Innovative Indie Games (Part 5)

Innovative Indie Games (Part 5)

Become a pug, robot, and cartographer

A.J. Maciejewski

Written by for Rapid Fire Reviews on

Indie games are releasing at a staggering rate so here are 8 recent titles that I found to be particularly clever and innovative.

Foregone Review Xbox One ★★★★☆

Foregone is one of those 2D action game roguelikes with Dark Souls elements but does it live up to its stellar genre contemporaries?

Foregone screenshot
I don't think that bow and arrow will be very effective...

The first thing that struck me as impressive about Foregone is its visuals which feature supremely well-animated characters and enemies all set in a gorgeous world that contains a substantial variety of detailed environments. It takes a little while for its gameplay to click but once it does, you'll find an enjoyable and challenging formula that's quite satisfying. As you run around while dodging enemies and unleashing an onslaught of melee and long-range attacks, you'll have a ton of fun. On top of this, there are plenty of options to become more powerful such as filling out skill trees, discovering and upgrading equipment loot, and enhancing active abilities that you can use to dash through enemies or heal yourself. It all adds up to a fairly simple yet immediately gratifying gameplay formula and even though there are some steep difficulty spikes, you'll still have fun optimizing your loadout only to eventually topple anything that stands in your way.

Foregone is certainly a solid 2D action game with some nifty RPG elements that'll keep you striving to be the best warrior you can be.

Foregone gameplay video → Similar game: Dead Cells

Carto Review PlayStation 4 ★★★★☆

Every once in a while, an indie comes out that truly captures my imagination and with that in mind, here's the top-notch Carto.

Carto screenshot
How the heck did they survive in that chest?

Carto tells the story of the titular cartographer who's on a mission to reunite with her grandmother. You do so by traversing grid-based maps with overhead adventure gameplay. The thing is; you can actually move the map tiles around which you'll have to do to solve the campaign's many complex puzzles. These situations can become ridiculously abstract to the point where they're very difficult to figure out but we actually wrote a comprehensive walkthrough that should help you if you ever get lost. Rotating and sliding map pieces around as you complete each quest, explore a wide variety of themed chapters, and talk to a huge cast of delightful chums makes for one whimsical and wonderful adventure. The only negative thing I can say is that although I enjoy the music, it can get a bit repetitive in certain areas. Other than that, it's one charming and beautiful journey that puzzle enthusiasts will absolutely adore.

As one of the most unique games that I've played in a long time, Carto blew me away with its clever gameplay and lovely world.

Carto gameplay video → Carto: A Step-by-Step Guide

Area 86 Review Xbox One ★★★☆☆

Here we have a game where you try to escape a laboratory as a robot but do its physics-based shenanigans offer good times?

Area 86 screenshot
I gone done messed up this office

Generally speaking, Area 86 is an escape room game where you try to accomplish a list of tasks in order to unlock the next room. You get to read clues for each task and figuring out how to accomplish them is most of the fun. The controls have you move and jump around stages and you can also pick up and throw objects as well as interact with switches and the like. It all works together quite well although it can be an irritating game at times. For example, being unable to complete a task because you messed something up is a bummer and figuring out some of the tasks will have you scratching your head. Also, there are leaderboards for each room which consider how long they took you to complete but they're kind of useless because you have to play through twice so you know what to do.

Area 86 provides some fun sandbox escape room gameplay yet it doesn't quite offer a rewarding campaign with its open-ended nature.

Area 86 gameplay video →

Supraland Review PlayStation 4 ★★★★☆

I enjoy sandbox games, especially when they feature unexpected elements and with that in mind, here's the very fun Supraland.

Supraland screenshot
Back off, skeletons; I just levelled up my sword!

Supraland takes place in a kid's backyard and the entire game is presumably within his imagination. You play as one of his toys as you traverse an intricate world via a first-person perspective. The basic controls involve running, jumping, and slashing your sword in order to defeat any encroaching monsters. I didn't think I'd enjoy Supraland as much as I did and I find that its main appeal is the interconnected world which features oodles of hidden goodies that are extremely satisfying to discover as they can increase your capabilities a great deal. Whether you earn the ability to triple-jump or make your sword more powerful; there's a lot to enhance. The combat is its weakest aspect but it's still fun and I found it rewarding to thin out a huge horde of monsters. This is one game you shouldn't miss!

