Cool Indie Games 2019 (Part 3)

Cool Indie Games 2019 (Part 3)

This year is awesome for indies

A.J. Maciejewski

Written by for Rapid Fire Reviews on

2019 has been a great year for indie games so here are 5 more cool titles that you might want to add to your gaming library.

Etherborn Review PlayStation 4 ★★★☆☆

If you've ever wanted to run on the walls and ceiling in an intricately designed 3D puzzle platformer then here's a game for you.

Etherborn screenshot
Etherborn's complex and mind-bending stages will definitely challenge your brain

Etherborn is played by controlling a weird translucent human-like being and its gimmick is that you can shift your gravity whenever you run on a ramp that links 2 surfaces. However, if you run off an edge sans ramp, you're toast! That is, if you don't land on another surface. The challenge lies in your ability to control your character carefully so you don't fall off as well as your aptitude for puzzle solving as many of the stages require you to collect key gems and place them in terminals which transforms the stage in clever ways. Exhausting the possibilities of where you can go is engaging and you'll often find yourself traversing unexpected paths to reach your goal. All of that being said, the overall sense of challenge is a bit thin because you merely respawn whenever you perish. Also, the sensitive controls can get super-irritating, especially if you don't have enough momentum while trying to make a jump or when you accidentally fall off.

Although Etherborn is a somewhat short and often frustrating adventure, its intricate stages are mostly a joy to solve.

Etherborn gameplay video →

198X Review PlayStation 4 ★★★☆☆

You don't often see indies that consist of multiple games in 1 so are 198X's 5 mini-games worth playing?

198X screenshot
Just 1 screenshot wouldn't really do 198X justice

198X tells the story of Kid who lives in Suburbia. After discovering arcade games, he/she learns to deal with their personal problems via pumping quarters into machines and going on virtual adventures. All you basically do in 198X is watch voiced cutscenes then play 5 games: a beat 'em up, a shoot 'em up, an Out Run style racing game, an endless runner where you slash at oncoming enemies, and a simplistic first-person dungeon crawler. These games range in quality as the beat 'em up and shmup are fairly enjoyable, the racer is a bit too simple, the runner is challenging yet merely relies on memorization to beat, and the dungeon crawler is rather goofy and requires grinding which feels weird for such a short game. Even though it's quite fun overall, you'll be better off playing actual retro games.

Although it's fantastic to be able to experience 5 completely different gameplay styles, 198X's campaign is over within an hour or so and all you can do after that is replay its brief chapters again and again. The fact that you can't skip cutscenes is just a kick in the pants.

198X gameplay video →

Pawarumi Review Xbox One ★★★★☆

After playing countless shoot 'em ups over the decades, I thought I've seen it all yet Pawarumi is a rather unique shooter.

Pawarumi screenshot
Take that, you Rock 'em Sock 'em Robot!

Aside from the standard dodging and shooting that you'd expect from the genre, Pawarumi has a very cool colour-based mechanic. Basically, you have 3 equally powerful weapons that are coloured appropriately for the Xbox One buttons that they're deployed with. Enemies are coloured with these 3 colours as well and depending on which weapon you use on them, you can Boost which restores some health, Drain which fills up your Super attack gauge, or Crush which causes more damage. I found it very difficult to remember which colour does which on each enemy type but I am grateful that matching colours results in a Boost as that's the most crucial of the 3 benefits. Anyway, Pawarumi's visuals are spot-on complete with kickass moments and flashy scenes, its controls are tight and intuitive, and the audio is excellent with pitch-perfect music and effects. Oh, and the transforming bosses are incredibly satisfying to fight.

Pawarumi does a lot to satisfy shoot 'em up fans while also offering a gimmick that makes it more exciting than the average shmup.

Pawarumi gameplay video →

Psyvariar Delta Review Switch ★★★★☆

If you're in the market for a more traditional vertical shmup then Psyvariar Delta is here to provide solid classic shooting gameplay.

Psyvariar Delta screenshot
Now, this is an arcade-style vertical shmup done right!

Believe it or not, the Psyvariar series has been around for about 20 years. However, as a Canadian, I haven't played any of them since every game has only released in Japan except for Psyvariar: Complete Edition which came out in Europe on PlayStation 2. Anyway, Psyvariar Delta is an enhanced version of the original arcade game and it's a great space shooter with tight gameplay and some cool mechanics. The most notable one is the Buzz system which rewards you for flying close to enemies and their projectiles. If you do it enough, you'll level up and become more powerful. Before playing, you can select from 3 ships including one from Jaleco's Cybattler and switch between 3 game versions. Additionally, you can choose which stage you want to tackle next so each playthrough can be different from the last. Finally, the graphics are sharp and superb and the audio is top-notch complete with energetic arcade music.

Anyone who considers themselves a shoot 'em up enthusiast needs to buy Psyvariar Delta. It's one of the tightest shooters ever made.

Psyvariar Delta gameplay video →

Lost Orbit: Terminal Velocity Review Switch ★★★★☆

Pacifists can float through the expanses of space while collecting goodies and avoiding hazards in this very cool indie remake.

Lost Orbit: Terminal Velocity screenshot
Why shoot 'em up when you could dodge 'em up?

Back in 2015, I reviewed the highly underrated Lost Orbit and it's now available for every modern console in a slightly remade edition. Considering I really don't want to repeat myself, please check out my full review of the original if you'd like to know more about it. The core gameplay where you rotate around space debris and collect Obtainium remains just as addictive but now, you can drill through asteroids, clear your path by charging into explosives, deal with new space pirate hazards, and change rails while grinding. Additionally, you can play through a new solar system that contains 12 story levels. Needless to say, this is a fair amount of new content and mastering it all is both challenging and satisfying. Plus, the new gameplay mechanics fit in quite well and add a lot of variety to the campaign.

Although Lost Orbit: Terminal Velocity is merely an update of a 4 year old game, it's still one unique, challenging, and highly enjoyable narrative space adventure. Mastering its tough campaign is definitely rewarding stuff.

Lost Orbit: Terminal Velocity gameplay video → Lost Orbit Review
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