Cool Indie Games 2021 thumbnail

Cool Indie Games 2021

From 2D action to multiplayer mayhem

A.J. Maciejewski

Written by for Rapid Fire Reviews on

Believe it or not, it's 2021 already and the indie games keep on coming so here are 8 recent titles that I think are pretty cool.

│ Like you, Video Chums despises clickbait so you won't find any divisive content or articles that fuel the console wars here. 🧯

Golden Force Review Switch ★★★☆☆

2D action games are one of my favourite genres and the retro-inspired Golden Force is here to take us back to the good old days. v1d30chumz 3-235-186-94

Golden Force screenshot
General Salsa is one spicy boss

Golden Force is a solid 16-bit action game that has you play as a mercenary in order to slay the King of Demons. It's really that simple. The controls will have you running and jumping around as well as dodging enemy attacks, hacking and slashing, and using a cool dash button in various directions in order to climb higher, deal with overhead enemies, and cross gaps. You can also do things like use items and charge attacks. Anyway, everything works quite well and the visuals are spot-on for a retro-inspired indie game. However, things start to fall apart when you realise just how frustrating the stage designs are. Enemies tend to be positioned in the most annoying places possible and there are plenty of death traps scattered around that you'll likely fall into if it's your first time playing through a level. This makes progression rely on memorization as opposed to pure skill which is a bummer because Golden Force is a promising game at its core.

If you have the patience to persevere through its irritatingly tricky segments, Golden Force can be a rewarding fun-filled adventure.

Golden Force gameplay video → More 2D Switch Games

Rhythm Fighter Review Switch ★★★★☆

Here we have a game where you time your movements and attacks to the beat and it features a cool roguelike structure to boot.

Rhythm Fighter screenshot
Thanks for lending me the arm cannon, Mega Man

Although its title may make you think that it's a fighting game, Rhythm Fighter has you traverse dungeons via 2D gameplay while dealing with a large variety of tricky enemy types and bosses. For starters, the music and artwork is absolutely fantastic and as you play, you'll tap your toes and laugh at the many humorous animations and video game references. Meanwhile, the core gameplay is super-satisfying as you hop to the beat only to deploy an arsenal of long-range and melee attacks to defeat any monster that stands in your way. Acquiring an array of fun abilities, weapons, and items as you push through each grueling dungeon helps mix up the gameplay in surprising ways which makes experimenting with what each piece of equipment is capable of a joy. Plus, it feels awesome once you manage to obtain a cohesive loadout that works together to make you an unstoppable force. There's also a wealth of funny characters to unlock.

Rhythm Fighter's gameplay is rewarding, impressively strategic, a great deal of fun, and is amplified by its awesome music and art.

Rhythm Fighter gameplay video → Similar game: Cadence of Hyrule

Tadpole Treble Encore Review Switch ★★★★☆

There are loads of Wii U games being ported to Switch and now, you can enjoy Tadpole Treble in a brand new Encore iteration.

Tadpole Treble Encore screenshot
You have to love a good old retro stage

In Tadpole Treble Encore, you guide a little tadpole through treacherous waters by avoiding hazards, collecting goodies, and slapping bamboo poles. This might sound weird and I guess it kind of is but it all comes together quite well, especially when you consider that everything goes to the music. As a result, you'll find yourself moving and performing actions to the beat which is supremely enjoyable despite the mostly simplistic gameplay that gamers of all ages can enjoy. Thankfully, if you're looking for a challenge then you could try to beat your previous high scores which may unlock some nifty features. I should mention that the music is wonderful and that there's a wide range of songs with classical music really standing out. The artwork is great, too, as it looks like it's from a children's book.

Tadpole Treble Encore is a whimsical musical adventure that can easily appeal to gamers of all ages and skill levels.

Tadpole Treble Encore gameplay video →

The Unexpected Quest Review Switch ★★★☆☆

Managing a party of adventurers is usually a fun thing to do but I bet you haven't played anything like The Unexpected Quest before.

The Unexpected Quest screenshot
This little settlement would be better without all these monsters wandering around

Fittingly, I had no idea what to expect from The Unexpected Quest. As I played through a few levels, I was actually surprised by how original it is. You basically command workers, knights, and such to progress through cleverly laid out scenarios. For example, you may have to break down barricades, defeat monsters, discover treasures, and rescue townsfolk and you do so by simply tapping on points of interest. However, many actions require resources because your workers have to eat and building things often uses wood, etc. So, the key to success is to build structures that generate these resources then send your underlings to complete their tasks. Although all of this is cool and oddly gratifying, there really isn't any challenge whatsoever as you can't really fail. Therefore, it's a solid game to wind down with but that's about it. If there's ever a sequel, I'd hope that it incorporates some restrictions that make it challenging.

