Niche Early Access Highlights – Dune: Spice Wars, Prehistoric Kingdom, and more

Prehistoric Kingdom

Tracking new releases on Steam can be a daunting process considering just how many games come out each week. This process is further complicated when you include Early Access launches.

It’s with this in mind that we’d like to highlight a few interesting games that recently entered Early Access. These games are already pretty far along in development, with a good selection of features that will only grow as time goes on. If you’d still like to avoid games that are in development, then remember to wishlist them instead to keep track of their progress.

Here is a selection of 5 promising games that recently entered Early Access:

Dune: Spice Wars
Developer: Shiro Games
Publisher: Funcom
Price: $29.99 (Price may increase)

Dune: Spice Wars

Dune: Spice Wars is the latest game set in the legendary sci-fi world of Frank Herbert’s classic novel series. Like Shiro Games’ earlier RTS, Northgard, Dune: Spice Wars has a heavy emphasis on 4X elements. Choose your allegiance and battle for control of Arrakis through military might, political intrigue, and subterfuge. Send out scouts to find valuable resources so you can expand your territory, all while keeping an eye out for wormsign to avoid losing your forces to the desert planet’s apex predator.

Players can control House Atreides, House Harkonnen, the Smugglers, or the Fremen in the current version of the game, with many more factions likely to come later on. Besides the standard RTS mechanics of building bases and controlling armies, Dune: Spice Wars features alternate victory conditions based on political negotiations and spy networks, all of which are currently implemented in the game already.

Dune: Spice Wars is expected to stay in Early Access for around a year.


The Iron Oath
Developer: Curious Panda Games
Publisher: Humble Games
Price: $19.99 (Price may increase)

The Iron Oath

The Iron Oath is a tactical RPG with management elements. You control a mercenary company in the fantasy world of Caelum, building your own private army from scratch after a vicious betrayal. You will hire mercenaries and send them out on contracts across the land, exploring ancient ruins or protecting villages to increase your fame. Dungeon exploration involves navigating the dark corridors room-by-room, dealing with tactical battles and random events.

The Iron Oath is set over the course of multiple decades as you try to build a mercenary company that survives throughout the ages. Your mercenaries will grow older, form relationships with each other, retire, get injured, or die an untimely death in a quest gone wrong. The current version of the game has about 15 hours of content, but because the world of Caelum dynamically changes based on your actions and random events, you can easily extend your playtime beyond that.

The Iron Oath is expected to stay in Early Access for about a year.


Prehistoric Kingdom 
Developer: Blue Meridian
Publisher: Crytivo 
Price: $29.99 (Price may increase)

Prehistoric Kingdom

After being successfully Kickstarted way back in 2018, Prehistoric Kingdom has finally reached its Early Access stage. Prehistoric Kingdom is the latest zoo management sim that lets players live out their (slightly more scientifically accurate) Jurassic Park fantasies. The game allows you to construct your dream dinosaur park from scratch with a variety of robust editing tools and tons of props, scenery, and enclosure types.

Once you’ve set up your paddocks, you can fill them with loads of prehistoric creatures that have been brought back from extinction with the miracles of modern science. While dinosaurs are obviously the highlight, Prehistoric Kingdom also includes many popular ancient mammals, such as mammoths and sabertoothed tigers. The game currently features functional but incomplete editing and management tools to craft your enclosures with, and 22 extinct animals with basic behavioral patterns.

Prehistoric Kingdom is a very ambitious project, and will likely remain in Early Access for upwards of 2 years.


Ember Knights
Developer: Doom Turtle 
Publisher: Asmodee Digital 
Price: $14.99 (Price may increase)

Ember Knights

Ember Knights is a top-down action-roguelite that can be played alone or with friends in online co-op. Players control legendary warriors called Ember Knights on their quest to stop the mad sorcerer Praxis. Collect powerful relics, skills, and weapons to build the perfect combo for slaying the sorcerer’s hordes of corrupted minions. While Ember Knights features permadeath, like most roguelite games it has persistent upgrades that you can unlock to improve your character for future runs.

The current version of Ember Knights features the game’s first 3 areas, as well as 2 weapons, 12 skills, and over 60 relics.

Ember Knights is expected to remain in Early Access for around a year.


Warstride Challenges
Developer: Dream Powered Games
Publisher: Focus Entertainment 
Price: $19.99 (Price may increase)

Warstride Challenges

Finally, we come to Warstride Challenges, a unique fast-paced FPS about racing and score attack challenges. Bunny hop, slide, and slow down time as you blast apart demonic entities, racing against the clock to get the highest score so you can flaunt it on the global leaderboards. Warstride Challenges also features an asynchronized multiplayer mode where you race against the ghostly images of rival players.

The current version of Warstride Challenges features 48 main levels, 9 unlockable bonus levels, 5 weapons, and 3 powers. The game also has its leaderboards and Nemesis multiplayer mode fully functional, as well as an early version of the built-in level editor that will gradually get more features and improvements as development continues.

Warstride Challenges is expected to remain in Early Access for approximately a year.

Which of these Early Access games are you most interested in? Will you be picking up any of them now, or wait patiently for their full release?

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Frank was a former Niche Gamer contributor.

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