Innovative Indie Games

Innovative Indie Games

Clever concoctions for consoles

A.J. Maciejewski

Written by for Rapid Fire Reviews on

Whether they're completely original or ingeniously tweaked from established formulas, innovative indies definitely deserve more attention so here are 6 recently released games for Switch and Xbox One that you should check out if you enjoy fresh experiences.

When Ski Lifts Go Wrong Review Switch ★★★★☆

Those who enjoy puzzlers such as Bridge Constructor and World of Goo will have a blast with this off-the-wall construction sim.

When Ski Lifts Go Wrong screenshot
I'm $4 under budget and the ski lift is running like a well oiled machine!

When Ski Lifts Go Wrong does much more than provide a solid construction-based puzzle experience. For starters, each of its dozens upon dozens of stages offers unique challenges and gameplay elements so you'll have a ton of fun tweaking each stage solution to perfection. To make a ski lift, you must build sturdy structures while staying within budget. That sounds simple enough but you also must construct jumps and various types of lifts besides chair lifts such as tow ropes. You can even control different kinds of folks such as skiers, snowboarders, and snowmobilers. Building a perfect jump only to control a little chum to soar off of it and collect a medal in the process simply feels awesome. Plus, the fact that the construction phase is incredibly intuitive complete with a semi-automatic mode that places additional support beams wherever needed makes gameplay a breeze.

Construction-based puzzlers don't get much better than When Ski Lifts Go Wrong. Its intuitive gameplay and huge variety of stages and gameplay mechanics make it a must-have game for any fan of the genre.

When Ski Lifts Go Wrong gameplay video → More construction-based puzzle games

Steamroll Review Xbox One ★★★★☆

Truly original games are often overlooked in favour of tried and true formulas yet Steamroll is here to prove how fun fresh indies can be.

Steamroll screenshot
If you're looking for some steamy action, this is the game for you

Steamroll plays like a mix of Super Monkey Ball and billiards. You're inside of a steam-powered sphere and it's your job to make it from the beginning to the end of each stage. Being able to do so involves activating switches, erecting ramps, blowing up debris, and many other tasks. The gameplay will have you navigating around the stages within the sphere while holding a shoulder button to spray steam out and accelerate. Whenever you come across a node, you can attach yourself to it then launch an assortment of steamballs which acts as the billiards half of the gameplay. The steamballs can break obstacles, toggle switches, explode, and generate ramps, walls, and other useful elements. Being able to figure out how to progress requires a great deal of experimentation but that's what makes Steamroll so fun. Also, its quirky characters, dark steampunk atmosphere, and strange world creates one unforgettable campaign.

It may come as a surprise but I can easily say that Steamroll is one of the most original and addictive games that I played in a long time.

Steamroll gameplay video →

Flowlines Vs. Review Switch ★★★☆☆

Filling a playfield with coloured lines is trickier than you'd think so let's check out this simple yet satisfying puzzler.

Flowlines Vs. screenshot
Whenever you get stuck, just cheat off your opponent!

The objective of Flowlines Vs. is to completely fill a playfield composed of hexagons by drawing lines between similarly-coloured nodes. It can either be played solo or against a friend which makes for a nice change of pace. The single player campaign consists of over 400 stages so you can play it for hours and hours and still have many more puzzles to master. The versus component is fairly enjoyable but considering each player can see what the other player is doing, you can easily cheat so it feels kind of unfair. Anyway, the basic gameplay is easy and laidback so if you're looking for a puzzle game to unwind with then Flowlines Vs. is a great choice. However, if you're a puzzler fanatic, you unfortunately shouldn't expect it to provide many brain-busting puzzles.

Flowlines Vs. is a solid puzzle game to chill out and play solo although its multiplayer mode doesn't feel particularly necessary.

Flowlines Vs. gameplay video →

Animal Super Squad Review Xbox One ★★★☆☆

If you've ever wanted to play a game as a chicken on a toilet then this one's for you.

Animal Super Squad screenshot
Please do not put chickens on toilets in real life; it's not very nice...

Animal Super Squad is played almost exactly like Joe Danger in that you drive a vehicle along a 2D plane and you have to navigate through tricky situations. Unlike Joe Danger, its gameplay isn't very tight and it's also incredibly easy to play. However, it's quite funny as you play as a chicken on a motorized toilet. When you take damage, your "vehicle" falls apart and once it breaks, you just roll around as the chicken. Then, your chicken becomes a bucket of fried chicken or merely a drumstick and controlling just that is downright hilarious. It may not feature innovative gameplay but you have to give the concept originality points for being so insane. In addition to the ridiculous campaign, you can also create and share your own levels which is a welcome inclusion.

If Animal Super Squad's gameplay was tightened up and it offered more of a challenge then it would be as fun as it is funny.

Animal Super Squad gameplay video → Similar game: Joe Danger 2

My Memory of Us Review Switch ★★★★☆

Some indies are more innovative in their storytelling than their gameplay so here's an unconventional take on real world events.

My Memory of Us screenshot
What a heart-warming moment

As a Canadian of half Polish descent, I'm well aware of World War II history and how it affected my relatives, many of whom I've never had the opportunity to meet. My Memory of Us presents this time in history through a couple of children's perspectives and the invaders are shown as robots instead of the real-life humans who actually committed the atrocities. It's understandable that some have criticised this decision as disconnecting history from reality. However, I found it to be quite intriguing for 2 reasons: the world through the eyes of a child is a lot more innocent than how adults perceive it and anyone who acts on behalf of who's in power without critical thought is indeed a robot, are they not? Anyway, the developers made something truly special with My Memory of Us.

Story aside, the gameplay is basically a 2D point and click adventure game and most tasks are satisfying to accomplish as you watch the two friends experience hardships yet grow into their relationship. There are many mini-games and puzzles sprinkled in for good measure and although a lot of them feel out of place, they still act as fun distractions from the main campaign.

My Memory of Us is a beautiful game that recalls real world history through a child's eyes which in turn, makes it a more poignant tale.

My Memory of Us gameplay video →

8-Bit Invaders Review Xbox One ★★★★☆

As the final entry in the 8-Bit real-time strategy trilogy, 8-Bit Invaders offers as much accessible RTS fun as you'd expect.

8-Bit Invaders screenshot
Stop trying to invade my blue pixelated world, you dastardly aliens!

Considering this is the third rapid fire reviews piece where I'm writing about this franchise, I don't have much more to say about it. If you had a good time with either Armies or Hordes then you'll like Invaders as well, that's for sure. All three games provide accessible yet customizable real-time strategy gameplay that genre newcomers and veterans can equally enjoy. In 8-Bit Invaders, you can play as either Marines or the evil alien conquerors known as Cranioids. I found the enemy forces to become relentless quite early on in the campaign so I'd say that this is the toughest entry in the trilogy and with 3 difficulty settings to choose from, you'll definitely be able to put your management and army commanding abilities to the test. Of course, just like in the previous 2 incarnations of the franchise, being able to play the co-op campaign, skirmishes, and online multiplayer within a new theme is a welcome treat.

8-Bit Invaders is a solid finale to a fantastic trilogy of accessible RTS games. It doesn't deviate much from the other 2 games but when the core gameplay is as fun and intuitive as it is, simply having more stages to master within a new theme is enough.

8-Bit Invaders gameplay video → 8-Bit Armies Review 8-Bit Hordes Review
Gameplay video playlist for Innovative Indie Games 39:23
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