2019 in review: Square Enix CollectivePulse-pounding platforming, Boundless farming, multiplayer mayhem and a Superstar announcement…
Square Enix Collective exists to help indie developers get their games out into the world, and 2019 has seen some absolutely fantastic releases.
As the year winds down, we wanted to take a look at some of the great work that these teams have produced, share some personal thoughts and take a quick look at what’s to come in 2020.
We’ll start back in January, with a game that’s pretty close to my heart:
Octahedron: Transfixed Edition
In January, Octahedron: Transfixed Edition was released for Nintendo Switch.
Developer Demimonde’s vertical platformer tasks you with completing dangerous levels full of hazards, enemies, and collectables. To help, you have a very special trick up your sleeve… or rather under your feet.
At any point, you can press a button to create a platform - even in midair. This initially simple mechanic is constantly built upon in incredibly inventive ways. By the end of the game, you’ll be using it to solve puzzles, defeat enemies… and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
This tight controls are complemented by a superb soundtrack, that features tunes by Chipzel, Monomirror, André Sobota and Derek Howell.
This one’s actually something a personal favorite. The challenge feels brilliantly judged - completing levels always seems possible, but true mastery requires focus and practice. There’s also something about the beautiful visuals (you really have to see it in motion) and pounding soundtrack that I find utterly mesmerizing.
So mesmerizing, in fact, that I genuinely missed my train stop as a result of being too focused on the game. If that’s not the highest recommendation, I don’t know what is!
Battalion 1944: Eastern Front
In May, Battalion 1944: Eastern Front marched out of Early Access with… well, a battalion of new features.
The multiplayer first person shooter brought with it a razor-sharp focus on the core fundamentals that make the genre so fun. The fast-paced action features a fluid movement system, and rather than relying perks or kill streaks, players must use their own skills to defeat the opposition.
The full version expanded on the Early Access edition with whole new faction -Russia - as well as new maps, new weapons, a new Free for All game mode for solo players, mod support and much more.
Intense competition was fueled by FACEIT integration, which allowed for matchmaking, tournaments, leaderboards and rankings.
It’s pure skill-based gameplay made it a breath of fresh air for many FPS fans - go check it out:
Boundless continued to live up to its name in 2019.
The seemingly infinite MMORPG received a steady supply of new content throughout the year, with new decorative items, beacon maps and much more being added to the game.
But the largest single expansion to the game was the addition of farming, back in July. This offered so much more than simply growing fields of wheat. Sure, you could cultivate organic crops like Earthyams and Starberries… but why stop at the conventional?
The farming update also let you grow fuel inorganic crops like Combustion Fraction and Kindling Mass - a task that requires an entirely different environment and approach to the earthier crops.
Or you could harvest Goo instead - a new material that factored into the brand new painting system added to the game. With a bit of careful crafting, players were able to create pigments that let them add a veritable rainbow of colors to their building materials.
There were loads more updates too, including the addition of placeable water, useful new machines and so much more. There’s a full rundown on the Boundless Steam page, so go check it - and the game - out.
In June, during E3 2019, we announced Circuit Superstars - a new racing game by Original Fire Games.
This top-down racing game has a charming art style, but a serious approach to motorsport. It lets you play through multiple eras and styles, from 60s-styled single seaters to super-powerful GTs.
I’ve had the privilege of playing an early build, and I can report that it already feels incredibly satisfying to play. The handling is simple enough to understand, but also deep enough that it rewards true mastery.
It’s hard to articulate without getting your hands on it, but hurtling round the track at the edge of control just feels… good.
It releases in 2020 - so add it to your Steam Wishlist now:
You can also join the Circuit Superstars Discord page to chat with the developers!
Square Enix Collective on the Blog
Throughout 2019, we highlighted Square Enix Collective and the amazing work of the developers that they support. Here are some of our favorite bits of content:
What is Square Enix Collective?
Earlier this year, we interviewed Square Enix Collective’s head honcho Phil Elliott to find out more about how his team works with indie devs. He explained why he thinks it’s essential to support independent development, why it’s important to give indies control over their own projects and much more.
It’s a fascinating look behind the curtain at Square Enix, and the games industry itself, so take a look:
What makes a good videogame villain?
In April, we celebrated the sneakiest souls in Square Enix games with a full week dedicated to villains.
We asked developers, including Jon Williams, Creative Director for Tokyo Dark, and Ingvi Snædal, co-creator of Forgotton Anne, a simple question: what makes a good videogame villain.
Their answers were genuinely insightful and illuminating. Check them out here:
Circuit Superstars - your questions answered!
A lot of you had questions about Circuit Superstars after our E3 reveal. How many tracks would it have? When’s it coming out? What multiplayer options does it have?
Developers from Original Fire Games took the time to directly answer those questions and more.
So that’s 2019 wrapped up, but 2020 is already looking like an exciting year for Square Enix Collective.
To stay up to date with news about some of the best indie developers out there, make sure you follow Square Enix Collective on social media: