With many amazing AAA games releasing, sometimes it's fun to wind down with some casual indies so here are 8 recent titles.
Starlit Adventures Golden Stars Review Switch ★★★★☆
If you love arcade-style experiences that require some degree of light puzzle-solving ability then I have a very special game for you.
I originally played Starlit Adventures when it first released on PlayStation 4 and absolutely loved it. Now, it's finally available for Switch and it features a ton of content. The basic gameplay has you descending vertical stages while digging and using abilities in order to uncover treasure and deal with enemies. Although there are similar games out there, I haven't played anything quite like this. Your movement snaps to a grid and in order to maximize your score, you'll need to destroy as many blocks as possible which requires a surprising amount of planning. Plus, there are loads of stages stretched across 8 themed worlds, 18 sets of challenge levels, and a survival mode known as Infinite Tower. Factor in adorable visuals and music as well as a load of unlockables including 129 achievements and 126 collectible stickers and you're looking at one huge game. Needless to say, I highly recommend it to any fan of lighthearted arcade-style fun.
Starlit Adventures Golden Stars provides oodles of enjoyable puzzle platforming content within its cheerfully adorable world.Starlit Adventures Golden Stars gameplay video →
Lanternium Review Xbox One ★★★☆☆
Trying not to fall off of tricky suspended puzzle-filled stages can be an exceptionally difficult feat so here's the very cute Lanternium.
Lanternium has you play as a raccoon whose cookies are stolen by a dastardly burglar fox so he steps into a magic portal that the fox left behind to reclaim his cookies once and for all. Do game stories get more epic than that? I think not. Anyway, the core gameplay has you travel along grid-based stages that feature disappearing tiles which correspond to various colours. Thankfully, the raccoon is equipped with a lantern that can trap the colours' essences via collecting them. Once he's equipped with a colour, all of that colour's blocks are solidified and you can even drop colours to keep blocks solid as well as mix colours to materialize secondary coloured tiles. On top of this, there are plenty of hazards such as tiles that fall after you step on them and ice. The resulting gameplay is enjoyable but it's also rather clunky at times and having to restart lengthy stages whenever you make a minor mistake can be exceptionally annoying.
If you have the patience to slowly and carefully work through Lanternium's stages, it can offer some very rewarding puzzle fun.Lanternium gameplay video →
Keen: One Girl Army Review Switch ★★★★☆
I love when indie devs take existing concepts and run with them to make something epic and Keen: One Girl Army does just that.
Keen: One Girl Army has you play as the roller skating warrior Kim who's on a mission to stop a mysterious entity from harming her land. The gameplay involves sliding her around grid-based stages and she can only stop at walls. Meanwhile, enemies will gradually close in on her with every move she makes which is reminiscent of a Mystery Dungeon game. You'll explore plenty of varied stages that are impressively large and complex so thankfully, you can access a map which helps with discovering secrets as well as working out where you are and where you need to go. This puzzle adventure setup is implemented wonderfully and everything from finding secrets to defeating bosses is a treat. Being able to unlock everything and master every stage will require a lot of time and skill, that's for sure.
It may look simple but Keen: One Girl Army masterfully combines puzzle and adventure elements to create one fantastically fun formula.Keen: One Girl Army gameplay video →
Cubicity Review Switch ★★★☆☆
Cubic farm animals may be cute but they also need to go home so let's guide some bunnies and piggies in this nifty puzzler.
Cubicity plays a lot like Keen: One Girl Army in that you slide characters around stages and they only stop at walls. That being said, this game is much more focused on the puzzle side of the equation as the objective is to simply beat each stage by guiding each animal to their respective goal. Being able to do so requires a lot of trial and error but there is an undo feature which is great considering it's easy to make mistakes. Plus, there are lots of stages and unlockable animals which may offer certain boosts. However, the controls are generally rather clunky, especially while trying to swap between animals. Also, the audio is fairly cheesy and some textures are grainy and hard to look at up-close. That being said, it's still a very entertaining game that I recommend to fellow puzzle enthusiasts.
Guiding animals to their goals makes for a fun grid-based puzzler but Cubicity could definitely use a lot more fine-tuning.Cubicity gameplay video →
Superliminal Review Xbox One ★★★★☆
First-person exploration games, walking sims, or whatever you call them are here to stay and Superliminal surely stands out of the crowd.
