Pick-Up-And-Play Indie Games (Part 3)

Pick-Up-And-Play Indie Games (Part 3)

From haphazard valets to ninja chess

A.J. Maciejewski

Written by for Rapid Fire Reviews on

I've been playing so many indies lately that it's ridiculous and here's what I think about 8 recent easy to pick-up-and-play console games.

Rising Hell Review PlayStation 4 ★★★★☆

You wouldn't think such a heavy metal roguelike would be easy to play yet Rising Hell is here to prove that simplicity can be visceral, too.

Rising Hell screenshot
No one said ascending the depths of hell would be easy!

That's right; Rising Hell is yet another roguelike yet it isn't quite like anything I've ever played before. All you essentially do is ascend vertically laid-out stages while unleashing a barrage of melee attacks and performing acrobatic moves while trying not to get hurt. Along the way, you'll amass both permanent and temporary currencies that you can use to unlock features and purchase upgrades with. There's also a wide assortment of power-ups that make smashing up demonic adversaries all the more enjoyable. Every once in a while, you can enter optional challenging areas for bonuses, make decisions about where to go next, and fight a difficult boss. The resulting gameplay formula is impressively varied, action-packed, and super-satisfying, especially whenever you have a particularly fruitful run.

Rising Hell's intuitive gameplay makes combating its monsters and ascending its tricky levels a treat for anyone who's up for a challenge.

Rising Hell gameplay video → More games influenced by heavy metal culture

Sure Footing Review Xbox One ★★★☆☆

You don't see as many endless runners as there were a decade ago and Sure Footing is one that's quite fun with a friend or 3.

Sure Footing screenshot
This is perhaps the most neon game that I've ever played

Sure Footing has you control your computerized character of choice while automatically running through a digitized world. As you do so, you'll have to jump between platforms with perfect precision so you can move ahead with as much speed as possible. After all, you definitely don't want Deletion Dave to catch up to you! Although I didn't find it much fun to play by myself, you can actually have 4 players frantically run alongside each other which can be a lot of fun, especially with the revival mechanic in place. In fact, my gaming chum and I are currently at the top of both co-op modes' leaderboards. Can you beat us? Anyway, although it's a very fun and frantic game, it can be quite frustrating due to its unpredictability and floaty jumps so make sure to have patience before giving it a go.

With its enjoyable core gameplay and unique computerized neon world, Sure Footing makes for one nifty multiplayer endless runner.

Sure Footing gameplay video → More endless runners

Very Very Valet Review Switch ★★★★☆

I love wacky co-op games and Very Very Valet is here to offer plenty of silly vehicle-based mayhem for you and your gaming chums.

Very Very Valet screenshot
We don't have to be good at our jobs, right?

Let me just say right of the bat that Very Very Valet is one of the best co-op multiplayer games that I've played in a very long time. After taking the brief tutorial, you and your friends will find yourselves parking cars in a vast assortment of goofy stages that may have fun mechanics like warp gates. The gameplay loop is similar to Overcooked in that the goal is to satisfy as many customers as possible in the allotted time. You do this by first parking their car then returning it after they're done doing whatever it is they're up to. The thing is; you don't necessarily have to be good at your job as long as you're fast so you'll end up smashing up people's vehicles, jumping out of cars as they slide into position, and slamming into folks so they'll move out of the way. It's a great deal of fun and I highly recommend it.

Frantic co-op multiplayer games don't get much better than Very Very Valet with its hilarious gameplay premise and silly scenarios.

Very Very Valet gameplay video → More Switch Co-op Indie Games

Cosmic Top Secret Review Switch ★★★★☆

Some games are presented very strangely yet Cosmic Top Secret tells an intriguing tale within its very unconventional game world.

Cosmic Top Secret screenshot
T's dad hugged her once and shattered 9 ribs

Cosmic Top Secret tells the tale of T who's on a mission to discover whether her father was a Cold War spy. Although its story is about real-life events and people, it's set in an abstract world that verges on being humorous at times although it manages to be more captivating than funny. Anyway, the gameplay is kind of like a 3D platformer adventure game where you control T by rolling around on the ground as a crumpled-up ball of paper. You see, the world of Cosmic Top Secret is made of crafts and rotating the camera to view the backs of people and objects reveals that they're merely cardboard. As you play, you'll gather clues and have to put them together in clever ways in order to advance. It's quite intuitive yet each step is satisfying and watching the story unfold is quite a nice reward.

If you want to play something out of the ordinary, you certainly can't go wrong with the very intriguing Cosmic Top Secret.

Cosmic Top Secret gameplay video →

Chess Knights: Shinobi Review PlayStation 4 ★★★☆☆

Games don't get much more classic than good old chess but what if you turn that formula on its head? Here's Chess Knights: Shinobi.

