Clever Indie Games (Part 2) thumbnail

Clever Indie Games (Part 2)

From hacker robots to space farmers

A.J. Maciejewski

Written by for Rapid Fire Reviews on

You have to hand it to indie game developers who create clever concoctions and with that in mind, here are 8 recent interesting titles.

A.J. has been obsessively gaming since the late '80s and is just as passionate about video games in 2022. 🐻

Retro Machina Review PlayStation 4 ★★★★☆

Playing as a lone robot who's on a big adventure sounds fun and thankfully, Retro Machina is here to provide one memorable journey. v1d30chumz 18-232-56-9

Retro Machina screenshot
Hmm... where are those keys at?

Retro Machina has you control a robot who has the ability to control machines. You're on a quest to basically get yourself fixed and all of the enemies are guard machines who don't take kindly to your presence. Anyway, Retro Machina's gameplay strikes a perfect balance between exploration, action, and strategic puzzle-solving. In fact, you'll often do all 3 in quick succession as you try to master each room. The combat itself is a bit simplistic but once you get to grips with juggling controlling enemies while using their unique attacks to thin out the horde, it's satisfying to manually defeat the rest then do a little exploring. I also enjoyed the vast assortment of upgrades to collect as well as the tricky puzzles that can be rather challenging to figure out. Plus, the retro-futuristic environmental visuals are quite beautiful.

As a game that has a little of everything, I highly recommend Retro Machina to anyone with an appreciation for unique indie games.

Retro Machina gameplay video →

Devil Slayer Raksasi Review PlayStation 4 ★★★★☆

Fighting hordes of dastardly creatures in overhead dungeons sound like Link's job yet I don't think he's ready for Devil Slayer Raksasi.

Devil Slayer Raksasi screenshot
This forest isn't so peaceful when I'm around

When I first started playing Devil Slayer Raksasi, I frankly didn't think much of it. Between its unconventional overhead visuals where you can only see people's head and shoulders and its seemingly cumbersome gameplay, it didn't leave a good first impression. However, once I became comfortable with its controls and learned effective strategies, I found myself hooked. During each run, you'll amass a huge arsenal of helpful items and accessories that will turn you into quite an unstoppable force yet the degree of difficulty escalates quickly so you'll need to stay on top of things if you want to be able to topple the next boss. Once you do, it feels awesome! Throw in permanent unlockables, a variety of characters, memorable boss fights, and distinct environments and you're left with one cool roguelike.

Devil Slayer Raksasi is one of the most enjoyable roguelikes that I've played all year so if you're up for a challenge then give it a go.

Devil Slayer Raksasi gameplay video → More roguelikes

Godstrike Review Switch ★★★☆☆

If the concept of a super-tough boss rush game with twin-stick shooter gameplay sounds appealing to you then here's Godstrike.

Godstrike screenshot
Fighting me takes balls, that's for sure

Godstrike is a game where all you do is take on boss after boss with its core gameplay being a twin-stick shooter. The aspect that makes it truly unique is the fact that your health is time. In other words, whenever you get hit then your time goes down so the key to success is to be quick and not get hurt. Before each boss, you can equip various Arcane skills which cost max time as well as Occult passive abilities. Therefore, there's a bit of strategy involved when it comes to optimizing your character for each boss. Although the bosses are unique and the gameplay is tight, it's still a tough game to wholeheartedly enjoy because all you do is take on bosses which gets repetitive. Plus, the fact that they're so incredibly difficult will mean that you'll try each one again and again which gets tedious.

It's a brutally challenging game for sure so if you want to test your gaming mettle then you should definitely check out Godstrike.

Godstrike gameplay video → More twin-stick shooters

Flowing Lights Review Xbox One ★★★★☆

I love a good genre-blender and Flowing Lights is here to mix arcade shooting action with physics-based puzzles in one nifty formula.

Flowing Lights screenshot
I have to line this up perfectly...

Although one look at Flowing Lights may lead you to believe that it's yet another retro-inspired shooter, it's actually far more interesting than that. You essentially play through vertically laid out levels while trying to defeat every enemy by outsmarting them. You see; even the simplest foe is carefully placed in a tricky position and it's your job to aim, time, and power-up your shots perfectly in order to proceed. This is made even more complicated by the fact that gravity plays an enormous role in the gameplay because having your shots travel along inclines or declines makes them curve appropriately. Therefore, you'll often have to plan to hit your opponent along a parabola instead of a straight line. Overall, it's a ton of fun and I especially enjoyed trying to climb the leaderboards as I played.

Flowing Lights cleverly blends shooting gameplay with physics to make one impressive action-packed puzzle-like arcade experience.