Superliminal is set in some sort of dream therapy facility where it's tricky to know what's real and what's merely a dream. This may sound odd but it actually ties in with the gameplay. For example, you can shrink or enlarge objects by raising or lowering them and even materialize items by standing at the correct distance and angle to piece a picture together. In other words, things that don't seem real can become real and things that seem real often aren't. These sorts of optical illusions and perspective puzzles are littered throughout Superliminal's captivating campaign and I found it very difficult to put down. Heck, even after I stopped playing it, I kept thinking about its strange scenarios afterwards. However, some puzzles are quite abstruse such as one where you have to pull down the moon.
If you enjoy optical illusions and perspective-altering puzzles then Superliminal is definitely a must-play experience.Superliminal gameplay video → More first-person exploration games
House Flipper Review Switch ★★☆☆☆
For some reason beyond my comprehension, gamifying tedium seems to be a trend and with that in mind, here's House Flipper.
House Flipper is a somewhat deceptive title for this game as you basically perform chores around different houses to earn money. Sure, as you progress in the campaign, the jobs become more complex and elaborate but I don't really consider tidying someone's living room to be flipping a house. Anyway, you basically perform tasks via a first-person perspective such as sweeping, ordering appliances, and carrying out monotonous steps in order to install things like radiators. I found the gameplay to be kind of relaxing and growing your business is mildly rewarding but at the same time, it's also occasionally frustrating because the controls are needlessly clunky. Considering its graphics are nothing special, I recommend getting the PC version which I'd imagine controls much better as it uses a mouse and keyboard.
I don't understand the appeal of cleaning and renovating in a video game, especially when it's as boring as it is in House Flipper.House Flipper gameplay video →
Creepy Tale Review Switch ★★★☆☆
2D adventure games where you try and solve puzzles have their niche so let's check out the horror-inspired Creepy Tale.
Creepy Tale is a 2D platform adventure game where you try and solve practical puzzles in order to progress. You play as a little guy whose brother is kidnapped by strange forest creatures so you head out to rescue him. The puzzles that follow are a 50/50 split between satisfying and frustrating. For example, building a stool in order to reach a key is nifty while pacing back and forth as a goofy enemy kills you over and over again is maddening to say the least. As a result, it's one of those games that'll regularly force you to refer to a guide in order to get past its many perplexing moments. On the plus side, I dig the minimal audio and the hand-drawn visuals appear as if they're straight out of a storybook. Overall, I can only recommend it to adventure game enthusiasts who have a lot of patience.
Piecing together the puzzles in Creepy Tale can be quite rewarding but at the same time, frustration is bound to rear its ugly head.Creepy Tale gameplay video →
Tales from the Dragon Mountain 2: The Lair Review Switch ★★★☆☆
With plenty of adventures already on Switch, Cateia Games is at it again with a port of Tales from the Dragon Mountain 2: The Lair.
Before I get started, let me say that this is the 6th adventure game from Cateia Games that I've reviewed so far and I'm very confused by their decision to port their catalogue out of order. First, Where Angels Cry released after its sequel and now, Tales from the Dragon Mountain 2: The Lair came out before its predecessor. What the heck? Anyway, before playing this one, I recommend waiting for the inevitable Switch port of Tales from the Dragon Mountain: The Strix because playing that first will probably make its story more coherent. With that out of the way, Tales from the Dragon Mountain 2: The Lair continues the trend of the other games by offering satisfying hidden object and point-and-click scenarios yet this one is much more focused on puzzles which are mostly easy to figure out yet remain surprisingly satisfying. Although the story went over my head, I enjoyed its quirkiness as well as the more puzzle-oriented campaign.
Tales from the Dragon Mountain 2: The Lair is Cateia Games' weirdest title yet but it still offers a rewarding puzzle-filled adventure.Tales from the Dragon Mountain 2: The Lair gameplay video → Tales from the Dragon Mountain: The Strix Review Where Angels Cry Review Where Angels Cry: Tears of the Fallen Collector's Edition Review The Man With The Ivory Cane Review Black Rainbow Review Myths of Orion: Light from the North Review Brightstone Mysteries: Paranormal Hotel Review