When the seas boil into the red giantess of our sun, one grand monument will escape the ravages of solar apocalypse. Secure in the Humanity Memorial on Titan, future civiliations will find an ancient leatherbound tome with a thousand pages. It is the Crashbook.

A new page beckons, containing fourteen more games I have not played.


DESOLATIUM is a first-person point & click Graphic Adventure based on Lovecraft Mythos. Live this horror story where you will have to visit mysterious locations, face lovecraftian creatures, find clues and combine objects to solve puzzles.

Crash notes: The screenshots suggest first-person point and clicker but some of the cutscenes in the trailer are wacky (in a good way).

Windows, Linux | Steam Link | Just Released

373/ Windblown

Brave the Vortex and dash your way to greatness in this lightning-fast action roguelite for 1-3 players from the crafters of Dead Cells. Absorb the powers of fallen warriors, rebuild their weapons, and WIPE THE FLOOR with those Sentinels in search of that perfect run!

Crash notes: Pretty, nice boss battles. With bullet hell and funky swish moves, looks like a git gud title to me. Also known as beyond the button-limp fingers of Joel.

Windows | Steam Link | Unreleased

374/ Alruna and the Necro-Industrialists

Alruna is a compact and high-density Metroidvania, with a focus on sequence-breaking and playing things out of order.

Crash notes: The screenshots don’t really suggest anything other than a 90s-era styled metroidvania but the Steam details are more compelling with a “combat ending” vs the “exploration ending”. And you can tackle bosses in any order.

Windows | Steam Link | Unreleased

375/ Lost In The Open

An unexpected assassination plot leaves you wounded and fleeing across no man’s land. In this roguelike, low-fantasy tactical RPG, your survival hinges on strategic recruitment, desperate fighting and sincere repentance.

Crash notes: This popped up in Steam’s turn-based fest recently. “Lost in the Open is designed to be a challenging experience. Enemies will pull you out of position, lure you into traps and work as a team to flank you. Position your units to create an impenetrable frontline, but remember to protect your flanks and, most importantly, your king!” Interesting that you take the role of the king, whose reign was “bloody, oppressive and unjust”.

Windows | Steam Link | Unreleased

376/ Akatori

Akatori is an epic metroidvania where you wield your staff to fight, jump, and explore diverse realms across different eras. Join Mako on her journey to build friendships, face formidable foes, and uncover ancient gods while discovering her true self.

Crash notes: Beautiful visuals, like watching a pixelated animated film.

Windows | Steam Link | Unreleased

377/ Buckshot Roulette

Play Russian roulette with a 12-gauge shotgun. Two enter. One leaves. Roll the dice with your life. Good luck!

Crash notes: Looks like a game that’s picked up Inscryption‘s first-person table duel aesthetic with the option to wander… the price is cheap so I imagine not a long game.

Windows, Linux | Steam Link | Just Released

378/ Wassermann

A short and eerie horror game about trying to get into the lair of the Wassermann to rescue your spouse.

Crash notes: From the developer of monochrome Sokoban game Sisypush.

Windows, Linux | Steam Link | Unreleased

379/ Hermetica

Travel back to darker times, and enjoy a roguelike deckbuilder adventure, set in XVI Century. Discover the secrets of alchemy and fight mythical beasts. Hermetica combines card tactical combat and potion crafting, with a unique medieval art style.

Crash notes: Naturally the art style got it committed to the list immediately.

Windows | Steam Link | Unreleased

380/ Fractal Sailor

Fractal Sailor is an experimental, atmospheric horror tech demo where you take the role of a lone sailor navigating a hovercraft through a dark and mystic fractal environment. Your objective is to refuel and reactivate abandoned stations that have collected rare resources from these fractals. However, you are not alone…

Crash notes: Gregg sent this over to me; looks like someone has made a game in the image of Bananaft’s Yedoma Globula. (Bananaft is Russian and stopped developing after the Ukraine war started.)

Windows, Mac | Itch Link | Just Released

381/ Let Bions Be Bygones

Having lost everything, a retired, hardboiled detective, John Cooper, must take his last case to find a missing upper-class girl among the lowest parts of the dystopian city-planet Terrahive. Choose your unique path in this atmospheric narrative future-noir thriller.

Crash Notes: All three acts of the game are now available. I quite like the look of it but there are quite a few naysayers in the Steam reviews with regard to graphics, typos, vocals and story.

Windows | Steam Link | Just Released

382/ Flock

Flock is a multiplayer co-op game about the joy of flight and collecting adorable flying creatures with your friends. Soar through beautiful landscapes, seeking out rare and elusive creatures to add to your flock.

