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Our quick-picks of the best Linux games of 2020 so far

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We're halfway through the year already? Madness. Even with all the craziness of 2020 going on, lots of games still managed to get out of the door. I know, I can't believe 2020 isn't over yet either. Thankfully there's plenty of games to take our minds off everything from murder hornets to COVID19 and more.

Now we're at the halfway point, let's think about some of the top Linux releases of 2020 so far. This list is extremely subjective of course, this is just my personal pick on the top 15. Think of it as a starting point for good games to look at if you're stuck for something. In no particular order, going up to June 30 and I'm cheating just a little bit by including some Early Access titles too.

The Pedestrian

The Pedestrian is a 2.5D side scrolling puzzle platformer. You are The Pedestrian! Enter into a dynamic 3D world with stunning graphics and challenging puzzles.

Resolutiion

Resolutiion is a fast-paced action-adventure created by two angry German brothers leading a band of vagrants who loaded it with lovely pixels, dirty jokes, deep ideas and badassemotional tunes for 20 hours of punishing combat, rewarding exploration, and layered storytelling.

Stoneshard

Stoneshard is a challenging turn-based RPG set in an open world. Experience the unforgiving life of a medieval mercenary: travel across the war-torn kingdom, fulfill contracts, fight, mend your wounds and develop your character without any restrictions.

Space Haven

Embark on a space voyage with your ragtag crew of civilians in search of a new home. Build spaceships tile by tile, create optimal gas conditions, manage the needs and moods of their crew, encounter other space-faring groups, and explore the universe in this spaceship colony simulation.

Nimbatus

Command the Nimbatus and craft drones out of hundreds of different parts. Survive unknown threats in a fully destructible, procedural universe, compete against other players in different arenas or enjoy complete creative freedom in the sandbox.

VirtuaVerse

VirtuaVerse is a challenging old school cyberpunk point & click adventure set in a future not so far away narrating tales of technomancers, AVR graffiti writers, hacker groups, tribes of cryptoshamans, digital archeology, epic cyberwars and virtual reality debauchery.

Fort Triumph

A strategy game combining the turn-based combat of XCOM with the world exploration of HOMM. Build towns, collect artifacts, improve your heroes, and influence your tactical surroundings using physics!

Filament

Solve challenging cable-based puzzles and uncover what really happened to the crew of The Alabaster. Now with Hint System (for those ultra tricky puzzles).

Iratus: Lord of the Dead

Iratus: Lord of the Dead is a turn-based tactical roguelike RPG set in a dark fantasy universe. Lead an army of undead to help an angry necromancer in his quest to reach the surface world and bring death to the mortal realms!

Into the Breach

Control powerful mechs from the future to defeat an alien threat. Each attempt to save the world presents a new randomly generated challenge in this turn-based strategy game. The Linux release came later but most welcome.

One Step From Eden

Build a powerful deck, cast spells on the fly, battle evolving enemies, find game-changing artifacts, make friends or make enemies, just make it to Eden. Might actually be one of the most challenging games of this year.

Lair of the Clockwork God

A fast-paced Point-and-Click adventure AND an indie platfomer in one! Join adventurer Ben and wannabe indie darling Dan in a race against time to stop all the Apocalypses happening at the same time.

Avorion

A procedural co-op space sandbox where players can build their own space ships out of dynamically scalable blocks. Fight epic space battles, explore, mine, trade, wage wars and build your own empire to save your galaxy from being torn apart by an unknown enemy.

Black Mesa

Is it cheating to include a remake? Nah. It's brilliant. I don't think Half-Life or Black Mesa really need a description do they? Relive Half-Life in this fan-made re-imagining.

Iris and the Giant

Iris and The Giant is a fusion of the CCG, RPG and roguelike genres. You play as Iris, who must brave her fears in her imaginary world. Dive into a melancholic and gripping adventure, filled with cute monsters and buried memories. Ready to face your inner demons?

Lenna's Inception

The legendary hero is dead, and a strange glitch is spreading across the kingdom. Explore dangerous dungeons, and defeat the eight archangels to restore order to an unraveling world in this epic action-adventure RPG.

Unrailed!

Unrailed! is a co-op multiplayer game where you have to work together with your friends to build a train track across endless procedurally generated worlds. Master random encounters with its inhabitants, upgrade your train and keep it from derailing!

Starcom: Nexus

Suddenly thrown into an unknown galaxy, you must explore, fight or befriend aliens and transform your ship from a small survey vessel into a powerful battlecruiser to unravel the mystery of the forces that brought you here and find your way home.

Fates of Ort

Fates of Ort is a retro fantasy RPG focused on strategic action, in a land where time is frozen when you stand still. Cast powerful spells - but beware, they will cost you your life.

