I've been having a great deal of fun with a lot of indies over the past little while so here's what I think about 8 recent stand-out games.
Synthetik: Ultimate Review Xbox One ★★★★☆
Twin-stick shooters generally offer mindless arcade action yet Synthetik: Ultimate is here to add a layer of tactical combat to the formula.
Right off the bat, let me just say that Synthetik: Ultimate is probably the most complex and involving twin-stick shooter that I've ever played. Upon starting it, I simply ran around and shot every enemy in sight but soon realised that this approach wasn't ideal as enemies feature clever AI and your weapons must be tended to whether through their limited ammo, susceptibility to jam, or small ammo clips that you'll have to eject and replace on the fly. All of these factors come together to make a tense battlefield where you'll try to carefully approach foes while juggling between appropriate weapons and additional gear in order to make the most out of every situation that you find yourself in. It all adds up to make for supremely fun gameplay and the crisp visuals, atmospheric sci-fi electronic music, and gratifying sound effects manage to make the action even more enjoyable. If you like shooting action then playing this is a must.
Twin-stick shooters simply don't get much better than Synthetik: Ultimate with its intricate and tactical approach to gun-based combat.Synthetik: Ultimate gameplay video → More twin-stick shooters
Rhythm of the Gods Review PlayStation 4 ★★★★☆
Pressing buttons to prompts that trigger with the music is nothing new yet Rhythm of the Gods remains one challenging rhythm game.
I don't usually like rhythm games as much as other genres yet Rhythm of the Gods caught my eye with its mythological setting, awesome music, and clever premise where you attack, defend, jump, and slide to the beat. After playing it, I'm glad to say that it didn't disappoint although admittedly, I'm terrible at it. This is because it's one tough game to master. Not only do you have to perform the 4 basic actions to the beat, you sometimes have to hold the buttons, tap them at different intervals, and whenever a consistent onslaught of prompts comes up, you'll have to really concentrate to perform every action in the correct sequence with expert timing. One complaint I have is that the attack prompt is red although you push X for it which is blue and a similar thing can be said for the defend button. It's also a very short game but re-playing the levels on different difficulties while trying to get better scores definitely adds replay value.
If the idea of a simple yet challenging rhythm game appeals to you then you'll have a blast aiming for high scores in Rhythm of the Gods.Rhythm of the Gods gameplay video →
Shady Part of Me Review PlayStation 4 ★★★★☆
For whatever reason, there are a lot of shadow-based indie games out there and Shady Part of Me provides some truly clever situations.
Shady Part of Me has you control a little girl and her shadow separately in order to work past tricky situations whether through timing your movements perfectly or by solving intricate puzzles. The gameplay when you're controlling the shadow is similar to a 2D platformer while the little girl is controlled in 3 dimensions thus creating a varied foundation that makes swapping between the 2 characters feel fresh throughout. Whether you're moving a box toward a light source to create a platform for the shadow to jump on or carefully guiding the shadow along a train that's perpetually moving along a track, there's a ton of mind-bending fun to be had throughout the imaginative campaign. On top of that, you'll find a heartfelt story, gorgeous visuals with a spot-on tone, and an atmospheric soundscape that makes the journey all the more captivating. Overall, Shady Part of Me contains an excellently-executed blend of mechanics.
It pleases me to say that Shady Part of Me is one of the best surprises of the year so if you like indie puzzlers, you have to play this.Shady Part of Me gameplay video → Similar game: Shadow Puppeteer
Shakes on a Plane Review Switch ★★★☆☆
With so many couch co-op games out there, Shakes on a Plane has some stiff competition so does it live up to its genre contemporaries?
Yes, Shakes on a Plane plays a lot like Overcooked! although its core gameplay focuses more on the serving aspect than food preparation. Essentially, up to 4 local players control flight attendants who retrieve refreshments for passengers. This involves light preparation elements such as waiting for coffee to brew or transporting raw ingredients like fries into their respective cooking areas. Once items are ready, you can either hand over individual items or assemble orders of multiple items on a tray before giving them all to the passenger who ordered them. You'll also have to collect their rubbish when they're done eating and as you play, the stage moves which mimics ascending, descending, and turbulence. Overall, this formula works although Shakes on a Plane is definitely rough around the edges with its less than stellar presentation and sometimes clunky mechanics. It's still fun but not as much as some other similar games.
With many great couch co-op games out there, it's hard to wholeheartedly recommend Shakes on a Plane although it is quite charming.Shakes on a Plane gameplay video → Similar game: Overcooked! All You Can Eat
Grindstone Review Switch ★★★★☆
Unique puzzle games that cleverly incorporate RPG elements are almost always a treat to play and with that in mind, here's Grindstone.
