Video games are big business in 2021, but like many mainstream industries, they still tend to suffer from a notable lack of representation. Many blockbuster titles, for instance, feature white protagonists and characters, despite the fact that 57% of players in the U.S. between the ages of 6 and 29 will be people of color in less than a decade, according to Quartz. This disconnect extends to development, wherein the number of white and Caucasian developers easily eclipse the number of Black developers.
Despite this disparity, however, Black developers have always made an impact on the world of gaming. In the 1970s, for instance, Black engineer Jerry Lawson changed gaming as we know it with the introduction of Channel F, the first cartridge-based home video game console. This new way of playing, which allowed players to tackle multiple games on a single system, paved the way for the systems we all know and love. Needless to say, hardware was only the beginning.
In honor of Black History Month, we’ve rounded up eight titles from Black developers you may have missed, whether you’re a fan of intuitive platformers or classic, 2D brawlers.
Players who want something of a puzzle-based platformer should try out Chrono Ghost. This time-bending platformer features an art style that is reminiscent of Ori and The Blind Forest. You’ll step into the shoes of the Chrono Ghost and move through levels that highlight the Chrono Ghost’s ability to stop, slow down, or speed up time. Each feature gets more intricate and involved as time goes on. Each level is filled with traps, hazards, and objects that want to stop you. The only thing that will affect these items when they’re glowing green is your time powers. This game will require careful planning, keen reflexes, and power time travel to beat.
Be warned, players. This game is great, but also it’s difficult. It can be tough to master, so be sure to take your time when trying!
Treachery in Beatdown City
Wanna beat someone up who definitely deserves it? Treachery in Beatdown City gives you the opportunity to beat the bologna out of anyone you see. Combining RPG and tactical games with wrestling mechanics, you’ll be able to lay to waste all the awful people you meat. You can choose your fighter and build up custom strike and grapple combos to save the president, Blake Orama.
The game follows a 2D, fight-for-your-life style, and is reminiscent of turn-based games like Yakuza 7. Those who saw their glory in Streets of Rage will love to pick this game up. The art style is reminiscent of those awesome ’80s games fighter games in arcades.
Maybe strategy is more your thing. Hex Gambit is a short form, competitive strategy game which allows you to surprise your friends right in plain sight. Characters are able to jump across the board like checker pieces. Each move compliments each other to create bold, game-changing plays to increase your chances of winning. Each match is a race because, with every win, your stronger abilities become unlocked.
This game is not just perfect for solo strategy players — it’s also ideal to play with friends. This game was created not just to enjoy playing, but for friends to enjoy watching as well. I mean, there’s little more satisfying than watching a friend get one-upped in a video game.
Aurion: Legacy of the Kori-Odan
On Aurioma, those who seek answers can connect with their ancestors through an energy called Aurion. King Enzo and Queen Erine Kori-Odan are crowned on their wedding day in the city of Zama. But this happy day is only the beginning. Follow Enzo and Erine Kori-Odan as they face trials and struggle to find the meaning of the Kori-Odan legacy.
The game is done in 2D hand-drawn graphics, making it an absolute sight to behold. The game has real-time fast-paced battles both on the ground and in the air for you to try out and enjoy. If you want to play something more story-based, Aurion: Legacy of the Kori-Odan is the perfect game to try.
Hair Nah aims to answer a complex question in a way that players can understand: What are the stresses that Black women face and how can we address them? Hair Nah follows a Black woman’s struggles to avoid people touching her hair uninvited. The simple, browser-based game is simple, fun, and will give you a message of inappropriate racial attitudes in style. You’ll be able to create your own avatar, pick a travel destination, and use directional keys to swipe away uninvited hands.
The game is simple to navigate, so players shouldn’t have much trouble figuring out the keys.
Tiny Bird Garden
Let’s face it, leisure games are currently all the rage. Tiny Bird Garden is the perfect virtual pet simulator that lets you customize a bird garden. You can use a variety of toys, collect accessories to dress your birds up, and other small, quirky things that will keep you invested in your garden. What’s more, you’ll be able to listen to little birdy conversations as they chat with each other. And with over 100 birds, you’ll be able to find your own favorite birds, enhance friendship levels, and other surprises that we don’t want to give away here.
What’s more relaxing than a sweet bird garden? Not much. It’s the perfect way to enjoy some downtime and listen to some sweet bird sounds.
Swimsanity! is an action-packed, underwater shooter that will take you by surprise. You play as Mooba and use a variety of unique power-ups and weapons to survive in a cruel, aquatic world. You can team up with friends to swim, explore, and shoot in Adventure mode, or face off in Last Mooba Standing matches. And, with over 150 challenges to complete across 8 action-packed game modes, you and your friends are sure to be facing off for hours.
What’s more, Swimsantiy! is offered on PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo Switch, and PC, and offers cross-platform play. No matter what system your friends play on, you’re definitely able to play all together.
Before I Forget
Sometimes, a nice story game is the perfect thing for a long day. Before I Forget is a story-based game about love, loss, and a life fulfilled. The game centers on Sunite, a woman with early-onset dementia. You find yourself trying to piece together her life by searching her home for answers and clues. Each item will bring you one step closer to bringing Sunite’s memories back to her.
Before I Forget highlights the small yet important aspects of our everyday lives. Each item in Sunite’s home has a heavy history that will help put together her memories. The game explores the tragedy of how easily memories can be lost by the people who live them. Be ready for tears and some feels when you play this one.
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