With the release of the Steam Deck in early 2022, players around the world have been introduced to a world of gaming that had previously been inaccessible due to expense and resources. As someone who has no prior experience with the Steam library, my Steam Deck has become something of an experimental device in which I seek out gaming experiences that can’t be played elsewhere. One such area is Early Access.
Having the opportunity to play games that are currently in development has always been an area of interest. Seeing a game developed until its release is very insightful. The results are varied, but some games are incredibly well-polished and ripe with features.
In progress: Brotato
Whilst many scream and shout about Vampire Survivors, that roguelike shoot ‘em up that took the world by storm last year, I have been up to my eyeballs in Brotato. Developed by lone developer Thomas Gervraud, Brotato shares very similar ideologies to the time survival elements of Vampire Survivors — itself a product of Early Access.
Brotato is a top-down arena shooter roguelite in which you take control of a weapon-wielding potato. Wave after wave of aliens rains down on you. You must move your potato around the screen whilst it automatically uses the weapons it has at its disposal. It’s a simple concept and one that can be played purely with one stick.
Where it truly stands out from the crowd is in the management of traits and items. After each run, you can spend your in-game currency on weapons or stat upgrades to make you more powerful. With 6 weapon slots available, and over 15 stats to consider, there’s a real depth here which makes the game much more than just a time survival game.
It’s incredibly addictive. The core gameplay loop is one reason for that. However, the bopping soundtrack and satisfying sounds that permeate through each run have created a cohesive package that many fully released games should take note of.
I can’t recommend Brotato highly enough. For the measly sum of £3.99, you are getting one of my favourite indie titles of 2022. At the time of writing, 22,419 Steam players have collectively declared the experience as ‘Overwhelmingly Positive’. It’s a no-brainer.
In progress: Deadlink
Another game that is justifying my Steam Deck purchase is Deadlink. Released in October 2022, it’s marketed as a guns-blazing cyberpunk FPS with roguelite elements. In summary, it’s a banger.
Predicted to be in Early Access for roughly one year, it’s a game with a strong core identity and a bold vision. You take on the role of piloting a humanoid combat shell that is conducting covert operations to put a dent in the profits of megacorporations. It’s a fairytale story. And it’s one that provides a thoroughly engaging romp through neon-lit city streets, warehouses, and all manner of corporate buildings.
Randomised runs cause you to think on your feet as you battle through rooms overrun with enemies. You can dash, jump, and grapple hook your way around or through enemies, and the various weapon combinations offer devastatingly good combat sequences. There’s a knack for getting the best out of the game, and opening runs will end quickly and abruptly. Delve deeper into its mechanics and learn what works for you, and you’ll be fully invested in everything indie development studio Gruby Entertainment is working towards here.
With a thriving Discord community and a clear roadmap to its full release, Deadlink is a very promising title that offers a lot already. It’s not one for the faint-hearted, though. It can be incredibly challenging at times, and its mechanics require some studying. That being said, it’s another excellent title that promotes the beauty that is Early Access.
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.