I'm a huge fan of Capybara Games and absolutely love their puzzle games Critter Crunch and Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes which is one of my favourite puzzlers of all time. Although those titles reward strategic thinking and feature impressively deep mechanics, Grindstone is a much easier-digestible game with streamlined gameplay that anyone can enjoy. You basically draw a line through enemies of the same type and if you manage to defeat a lot of them, you get awarded with Grindstones which may crush an enemy upon spawning. They also allow you to change the enemy type in the middle of your path so having a few of them strewn around the playfield will allow you to perform an impressive combo. Anyway, the enemies fight back so staying out of their range as you tear through stages is a rewarding feat indeed and gathering upgrade materials, fighting bosses, and acquiring treasures as you play adds even more satisfaction to the core gameplay. Throw in lovely cartoon visuals and cool stage gimmicks and you're left with one fully-featured and super-fun puzzler.
Grindstone is the sort of puzzler that appeals to hardcore genre fans and casual gamers alike with its immediately gratifying gameplay.Grindstone gameplay video → More Switch Puzzle Games
Mia's Picnic Review PlayStation 4 ★★★☆☆
Sometimes, all you want is to wind down with a simple puzzle game and Mia's Picnic is the sort of tasty treat that's sure to satisfy.
Believe it or not, Mia's Picnic plays a lot like Grindstone in that you draw lines through tiles. However, instead of slaughtering monsters, you collect fruit. Even though the core gameplay merely has you drawing lines through fruit, there is a surprising amount of variety throughout because levels may feature unique rules. For example, you might have to simply gather a specific number of strawberries or collect certain sequences of different fruits in order to make smoothies. These different goals help make Mia's Picnic remain interesting as you progress and dressing Mia up in silly costumes with earned coins adds a fun layer of personality to the equation. With all of that being said, the gameplay is still quite basic and doesn't quite have as much longevity as Grindstone yet it's definitely pretty fun overall.
Mia's Picnic is an easy breezy puzzler that makes collecting fruit a fun and rewarding experience, especially when you want to wind down.Mia's Picnic gameplay video → WordHerd Review
Traffix Review Switch ★★★★☆
Simple indie games with minimal gameplay are extremely difficult to pull off yet Traffix will definitely keep you coming back for more.
In Traffix, all you do is control traffic lights in order to ensure that vehicles can proceed without crashing into each other. It's really that simple. The controls merely have you tap buttons that correspond to specific traffic lights in order to wave vehicles through and you can also double-tap to toggle a light between stop and go although doing so can be a highly risky move. This formula basically tests your timing skills and your ability to observe multiple spots on the screen at once. Although it's simple at its core, mastering the stages requires an exceptional amount of concentration and I thoroughly enjoyed completing the cleverly-designed stages even if seeing accidents pile up made me have to restart on occasion. I must say; for such a simple game, I'm extremely impressed with what Traffix offers.
It may seem like a laidback game but Traffix will have you intensely focus as you carefully guide traffic within its many tricky stages.Traffix gameplay video →
Fatal Fury: First Contact Review Switch ★★★☆☆
With 4 Neo Geo Pocket Color fighters already available for Switch, Fatal Fury: First Contact is finally here and it's what you'd expect.
Fatal Fury: First Contact originally released back in 1999 for Neo Geo Pocket Color and you can now enjoy it on Switch along with SNK's other ported fighters. For the unfamiliar, it's the portable adaptation of the arcade game Real Bout Fatal Fury 2: The Newcomers. Considering it's merely a 2 button iteration with simplistic visuals featuring chibi characters, it's definitely not as fun as its arcade counterpart although like with all of these portable fighting games; it has oodles of retro charm. I'm fairly sure that it's the only game where you can play as the goofy Lao as well. Anyway, it's a fairly standard portable fighter that I didn't find it to be as deep as some of the other Neo Geo Pocket Color ports but it's enjoyable nonetheless and makes for a fitting addition if you're trying to collect all of these releases. If you're not and simply want to see what these games are capable of, I'd recommend starting with SNK Gals' Fighters.
It may not be the best Neo Geo Pocket Color fighter on Switch but Fatal Fury: First Contact is certainly a charming and fun game.Fatal Fury: First Contact gameplay video → SNK Gals' Fighters Review King of Fighters R-2 Review Samurai Shodown! 2 Review The Last Blade: Beyond the Destiny Review