2D Indie Games (Part 2)

2D Indie Games (Part 2)

From psychedelic platforming to a robot-killing puzzler

A.J. Maciejewski

Written by for Rapid Fire Reviews on

There are so many indie games that it's bananas and I love 2D ones so allow me to share my thoughts on 8 recent 2D indies. Enjoy!

Spinch Review Switch ★★★★☆

Even though it has a retro feel to its gameplay and design, Spinch's presentation is quite modern and intriguing so let's check it out.

Spinch screenshot
I bet Jerry Garcia has these waterfalls in his backyard

I was looking forward to Spinch ever since I watched its trailer as it seemed like a very quirky and enjoyable 2D platformer. Thankfully, I am impressed with what it has to offer. For starters, it's full of variety as you find yourself leaping and dashing around stages while running from all sorts of psychedelic creatures and collecting your kin who are scattered about each level. From evading bombs from a Lakitu-type flying foe to running up elaborate columns as if you're Super Meat Boy, Spinch is filled to the brim with challenging 2D gameplay that can feel a bit frustrating at times but it's ultimately rewarding stuff. Plus, beating each stage in as little time as possible while acquiring all of the collectibles and occasionally unlocking bonus levels makes for a lot of replay value and it looks and sounds great, too.

If you're looking to test your 2D gaming skills and love quirky indies then Spinch will make a fantastic addition to your game library.

Spinch gameplay video →

Georifters Review Switch ★★★★☆

Puzzle platformers come in many forms and here's a delightful one that tests your ability to push and pull blocks in order to gather gems.

Georifters screenshot
Can I eat all that chocolate to uncover the gems?

Right off the bat, let me just say that Georifters is much more puzzle-oriented than it is a platformer but it manages to create such an enjoyable formula with its basic premise that it's sure to delight any fan of the genre. You play as a selection of characters who each has their own unique way to deal with blocks and the ultimate goal is to form a safe path so you can snag each and every gem. Aside from pushing rows and columns of blocks, you can also pull rows towards you and control characters who can do things like form a path by lifting and lowering the blocks ahead of them. All of this adds up to a wonderful single player experience but you can also play with up to 4 players via local co-op and versus battles. Throw in loads of enemies, hazards, mechanics, and cleverly-designed stages and you're left with one rewarding puzzle platformer. Oh, and I love the silly sense of humour with the colourful cast of characters as well.

Whether you go it alone or prefer playing with friends, Georifters offers oodles of puzzle fun set in a brilliantly lively world.

Georifters gameplay video →

Journey of the Broken Circle Review Switch ★★★★☆

Some indies make for great games to wind down with by offering relaxing and immersive gameplay so here's one such game.

Journey of the Broken Circle screenshot
This Pac-Man-like fellow sure has one epic adventure ahead of him

One look at Journey of the Broken Circle may lead you to believe that it's one of those pretentious indie games that tries hard to be artistic while illustrating a not-so-subtle message about some sort of contemporary issue but thankfully, it is not. In fact, there's quite a healthy dose of humour thrown in and it really got its hooks in me as I played through its chill campaign. You play as a circle with a wedge missing and throughout the story, you'll meet things that temporarily fill that wedge such as a pinecone that lets you scale walls and a balloon that makes you float around. The resulting gameplay isn't all that challenging although you will have to retry some segments again whenever you try and get to grips with a new gameplay mechanic. Overall, it's a cute and heartwarming game and I enjoyed it a lot.

Journey of the Broken Circle is an easy-breezy yet immersive and fun little game that'll make you smile and occasionally think as you play.

Journey of the Broken Circle gameplay video →

Nevaeh Review Switch ★★★★☆

I always appreciate games that force you to constantly adapt to different situations and with that in mind, here's the fantastic Nevaeh.

Nevaeh screenshot
From noodle-scratching puzzles to action-intense platforming; Nevaeh has it all

Nevaeh may not be the most graphically refined or striking indie in recent memory but it manages to accomplish something that few indies do: offer a consistently-changing gameplay dynamic that keeps you hooked. At its core, it's a puzzle platformer where you use butterflies to light up various bulbs which does things like make platforms move, dissipate enemies, and cast shadows. Throughout the campaign, you're constantly put in the middle of situations that play with these basic concepts in ingenious ways so you'll sometimes scratch your head or wonder what's going on but once you figure it out, it's highly rewarding. For example, you might have to cast a crest's shadow onto a banner to open a door or fight a boss by materializing saw blades around the room. Great stuff!

