The Most Powerful Racing Game of 2024 Involves Climactic Boss Battles (And 6 More Day of the Devs Reveals)
Get those Steam wishlists ready.
Day of the Devs has always done a fantastic job of spotlighting up-and-coming indie games. This year, Psychonauts developer Double Fine and artist collective iam8bit hosted an in-person event to coincide with The Game Awards in Los Angeles, and Inverse had the chance to try out a smattering of different titles, from promising pixel horror to high-octane racing. Here are our picks for seven games from Day of the Devs LA, that you should absolutely wishlist on your Steam accounts, plus one extra activity you should travel around in hopes of seeing.
7. Home Safety Hotline
Home Safety Hotline is the horror game I didn’t know I needed; a minimalistic text-based game with a brilliant twist. You play as a nameless call center employee, whose sole responsibility is to listen to callers and then deduce what problem might be afflicting their home. The game includes full voice-acting for each caller, whose voices are often inflected with hilarious flare. After listening to what a caller has to say you’ll comb through a list of pre-written solutions. Each solution has a full description to read through, and using context clues you’ll need to figure out which one suits the caller’s problem the best.
These problems and solutions start innocuous with things like black mold or bats, but the further you progress, the increasingly surreal and paranormal, they start to get. Suddenly you’re dealing with things like Hobbs (a creature from English folklore), otherworldly abnormal growths, giant slugs, and far more. There seems to be an overarching story that flows through as you complete new calls. Home Safety Hotline’s aesthetic feels like it was ripped right off a home computer from the ‘90s, and it’s overflowing with personality.
Sticking with the horror genre, Holstin is a fascinating experiment. It’s a pixel horror game played from a top-down isometric perspective until you enter combat. Switching to combat mode flips you to a third-persona Resident Evil-esque camera, letting you pinpoint your shooting.
The perspective shifting can be jarring at first, but it’s absolutely fascinating to play. The exploration elements have a huge emphasis on puzzle-solving and awareness of your surroundings, the latter of which becomes even more important when you switch to combat and have your view restricted. There are Slavic inspirations behind the game’s horror, and potentially some roguelike elements as well. Holstin is unlike anything I’ve ever played, and for that alone, it’s worth keeping an eye on.
Resistor is a high-octane racing game that feels like it’d be right at home in the PS2 era but also weaves in some interesting narrative elements. Driving in Resistor feels arcade-y in the best way, like a throwback to the days of Burnout or Wipeout. As you speed down narrow canyon roads, you can ram other racers, launch off ramps, execute massive boosts, and more.
The cel-shaded art style fits Resistor perfectly, and while I only got to experience racing, the game’s Steam page does seem to indicate a hefty narrative element that ties everything together, complete with quirky characters, and open world, and climactic boss battles.
4. Thank Goodness You’re Here!
Thank Goodness You’re Here! is by far one of the strangest games at Day of the Devs, both because of its hand-drawn art style and because of its off-the-wall sense of humor. This is a narrative exploration game that has you exploring a small Yorkshire town called Barnsworth, and helping the strange citizens solve a variety of different issues.
In my demo, I stumbled upon a shop called Big Ron’s Big Pies, where as you might expect, I had to fix the owner’s problems of not being able to make said pies. Inside the shop, a knock-kneed delivery boy crushes on the owner’s daughter, who prominently displays her massive brace-filled mouth. Eventually, I end up having to find a ham to stick in the pie machine, then jump in the machine myself to pound the ham into a pie. It’s clear that Thank Goodness You’re Here! is diving headfirst into absurdist comedy, but if my short demo is any indication, it’s doing it with flying colors.
3. Last Time I Saw You
Another game with a striking visual style, Last Time I Saw You feels Ghibli-esque, both in its aesthetic and leitmotifs. It’s a coming-of-age story about a young boy named Ayumi, who finds himself having to deal with a curse that’s afflicted his hometown.
Last Time I Saw You is heavy on the narrative, and that’s clearly where it shines. I was immediately drawn in by Ayumi’s story, especially with it set against the backdrop of 1980s Japan. There are some light action elements and puzzle-solving mixed in, but the joy of this experience lies in exploring its gorgeous world, playing out a heartfelt story, and meeting a cast of genuine characters.
2. Sophia the Traveler
Sophia the Traveler is the video game I always dreamed of as a child, as I combed through every Where’s Waldo book I could possibly find. It’s an astoundingly gorgeous game done in a picture-book style that takes you to the canals of Venice in an object-finding adventure.
What I love about Sophia the Traveler is that the environment doesn’t feel like static pieces you’re looking through, but living and breathing cities. Citizens mill around the city going about their daily lives, street performers play songs, and a metric ton of Easter Eggs can be found on every corner. I honestly wouldn't have had a problem looking through the one map I played for hours, and I can’t wait to see what developer Memo Gogo has in store for the full release.
1. How (Not) To Get Hit By a Self-Driving Car
A bit of an extra entry, How (Not) To Get Hit By a Self-Driving Car isn’t a game that you’ll be able to play easily, but it was undoubtedly the big attraction at the Day of the Devs. This interactive exhibit is set up like a crosswalk, with your goal being to reach a touchpad at the end without getting the self-driving car to stop. A screen at the end displays a camera showing your movement, with gauges and graphics that appear to show if the “self-driving car” is detecting you. If you’re detected, you lose.
To be clear, this isn’t a video game but something you can interact with physically in real life. But I felt it was worth including as every single person was talking about it at the show.
All day long, a crowd congregated around the game last Friday, watching as people would wear traffic cones, drape jackets over their heads, and try to move as inhumanly as possible. Seeing people deploy different strategies was exhilarating, and the handful of individuals who beat the car got massive cheers, even though, theoretically, they would have been run over if it was real life.
How (Not) to Get Hit By a Self-Driving Car is a phenomenal exhibit, one that creates true joy through interactivity. It was previously shown off at Playable City Bristol, in the United Kingdom. I sincerely hope that it makes the rounds at more events and showcases so that more get to experience the joy of it.
You can see more info on How (Not) To Get Hit By a Self-Driving Car on Playable City’s website.