Another summer has come and gone, and so it is time for one of life’s greatest comforts: video games. While it can be sad to lament the loss of summer, I find it comforting to lean into fall and even the dreariness that comes from shorter days. So for this week, I found works in progress that had some darker and creepier vibes.
We have atmospheric games and more in Cool WIP, Polygon’s roundup of eye-catching clips and screenshots of works in progress. In this column, the Polygon staff scours the internet for the most interesting games still under construction to give you a sampler of the coolest up-and-coming projects.
This week we have a cosmic horror driving game, a Metroidvania where a grappling hook is your best friend, a lily pad platformer, a touching game about visiting hospital patients, and a bug-filled adventure from Annapurna Interactive.
Who knew cosmic horror could be so dreamy
in the wild pic.twitter.com/MMTsV2HWbs— mike (@kurtruslfanclub) May 5, 2022
The developers of Dead Static Drive describe the game as an “anti-Nihilism simulator” where you absolutely have to trust others to survive in its world. As far as gameplay goes, it appears to feature intense driving and walking around abandoned spaces. It sports this dreamy, misty look that sets it apart from other horror games. Its developer, Reuben, hasn’t announced a release date, but you can check out more info on its Steam page.
Fwoosh fwoosh fwoosh! Look at this nifty grappling hook
In our metroidvania, your little fae companion turns into a grappling hook to help you get to hard to reach places!— Rusted Moss (Demo available!) (@RustedMoss) September 6, 2022
#indiedev #indiegamedev #indiegame pic.twitter.com/c3pPtMl8Ip
Developers of Rusted Moss describe it as a “bullet-helly” Metroidvania where the main way you get around is using an elastic grappling hook. In the game, you travel around with a little companion who then can transform into this grappling hook. A clip of it in action shows the player using it to swing around the other side of hanging stalactites before grabbing a power-up. Traversal and exploration are key in a Metroidvania game, so it looks like the concept fits the genre nicely. Rusted Moss has a demo available for Windows PC via Steam.
I don’t think these lily pads are stable enough for you to escape a monster
Run Olle run, as fast as you can!— Bramble: The Mountain King (@bramble_game) August 30, 2022
A short section of gameplay from Bramble: The Mountain King.#indiegame #gamedev pic.twitter.com/bMCRUEyQTf
Bramble: The Mountain King is an adventure inspired by Nordic fables. The developer, Dimfrost Studio, posted a clip of a character named Olle running away from a zombie-like beast chasing him in the water. As Olle jumps from lily pad to lily pad, he almost doesn’t make it, since they are so floppy and unstable. Even from this short clip, the game looks like it’ll have a somber, haunting tone. Bramble is set to be released sometime in 2023.
A touching game about getting to know hospital patients
✨ ⏰LAUNCH DAY!⏰ ✨— Wayward Strand (@WaywardStrand) September 14, 2022
On consoles, Wayward Strand will be out 6AM in your local time, worldwide. On Steam, we’ll be launching on the 15th: 5PM AEST / 8:00 AM GMT / 12 AM PST
This is The Day!
✨ Wish us luck!
Please RT the news you see (*especially* after 5pm!!) pic.twitter.com/mjZZ9zHL2t
Wayward Strand is the exception to the creepy theme of this list. The game follows one character as they board a floating ship that also functions as a hospital. It appears to be very character-focused, and largely entails exploring its cel-shaded world by talking and getting to know the various patients and workers. It looks like a cheery but emotional game. The best part is that it just came out. Wayward Strand launched on Windows PC Thursday.
A world inside a world inside a world inside a world (you get the point)
COCOON | AN ADVENTURE ACROSS WORLDS WITHIN WORLDS— COCOON (@PlayCocoon) July 4, 2022
Each orb has an ability that can be unlocked, thereby turning the orb into a unique tool for you to utilize within other worlds.
Wishlist on Steam https://t.co/F2Tiuk04Qu pic.twitter.com/QhM1bjOm5y
I haven’t seen a whole lot of folks talking about it, but Annapurna Interactive is publishing a creepy game called Cocoon. We don’t know a whole lot about it yet, but it looks like it uses a concept similar to Russian nesting dolls where you will explore worlds within other worlds. True to the title of the game, the developers draw on various bug motifs throughout, so the game certainly won’t be short of creepy crawlies. Geometric Interactive’s Cocoon is set to release sometime in 2023.