ShellShock Live

Demolish your friends with hundreds of upgradable weapons shot from your customizable tank in this action-packed online multiplayer tanks game. Earn XP to level up and unlock new tanks, weapons, and gear. Fight against or alongside your friends for strategic team or free-for-all matches.

Admittedly, this was originally a top 5 and then a top 10 and you get the idea…gosh, so hard to pick a small set of great games from so many overall. I could easily keep going, there's a lot of quality out there but all developers supporting Linux deserve a big high-five. I'll also give Valve a truly honourable mention here for bringing Half-Life: Alyx officially to Linux with Vulkan support. One day I hope to actually be able to play it but damn VR is expensive.

If you want to just follow new releases, you can do so easily with our New Release tag.

Over to you in the comments: let's keep it simple, why don't you list your top 5 for this year so far or perhaps the 5 you're most looking forward to playing on Linux later this year?

Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
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37 comments
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Quoting: drjoms
Quoting: Liam Dawe
Quoting: 14The amount of 3D games is sad.
Games don't need to be "3D" to be fun.
Ladies don't have to be pretty for you to fall in love with them.
Food doesn't have to be tasty to eat it.
Bed doesn't have to be comfortable to be slept in.(as, in jail for example)

We have a saying in German: "Nicht alles was hinkt ist ein Vergleich."
It describes your posting perfectly. The best English translation I can come up with is "not everything lopsided is a comparison".

The thing that makes games fun is the gameplay. Graphics is a way to present gameplay to the user. If the gameplay works better in 3D, the game has to be 3D. If the gameplay works better in 2D, the game should be made in 2D (or 2.5D).

3D alone does not make a game fun. Think about No Man's Sky for instance. Many people consider that game to be the epitome of boredom (btw: I don't).
Another example is the GTA series. The first titles were 2D and when the first 3D title was made, the gameplay has changed along with the graphics, because the old 2D gameplay wouldn't fit well into a believable 3D city.
Tuxee 3 Jul
Quoting: drjoms
Quoting: Liam Dawe
Quoting: 14The amount of 3D games is sad.
Games don't need to be "3D" to be fun.
Ladies don't have to be pretty for you to fall in love with them.
Indeed.

Quoting: drjomsFood doesn't have to be tasty to eat it.
Bed doesn't have to be comfortable to be slept in.(as, in jail for example)
Depends on you how hungry or tired you are.

Apart from that pretty much all games I played recently are either 2D (Dead Cells, plenty of classics on MAME) or "fixed perspective" 3D.


Last edited by Tuxee on 3 July 2020 at 7:34 am UTC
ageres 3 Jul
2D and 3D cannot substitute each other. But what I really dislike in indie 2D games is the prevalence of pixel art graphics. Games weren't "pixel art" in the 80s and 90s, they used all display pixels and all colours available. Imagine if games back then tried to go retro and were drawn in Atari 2600 style. But even if pixel art games are claimed to be "inspired by cult classic", they are drawn much worse than SMD/SNES games, more like the first Famicom games, or just an MS Paint mess. Just compare:

The Adventures of Lomax (PS1, 1996):
link

Flink (Sega CD, 1994):
link

A generic indie release (the dark depths of Steam, 2020):
link
Liam Dawe 3 Jul
Quoting: ageresstuff
Pixel-art is often a style choice. Look at Dead Cells, it's incredible and it just wouldn't be right in 3D. On all sides, there's always going to be games that don't look good. For every person who shows a picture of a 2D game looking bad, I could show one of 3D looking just as terrible. 3D/2D doesn't matter, gameplay and overall style trumps all.
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Quoting: Liam Dawe
Quoting: ageresstuff
Pixel-art is often a style choice. Look at Dead Cells, it's incredible and it just wouldn't be right in 3D. On all sides, there's always going to be games that don't look good. For every person who shows a picture of a 2D game looking bad, I could show one of 3D looking just as terrible. 3D/2D doesn't matter, gameplay and overall style trumps all.

There are pixel-art games which do look good indeed (Dead Cells was in my mind too), but the truth is, it is harder for me to convince my friends to play pixel-art games (such as Mother Russia Bleeds, Children of Morta, Kingdom Two Crowns...) than 3D games (Overcooked, Helldivers,...).

Graphics are what makes people want to play a game, and gameplay is what makes them stay. But if the low graphics sets them away, the actual gameplay does not matter.


Then, there is Minecraft with pixel-art in 3D
Patola 3 Jul
Quoting: soulsourceThe thing that makes games fun is the gameplay. Graphics is a way to present gameplay to the user. If the gameplay works better in 3D, the game has to be 3D. If the gameplay works better in 2D, the game should be made in 2D (or 2.5D).