Flowing Lights gameplay video →

Graviter Review Switch ★★★☆☆

Playing with gravity is fun but doing it in order to save a kitty from a black hole is serious business so let's play the clever Graviter.

Graviter screenshot
Wait; what does this have to do with saving a kitty?

Graviter is a simple puzzle game where you tap a button to advance and pause time while watching your dot soar through space. In order to control it, you have to toggle and resize planets which alters the stage's gravitational pull. The objective of each level is to snag all of the paw prints and it's a lot trickier than it sounds. You'll end up tinkering around a lot while trying to guide your dot just right and whenever you manage to pull off the perfect chain of manoeuvres and complete a level, it's very satisfying stuff indeed. With all of that being said, Graviter is definitely on the casual side of the spectrum as it's very forgiving because you can skip levels and each one lets you try endlessly. This makes it a decent game to play around with as you watch a show because it's hard to get fully invested in.

If all you want is a casual puzzler to play once in a while then Graviter is certainly a solid choice with its tricky gravity-based gameplay.

Graviter gameplay video →

Deiland: Pocket Planet Edition Review Switch ★★★☆☆

Farming sims are a popular casual gaming genre but have you ever played one set in space? Well, here's Deiland: Pocket Planet Edition.

Deiland: Pocket Planet Edition screenshot
My garden puts Matt Damon's poo potatoes to shame

Deiland: Pocket Planet Edition is a sim where you spend your time farming, mining, foraging, chopping trees, and making various items and tools. Its gameplay is simplistic at the start but as you slowly unlock additional features, you'll find more ways to spend your days while cultivating the land and building up your own little paradise. Most of the challenge is in figuring out how to find or make the right items in order to use a new recipe which often involves completing a quest. Quests are assigned by a variety of visitors who land on your planet in their spaceship and offer to buy or sell items. If you've played Summer in Mara then you'll see many similarities in gameplay here because Deiland is its precursor. Still, this is simpler and it's just the one little planet which makes Deiland quite small in comparison.

I had fun with this little planet simulator but its small scope means it doesn't deliver the same feeling of adventure as Summer in Mara.

Deiland: Pocket Planet Edition gameplay video → Summer in Mara Review

Poker Club Review PlayStation 5 ★★★★☆

Poker video games are usually simplistic and lifeless so Poker Club is here to prove that card games are more fun with actual people.

Poker Club screenshot
Come on; make a bet already!

Right off the bat, let me just say that Poker Club is primarily for fans of the game. It doesn't offer any crazy modes or anything like that; it's simply a poker simulator where you progress in your career as a professional poker player. Along the way, you'll complete all sorts of challenges, level-up, discover various venues, and play with different Texas Hold 'em rules. The coolest thing about it is that you play with actual people online with any empty seats being filled by AI players. Considering you create your own character, there's a decent amount of personality on display although the character models don't look all that great but that's a minor quibble, especially because each of the unique venues looks fantastic. For some reason, I really want to play Poker Club in VR. Please, Ripstone; add VR support!

You can't get a more immersive poker experience than Poker Club so if you enjoy Texas Hold 'em then you'll love what it has to offer.

Poker Club gameplay video → Similar game: Clubhouse Games: 51 Worldwide Classics

Beach Buggy Racing 2: Hot Wheels Booster Pack Review PlayStation 4 ★★★★☆

Kart racers are great fun and Beach Buggy Racing 2 is, too, so I'm happy to say that it now has some cool DLC based on Hot Wheels.

Beach Buggy Racing 2: Hot Wheels Booster Pack screenshot
These bright orange tracks bring back childhood memories

I absolutely loved my time with Beach Buggy Racing 2: Island Adventure when I reviewed it a couple months back and I'm delighted that it had DLC already. The fact that it happens to be centred on Hot Wheels is a treat, too. Anyway, the Hot Wheels Booster Pack grants you access to 4 brand new tracks that incorporate the classic orange plastic tracks as well as 7 Hot Wheels vehicles in the form of Rip Rod, Surf 'N Turf, Bone Shaker, Twin Mill III, Donut Drifter, Hotweiler, and Loco Punk; the former 2 are available from the get go and the others must be unlocked in adventure mode. On top of that, you'll earn additional cosmetic items, you can take on stunt missions for medals, and there's a new pack of trophies to unlock as well. That's quite a lot of content to cram into one piece of DLC!

As if Beach Buggy Racing 2 wasn't a fun-filled enough game already, it now has plenty of Hot Wheels content. What's not to love?

Beach Buggy Racing 2: Hot Wheels Booster Pack gameplay video → Beach Buggy Racing 2: Island Adventure Review
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Gameplay video playlist for Clever Indie Games (Part 2)
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