Innovative Indie Games (Part 4)

Innovative Indie Games (Part 4)

Indies with ingenuity

A.J. Maciejewski

Written by for Rapid Fire Reviews on

I've been enjoying a great deal of clever indie games recently so here are 6 such recent games that I think are rather innovative.

What the Golf Review Switch ★★★★☆

What the golf is What the Golf and why should you care? Well, it's a goofy indie with an impressive amount of variety so let's tee up!

What the Golf screenshot
Just what the golf is going on here?

At its core, What the Golf is a rather simple game where you aim and whack various objects around to eventually reach their goals. However, there's so much more to it than that. You'd initially assume that it's a golf game but as you progress through its off-the-wall campaign, you'll experience many wacky scenarios that'll have you playing a piano, controlling a ball while avoiding soccer players, carefully aiming as you pass blowing fans, and much more. Although the campaign is super-fun to work though, I took more pleasure in pursuing the daily challenge as it tasks you with completing a random selection of stages in as few strokes as possible. You can also enjoy party mode with a friend and doing so is sure to provide plenty of laughs. Overall, I'm very impressed with What the Golf as it offers oodles of humour, tons of variety, comprehensive modes, a rewarding sense of challenge, and a fantastically stylish and quirky presentation.

If you enjoy quirky indie games as much as I do then you'll have an absolute blast while mastering every zany level in What the Golf.

What the Golf gameplay video → More golf games

Atomicrops Review Xbox One ★★★★☆

I always appreciate when indie developers blend genres that aren't usually mixed so here's the farming twin-stick shooter Atomicrops.

Atomicrops screenshot
Vegetables are people, too!

When I first started playing Atomicrops, I didn't quite understand the core gameplay loop but as I progressed and upgraded things, I began to realise just how clever and enjoyable it is. The core gameplay is similar to your average overhead twin-stick shooter and the controls are as tight as you would expect. What sets it apart is that as you shoot, you'll gather seeds and water while tending to your farm. Watching your crops come to life after you fend off a horde of encroaching enemies is very rewarding, especially once the day is done and you return to the hub area so you can exchange things for upgrades. On top of all this, the graphics are beautifully animated and as a result, Atomicrops' game world feels like a living, breathing dream land where vegetables are your friends.

The combination of genres in Atomicrops is nothing short of clever and its gameplay lends itself well to making it a stand-out indie.

Atomicrops gameplay video → More roguelike twin-stick shooters

Those Who Remain Review PlayStation 4 ★★☆☆☆

First-person exploration games (or walking sims) can be quite unique and Those Who Remain's horror premise is definitely promising.

Those Who Remain screenshot
Who knows what lurks in the shadows?

Those Who Remain has you control a dude who's contemplating taking his own life after he cheats on his wife and makes other horrible life decisions. Right off the bat, that made me not care about or relate to the protagonist at all. However, after being introduced to the horror element, I became a lot more intrigued. Throughout the campaign, you basically have to remain in the light because dark areas seem to become populated by shadowy creatures who appear to be holding weapons. Whenever you flick a light switch on, you can see these monsters immediately disappear which is rather haunting and makes for a very cool premise. That being said, once you realise how to deal with these creatures, they become a lot less scary and the campaign begins to become tedious as you aimlessly wander around while trying to figure out how to progress which eventually and inevitably devolves the experience into a frustrating mess.

Although it has a clever premise and features nifty abstract scenarios, Those Who Remain is little more than an annoying adventure.

Those Who Remain gameplay video → More first-person exploration games

Synaptic Drive Review Switch ★★★☆☆

If you recall fighting games such as Power Stone, Synaptic Drive will feel right at home so let's enter the ring and get ready to fight!

Synaptic Drive screenshot
This is giving me flashbacks to the Dreamcast era!

Synaptic Drive is an arena fighting game where you play as a robot with swappable parts. After deciding on your body, gun, wire, tracker, and a couple of chips, you jump in the ring and unleash various attacks to hopefully end your opponent's life. Your attacks depend on which parts you equipped so experimenting with different configurations is a huge part of the fun. With that in mind, many of the weapons are very tricky to use effectively either due to a limited range or some sort of awkward projectile path so there are definitely balancing issues. Once you figure out a setup that works for you, the gameplay is fairly enjoyable albeit a bit clunky but I do appreciate the Dreamcast-style visuals a lot. Plus, you can play against local and online opponents with up to 4 players in tag team matches.

It may not be the most refined fighter but Synaptic Drive's highly configurable mechanics and retro aesthetic make it worth playing.

Synaptic Drive gameplay video → More fighting games

Aqua Lungers Review Switch ★★★★☆

If you enjoy competing with friends then here's an unconventional arena-style game that's sure to delight a couch full of chums.

Aqua Lungers screenshot
Better hoard this treasure before the boss finds me...

Aqua Lungers is a cool little game for up to 4 local players. You can play it solo as well but it's certainly not as enjoyable. Anyway, you basically control cute diver fellows who are on a mission to claim treasure from monster-infested waters. You play by running and jumping around then diving into the water where you can unleash charged attacks, use special items, and boost. While you're down there, you can attack sunken ships then gather treasure and you score by bringing the treasure back to your chest and whoever reaches the goal amount first wins! Keep in mind; a boss monster can eat treasure so fending off and evading that bad boy is a part of the challenge. The resulting formula is chaotic and a ton of fun, especially if you're playing with a few friends as you work through the campaign.

I wasn't expecting it to be as enjoyable as it is so if you're looking for a new local multiplayer game, give Aqua Lungers a try.

Aqua Lungers gameplay video → More Multiplayer Indie Games

Many Faces: Console Edition Review Xbox One ★★★☆☆

Single-screen arcade games have been providing tons of challenging fun for decades but does Many Faces live up to genre classics?

Many Faces: Console Edition screenshot
Twin-stick shooters rarely wear as many hats as this does

On the surface, Many Faces is a rather simple game as all you do is run and jump around the screen while fending off all sorts of strange neon shapes that possess a variety of shot types and attacks. This on its own makes for a familiar and fun formula but where Many Faces becomes innovative is in its use of hats. Whenever you complete a wave, you'll receive a hat that changes the gameplay in a variety of interesting ways. For example, you may set fires wherever you walk, receive a shield, or have your weapon change into something unique. Snagging different hats will constantly force you to change strategies which makes the gameplay challenging and rewarding. With all of that being said, it's still quite a simple game and it definitely doesn't look like much with its barebones graphics.

In the end, Many Faces: Console Edition is a solid game to pick up and play whenever you want a quick arcade shooting fix.

Many Faces: Console Edition gameplay video → More Arcade-style Console Games
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