If the gameplay doesn't have grounding in immersion, it feels abstract and loose. So, immersion comes first. Our brain has evolved for millions of years to cope with the 3D environment, 2D symbols/tokens are a bonus.

Look at immersive games like Kingdom Come: Deliverance, Metro: Exodus, X4: Foundations, and Half-Life: Alyx (hey, is there any relation between immersive games and a colon?): what would they be without the wonderful 3D graphics? They wouldn't even exist, they would make no sense.

PLEASE. Let's stop pretending good non-flat graphics don't matter.

Quoting: soulsource3D alone does not make a game fun. Think about No Man's Sky for instance. Many people consider that game to be the epitome of boredom (btw: I don't).
Another example is the GTA series. The first titles were 2D and when the first 3D title was made, the gameplay has changed along with the graphics, because the old 2D gameplay wouldn't fit well into a believable 3D city.

So, you mention a 3D game that would be "unfun" to prove it is not sufficient, but then you say you don't consider it unfun? Do you see the problem here? lol. You just appeal to an anonymous crowd ("some people") without regards to the merit of their point of view. There will always be some people to sport a particular opinion, so this cannot be an argument.

I don't think anyone in this thread ever said being 3D is sufficient for a game to be fun. Of course it isn't. However, for other gaming attributes, like immersion, 3D is essential, and there is no escaping from it.

Have you read the book The Robot's Rebellion - Finding Meaning in the Age of Darwin? There is a part of it which tells of an experiment called Four-Card Selection Task, which is a simple logic puzzle with abstract symbols (letters and number) which 90% of people get wrong. BUT if you just change the problem to be regarding to tickets for trips to real cities, that is, grounds the symbols, most people are able to correctly solve the puzzle! It's the same thing here -- by thoughtfully grounding your puzzles and logic challenges in a realistic setting, you get the most out of the game, you make people reason correctly. Which leads to more empowering of the user and more fun.


Last edited by Patola on 3 July 2020 at 10:31 am UTC
ageres 3 Jul
Quoting: Liam DaweOn all sides, there's always going to be games that don't look good.
In my opinion, bad hi-res art looks better than bad pixel art.
Quoting: Liam DaweFor every person who shows a picture of a 2D game looking bad, I could show one of 3D looking just as terrible.
Oh, I hate the recent trend to simulate PS1 graphics even more. And, once again, those games look much uglier than real PS1 games. For example, Ultrakill. I like its gameplay, but the game itself is so ugly... What's the point of that style? There were none games on PS1 with that kind of gameplay. Dusk is clearly inspired by Quake, so I can understand and accept its low-poly style. But why do other games choose bad graphics style? When I see it, I get it as devs couldn't find good artists/modellers for their teams, not as something unique or nostalgic.
Quoting: Liam Dawe3D/2D doesn't matter, gameplay and overall style trumps all.
I agree, but if a game doesn't look appealing on its screenshots and videos, it would hard for it to get me engaged. On your recent article with interviewing the Burning Knight developer, he says he is sad about the sales. No wonder why, I see a pixel-art indie roguelike (a phrase that instanly kill my interest in a game) which is heavily overpriced considering its look. I understand that devs are trying to do their best and working hard on their games, but there are too many games which have good gameplay AND are good-looking.
Liam Dawe 3 Jul
I will agree to disagree. Frankly, this type of argument never goes anywhere. Pixel counting is just such a ridiculous and unproductive use of time. What you might think is a "bad graphics style" to others is awesome. There's no "right" opinion on it, it's video games, it's just supposed to be fun and that's what I'm focused on.

Quoting: PatolaPLEASE. Let's stop pretending good non-flat graphics don't matter.
Pretending? Who is pretending? Speak for yourself. Why do people feel the need to project their thoughts like they're right, it comes off a little insulting actually. I grew up with the Sega Master System, Acorn, Amiga, Mega Drive and so on. I am fully aware of graphics and style and I still don't care. If a game is fun, it's fun regardless of the graphic representation.


Last edited by Liam Dawe on 3 July 2020 at 10:34 am UTC
An0nx3n 3 Jul
Good graphics ( 3D ) is what sells graphics cards and consoles though... I didn't spend several hundreds of € on a gaming pc to run minecraft or sega genesis-era games.
Though probably not a popular opinion, mine is that 2D-games or retro-games are more of a handheld-thing and triple-A 3D-games should be "left to the big boys" like PC and PS4/XBOX etc...
I too am a bit disappointed to see so little native triple-A & graphically more demanding games. If I'd show a linux-library full of indie, 2D or retrogames to people, I doubt anyone would be persuaded to give linux gaming a try.
Samsai 3 Jul
Sometimes I get really immersed in books and those things have no graphics at all.
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