Crash Notes: My instant reaction when I saw a screenshot of Flock was oh it’s Feather? Although it has multiplayer aspects and screenshots impress a similar visual style, it’s not Feather – you’re not a single feathered explorer, but trying to build a flock from the different creatures you find which all have different behaviours.

Windows | Steam Link | Unreleased

383/ The Horror at Highrook

The Horror at Highrook is an occult card crafting RPG. Explore a haunted mansion with your team of investigators, summon dark entities, craft powerful protections, uncover the fate of the missing family, and choose your own path through the darkness.

Crash Notes: I can’t help it. I saw the cards, the graphical styling and the listened to the trailer music and immediately thought Cultist Simulator. I don’t think it plays the same, but I only have the trailer to go on. From Nullpointer Games (developer on Big Robot’s games and also Out of the Pit).

Windows | Steam Link | Unreleased

384/ Pools

Walking simulator. Explore, admire and listen. Uncanny. Relaxing. Unnerving. Eerie. Immersive. No monsters chasing you or jumping towards at your screen, but can feel oppressive at times by invoking fears of getting lost, the dark, tight spaces and liminal space architecture. Inspired by backrooms.

Crash Notes: Seems there is no jump scares but a decidedly terrifying experience regardless.

Windows | Steam Link | Just Released

385/ UltraNothing

Nothing to See Here… 2D Puzzle Strategy (not RPG) Platformer.

Crash Notes: I know it doesn’t look like much, but this was flagged to me on the Thinky Games YouTube comments today. Apparently an absorbing puzzler. Steam reviews like this: “After 34 hours of play, I have finally reached an ending, yet there is still much more to see. This game is really good.” And Steam reviews like that: “If you are a fan of the likes of Baba is You or Mosa Lina this is 100% a must buy – for it’s low cost you will soon have more hours then the pounds you spent, and those hours will be very enjoyable ones.”

Windows | Steam Link | Released Jan 2024

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11 thoughts on “Crashbook #25

  1. yeah, the horror at highrook looks extremely cultist simulator. so much so that im not sure how it differs apart from theming/writing.

  2. Joel, I’ve got a game for you that’s unlike anything else.

    Okay, fine, it’s an exquisite visual novel that oozes with style and personality and has some of the most intriguing world building and presentation that I’ve ever seen.

    Did I mention it’s free?

    It’s still in development though.

    It’s called Corru Observer – https://corru.observer/

    As for the games in the post, Pools reminds me of a few horror games that I’ve seen Markiplier and ManlyBadassHero play. I wonder if it’s doing anything else, because I get the feeling the design space for liminal horror in pools has been pretty thoroughly explored.

    The Horror at Highrook looks indeed very much like Cultist Simulator, I wonder if it’s better (and by better I mean designed in a way that allows me to actually get anywhere).

    Buckshoot Roulette is fun! Again, saw a bunch of LPs from my two favorite horror LPers. Mike Klubnika other games are also excellent, he has a certain style that grabs you. I suggest you either play them yourself or watch LPs (I personally would recommend ManlyBadassHero’s because he’s more down to earth). And then you can watch this excellent analysis of themes in his games: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xvN_EebjdZE

    And, as usual, if you give me platform I’ll just keep generating text like an AI.

  3. okay so coincidentally the demo of The Horror at Highrook dropped today – https://store.steampowered.com/app/2836860/The_Horror_at_Highrook/ – and yes, it plays much the same as Cultist Simulator—but it has a clearer objective (investigate the disappearance of the Ackeron family amid rumours of occult dabblings) and a slightly clearer structure, where you are exploring the mansion and its environs.

    each room in the mansion is an oven; put a task card in its main slot, and a character who has the skills needed to do the task in the room, supported if need be by other cards to supplement skills; then start the task and wait for it to complete and pop out new cards. (and pause a lot to move cards around without worrying about time passing by as you drag and drop. honestly i wish the game did _not_ advance its clock unless you had tasks going; neither constant pausing and unpausing nor the alternative, a constant worry that some unseen timer is running down is particularly engaging for me).

    at the same time, each character has stats: injury, fatigue, madness, hunger that build over time, so you need to give them tasks to rest, to prepare food, to eat food, to heal etc. in order to keep them in good shape. i have no idea as yet what happens when stats redline!

    the story comes via descriptions on different cards plus dialogue sequences between the characters. so far its all terribly mysterious tidbits but i have no real idea where it is going. but it feels more gothic/lovecraft-adjacent than cultist simulator’s more mystical bent.

