Dark Indie Games

Dark Indie Games

From sinister to mysterious

A.J. Maciejewski

Written by for Rapid Fire Reviews on

I'm always attracted to bright and cheerful indies but sometimes, I enjoy games on the darker side so here are 5 such recent titles.

West of Dead Review Xbox One ★★★★☆

If you like the Wild West but want to experience a fantastical supernatural spin on the genre then here's a very unique indie game.

West of Dead screenshot
This new Ghost Rider game is looking pretty tight

West of Dead stars the now deceased William Mason who's actually voiced by Ron Perlman of Hellboy and Sons of Anarchy fame. You basically explore the procedurally generated Purgatory which consists of maze-like labyrinths full of dastardly creatures and gun-wielding undead. The gameplay is reminiscent of a twin-stick shooter but there's more to it than the genre usually offers. For starters, enemies can hide in the shadows and you can't hit them whenever they are so you'll have to dash around rooms and turn lights on which stuns your foes. Once you do, you can quickly dispatch them which just feels awesome. Factor in a variety of upgrades and firearms as well as evasive and parkour-inspired moves and you're left with a challenging and satisfying gameplay formula. Plus, the stylish visuals are fantastic. My only complaint is that the controls take a while to get used to but once you do, you're in for a great time.

It may take a while to learn how to play West of Dead effectively but the journey is ultimately rewarding and a ton of gunslinging fun.

West of Dead gameplay video →

Ruiner Review Switch ★★★★☆

Ruiner might have come out a few years ago but it's finally available for Switch. The question is; was it worth the wait?

Ruiner screenshot
Just another day for a ruthless killing machine

Ruiner plays quite similarly to West of Dead in that it's a twin-stick shooter featuring a variety of weapons although it's a lot more action-oriented. You play as a mechanical psychopath who's on a mission to recover his kidnapped brother as he receives transmissions from a mysterious hacker. Its gameplay is intense and strikes a balance between exploring creepy locales and battling aggressive enemies. You do so with a mix of melee attacks and firearms while dashing out of harm's way. You can even set up and execute a chain of dashes which is just awesome. I personally loved dashing between enemies while beating them with melee attacks but there are some exceptionally powerful guns that I enjoyed using, too. Unfortunately, you can't use anything but your standard gun for very long but there are lots of cool abilities to unlock. Anyway, my favourite part of Ruiner is its sound design which features top-notch gritty electronic music.

If you haven't played Ruiner yet then getting it on Switch is a must, especially if you enjoy dark, gritty, and action-packed indie games.

Ruiner gameplay video → More twin-stick shooters

Infini Review Switch ★★★☆☆

Enough shooting; here's an indie game where all you do is endlessly fall through psychedelic stages. Wait, what the heck did I just say?

Infini screenshot
Cool story, bro

When I started playing Infini, I didn't know whether to laugh or take it seriously. It has a strange art style that could either be interpreted as something that Tim & Eric came up with or as some sort of '70s-era psychedelia. You play as the embodiment of Hope and the goal is to guide him through elaborate stages by simply falling to the goal. As you fall, walls will shift and slide around and you can't touch anything or else you'll have to start all over again. Of course, the screen loops so you can enter the bottom and end up at the top and the same can be said about going between the left and right edges. As you guide him along, you'll have to slow him down and speed him up to weave through the maze-like layouts as well as zoom in and out which manipulates the levels and it can be an impressively challenging feat. That being said, that's really all you do so it can get quite tiresome after a while.

If you have an affinity for trippy abstract game worlds then the challenging puzzle-like Infini will definitely keep you hooked.

Infini gameplay video → More dodge 'em ups

Depth of Extinction Review Switch ★★★★☆

There are loads of games inspired by XCOM but I've never played one with a retro aesthetic as cool as Depth of Extinction's.

Depth of Extinction screenshot
It's like Waterworld but with less Kevin Costner and more pixels

Depth of Extinction is an SRPG that plays like XCOM as it features gun-based combat with a similar cover mechanic. However, it's all done with pixel-perfect retro visuals and it looks fantastic. The story revolves around a futuristic flooded Earth and you play as a government agent who's on a mission to save humanity from malicious machines. The SRPG battles are handled exceptionally well as you take care of enemy guards and loot your surroundings. I especially appreciated the intuitive UI which features clear attack ranges and other niceties. Outside of combat, you'll have to plan your next move after optimizing your squad's loadouts. Considering they can have plenty of distinct classes and can take out enemies using stealth, carefully setting up your party then commanding them to another flawless victory is often quite a rewarding task. Keep in mind; you'll need to be able to think on your feet to get the most out of this indie gem.

Not everyone will love Depth of Extinction's open-ended campaign as much as I did but it's a top-notch SRPG no matter how you slice it.

Depth of Extinction gameplay video → Similar game: XCOM 2 Collection

Evan's Remains Review Xbox One ★★★☆☆

Here's a puzzle platformer that offers unique gameplay and an immersive narrative but is Evan's Remains a right fit for you?

Evan's Remains screenshot
This might seem cheerful but there are mysterious happenings afoot

It may not look as dark as the other indie games here but I can assure you; Evan's Remains has a very mysterious and intriguing story that's sure to engage you if you enjoy reading a great deal of character dialogue. The plot is essentially a thriller that centers around a missing boy genius and in between the somewhat lengthy dialogue scenes, you'll challenge platforming puzzles that involve hopping between platforms that disappear, toggle other platformers to extend or retract, warp you to a similar platform, and much more. A big part of the challenge is memorizing what each of the symbols does and working out the solution for how to advance is as tricky as it is rewarding. With that being said, there's a big issue in Evan's Remains which is the fact that the gameplay pauses briefly once in a while, especially whenever your progress is saved which will frequently cause you to miss jumps and have to start puzzles all over again.

Evan's Remains may be a simple puzzle platformer but it's one that requires a lot of careful planning to master its clever stages.

Evan's Remains gameplay video →
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Gameplay video playlist for Dark Indie Games 31:38
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