’s scarier than titles such as Amnesia: The Bunker because it makes you think, question the logic you hold onto, and panic at the mere sight of a tree moving in the wind. The game is only available on itch.io at the time of writing.
Demo – Botany Manor
Botany Manor is a fabulous-looking game that has a demo available in the Steam Next Fest. But it’s also a game everyone should keep an eye on. Set in first person, players need to grow plants and care for seeds to unlock new ones and open up more and more of the manor they find themselves in. What I love most is that Botany Manor is introspective, using puzzles made of plants to push players to discover more about their surroundings and themselves. I realized how realistic this game is recently while gardening because you don’t notice certain things about the world around you until you have them framed in new ways by tiny shoots of green sticking out of the earth. It’s hard to explain, but this demo does a wonderful job of articulating that feeling, and it permeates the entire experience. Botany Manor is coming to Nintendo Switch, Xbox, and PC via Steam soon.
Playdate – Treasure Chasers
Publisher Panic announced two games for Playdate that it’s funding the development of this month, but they’re not out yet. Instead, I want to highlight a game that’s just been added to Catalog, Treasure Chasers. This game has you exploring a miniature world inspired by screensavers searching for random treasures. Not all of them will seem significant, but they come together to create an adventure for which you’ll remember the tiny yellow device. I’ve been waiting for a game of this scale and genre since Playdate first launched, and I can’t wait to dive back in with it.