Who is Leela?
Release: 24 February.
Developer: Garage Heathen
Starting Price: $9.59 | £7.43 | AU$13.56
Who is Leela? is a “detective adventure in reverse” where, instead of choosing dialogue options, you manipulate facial expressions, which are then learned by a neural network and interpreted accordingly. Tanya Kennedy has gone missing and the last person known to have seen her is protagonist William. Will you be fiddling with William’s facial expressions throughout the Who’s Lila series? to one of 15 possible endings. “Get ready for dreamlike landscapes, surreal architecture, steam-filled factory interiors, and David Lynch-inspired beauty of the industrial and mundane,” reads the Steam description.
Release: 25 February.
Developer: Uuvana Studios
Starting price: $14.44 | £11.46 | AU$20.35
Released last week in Early Access, Longwinter is a cute online survival game that doesn’t so much have to smash trees and fend off fierce wild creatures as live off the land. Players are “explorers” who are sent to Longwinter Island to discover its secrets, and their first priority is to set up camp, go fishing, perhaps berry picking, and work on getting better research equipment. Sounds easy, but you’ll also have to defend against other groups of players or attack other settlements to fortify your own. It has farming, trading, building, crafting… everything you would expect from a game like this. The early access period is expected to last about a year.
Release: February 22.
Developer: Three Bees, Inc.
Starting Price: $15 | £11.39 | AU$21.50
Perfect Tides is set on a beautiful remote island, but otherwise, the setting is fairly familiar. The year is 2000, and the main character Mara is an “Internet-obsessed young writer.” Perfect Tides is a point-and-click adventure – it’s also a meditative coming-of-age story: Mara is on “an ever-evolving quest for love, friendship, and experience,” so don’t wait for dragons. Expect the type of juicy pixel art that made the 1990s a real pinnacle for the medium.
Rise of the Dark Blood
Release date: 26 February
Starting price: $10.49 | £7.97 | AU$15.05
More cute pixel art, this time in the form of a roguelite dungeon crawler. The DarkBlood series has its origins on smartphones, but this new game looks mouse and keyboard specific and will probably appeal to anyone who loved Ultima Underworld and Eye of the Beholder, among many others. So expect turn-based battles with over 200 types of monsters, as well as puzzles and traps based on the light grid.
Brendan Keough Challenges
Release: 25 February.
Developer: Brendan Keogh
Starting price: $2.69 | £1.88 | AU$4.05
In keeping with the tendency of Australian developers to include their names in their game titles (see below). Get Over It with Bennett Foddy) is a teen golf game written by writer and academic Brendan Keogh. With three local friends or online via Remote Play, you roam freely in an open world with five nine-hole courses, one of which is a “very large desert course”. If that’s not enough, you don’t even have to play golf if you don’t want to. Instead, you can go for a bike ride or just play ball on the driving range (not technically golf!). Like Celeste, Putting Challenge was originally a Pico-8 game, which makes its open-world quite impressive, and it looks perfect for a Steam Deck (is that what we’re talking about now?). Note that Putting Challenge is described as “a local co-op golf game with all parts cut from other golf video games”, so it can be a little annoying at times, presumably by design.