I had fun with The Unexpected Quest but its failure to challenge me made the experience less satisfying than it could have been.

The Unexpected Quest gameplay video →

Redout: Space Assault Review PlayStation 4 ★★★☆☆

You don't often see sequels to racing games that are a different genre so here's a space combat game in the Redout universe.

Redout: Space Assault screenshot
Barrel roll; quick!

Although I haven't played the original Redout, Space Assault provides simple and enjoyable space combat with some pretty flashy visuals. Its stages range from linear to vast and exploration-based which make the gameplay feel like classic on-rail shooters at times and modern free-roaming space sims at others. As you play, you'll barrel roll to avoid incoming fire, automatically shoot your primary weapon, and lock-on to unleash missiles. Of course, there is more you can do such as boost forward, slow down to navigate past tight situations, and after each stage, you can redeem earned currency to upgrade your ship's base stats as well as equip a randomly-obtained card that offers even more of a boost. With all of that being said, the gameplay is extremely standard stuff and it doesn't do anything particularly new so if you're familiar with the genre, Redout: Space Assault will disappoint with its overall feeling of "been there, done that".

It may offer solid space combat but Redout: Space Assault's lack of ambition to try anything new holds it back from being special.

Redout: Space Assault gameplay video →

Unspottable Review Xbox One ★★★★☆

Multiplayer games are best when you can get invested in a novel premise for a good period of time and Unspottable provides just that.

Unspottable screenshot
Grocery stores sure are weird lately

I first played Adam Spragg's underrated 2011 indie Hidden in Plain Sight when it released on Ouya and had a ton of fun playing it with friends. For the unfamiliar, you and your chums try to blend in to a crowd of NPCs and everyone looks the same. The first challenge is figuring out which sprite is you and once you do that, you can kill other players or touch each pillar to win. Years later, a copycat game named Thief Town released which wasn't even half as good and now, Unspottable is here and it actually adds a lot of innovation to this clever gameplay premise via its many unique stages that feature their own rules and gimmicks. For example, you can distract everyone in certain stages and some levels can be beat by collecting various items. Meanwhile, one stage has spotlights moving around which reveals which players are NPCs. In the end, these gimmicks are handled brilliantly and it adds up to one exciting multiplayer romp.

It may owe a lot to Hidden in Plain Sight but Unspottable manages to elevate its gameplay to new heights with its super-fun gimmicks.

Unspottable gameplay video →

Strange Field Football Review Switch ★★★☆☆

No one does beat 'em up sports as well as Kunio-kun but Strange Field Football is here to provide some goofy soccer fun of its own.

Strange Field Football screenshot
Where's Kunio? He wants in on some of this action!

Strange Field Football is a very silly game as all you do is run around and play soccer while tackling opponents and performing special moves in the hopes of getting a goal. The gameplay is so chaotic and silly that most matches feel random but the amount of humour and funny animations make playing it a joy. Up to 4 local players can join in on the fun and you can also play against CPU opponents. That being said, there really isn't any structure besides setting up and playing matches which is kind of disappointing as I would have loved to participate in a humorous story mode or take part in mini-games. Thankfully, there are 6 unique fields to play on that feature enjoyable gimmicks and intricate layouts but the camera tends to scroll a bit too high thus obscuring the action at times which can be annoying.

It's a funny and chaotic Kunio-kun-inspired soccer romp but Strange Field Football could use a bit more structure and fine-tuning.

Strange Field Football gameplay video → Similar game: River City Super Sports Challenge: All Stars Special

JankBrain Review PlayStation 4 ★★★☆☆

When it comes to ridiculous 2D action games, I trust few developers as much as Log Games and their latest is quite a goofy funfest.

JankBrain screenshot
I think Epic Dumpster Brain would have been a better title

If you had a good time with Epic Dumpster Bear and its enjoyable sequel then you'll definitely love what JankBrain has to offer. For those unfamiliar with Log Games' work, they basically take a bunch of game assets, put them in a blender, and create silly concoctions that look awful at first but once you dive in, you'll realise just how hilarious they are. Plus, their games feature impressively tight gameplay and rewarding collectibles that make mastering levels a treat. JankBrain is no different as you control a gold-obsessed anthropomorphic alien brain who disrupts Earth's economy by collecting its valuable gold bars that just so happen to be at the end of each level. Is that what wallstreetbets does? Anyway, it's a fun game where you run, wall-jump, shoot, and take advantage of various power-ups but it's also very basic and I ran into some annoying bugs such as having the camera stop scrolling thus forcing me to restart the game.

Those who enjoy Epic Dumpster Bear's humour will surely have a good time with JankBrain yet it remains a bit rough around the edges.

JankBrain gameplay video → Epic Dumpster Bear Review
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Gameplay video playlist for Cool Indie Games 2021
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