If you're like me, you can't get enough of 2D indies so here are 5 such recent titles that you might enjoy.
Oniken Review Xbox One ★★★★☆
If you want to master challenging stages as an agile retro ninja then Oniken is a fantastic game to add to your digital library.
Before creating the very fun Contra-like Blazing Chrome, JoyMasher made a couple of 2D action platformers in the form of Oniken and Odallus. First up, Oniken has you control a ninja named Zaku who's on a mission to save humankind. Its campaign is varied and action-packed and thankfully, the controls remain simple as you run and jump around while throwing grenades and performing special moves whenever the situation calls for it. As you play, you'll be delighted by the authentic old-school visuals and soundtrack which elevate the gameplay to an exciting degree. One aspect of the campaign that I thoroughly enjoyed is the collection of boss fights. From a dastardly tree-climbing snake to a polar bear, taking down these bosses is supremely rewarding. Oh, and the hoverbike segments are great fun and reminded me a lot of similar stages in the Mega Man X games.
If you have a fondness for classics like Ninja Gaiden and Strider then you'll love the ninja action in Oniken.Oniken gameplay video →
Odallus: The Dark Call Review Xbox One ★★★★☆
You can't get much more old-school than playing as a muscular sword-wielding warrior who fights demons so let's check out Odallus.
JoyMasher took what made Oniken great and basically adapted it to a slower and more deliberate pace for Odallus. You play as Haggis who's out to rescue his son from evil forces. Whereas Oniken is a very linear experience, Odallus rewards exploration and there are a lot of goodies tucked away in the nooks and crannies of its world. That's not to say the campaign isn't varied, though, as you'll find yourself traversing plenty of memorable and elaborate stages that are actually quite fun to play through multiple times while discovering new alternate paths and secrets. It's very rewarding to upgrade your equipment so you can stand a greater chance in the tricky boss battles. Plus, the relics which allow you to uncover more secrets as well as expand your capabilities make the campaign feel more like a Metroidvania than many similar games. On top of all this, there are cool sub-weapons that you can use to take care of enemies. It's really a top-notch retro-inspired experience and I highly recommend it.
Odallus: The Dark Call incorporates many retro formulas beautifully while offering simple and authentic gameplay. It's great stuff.Odallus: The Dark Call gameplay video →
Down to Hell Review Switch ★★☆☆☆
There are so many indie 2D action RPGs that try to offer visceral combat yet very few actually succeed so does Down to Hell?
On the surface, Down to Hell seems like it could be a worthwhile game with its dark and moody aesthetic and promising gameplay but once you really start to dive in, it quickly becomes apparent that it's yet another disappointment. That being said, it's clear that the developers tried to offer something unique and worthwhile with its challenging combat that features counterattacks, magic, and evasive manoeuvres. However, it's very easily exploitable as you can simply keep using certain overpowered abilities repeatedly to claim victory. As a result, there's very little strategy required yet it still manages to be a frustrating game due to its instant death traps and annoyingly repetitive battles. On the plus side, I do enjoy its dark atmosphere which is established through well-done art and music.
Down to Hell isn't a terrible game yet it simply doesn't offer anything that hasn't been done better countless times before.Down to Hell gameplay video →
Ultimate Racing 2D Review Xbox One ★★★☆☆
Overhead racing games aren't as common as they once were so does Ultimate Racing 2D have what it takes to revive the genre?
When I started playing Ultimate Racing 2D, I was blown away by how difficult it was. You really have to navigate corners and pass your opponents perfectly if you want a chance to emerge victorious. As the simple yet tight gameplay began to click with me and I learned to actually win races, the overall formula started becoming much more enjoyable. One of the most impressive aspects is how much variety is packed into this racer with tons of vehicle types and tracks to choose from. With that said, the graphics are fairly generic and don't change much and those unwilling to practice in order to hone their skills won't get much enjoyment from the steep degree of difficulty. It's awesome that you can play Ultimate Racing 2D with up to 8 local players, though.
Overhead racing fanatics will find a lot to love about Ultimate Racing 2D but don't expect anything revolutionary.Ultimate Racing 2D gameplay video →
XenoRaptor Review Xbox One ★★★★☆
There are so many twin-stick shooters out there and XenoRaptor is one set in the vastness of space but is it any good?
XenoRaptor is a simple wave-based twin-stick shooter that'll have you blasting at hordes of tricky enemies in space. You're armed with a rapid-fire gun that can also fire powerful blasts as well as missiles and you can dash to quickly dodge out of harm's way. The coolest part of its gameplay is how the enemies behave. They don't just fly around and shoot haphazardly because they actually have intelligence that'll likely catch you off-guard. For example, they'll fire to where you're going and not where you are which can pose an exceptional challenge. As you play, you can customize your weapon loadout to become much more powerful and adapt to more frantic waves of enemies. Also, playing it cooperatively adds a fun layer to the gameplay if you have a friend who enjoys these kinds of games.
Although XenoRaptor doesn't do anything particularly new, it offers a culmination of exceptionally well-done gameplay elements.XenoRaptor gameplay video →