There's a saying that everything old eventually becomes new again, and in the nostalgia-soaked landscape of present-day video gaming this is perhaps more true than ever. In recent weeks, Sega has announced a remaster of Alex Kidd, its flagship title from the '80s before Sonic the Hedgehog hit the scene; the remastered version of the N64 game Shadow Man was released; and now it's been announced that one of the '90s most recognizable indie publishers, Apogee, is back in business.
During the 1990s Apogee published MS-DOS games on the shareware model, where the first part of a series was released for free in order to entice players into buying later chapters. In its heyday, Apogee published well-known titles ranging from hits like Wolfenstein 3D and Duke Nukem to the still-popular Commander Keen series.
Officially re-branded as Apogee Entertainment, the company made the announcement of its return in a video hosted by the original Duke Nukem voice actor, Jon St John. The industry veteran quickly goes over Apogee's history, touching on games like Raptor and Rise of the Triad, before moving on to what Apogee's future holds in 2021 and 2022. From the looks of it, the company has been quite busy. From a modern, 3D zombie game that will likely remind most gamers of Call of Duty's Zombie Mode to hints at remasters of classic games like Cosmo's Cosmic Adventure and Monster Bash, Apogee has quite a lot of irons in the fire.
It appears some new pixel-based 2D games are in development as well, which makes sense considering Apogee's indie focus. Retro-style pixel art games like Shovel Knight and Cyber Shadow have been a major part of keeping indie gaming alive since Apogee first dropped off the map, and it seems the company is eager to jump into the gaming world as it is now, not how it was back in the 1990s.
Few people would be inclined to associate beekeeping with relaxation. Even putting aside potential bee phobias, the bulky attire, threat of stings, and constant buzzing amidst manual labor sounds like a chore, but Elliott and Jamie, the pair of brothers bringing Apico to life, are looking to introduce gamers to the serene side of bee husbandry. Elliott, the lead programmer of the indie development duo TNgineers stated Apico was inspired by an early beekeeping mod for Minecraft, which he played to unwind.
In a sea of daunting soulslikes, roguelikes, battles royale, and other competitive or high stress titles, a market has emerged with an appetite for comfort games—especially those following the trending "cottagecore" aesthetic. Apico clearly aspires to serve this audience, inviting players to "get cozy" on the game's Steam listing. They also specifically chose Whitehorn Digital as a publisher due to its track record of publishing heartwarming, comfortable games.
But how does one design with coziness in mind? Even though challenging players is not the point, the game has to have enough depth to captivate players and transport them away from the stresses of reality. A large part of finding that successful formula, which other comfort titles like Terraria, Minecraft, and Stardew Valley all manage brilliantly, is the look and feel of a title.
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