Clever Indie Games

Clever Indie Games

8 titles that'll make you go hmm

A.J. Maciejewski

Written by for Rapid Fire Reviews on

As usual, I've been playing a ton of indies and 8 of which have stood out as particularly clever so here they are in all their intriguing glory.

Rogue Heroes: Ruins of Tasos Review Switch ★★★★☆

Here's a roguelike that plays like an old-school Zelda game and you can enjoy it with up to 4 players simultaneously. How cool is that?

Rogue Heroes: Ruins of Tasos screenshot
Hanging out around town is always fun before going to the next dungeon

When I first started playing Rogue Heroes: Ruins of Tasos, I figured that it was a typical Zelda-inspired indie and I had fun roaming the overworld while trying to discover what to do next. However, it's when I came across the first dungeon that I began to understand just how special this game is. Specifically, the dungeons contain oodles of enjoyable scenarios and cleverly laid-out rooms so it's impressive that they're actually procedurally generated. I don't think I've ever played a generated game that features this level of finesse and cohesion before. In other words, the dungeon is different every time you attempt it but it always feels like it's carefully crafted. Additionally, the gameplay loop of unlocking shortcuts to floors as well as purchasing upgrades and expanding your town make for quite a rewarding formula that'll keep you coming back for more. Talk about going above and beyond to prove my first impression was incorrect!

Rogue Heroes: Ruins of Tasos is simply one of the best roguelikes out there so if you enjoy Zelda-style games, you won't regret it.

Rogue Heroes: Ruins of Tasos gameplay video → More games that play like The Legend of Zelda

Healer's Quest Review Switch ★★★☆☆

There are plenty of RPG spoofs already yet this may be the only one where you play as a healer while trying to keep your party safe.

Healer's Quest screenshot
You guys keep fighting; I'm literally burned out

I had high expectations for Healer's Quest before going in because its clever premise really captured my imagination. However, after learning the ropes and mastering a few areas, it started to become clear that there really isn't much to it. You may learn new spells and earn various upgrades and equipment but it essentially boils down to keeping a keen eye on your party members while healing them and deploying boosts and curing status ailments whenever the situation calls you to do so. As you do this, everyone fights automatically so it's merely a game of survival. On the plus side, the artwork is lovely and very unique and there's a strong sense of humour, too. That being said, many of the jokes get repeated far too frequently which makes the humour gradually turn from silly to meh.

Healer's Quest is surely a unique game but it unfortunately doesn't quite manage to break out of its one-note premise.

Healer's Quest gameplay video →

Glyph Review Switch ★★★★☆

Controlling a ball as you navigate through tricky levels while trying not to fall off always makes for a fun time so here's the nifty Glyph.

Glyph screenshot
Well, this looks awfully tricky!

For some reason, I thoroughly enjoy games where you control a ball while carefully working your way through complex environments. Glyph takes this core concept and adds the abilities to jump, double-jump, hover, and scale walls which creates an impressively well-rounded formula. Its campaign is essentially stage-based although you can tackle levels in whatever order you choose and you'll unlock more as you collect various rewards. This setup is great because you can attempt a stage and move onto another one if you become too frustrated with it. Once you go back to a level that stumped you, it might be easier considering your skills improved in the meantime. Anyway, one aspect that I love about Glyph is that it features some truly well-hidden secrets that are satisfying to uncover.

Mastering Glyph's campaign is a treat thanks to its tight and varied gameplay as well as its rewarding secrets and campaign structure.

Glyph gameplay video → Similar game: The Little Ball That Could

Dotori Review Switch ★★★☆☆

2D platformers are plentiful so does Dotori have what it takes to stand out in the genre? Grab some golden acorns and let's find out.

Dotori screenshot
I can has acorns?

Although he doesn't look like one, Dotori has you control a squirrel named Rico who's on a mission to save his sister Lottie. The gameplay basically has you complete stages while avoiding hazards and collecting all of the acorns which can be located in tricky spots. Your total time and number of deaths are also counted so mastering the stages can add some replay value. There are 40 levels in total with 4 of them being boss stages which isn't that many considering how short the levels are. Anyway, the core gameplay will have you running and jumping as well as solving puzzles by picking up and throwing blocks. You can also double-jump, run to gain momentum, and there are some tricky mechanics such as blocks that can be stopped in mid-air. However, the gameplay feels very floaty and unpolished which will disappoint genre veterans such as myself. On the other hand, I do enjoy the colourful and well-animated graphics.

It may be fun but there isn't much in Dotori that you haven't experienced in other 2D platformers and its gameplay is a bit clunky, too.

