Pride Month may be over, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t look at games by queer creators anymore. I chose not to go deep into looking at games from the Queer Games Bundle last month because something I worked on was in it. However, since the bundle is no longer on sale, I can now confidently talk about some of the games in it without ethical breaches. Well, I talked about Winter, but that was a one-off thing.
For this article, I choose to focus on games that aren’t visual novels. See, here’s the thing. I love visual novels, but it really does feel like most LGBT games or games by LGBT people are visual novels or other forms of interactive fiction, and that can kinda get boring? In a way, I want to focus on games that don’t fit into that mold here because maybe it’d inspire others to also go beyond it. Variety is the spice of life, y’know.
Though, I did look at Tomai and Contract Demon, two visual novels in the bundle, in the past. They’re mostly excellent games, so please don’t take my disinterest in highlighting visual novels and other interactive fiction here as a knock against the genre!
CONVERGER, by -hexcavator-, is an anti-fascist themed puzzle roguelike where you control squads of punks fighting authoritarian threats on the streets.
All units have basic stats around them: how much life they have left, the maximum attack roll and the maximum defense roll that’s picked when clashing against an enemy unit. Stronger units can also knock back weaker ones upon successful hits, which can enable you to do things like knocking enemies into powerlines to instantly kill them; of course, they can also do the same to your intrepid band of heroes.
Now, the challenge of the game – and where the puzzle aspect comes in – is that all your punk units have such a strong sense of solidarity that they’ll all move in the same direction at the same. While one squad attacks an enemy unit, another could just be stuck bumping into a building, where they’ll be vulnerable to an enemy unit. To master CONVERGER, you have to control your units effectively, which is something that gets harder as obstacles are introduced to the playfield that can injure or straight up kill any unit that wanders into it. Maybe you can work on uniting your units as soon as possible to prevent needless deaths; alternatively, if you can get a good handle on things, you can guide your gang into fighting multiple units simultaneously.
When I work on things, I like to put idle games on in the background. I like to multitask even if it’s in a meaningless way, and boy, do I love to see numbers go up. I’ve been playing NGU Idle while I was working on my own stuff, which is a game that has an inexplicable amount of systems, but its initial system of beating bosses is a bit interesting than usual in that each boss has a bunch of flavor text. I thought that it was a nice way of adding a bit more character to an idle game, and it made me wish for the game to go further with it.
So, SPACE/MECH/PILOT by SKY HOUR WORKS comes in to scratch that itch. Initially, the game just seems like any other normal idle game but with shmup theming. Upgrade your ship to hit enemies harder, gain AP to further upgrade the ship and SP to buy general upgrades when you level up, so on. Straightforward stuff.
But then, things change when you buy the SIM card upgrade. Upon getting that phone, you are contacted by Kato, a universal traveler that’s spent weeks trying to get into contact with someone. As your ship blasts standard idle game jobbers in the background, you can chat up Kato about things. There’s this whole life sim element added on this idle game where increasing social stats can give you more conversations with Kato and empower you, while ranking up your relationship with them improves you further.
Personally, I wish there was more to it, but in general I think that SPACE/MECH/PILOT is an interesting take on the idle game genre. I think that visual novel-like segments going on while an idle game goes on in the background is a neat idea that could stand to be explored more. Like yeah, if there’s nothing else to really do, might as well just read. I don’t know if any other idle game has done it, but SPACE/MECH/PILOT is a decent step in that direction.
Yurivania: Uhaul of the Night
There exists a castle where monster girls gather to find safety in a world of hostile humans. In this small piece of the world, Stheno the gorgon finds love in her plant girlfriend Alarune. When Alarune plans to move places in the castle, Stheno hopes to have her move in with her. And so, in MxAshlynn’s Yurivania: Uhaul of the Night, Stheno goes on an easygoing adventure platformer quest to prepare the place for her girlfriend to move into.
This is a game made in GB Studio; while you can play it in the browser, you can also play it on an emulator or even on original Gameboy hardware if you have the means. The game is clearly Castlevania inspired, though it sacrifices the action in those games in favor of focusing on adventure game elements. The platforming feels somewhat clunky for my liking, but I generally thought that this is a nice and sweet time.
Immortal Saga, by Starmongoose, is a strategy RPG that starts out with a young lady lord and her friends going out to fight for her people in the midst of a war which soon becomes something more complicated. This also may be the first game I’ve seen made in SRPG Studio, a game engine aimed toward producing SRPG games – with its default assets heavily favoring making a Fire Emblem-esque experience. It’s a first time for everything.
I’m not somebody good at games like these, since I really hate to lose units. However, Immortal Saga is fairly welcoming for people that are inexperienced with these games. Besides the classic character permadeath mode, you can play in Phoenix mode (like Fire Emblem Fates) where defeated characters just retreat instead of dying, a Paragon mode that takes Phoenix further by granting characters double EXP and a Story mode that flat-out skips the battles altogether.
If you’re going to play this, here are some useful controls to know since it isn’t listed anywhere: Z is the confirm button, X is the cancel/info button, Space skips scenes for some reason, so never press it.
R Line After Dark
Made by Miles Rosenthal, Geneva Heyward and Eric Luo, R Line After Dark presents a chill rhythm game experience. As the name indicates, the rhythm game is framed around public transit, where you hit notes at stops on a circular track.
There are essentially three different difficulty modes to the game. In Pick Up, it’s a simple one-button rhythm game where you just pick up passangers. Drop-Off adds a second button to the mix where you have to drop off passengers at stops, while Express Drop-Off complicates it further by making the drop-offs into arrow key presses. It’s all simple to understand and simple to get into and I’d personally like to see this get expanded on.
Of course, this is just a snapshot of what’s going on with the bundle, as there’s a whopping 175+ games in the mix, alongside assorted other things. Besides video games, there’s 40 physical games included in the mix, such as catabolism’s GODEATER. There’s a few writings like nilson’s (creator of Untitled Dating Sim: Three First Dates) zine, video games have been queer, and speaking of zines, you can have a try at making your own with the inclusion of alienmelon’s Electric Zine Maker.
There’s a lot to see if you got the Queer Games Bundle. And hell, even if you didn’t get it, you can always take the time to look at its entries individually.