Annapurna Interactive Flock Bounty Star

Annapurna Interactive’s Flock and Bounty Star Should Be On Your Radar

Annapurna Interactive Doesn’t Miss

Last week, during Summer Game Fest, Annapurna Interactive invited me to try out several new titles the publisher plans to launch. Held during the Play Days event, I was excited to see what I was about to play, and I can say I left feeling good about this sleight of games.

I had about an hour with some of this year’s titles from Annapurna, and I’m feeling good about what was shown to the press and creators (although I was bummed Mixtape wasn’t available at the show).

Flock

Developed by Hollow Ponds, I immediately found myself vibing with Flock. It also helps that it is created by part of the team that worked on Hohokum, a game I’ve now owned on several platforms because it is just so wonderful to play.

It didn’t take long before I understood what I was doing in Flock, which gave me a brief tutorial on the controls before allowing me to take flight. You play as a flying shepherd, where you must catalogue and tend to your unique flock of flying creatures.

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It’s an endearing experience after spending nearly 30 minutes with Flock. Speaking with your Aunt Jane, a professor of zoology, you quickly learn that she needs help understanding the various colourful and quirky creatures around you.

You can often search the wilderness and search for creatures that’ll stand out among the greenery or blend in. Learning and understanding when and where to find creatures is a fun challenge. You can even have your herd eat through grass and then use their wool to create various items.

Flock is a ton of fun and has very little interest in raising your heart rate. Instead, it is an excellent, chill title that keeps you at ease. Yes, you’re constantly flying through some exciting spaces, but it also allows you to slow things down, take the view in and gather a sense of what the natural world around your shepherd is trying to say. You can look at various flowers and meadows, which I feel more people need to do to understand that life isn’t meant to be taken too seriously and that there’s much more than work and stress to experience.

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Hollow Ponds reveals Flock is playable as a solo player or with a co-op with a friend. I’m looking forward to seeing more next month when Flock launches on July 16, 2024.

Bounty Star

I spent a full 30 minutes with Bounty Star from DINOGOD. When I sat down, I asked the developer what inspired him to make Bounty Star, a game featuring mechs and cowboys. His answer was simple: because no one else had done it yet.

And so I began my demo by meeting protagonist Clementine McKinney, a war veteran and former mech pilot. She’s also a talented mechanic who created the Desert Raport MKII, the customizable battle suit you’ll become familiar with throughout the game.

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The first few minutes introduce the world and secondary characters you’ll meet and interact with while playing as Clementine. Not long after, you’ll be tasked with finding components to kickstart your battle armour to head out and begin a mission.

Clementine searched out ingredients for a meal before she began hunting for a bounty. Meals provide various buffs, so you’re encouraged to seek out new recipes to gain all the enhancements available to Clementine.

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Bounty Star is part mech and part life simulator, and it feels like an ambitious title as it blends many components. Clem’s farm serves as her base, where she can also customize and improve her mech, so it’s in your interest to invest in your homestead. I’m not sure how deep these mechanics will run through Bounty Star, but what I played was that there does seem to be a lot of potential.

Once everything is squared up on the farm, the real fun begins with Clem having the bounty confirmed for her. As you head out into the world, you’re given a menu to customize the mechs’s weapons and gear before heading to a small hub world.Ttvl087

The mission structure from my limited time with Bounty Star feels manageable as it drops you into a zone with enemies. You can tackle them in any order, which offers a fair challenge (I died several times before acclimating to the controls) and enough excitement to keep you invested.

You can access guns and melee weapons from the start through various tutorials revealing the basics of battle. You can even do this area of effect spinning move with your mech that sprays bullets everywhere and damages everything in the immediate vicinity. The one thing I was told to be mindful of was ensuring I didn’t overheat the mech. A meter on the HUD shows how hot the mech is at any given time, and if you hit the limit, your mech becomes temporarily immobile and exposed.

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I had a lot of fun learning to chain gun and melee combos in the hub area. Some enemies are impervious to ranged attacks, so you’ll need to get up close and personal to deliver fatal blows at times.

While no release date is confirmed for Bounty Star, I’m excited to spend more time with it. I had a limited window, but what I did experience left me excited for the full game — it isn’t often you get a western mixed with sci-fi these days, so I’m all for mixing genres to create something new.

Bounty Star is coming to PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series, and Game Pass on Day One.