tinyBuild, notably weird indie video game publisher based in Bellevue, Wash., kicked off its Penny Arcade Expo on Thursday evening by announcing several new games, as well as a release date for one of its highest-profile projects.
The news came during a 90-minute press conference at the Triple Door in downtown Seattle, which included a murder mystery game played live on-stage with tinyBuild founder Alex Nichiporchik as the prime suspect.
Founded eight years ago, tinyBuild partners with third-party studios to turn small game prototypes into full products. It launched in 2011 with the success of its original title No Time to Explain, the hero of which still appears on tinyBuild’s logo.
tinyBuild moved into publishing in 2013 when Nichiporchik helped bring Speedrunners to Steam Early Access and since then has put together a broad lineup of titles from developers in the U.S., Russia, England, Denmark, Brazil, Germany, and elsewhere.
Its most recent title, Hello Neighbor, was tinyBuild’s first franchise that spawned multiplayer spin-offs, prequels, and a book series that crossed 1 million in sales. tinyBuild’s current lineup is supported in part from investment capital raised last year from the San Francisco-based Makers Fund; it also raised a $15 million round in February.
Here’s a rundown of the new games from tinyBuild:
- Secret Neighbor finally has a release date. tinyBuild has been conducting regular beta tests of this asymmetric multiplayer horror game for the last year or so, and is officially bringing it to release on Halloween of this year. A standalone add-on in tinyBuild’s popular Hello Neighbor franchise, Secret Neighbor is a 6-vs-1 game of stealth and trickery, where a group of kids — each with specific abilities and strengths — team up to break into their creepy neighbor’s basement in search of their missing friend. However, one of the kids, chosen randomly at the start of the match, actually is the neighbor in question, who works in secret to avoid detection and foil the kids’ plans.
- Pathologic 2, a creepy and very Russian game about a doctor failing to fight a plague as it turns a small town against itself, came out earlier this year to, uh, interesting reviews. (It’s about how well you deal with inevitable failure against a backdrop of constant oppression and malaise. It’s like an interactive Ingmar Bergman movie. Just about anyone’s going to have a more complicated reaction to Pathologic 2 than can be adequately summarized by a starred rating.) It sold well enough, according to Nichiporchik, that tinyBuild “fast-tracked” plans for an expansion. Pathologic 2 is receiving a downloadable content pack later this year called The Marble Nest. Anyone who owns a copy of Pathologic 2 on Xbox One or PC will receive Marble Nest for free, up until its release date; if you buy the base game after that point, you’ll also have to buy Marble Nest.
- tinyBuild will publish Once Upon A Time in Roswell, formerly known as The Peterson Case, a first-person game of psychological horror by British studio Quarter Circle. Coming to PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PCs in late 2020, it puts you in the role of a detective in 1947 New Mexico, tasked with investigating the strange disappearance of a local family. Expect aliens, stealth, and occasional gunplay, as you deal with an incursion by hostile “greys.”
- 2016’s Speedrunners, the first game by another studio that tinyBuild ever published, is receiving a Nintendo Switch port. It’s a landmark game for tinyBuild, as it started their current practice of working with other small companies to bring their video games to market. Speedrunners is a 4-player platforming/racing game where the screen moves with whichever player is currently in the lead, and any player who falls too far behind runs the risk of getting scrolled offscreen and being eliminated.
- Not For Broadcast, a “Dystopian Newsroom Simulator” by British studio NotGames, features a cast of live actors in the roles of the staff and crew in a TV studio in an alternate-reality 1980s. Following the sudden election of a radical new government, you’re now in charge of the National Nightly News, and must control what does and does not go live on the air. You can choose headlines, pick and mix between four camera feeds, censor language, and pick ads, while determining just how loyal you are to the new order. Not for Broadcast is slated to go up on Steam Early Access in November.
- Black Skylands is an open-world, pixel-art arcade-style shoot-’em-up. It’s set in a future Earth that’s been reshaped into “thousands of flying islands,” which war among each other for the planet’s remaining resources. Made by the Moscow-based Hungry Couch Games, Skylands is scheduled for a late 2020 release.
- The weirdest reveal of the night was only available as a short trailer that made it clear that the game was still in alpha. RAWMEN, a game of “Hardcore Online Soup Shenanigans,” is a messy, goofy multiplayer game about tattooed men in aprons throwing noodles and soup at one another. It’s the first game for Pasadena, California-based studio Animal Labs, which previously worked on design and animation projects for clients like Netflix, Lenovo, and Warner Brothers.