There's nothing quite like an easy breezy casual indie to relax with after a long day so here are 7 recent titles that offer laidback fun.
Spaceland Review Xbox One ★★★★☆
SRPGs have the tendency to be complicated yet Spaceland proves that simplicity can be just as enjoyable so suit up and let's take off!
Spaceland is by the fine folks who released Braveland Trilogy last year on Switch and although I had a lot of fun with that collection, it didn't quite scratch my tactical RPG itch. Thankfully, Spaceland is a fleshed-out and supremely satisfying SRPG that fans of the genre as well as casual gamers can enjoy. You command a party of space cadets who are trying to survive a hostile environment. During battle, each soldier's ammo is limited but you can find more as well as utilize your environment in clever ways to get out of sticky situations. For example, tricking enemies to fall after stepping on unstable bridges and reuniting with teammates after opening a door are rewarding moments. Strengthening your party is satisfying, too, and the comprehensive difficulty options allow for anyone to fully enjoy it.
From its delightful visuals to its enjoyable SRPG gameplay, there's a lot to love about Spaceland and it's impressively accessible, too.Spaceland gameplay video → Braveland Trilogy Review
Depixtion Review Switch ★★★★☆
There are so many Picross clones out there yet few nonogram games are as original as the gorgeously colourful Depixtion.
Depixtion has you assemble pictures by mastering 3 nonogram puzzles each which correspond to red, yellow, and blue. However, these aren't ordinary Picross puzzles as they have you fill out a dark and light variation of each colour instead of the binary formula that's usually presented. The resulting gameplay will have you carefully filling out each of the 3 colours while keeping the 2 shades in mind which adds some welcome depth. Plus, more hardcore puzzle enthusiasts will frantically try to complete each stage as quickly as possible seeing as there's a timer. Anyway, the puzzles start out extremely simply with 4-by-4 grids and gradually become more difficult with the most challenging stages taking place on 24-by-24 grids. Needless to say, there's something here for puzzle fans of all skill levels.
Few Picross-style games manage to feel as fresh and exciting as Depixtion and it's great to see such a clever spin on the classic genre.Depixtion gameplay video → More games that play like Picross
PandaBall Review PlayStation 4 ★★★★☆
Even though it sounds like a brand new sport, PandaBall is actually just soccer with panda bears but it's also a heck of a lot of fun.
Having just reviewed Doggie Ninja The Burning Strikers, it's strange that I'm already reviewing yet another animal-based soccer game. Before starting it, I thought PandaBall would be a cutesy game but it's not because the pandas are actually quite tough-looking which is kind of weird. Once I started playing it, I was quite impressed with its simple yet highly enjoyable gameplay. You merely run around with the left stick, aim with the right, and tap the face buttons to pass the ball. You can also try and steal the ball from your opponent and collect a variety of cool power-ups that may give you the upper-hand. I don't think I've ever played a soccer game with such intuitive controls and the fact that you can level up and unlock new goodies is the icing on the cake. It's great fun with a friend, too!
It may look goofy but PandaBall provides intuitive and exciting arcade soccer action that's even more enjoyable with a local chum.PandaBall gameplay video →
Crash Drive 2 Review Switch ★★★☆☆
If you're in the mood to simply drive around in a sandbox world while performing tricks and competing in events, here's a game for you.
Crash Drive 2 is a rather simple game where you select a vehicle and arena then try and complete assigned challenges while earning cash. These challenges involve finding and driving through a ring, performing tricks for points, collecting coins, etc. As you play, other players can join in online which makes the gameplay much more fun as you can then compete with them. It all works together very well to create a simple formula that's easy to pick-up-and-play. That being said, the core gameplay feels a bit floaty and the graphics can be downright ugly in parts, especially when you're facing a wall as you may just be looking at a haphazardly stretched-out texture. In the end, it's definitely enjoyable but its presentation and controls don't quite live up to its promising premise.
Playing Crash Drive 2 will provide some fun but don't expect it to fill the shoes of its trick-based sandbox contemporaries.Crash Drive 2 gameplay video →
Help Me Doctor Review Switch ★☆☆☆☆
Some games are so unconventional and strange that it's hard to tell if they were made as a joke or something so here's Help Me Doctor.
Help Me Doctor looks like a simulation game where you run a doctor's office but it really isn't. You basically summon patients in one by one and once they arrive, you can scroll through their symptoms and try to match it with a disease on your computer. You also have to make sure that their insurance matches their ID (shouldn't the receptionist do that?) in order to avoid having to pay a fine. The thing is; all of the symptoms and diseases are wacky yet they fail to be funny. Well, they're funny in an ironic way, I guess; like when Mike Huckabee attempts humour. You also get prompted with decisions every now and then which can result in different outcomes but who really cares? The gameplay is inconsequential and as a result, Help Me Doctor falls flat in almost every conceivable way.
Trying to have fun playing Help Me Doctor is like faking laughter when your boss tells an awful joke. It just doesn't feel right.Help Me Doctor gameplay video →
Selma and the Wisp Review Xbox One ★★☆☆☆
Ever since Limbo released, there have been many copycats yet very few indies have succeeded in capturing its magic.
Selma and the Wisp has you control a light spark (which I guess is the wisp) as you guide a little girl named Selma through treacherous environments. The key to solving many of its situations is to turn your light off which makes Selma stop and turn it back on again to make her advance towards you. A good example of this is when you have to guide her to a moving platform as once it's close, you turn on the light so she doesn't accidentally jump down the pit below. Where the gameplay really falls apart is with the fact that there are many scenarios where you have no idea what's going to happen before it happens. For example, you might walk across a seemingly normal bridge only for it to collapse. Upon restarting at the checkpoint, you'll realise that you can patch the bridge up with some nearby wood. Having to retry situations like this over and over again is simply tedious, especially considering there's rarely any warning.
It may have been a cool game if it released in the early-'10s but Selma and the Wisp just feels dated and tiresome nowadays.Selma and the Wisp gameplay video → Let's Play Selma and the Wisp video →
The Man With The Ivory Cane Review Switch ★★★☆☆
Games don't get much more casual than hidden object adventures so let's meet The Man With The Ivory Cane.
Last month, I reviewed Where Angels Cry: Tears of the Fallen Collector's Edition from Cateia Games and Ocean Media and The Man With The Ivory Cane is a very similar experience from the same companies. Although the previous game was set in 13th century Europe, The Man With The Ivory Cane seems to take place in the 1920s which is an era that I particularly enjoy exploring. Anyway, the gameplay remains the same as you point and click to solve puzzles then partake in mini-games in order to progress. It's a formula that works well and there's a helpful hint system in case you ever get stuck. On the downside, the video quality is pretty bad at times and some scenarios simply aren't enjoyable to work out. Other than that, it's a mostly satisfying hidden object adventure game.
Hidden object adventures don't usually include as much variety as The Man With The Ivory Cane but it's still a rather standard affair.The Man With The Ivory Cane gameplay video → Where Angels Cry: Tears of the Fallen Collector's Edition Review