Must-Have Indie Games thumbnail

Must-Have Indie Games

6 top-notch indies

A.J. Maciejewski

Written by for Rapid Fire Reviews on

There have been loads of incredible indie games releasing recently so here are 6 that I particularly enjoyed. Perhaps you will, too!

A.J. has been obsessively gaming since the late '80s and is just as passionate about video games in 2023. 🐻

Slay The Spire Review Xbox One ★★★★☆

If the concept of a roguelike with an intricate card-based battle system appeals to you then Slay The Spire will be right up your alley. v1d30chumz 3-235-186-94

Slay The Spire screenshot
In Slay The Spire, your fate is literally in the cards

Slay The Spire has you progress through a procedurally generated branching campaign. At each node along your journey, you'll end up battling enemies, buying new cards, and resting every now and then. Each run has you start off very weak without many cards in your collection but once you play it for a while, you'll amass a huge assortment of various cards. Picking which ones to add to your deck and forming strategies is where Slay The Spire's gameplay shines brightest, especially when you confront a particularly tough foe only for your strategy to prevail. There are a ton of factors to consider as you play and plan your adventure so make sure that you have the patience to learn its ins and outs before purchasing Slay The Spire or else you may get very frustrated once the difficulty ramps up.

Card-based combat doesn't get much more satisfying than in Slay The Spire and its roguelike campaign is quite a rewarding challenge.

Slay The Spire gameplay video →

Machiknights: Blood Bagos Review PlayStation 4 ★★★★☆

Here we have a local co-op arena game where you and a friend control hulking machines to slaughter quirky enemies and it's quite fun.

Machiknights: Blood Bagos screenshot
Get ready to be jealous of whoever gets to control the fire-breathing dinosaur

Right off the bat, I must say that playing Machiknights: Blood Bagos solo isn't as enjoyable as playing it with a friend so make sure you have a chum who will play it with you before you decide to purchase it. Anyway, Machiknights: Blood Bagos has you control a knight who pilots a war machine. There are a few of these goofs to choose from and my favourite is the one who controls a fire-breathing dinosaur. The core gameplay is rather simple as all you do is attack, dash, and perform special moves. What makes it so much fun is the amount of customization that you can apply between stages. As you play, you'll earn coins and gems that you can trade in for stat boosts and chests that contain a handful of items each. Opening one of those suckers to discover a bunch of new weapons is satisfying stuff, especially once you experiment with your collection of weapons and find the ones that click with you most.

Machiknights: Blood Bagos may be simple at its core yet stomping around with a friend while decimating your foes just feels awesome.

Machiknights: Blood Bagos gameplay video →

Redeemer: Enhanced Edition Review Xbox One ★★★★☆

When it comes to local co-op games, few are as violent and over-the-top as Redeemer: Enhanced Edition so let's check it out!

Redeemer: Enhanced Edition screenshot
Guns are no match for my fist making you fly off a bridge

Yes, Redeemer: Enhanced Edition is yet another local co-op game. Just like with Machiknights, I wouldn't recommend playing it solo but for a different reason as Redeemer can be downright brutal while playing by yourself. However, getting a friend to join you amplifies the fun to 11. There's nothing quite like storming into a room full of enemies and smashing them up with a fury of punches and kicks while performing unique fatalities to a select few. Speaking of which, these death moves are just awesome such as pushing a foe into a tree so its branch skewers him and smashing an enemy's head in with a giant hammer. Oh, yeah; make sure the kids are out of the room before playing this. Finding cool weapons scattered about and utilizing them to wreak havoc is great cooperative fun indeed.

If you want to smash some skulls with a chum then you will certainly enjoy the super-violent Redeemer: Enhanced Edition.

Redeemer: Enhanced Edition gameplay video → Similar game: God's Trigger

Rogue Singularity Review Switch ★★★★☆

You don't see many roguelike 3D platformers yet Rogue Singularity combines the genres in a very clever and challenging way.

Rogue Singularity screenshot
Wow; that's a ton of death traps!

Rogue Singularity has you control a robot who's on a mission to master a lengthy campaign that's full of tough platforming. When I first started playing it, the controls didn't quite click with me but once I got used to them, I enjoyed progressing through its bite-sized stages a great deal. Your robot somewhat controls like Mario from one of his 3D outings as you jump higher once you tap the jump button as soon as you land. When you factor in the oodles of optional unlockable skills and items as well as the dozens of hazards that are usually packed in each stage, you're looking at an open-ended and tough roguelike. As you play, you'll earn currency that you can redeem to buy more skills and parts that change your appearance. For the record, I found the ability to hover after you jump to be invaluable.

Playing Rogue Singularity will require some patience as you adapt to its gameplay but once it clicks, it's one rewarding roguelike.

Rogue Singularity gameplay video →

Exception Review Xbox One ★★★★☆

If fast-paced 2D action platformers are your cup of tea then Exception is here to provide you with one mind-bending campaign.

Exception screenshot
Prepare to have your brain twist and turn

You play Exception like many 2D platformers yet you can jump off walls, double-jump, and slash a sword. What truly sets it apart from similar games is that you'll frequently shift the stage by touching certain objects and you can take advantage of your inertia to soar through stages a lot quicker. By shifting stages, I mean that upon touching the object, the stage may flip in various mind-bending ways thus thrusting you into a whole new scenario. The campaign contains loads of different enemies, hazards, and mechanics throughout so the gameplay remains fresh and exciting from start to finish. There are bosses, too, that can be rather annoying to figure out but once you do and finally show them who's boss, moving on to the next group of stages is very satisfying. One aspect that I enjoyed a lot was trying to climb the leaderboards because you must use your inertia to speed through stages which is exceptionally exciting.

2D action game fans will find a lot to love in the stylish Exception, especially those who enjoy speedrunning through bite-sized stages.

Exception gameplay video →

Never Give Up Review Switch ★★★★☆

Although there are many indie games clearly inspired by Super Meat Boy, Never Give Up offers an original formula that works great.

Never Give Up screenshot
I wish this little fellow could swim...

Never Give Up has you control a little blue guy who's apparently trapped in a nightmare where you progress through a succession of brutal hazard-filled stages. Although the core gameplay of jumping, sliding, double-jumping, and leaping off walls is nothing new, the fact that each stage basically consists of incrementally more challenging and lengthier versions of itself makes for one awesome dynamic. Each stage segment contains a collectible coin that you can unlock bonus costumes with while each stage as a whole has a super-secret collectible to find. So, if merely completing these stages wasn't enough of a challenge, you could try and collect everything as well as compete in the online rankings. Also, you'll occasionally hear lines from the hero and his adversary which can be quite funny.

If you take pride in showing off your 2D platforming skills then Never Give Up will be a perfect fit for your gaming library.

Never Give Up gameplay video → More games that play like Super Meat Boy
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Gameplay video playlist for Must-Have Indie Games
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