Chess Knights: Shinobi screenshot
Once I memorize how these pieces can move, I'll be golden

Earlier this year, I played and reviewed Knight's Retreat and Chess Knights: Shinobi essentially features the exact same gameplay albeit with more complexity and gimmicks. For the unfamiliar, you control a knight which can only move in L-shapes and it's your goal to navigate to each stage's exit while avoiding enemy pieces which can move in distinct ways. The thing is; if you're like me and not intimately familiar with the rules of chess, remembering how the various pieces can move can be very difficult. Heck, the pieces here aren't exactly identical to classic chess pieces so even if you are familiar with it, you may assume a piece is a queen when it's a king or something. Anyway, it's a solid trial-and-error kind of experience with a good amount of variation so if it sounds like it's up your alley then you'll likely enjoy it.

Moving a knight around grid-based stages as if you're a ninja chess piece is unique so Chess Knights: Shinobi can be a pretty fun game.

Chess Knights: Shinobi gameplay video → Knight's Retreat Review

Go! Birdie Review Switch ★★☆☆☆

Indie takes on classic gaming formulas are interesting to experience so let's give Go! Birdie a try with its clever gameplay concoction.

Go! Birdie screenshot
Looks like someone's on their way to make Froot Loops

Go! Birdie can best be described as a combination of 2 of my favourite gaming franchises of all time: Pac-Man and Bomberman. Specifically, you move a bird around maze-like levels while avoiding enemies and pushing certain tiles which can block off or defeat your foes before they eventually respawn. The goal is to collect all the fruit and snagging flashing fruit will grant you more points. Although this may sound like it might be my cup of tea, the gameplay is surprisingly generic and uninteresting. For starters, the enemies are predictable and easy to outsmart and the stages don't really provide any clever layouts aside from the fact that some of them allow you to loop around the sides. Plus, the visuals and music aren't all that appealing so unfortunately, you'll be better off sticking to the classics in the end.

Taking inspiration from classics like Pac-Man and Bomberman, Go! Birdie doesn't quite live up to an '80s-era level of quality.

Go! Birdie gameplay video →

Jay and Silent Bob: Mall Brawl Arcade Edition Review Xbox One ★★★★☆

Last year, the super-fun beat 'em up Jay and Silent Bob: Mall Brawl debuted and there's now a brand new Arcade Edition! Snoogans.

Jay and Silent Bob: Mall Brawl Arcade Edition screenshot
When they're not leaning up against a wall, Jay and Silent Bob sure can fight!

I enjoy a good old beat 'em up every once in a while and Jay and Silent Bob: Mall Brawl is a solid one that's reminiscent of the classic Kunio-kun games. Playing as Jay and Silent Bob with a friend is great fun as you smash up enemies in many locales within the mall. Of course, it features simple and satisfying controls which makes it very easy to pick-up-and-play. This Arcade Edition features better visuals that come across as if they're from the 16-bit era while the original was actually released for NES. The audio is enhanced, too, so this is definitely a significant step up from the vanilla version. Needless to say, if you're a fan of brawlers or Jay and Silent Bob (or better yet, both) then you'll have a great time with this delightful throwback. Oh, and the boss fights are quite a blast, too!

The Arcade Edition of Jay and Silent Bob: Mall Brawl is a substantial improvement over an already great classic-style beat 'em up.

Jay and Silent Bob: Mall Brawl Arcade Edition gameplay video → Jay and Silent Bob: Mall Brawl Review

Save me Mr Tako: Definitive Edition Review Switch ★★★★☆

Save me Mr Tako has been around for a while and the aquatic adventure is back via a Definitive Edition that's sure to turn you into a fan.

Save me Mr Tako: Definitive Edition screenshot
Am I the most fabulous octopus in the sea or what?

I first played and reviewed Save me Mr Tako back in 2018 and recall wrestling between giving it 3 or 4 stars only to decide on the former. However, now that I've played it again, I must say that it has finally won me over and the enhancements featured in this Definitive Edition are surely enough for an extra star. The most substantial addition is that the original was a bit all over the place with its challenge but that's been smoothed out here and there's even a new difficult select if you'd like to adjust it further. Another improvement that I love is the fact that the colour palettes automatically swap as you move between locations which made me feel as if I was playing it on Super Game Boy. Throw in a hint system and more content and you're left with one well-honed 2D platforming adventure!

I liked the original but Save me Mr Tako: Definitive Edition made me a fan by being a much-improved iteration of a promising platformer.

Save me Mr Tako: Definitive Edition gameplay video → Save me Mr Tako: Tasukete Tako-San Review
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Gameplay video playlist for Pick-Up-And-Play Indie Games (Part 3) 57:14
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