Nevaeh's challenge relies on your ability to consistently think outside the box and its resulting gameplay is impressively rewarding.

Nevaeh gameplay video →

MO:Astray Review Switch ★★★★☆

You have to hand it to indie games that manage to maintain a pitch-perfect atmosphere so here's the unconventional MO:Astray.

MO:Astray screenshot
Flinging this slug thing around is pretty fun

The core gameplay of MO:Astray has you aim and launch a slug-like creature around puzzle-filled stages that look like they belong in a Metroid game. Similarly to one of Samus Aran's adventures, the campaign is exceptionally atmospheric while maintaining a mysterious and creepy vibe throughout. I honestly don't understand its story but I still enjoyed reading the odd whisperings within the protagonist's head as I forged ahead. Speaking of which, progressing through MO:Astray can be a rather tall feat at times due to its challenging level designs yet nothing is insurmountable so you'll gladly try tricky segments again and again until you master them. Aside from being flung around, you'll also have to stick to surfaces, dash into foes, and possess life forms which makes for one involving formula.

Some games unfairly slide under gamers' radars so don't let MO:Astray become another indie casualty as it's a must-have experience.

MO:Astray gameplay video →

Johnny Rocket Review Xbox One ★★☆☆☆

Indie games with a strong and unique sense of humour always make me happy but does Johnny Rocket offer fun gameplay, too?

Johnny Rocket screenshot
Sorry, this Johnny Rocket doesn't have burgers, shakes, and fries

Johnny Rocket starts with the titular character sitting on the toilet as he then leaps off, pulls his pants up, and sets out on a violent rampage. What's its story about? I have no idea but I do know that Johnny Rocket doesn't take any guff. Anyway, the gameplay is typical of a side-scrolling gun-toting action game where you run, jump, and shoot. However, the enemies that you face make it extremely difficult to pass without getting damaged due to its overly sensitive and clumsy gameplay. If a bullet just grazes you, you'll take damage and most of the time, getting shot seems virtually inevitable so the challenge mostly relies on your ability to memorize stages as you forge ahead which just isn't fun. On the plus side, making progress is kind of satisfying and the animations are lively and often humorous.

Although Johnny Rocket looks like an entertaining indie, its gameplay is plagued with frustration that will turn your smile upside-down.

Johnny Rocket gameplay video →

Doodle Derby Review Switch ★★★☆☆

Guiding vehicles through tricky courses usually makes for a fun time so let's see if Doodle Derby offers engine-revving goodness.

Doodle Derby screenshot
Sometimes, you just have to tunnel your way through a banana

I had a lot of fun with Doodle Derby. You basically drive a vehicle through stages while trying not to fall off and there's an additional layer that adds an impressive amount of strategy in the form of being able to alter stages via a level creator style interface. Meanwhile, the core gameplay is far from your average racer as you can make your vehicle hop up walls and the physics are very tough to master. On top of all this, there's a multiplayer component where you can play with up to 4 players as you try to sabotage each other and whoever reaches the goal first wins. Even though I had a lot of fun and appreciate the cute hand-drawn graphics and funky music, I must say that the controls are quite frustrating as judging jumps and such can be overly challenging thus resulting in many annoying situations.

Doodle Derby is an enjoyable indie with a surprising amount of creativity but its often frustrating controls regularly spoil the fun.

Doodle Derby gameplay video →

Robots under attack! Review Switch ★★★☆☆

Robots are bad so we must exterminate them all and here's a clever and simple indie that allows you to do so with a bow and arrow.

Robots under attack! screenshot
I have a feeling that I'm going to run out of ammo...

Robots under attack! basically has you fling arrows around single-screen stages in order to clear out all of the robots. You may assume that you merely shoot the robots with the arrows and although you sometimes do, the primary focus is placed on triggering an elaborate sequence of events. For example, you may have to guide a fire arrow into a bomb using a magnet or press a button with a box that opens a door only to make a boulder fall on a robot's head. Some levels can take a rather long time to figure out as they can be exceptionally abstruse and you also have limited ammunition which sometimes makes passing levels extremely irritating. On the plus side, you have 4 ammo types including regular, fire, explosive, and heavy arrows that are each effective in certain situations.

Mastering the stages in Robots under attack! regularly requires a lot of patience which makes it a fun albeit sometimes irritating game.

Robots under attack! gameplay video →
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Gameplay video playlist for 2D Indie Games (Part 2) 40:00
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