Challenging Indie Games thumbnail

Challenging Indie Games

6 tricky indies to test your gaming skills

A.J. Maciejewski

Written by for Rapid Fire Reviews on

If you're like me then you love a good challenge so here are a bunch of new indie games that offer rewarding and unique gameplay.

A.J. has been obsessively gaming since the late '80s and is just as passionate about video games in 2023. 🐻

Broken Lines Review Switch ★★★★☆

There are a ton of turn-based strategy indies out there but few are as distinct as the alternate history game Broken Lines. v1d30chumz 3-235-186-94

Broken Lines screenshot
This enemy better call for backup soon!

Broken Lines takes place during World War II but it's not your average war game. You control a squad of soldiers who face a mysterious enemy after being shot down above a neutral area. These allies have a wide range of personalities and it's great fun watching them interact. When it comes to gameplay, you essentially command them to move from point A to point B then they do so in real-time. Thankfully, you can pause the action to reroute your squad or choose abilities. Taking advantage of each soldier's strengths while positioning them smartly and taking out enemy forces efficiently adds up to one satisfying and exciting tactical formula that'll delight genre fans. I personally love SRPGs and have never played anything quite like this. Needless to say, I'm very impressed with what it has to offer.

If you enjoy strategically commanding an army of soldiers then you'll absolutely love Broken Lines' challenging and refined gameplay.

Broken Lines gameplay video → More turn-based strategy RPGs

Alder's Blood Review Switch ★★★★☆

Here we have another SRPG but Alder's Blood is a completely different beast with its dark setting and nifty survival elements.

Alder's Blood screenshot
When I'm on the hunt, no one's safe

Alder's Blood is one captivating game. You play as a hunter who tries to survive a dire world where monsters roam free and there is no God. If this sounds too dark for you then you should definitely think twice before diving in. Anyway, the gameplay mixes elements of all sorts while at its core; it's a turn-based SRPG. As you battle enemies, you'll have to remain stealthy and only perform actions that will kill monsters while keeping other monsters unaware of your presence. It can get intense and I absolutely love the formula that it presents. Meanwhile, you have to keep an eye on your energy gauges to ensure that you're prepared for any potential encounter. There are also some management aspects where you can have characters forage for supplies or stand guard at camp. Oh, and the art is fantastic!

SRPG enthusiasts who like the idea of mixed in stealth and survival elements will have a blast mastering Alder's Blood.

Alder's Blood gameplay video →

Save Koch Review Switch ★★★☆☆

Being a mafia boss is a lot more challenging than it looks so let's check out the very unique mobster-filled indie Save Koch.

Save Koch screenshot
It's like a life-or-death version of an office simulator

Save Koch has you make decisions as a mafia boss who also happens to be a pig man. As the game begins, he's in big trouble as someone close to him is a mole and rivalries remain distressing. The gameplay involves calling people on the phone, piecing together information on your handy Shrlck Board, and using your tablet to send your underlings on missions while using their talents strategically. Keep in mind; I did mention that someone is a mole so sending people out could actually blow up in your face. Oh, the possibilities! This feeling of uncertainty persists throughout the game and it makes for an intense story, especially with the 6 day time limit. That being said, you literally just sit at a desk and watch things happen which feels restricting and makes the unfolding plot feel all the more small-scale.

Save Koch is definitely a unique indie game to keep an eye on with its intense procedurally generated mystery-based campaign.

Save Koch gameplay video →

One Finger Death Punch 2 Review Xbox One ★★★★☆

It's been quite a while but we finally have a sequel to the simple yet challenging One Finger Death Punch. Get ready... Fight!

One Finger Death Punch 2 screenshot
Who knew stickmen could be so violent?

To be frank, I never played the original One Finger Death Punch but our very own Charlie loves it so much that it's his pick for most underrated game of all time. So, what makes it so special? You basically play as a kung fu stickman who fends off constantly encroaching enemies by tapping 2 buttons which correspond to left and right in order to attack in that direction. This may sound simple but many elements gradually get added as you progress through the levels. For example, you'll have to strike certain foes multiple times, deflect projectiles, and deal with enemies that require mastering quick-time events to defeat. All of this makes the fast-paced gameplay super-tricky, especially if you want to maximize your score and the visuals and sound offer super-satisfying feedback while you play.

After all is said and done, One Finger Death Punch 2 proves that simple gameplay can be challenging and thoroughly entertaining.

One Finger Death Punch 2 gameplay video →

DCL - The Game Review Xbox One ★★★☆☆

Drone Champions League is a thing and now, you can virtually participate in events with the cool and tricky DCL - The Game.

DCL - The Game screenshot
Lesson learned: flying a drone is hard...

I love all sorts of flying games yet I haven't seen many drone games which is odd considering how popular they are. Anyway, before playing DCL - The Game, I assumed that it would be some sort of straightforward racing game but I was wrong. In fact, you have to control your drone to weave through tight spaces, perform vertical loops, and navigate through elaborate tracks; many of which feature a surprising amount of verticality. Thankfully, there are many control options which allow the gameplay to range from intuitive and accessible to realistic. Although all of this is great, the load times are ridiculously long and the events are far too short as they can be anywhere from under 30 seconds to about 2 minutes. As a result, the short bursts of gameplay can be enjoyable but it just doesn't feel like enough when you have to spend more time waiting than playing. On the plus side, the detailed stage and drone designs are great!

If you're already a drone racing fan then DCL - The Game may scratch an itch but other than that, it's difficult to widely recommend.

DCL - The Game gameplay video → Similar game: Quadcopter Pilot Challenge

ibb & obb Review Switch ★★★★☆

There are a ton of classic indies being ported to Switch so here's ibb & obb; a highly underrated co-op indie from a few years back.

Ibb & Obb screenshot
It may look cute but this is one tough puzzle platformer

I played ibb & obb on PlayStation 3 back when it first released and absolutely loved it. Therefore, I'm delighted that more gamers can play it now that it's available for Switch. For the unfamiliar, you and a friend control a couple of cute characters presumably named ibb and obb. The stages are divided with a line down the middle that zigzags and by entering the line wherever it's not solid, you reverse gravity and end up on the other side. This mechanic forces you to work together as a team in order to stomp out enemies, take advantage of your momentum, and jump on each other's heads to reach higher platforms. The graphics are simple and cute and the music is delightful and whenever you reach the end of an area, you can watch the little fellows dance as you see how many crystals you collected.

Cooperative adventures don't get much cuter or trickier than the wonderful ibb & obb. It's a must-play indie gem!

ibb & obb gameplay video →
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Gameplay video playlist for Challenging Indie Games
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