  4. oops, meant to add:

    i can see this having the exact same problem for me that cultist simulator did: no obvious stopping point, and always “just one more thing” to do (overlapping of course with the other three things in the oven) leading to me getting glued to it for hours and hours until exhaustion. whether it expands quite so open-endedly as cultist sim did remains to be seen. i expect the demo at least should have a definite end, so the risk of me playing it until i hate it ought to be low.

  5. well i was going to reply in more detail but i clicked on corru.observer and that was the end of my evening and Thinky video editing

    so, uh, thanks

  6. Thanks for the Highrook recon, vfig. I always liked Cultist Sim’s overall structure but it was such a frightening timesink that I could never bring myself to approach it a second time after a victory. (I tried once but I’d forgotten so many of the rules that I’d figured out, I abandoned the attempt.)

    Whether I want to put myself through a similar game remains unclear however I did like the Deadly Path which follows a similar uh road but felt sufficiently different. However that isn’t to say I would dislike Highrook.

    Also, Maurycy, I wanted to say I had actually already bought Buckshot Roulette as it was pretty cheap, but haven’t brought myself to fire it up. Thinky Games prep dominates all of my play these days… Then ofc you slipped corru.observer through my defenses

  7. Well if not for Fractal Sailor I would be getting shut out in this one–that’s “out for a duck” in cricketese, I guess. Fortunately Fractal Sailor seems like something I will like!

    So OK, let’s figure out What Matt Should Play Next. The answer is “more slice & dice broken up by 14 Minesweeper Variants” but never mind that. For turn-based dungeon crawl/strategy games* I guess I should check out Incanabula and, has anyone tried Shogun Showdown? What about Let’s! Revolution!? That’s in a bundle with something else? Also I can start up Darkest Dungeon or restart Inscryption or something.

    For puzzle games, I guess I should finally buckle down and try to get some help for the overworld puzzle where I’m stuck in Can of Wormholes, which I have some sneaking suspicion is like when I couldn’t climb a ladder in Stephen’s Sausage Roll. Sokobond Express is supposed to be good too, right?

    What I really need is a recommendation for some kind of actiony game, which doesn’t need to mean ACTIONY. Do I want a “the kind of game you play except realtime [that is, r*******e]” like Unexplored or Rhythmdancer? What I really want is probably an open-world platformer. Knytt Underground has fallen to Apple’s war on backward compatibility. Is there anything I can play on the Mac that is like Knytt Underground and also as good as Knytt Underground?

    *nobody better say “r*******e” unless you mean it**

    **ok look I’m at the Shogun Showdown page and there’s a “turn-based roguelike” bundle and people are saying “cool turn-based roguelike” and what do you people even think roguelikes ARE? what’s next? “real-time platformer”? “first-person FPS”? “verbal text adventure”?

  8. “what do you people even think roguelikes ARE? ”

    mate you don’t even want to know

  9. @Joel
    All the blame goes to another person who hit me with the game.

    I’ve got another one I wanted to send your way, though something tells me you might’ve already heard of it. Alex Diener’s first release in a while, Leaf’s Odyssey. If you asked me I’d say it’s DROD for people who dare not delve enough. Great puzzle design, you plays as (maybe) a ferret, what else to ask for?

  10. I’m not sure if that description appeals to Joel, whose skepticism of “combat dance” puzzles is well known, but it definitely appeals to me! I feel like I should like DROD in theory but in practice I wound up bouncing pretty hard off some puzzles (in Gunthro and the Epic Blunder) that are like “Here’s a one thousand by one thousand grid, there is one thing that you can do in it to affect a snake on the opposite side of it, it takes five hundred steps to get to where you do it, it is obscure, and if you take one step wrong along the way you have to restore to a checkpoint by which you may have already softlocked the puzzle.”

    (This is not the fault of this game in particular, but I have developed a white-hot hatred for Steam. Steam just loves making me submit verification codes, having a ridiculously cumbersome process for switching accounts, and kicking me or my child out the game we’re playing when the other one wants to log on. I swear I used to be able to play many Steam games without logging on! It is even more annoying than the “The developer didn’t pay us $1000 so we’re going to tell you the file is damaged” dance that Apple makes me go through when I first play something I bought anywhere else.)

  11. @matt w
    Okay, the less poetic version would’ve been “DROD for those who didn’t love DROD” but I couldn’t help myself. I know Joel never got too deep into DROD and I think this Leaf’s should appeal to him since there isn’t really any “combat dance” in it. All really well designed puzzles!

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