Exploring Supraland's imaginative world will make you feel like a kid again and discovering all the secrets within it is great fun.

Supraland gameplay video →

A Tale of Paper Review PlayStation 4 ★★★☆☆

Trying to progress through a massive world as a small paper fellow sounds intriguing but is A Tale of Paper a worthwhile adventure?

A Tale of Paper screenshot
I've travelled a long way from home...

A Tale of Paper has you play as Line who's a little guy made out of paper. Its core gameplay is similar to a 3D platformer but there is a strong puzzle element which makes its gameplay very similar to Area 86's. However, this is a more atmospheric journey with gorgeously detailed environments and a gentle soundtrack that helps establish a laidback mood. As you progress, you'll discover new transformations that allow you to use origami in order to turn into things like a frog and a ball. Using these transformations in certain spots to progress is rewarding stuff whether you're jumping to a previously unreachable ledge or rolling down a secret tube. With all of that being said, the platforming is downright maddening at times and it sucks having to play stretches again because you accidentally fell.

Its clunky platforming can sure be frustrating but A Tale of Paper still provides a memorable and captivating adventure.

A Tale of Paper gameplay video →

Gonner2 Review Xbox One ★★★☆☆

It has been a few years since the original Gonner released and we now have a sequel so let's see if it's a worthy follow-up.

Gonner2 screenshot
This certainly looks a lot like the first game

When I started playing Gonner2, I couldn't help but get the feeling that it was too similar to the first game and as I played it, I began to experience some new elements yet it's still an ultimately recognisable game. For the unfamiliar, you control Ikk by running around, jumping up walls, and shooting enemies. You can also dash which can break weak walls and that's pretty cool. Plus, there are water levels but I found those to be incredibly frustrating as enemies swarm around you from every which way. Speaking of which, this is a far more challenging game than the first one and you'll almost constantly run out of ammo so make sure you have plenty of patience before diving in. That being said, unlocking new heads, guns, and stuff is rewarding and may make your next run all the more fruitful.

Gonner2 is definitely a fitting sequel but it doesn't quite feel like a substantial step up from the original and its action is far too chaotic.

Gonner2 gameplay video → Gonner: Blueberry Edition Review

Galacide Review Xbox One ★★★★☆

Galacide combines 2 of my personal favourite genres which are shoot 'em ups and puzzle games but is it any good? Spoilers: yes.

Galacide screenshot
Puzzles and arcade shooting? Sign me up!

Galacide has been on my radar for a while and it's one heck of a cool game. You basically play it as you would any shoot 'em up and as you soar around stages and shoot enemies, you must also collect and fire coloured pieces that you can make obstructions disappear with by connecting similarly coloured ones. Constantly juggling shooting and forging ahead past the walls of coloured obstacles makes for an engaging and thoroughly entertaining formula that'll use a good portion of your brain. Once you get used to the more intricate mechanics and how the scoring system works, it becomes quite a fun challenge. Plus, you can play it cooperatively with up to 4 chums and there are 4 unique ships to pilot as well as a couple of extra modes for those who want to keep playing after they master the campaign.

When it comes to genre-blenders, few games do as good of a job as Galacide with its clever combination of shooting and puzzles.

Galacide gameplay video → More shoot 'em ups

Double Pug Switch Review Xbox One ★★★☆☆

Here's an endless runner where you control a dimension-swapping pug named Otis. Is that as cool as it sounds? Let's see...

Double Pug Switch screenshot
What has this goofy pug got himself into?

Double Pug Switch has you automatically run while you tap buttons to jump and swap dimensions which makes certain platforms and hazards appear and disappear. As a result, it's a fairly simple yet undeniably challenging game. Your goal is to stop a cat named Whiskers from committing evil deeds which is pretty funny and along the way, you can collect coins to purchase costumes for Otis with. The level of challenge is fairly high and a lot of it is based on your ability to memorize stage layouts because they become quite complicated. On top of this being quite annoying, the performance is pretty clunky with occasional jumpy visuals and somewhat inconsistent controls which makes some jumps needlessly tricky to pull off. Overall, it's simple and fun but will drive you nuts at the same time.

If you're a fan of endless runners then you'll probably enjoy Double Pug Switch but don't expect it to redefine the genre.

Double Pug Switch gameplay video → More endless runners
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