Pick-Up-And-Play Indie Games

Pick-Up-And-Play Indie Games

Get a quick gaming fix

A.J. Maciejewski

Written by for Rapid Fire Reviews on

Sometimes, all you want is a simple game that you can play for a bit every now and then so here are 8 recent pick-up-and-play indies.

Wunderling Review Switch ★★★★☆

Plenty of games have turned the tables and put players in the shoes of baddies but they're rarely as cute as the wonderful Wunderling.

Wunderling screenshot
Who knew playing as a bad guy could feel so innocent?

Wunderling is a very simple game as all you essentially do is jump while your character perpetually moves forward. Although this may not sound all that fun or challenging, it actually is. For starters, simply completing the levels can be tricky with hazards strewn about but you can also try and collect all of the pick-ups which will likely require multiple attempts as you memorize routes and do a little exploration. Speaking of which, there are many cleverly hidden treasure chests that often require a lot of thinking outside the box to collect. Plus, amassing a wealth of cute costume pieces that you can equip to your character is great fun and the cutscenes are genuinely funny so if you want a lighthearted game that is easy to play, will make you laugh, and is impressively challenging, you should play Wunderling.

Simply timing jumps within Wunderling's elaborate stages makes for one enjoyable adventure where it feels good to be the bad guy.

Wunderling gameplay video →

Roundguard Review Xbox One ★★★★☆

Indie developers love to create their own spins on existing gameplay formulas so here's Roundguard which is a nifty take on Peggle.

Roundguard screenshot
Adding RPG elements to Peggle was an awesome idea

I usually don't like when game developers blatantly form their games around already distinct core gameplay mechanics but Roundguard does a phenomenal job of livening up PopCap's classic Peggle. It basically plays exactly the same as you fire your hero character then she or he bounces to and from nodes and can land safely on a mattress that moves across the spiky floor at the bottom of the playfield. However, where it differs is in its use of RPG elements as well as its roguelike campaign. For example, you have HP and MP with the latter fueling a couple of special moves that may give you the upper-hand in a sticky situation. You can also find and equip weapons, armour, and such for additional boosts. Finally, there's a huge variety of enemies and hazards and a strong sense of humour brings it all together.

Considering Peggle hasn't seen the light of day in a long time, Roundguard now carries the torch while offering plenty of fun twists.

Roundguard gameplay video → Similar game: Peggle 2

Separation Review PlayStation 4 ★★★☆☆

Putting on a VR headset then exploring a desolate puzzle-filled world is a fantastic way to escape reality so let's check out Separation.

Separation screenshot
How far will this laser end up travelling?

Separation is one of the simplest first-person VR puzzle adventure games that I've ever played as all you basically do is slowly walk around the game world while exploring and solving simple puzzles in order to guide a ray of light from a strange mechanical building via shining it through crystals. The music is absolutely stunning and that alone made me keep playing it for longer than I should have late at night. Its droney sci-fi ambience is perfect for exploring a desolate game world. On the downside, the graphics are rather polygonal when you observe things closely but the backgrounds can be quite captivating. Also, interacting with things is often problematic as positioning the cursor wherever you need to can be confusing and needlessly cumbersome. Other than that, it's a solid game to wind down with.

Although its atmosphere is spot-on and its gameplay is rewarding, Separation doesn't quite reach the highs of similar VR experiences.

Separation gameplay video → Similar game: The Solus Project

inbento Review Switch ★★★☆☆

Packing bento boxes with all sorts of sushi treats may seem simple yet inbento is here to show just how challenging it can be.

Inbento screenshot
Kitties are picky so you have to prepare their sushi just the way they like it

inbento tasks you with packing bento boxes in order to match the specified layouts of its contents. In order to do so, you start with a base bento box then select tiles which may either be ingredients or commands. The former simply overwrites whatever you place them on while the latter may be used to swap, rotate, or move tiles. The resulting gameplay becomes surprisingly difficult after playing for about half an hour and you'll find yourself trying out all sorts of combinations in order to recreate the goal bento box. Although all of this adds up to one challenging and cute puzzler, the gameplay is still somewhat repetitive and there isn't really anything to do besides complete each of the stages within the campaign. Overall, it's a very fun little puzzler and I recommend giving it a go.

Making the perfect meal for a feline fellow may be a tricky endeavour but it's one that's impressively rewarding. Meow.

inbento gameplay video →

Hidden Through Time Review Xbox One ★★★★☆

If you grew up trying to find Waldo then Hidden Through Time will make you feel like a kid again. Get ready and let's start searching!