Dotori gameplay video → More 2D Platformers on Switch

Cathedral Review Switch ★★★★☆

Cathedral is a modern Metroidvania with a retro aesthetic but does it live up to its many genre contemporaries? Yes, it certainly does.

Cathedral screenshot
It looks like Shovel Knight and plays like Castlevania; sign me up!

Cathedral begins with you having amnesia and although this is a tired trope, it actually fits the gameplay perfectly as all you do is explore. Whereas similar games may feature some sort of story to act as a driving force, Cathedral simply plops you in the middle of a fortress and you have to work out how to escape. Doing so involves running, jumping, attacking, climbing, and solving puzzles and it's all extremely intuitive stuff. That being said, the maps can be confusing to navigate since there are multiple layers but it's still manageable, especially once you get used to how the world is laid out. As you explore, you'll come across loads of different enemies that are fun to battle whether you're slashing your sword, performing down-thrusts, or utilizing gadgets and items. It's a gorgeous and super-fun game.

As a simple and intuitive retro-style Metroidvania, Cathedral does a great job of presenting an enjoyable game world to explore.

Cathedral gameplay video → More Metroidvania games

Summer Catchers Review Switch ★★★★☆

Endless runners have come in many varieties but I bet you haven't played anything quite like Summer Catchers before so let's motor!

Summer Catchers screenshot
I wouldn't taunt that big ugly fellow if I were you...

When I started playing Summer Catchers, I wasn't all that impressed with it as it comes across as a game where success is more random than relying on skill. Its gameplay basically has you automatically move forward and all you do is use items in order to do things like jump, deploy a shield so you can crash into certain objects, boost to climb hills, and utilize a propeller to glide over dangerous patches. These items are randomly assigned to you from your inventory and you can recycle items if you want a more varied loadout. So, you can see how I thought it was all random chance but once I learned some strategies, the gameplay turned from a RNG sim to a satisfying strategic experience. For example, you can choose to deploy a shield whenever, jump over certain obstacles instead of wasting another item, and more. Plus, I absolutely love the artwork, lighthearted sense of humour, fun-filled collectible postcards, and unlockables.

Summer Catchers may not leave a good first impression but once you dive into its strategic elements, you'll find one super-fun game.

Summer Catchers gameplay video → Let's Play Summer Catchers video →

Void Gore Review PlayStation 4 ★★★☆☆

There are so many shoot 'em ups nowadays that it's hard to keep up so here's Void Gore; a high-score chaser with clever mechanics.

Void Gore screenshot
Who knew hell would be so much fun?

Right off the bat, let me just say that Void Gore isn't the deepest or most robust vertical shmup out there. In fact, it doesn't even feature different stages. All you do is deal with gradually intensifying waves of enemies until you bite the dust then hopefully climb the leaderboard once that happens. Between runs, you can purchase upgrades which may feel like cheating but you'll be able to afford everything within an hour or 2. As soon as you're fully decked out, the gameplay becomes rather intense complete with tightly-packed hordes of enemies and tricky projectiles. Thankfully, you can clear the area around you with a rechargeable blast. Overall, it's a barebones but enjoyable shmup that you'll likely play for a short while then move onto something more fulfilling.

Void Gore is one of those games where all you try to do is climb the leaderboards. Other than that, there really isn't much substance.

Void Gore gameplay video → More shoot 'em ups

SNK vs. Capcom: The Match of the Millennium Review Switch ★★★★☆

Crossover fighting games have been around for a long time but does SNK vs. Capcom: The Match of the Millennium hold up nowadays?

SNK vs. Capcom: The Match of the Millennium screenshot
How many more of these fighting games are they going to release?

SNK vs. Capcom: The Match of the Millennium is the sixth Neo Geo Pocket Color fighting game to be released on Switch and I've played and reviewed all of them. Even though I'm usually underwhelmed with these portable adaptations of far superior arcade games, I must say that this one has much more meat on its bones than the others. For starters, there's a substantial roster of classic SNK and Capcom fighters from franchises such as Street Fighter, The King of Fighters, Darkstalkers, and Samurai Shodown. Not only that; their move sets are impressively well-translated to this iteration which makes playing as your favourite fighters intuitive and familiar. Throw in a couple of mini-games with one ripped from Metal Slug and you're left with a varied and entertaining retro game that's a ton of fun.

I never thought these Neo Geo Pocket Color fighters could be this fun but The Match of the Millennium definitely proved me wrong.

SNK vs. Capcom: The Match of the Millennium gameplay video → SNK Gals' Fighters Review King of Fighters R-2 Review Samurai Shodown! 2 Review The Last Blade: Beyond the Destiny Review Fatal Fury: First Contact Review
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