Slay the Spire 2, Vampire Survivors meets Contra, and other “Triple-i” games

Slay the Spire 2, Vampire Survivors meets Contra, and other “Triple-i” games


Bloody battle scene from the game Norland
Enlarge / Norland is a game that communicates its intent well through screenshots.

Hooded Horse

The Triple-i initiative is a gaming showcase that gets it, and is also in on the joke.

The thing Triple-i gets is that most gaming “showcases” are full of corporate fluff, go on way too long, and are often anchored around a couple huge titles. Triple-i’s first event on Wednesday delivered 30-plus game trailers and teases within 45 minutes, and there was a consistent intrigue to all of them. There were some big names with some bigger studios loosely attached, and the definition of what is “triple-i” is quite vague, maybe intentionally. But there were a lot of games worth noting, especially on PC.

What kind of games? Triple-i’s website notes the announcement “may contain traces of rogue-lites.” At a breakpoint in the showcase, the omniscient text narrator notes there are “Only a few more rogue-lites (promise).” Triple-i was stuffed full of rogue-lites, roguelikes, survival, city-builders, deckbuilders, Hades-likes, 16-bit-esque platformers, Vampire Survivors and its progeny, turn-based tacticals, and then a car that sometimes has legs. There are strong trends in indie and indie-adjacent gaming, but also some real surprises.

The inaugural Triple-I Initiative showcase.

If you want a whole bunch of Steam wishlist ideas, go ahead and watch the whole thing. But here is a cheat sheet of the newest titles and notable updates I found most intriguing.

<em>Slay the Spire 2</em> has the same looks and card-based play of the original, but new mechanics are in store.

Slay the Spire 2 has the same looks and card-based play of the original, but new mechanics are in store.


Slay the Spire 2, the sequel to the 2019 game that launched hundreds of roguelike deckbuilders, announced its existence with a trailer that featured no cards. But look at the Steam page and you’ll see that the Ironclad and Silent characters from the original will return, along with The Necrobinder, a skeleton wielding a scythe and glowing with undead flame. The game is rewritten entirely from the original, with all-new visuals and “modern features,” according to the devs. The only bad news is the timing: It’s launching in early access in 2025.



Ghost Ship Publishing

Dinolords (trailer) has you building up a village in medieval England, fortifying it and training your troops to resist Viking invaders. Which is a game that’s been made before, except these marauding Danes have dinosaurs. They will ram right through the walls and eat your stupid villagers. A Stegosaurus will spin its spiky tail in a circle and knock a dozen of them over.

Vampire Survivors: Operation Guns DLC trailer.

Vampire Survivors: Operation Guns DLC feat. Contra tells you most of what you need to know if you’re familiar with the original. The “bullet heaven” auto-shooter will get 11 new characters, 22 new weapons, new stages (some of them with very side-scrolling perspectives), and lots of music remixes inspired by the “bullet hell” classic, Contra. It’s downloadable content that arrives on May 9.

The Rogue Prince of Persia trailer.

The Rogue Prince of Persia is from publisher Ubisoft, which doesn’t typically evoke “indie,” even at the “iii” level. But developer Evil Empire, one of the two teams behind rogue-lite action classic Dead Cells, is the one taking the Prince of Persia license into rogue-y directions. As you might expect, you will jump, you will fight with impossible elegance, and you will die a whole bunch. The art style is eye-catching, and the run-by-run changes should open up more approaches. The expected release date is May 24.

Norland release date trailer.

Norland, due out May 16, calls out its inspirations of Rimworld and Crusader Kings right upfront on its Steam page, and I believe it. The game looks like a fun mix of goofy, grim, tactical, and oh-God-it’s-all-falling-apart chaos, with some ruling-class concerns, too. Nasty, brutish, short, but also pretty fun?

In no particular order, a few other highlights of Triple-i:

  • Risk of Rain 2 is getting some free content, a “Devotion Update,” which includes some Dead Cells skins.
  • Kill Knight is a brutal, dark, grim isometric game, but your demonic knight has guns.
  • Laysara: Summit Kingdom takes city builders and civ games to new heights, literally, on mountains, where you deal with avalanches and sky bridges.
  • Cataclismo, from the Moonlighter folks, is a brick-by-brick castle builder and defense game.
  • Darkest Dungeon 2 is getting a new play mode, “Kingdoms.”
  • What the Car? has you play a car with legs. Sometimes you race, sometimes you cook. It’s silly time on Sept. 5.
  • Palworld is getting an arena mode, sometime in 2024.
  • Mouse, the “some kinds of Mickey Mouse are public domain now” first-person shooter, actually looks a lot more interesting than my snarky intro clause suggests.
  • V Rising, the open-world vampire game, will launch out of early access on May 8, along with a Legacy of Castlevania crossover. Finally, you can bring down the (literally) holier-than-thou Simon Belmont.


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