Hidden Through Time screenshot
Finding stuff in Hidden Through Time can be quite hypnotizing

Playing Hidden Through Time is incredibly simple as all you do is scan around complex pictures while trying to find specific objects from a list. Thankfully, you can pan, zoom, and even highlight objects in your list for a helpful clue. One aspect that I enjoyed is that you can actually interact with the pictures which are adorably animated, I must say. More specifically, you can open tents, knock on pots, and even set fires in some levels. You may have to do these things to find all of the objects so there is some experimentation. Anyway, as you progress through the campaign, you'll advance through time and explore pictures from the Stone Age to the Wild West. As if that's not enough, there's even a level editor and you can play others' creations online, too! Talk about the whole package.

I absolutely loved playing Hidden Through Time while trying to find all of the hidden objects and I'm sure you will, too.

Hidden Through Time gameplay video → Similar game: Where's Waldo? The Fantastic Journey

Lines XL Review Switch ★★★☆☆

Trying to link nodes on a grid while covering the entire playfield can be challenging so here's the simple and fun Lines XL.

Lines XL screenshot
Consider level 500 finally complete!

Lines XL basically consists of a whopping 500 stages where you try and link numbered nodes while covering the whole grid. I've played similar games before yet the vast amount of levels in Lines XL is definitely its stand-out feature. The interface is clean and the gameplay is intuitive so mastering a few stages whenever you wait for a bus or something will surely make for a fun time. With that said, I found many of the earlier levels to be more challenging than the later ones because a lot of those take place on large playfields yet don't have many nodes to connect so the solution eventually reveals itself after a little bit of experimentation. Stages that are smaller and more densely-packed definitely provide more challenge. Anyway, it's a simple game with a ton of levels so what more can you ask for?

The basic principle of trying to fill an entire grid while connecting certain nodes can be an enjoyable exercise for puzzle enthusiasts.

Lines XL gameplay video → Flowlines Vs. Review

Tower Inferno Review Switch ★★☆☆☆

For those who enjoy building towers with carefully-timed button presses, I have just the game for your very specific tastes.

Tower Inferno screenshot
Building towers as high as you can is trickier than it looks

Once in a while, I like to visit an arcade in my city that has a game called Crazy Tower. The objective of it is to time a button press when a floor of a tower overlaps with its base. If you're off, the part of the floor that isn't overlapping will fall thus becoming narrower and making further floors much trickier. As soon as you completely miss the mark and none of the floor overlaps, you lose. Tower Inferno is literally the exact same game yet it features different tower themes. Although the premise is fun, it has 2 major flaws. First, the timing feels off as if you have to tap the button much earlier than you should and there is no option to recalibrate. Next, the star thresholds which dictate when further towers are unlocked are far too high. You'd have to be some sort of robot to get all 3 stars.

Tower Inferno is a nifty home adaptation of the arcade game Crazy Tower but with faulty calibration, it's simply not that fun.

Tower Inferno gameplay video →

Arcade Fuzz Review Switch ★★★☆☆

What's better than 1 pick-up-and-play game? How about 2? Here's the intriguing compilation Arcade Fuzz from Walter Machado.

Arcade Fuzz: TTV3 screenshot
TTV3 is the definition of random difficulty

Arcade Fuzz contains 2 mini-games: TTV3 and Warpzone Drifter. First up, TTV3 has you control a weird little guy while trying to avoid everything with the hopes of making it to the next screen. Seeing as you can only stay in the brighter areas of the screen and that the darker areas can move very quickly and even trap you, the difficulty is extremely random. That being said, it's still fun to see how far you can make it even though perishing almost always feels frustrating and unfair. Overall, it's a quirky and entertaining little game.

Arcade Fuzz: Warpzone Drifter screenshot
Flying around the screen in Warpzone Drifter is nauseating

Next, we have Warpzone Drifter where you simply steer a vehicle left and right as it zooms and drifts all over the screen. The goal is to light up 3 circles in order to advance to the next stage. Doing so is ridiculously difficult, especially considering the vehicle tends to veer off-screen. However, once you get the hang of it, it can be kind of rewarding. Oh, and I should mention that the music in both games is gritty and absolutely awesome. In fact, it's so good that I'm pretty sure it's what made me play for as long as I did.

Arcade Fuzz contains 2 highly unconventional and supremely difficult mini-games and its awesome music and style will keep you hooked.

Arcade Fuzz gameplay video → Ubermosh:Omega Review
Gameplay video playlist for Pick-Up-And-Play Indie Games 59:03
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