Quirky Indie Adventures

Quirky Indie Adventures

Gaming off the beaten track

A.J. Maciejewski

Written by for Rapid Fire Reviews on

Unconventional games make for the most refreshing interactive experiences. So, are these 6 quirky yet charming indies worth playing?

Detective Gallo Review PlayStation 4 ★★★☆☆

What do you get when you combine a chicken, a detective, and a point and click adventure game? Detective Gallo, of course.

Detective Gallo screenshot
Gallo investigates only the most serious crimes

Detective Gallo follows in the footsteps of many classic point and click adventure games. As the titular detective, it's your job to solve a series of crimes within its offbeat world. The gameplay is impressively intuitive for console as all you do is select things on the screen. The menus take a little while to figure out but once you do, you'll be on your way to solving case after case. You'll generally interact with objects within a crime scene until Gallo's satisfied with the evidence that you uncovered. There are plenty of puzzle-like sequences but they're rarely tricky enough that you'll get stumped. Plus, Gallo's ability to sense all interactive objects onscreen at any time takes a lot of guess work out of the equation. My only complaints are that it's a little too basic and easy and the animations are pretty clunky. Besides that, it's a humorous and charming game that classic adventure game enthusiasts will thoroughly enjoy.

In the end, if you're looking for a modern take on classic games like Monkey Island, Sam & Max, or Broken Sword then Detective Gallo will certainly do the trick but it definitely doesn't bring many new and exciting elements to the table.

Detective Gallo gameplay video →

The Messenger Review Switch ★★★★☆

Here we have a 2D action game starring a ninja. Although that doesn't sound very original, The Messenger has a fantastic sense of humour and some genuinely innovative gameplay mechanics.

The Messenger screenshot
Wait; is that a screenshot of Ninja Gaiden?

The Messenger has you run, jump, and hack and slash your way through a somewhat lengthy stage-based campaign. One of its coolest features is that you can perform an additional jump after you slash something while in mid-air. You don't automatically jump so this basically acts as a way to charge an extra jump. Anyway, the gameplay is super-tight complete with loads of challenging and enormous stages that usually house many secrets contained within very tough hidden areas.

Overall, it feels like a long-lost NES game although not nearly as authentic or awesome as Shovel Knight. For example, the latter stages are nothing short of tedious and frustrating and it doesn't really feel all that original even with its nifty multi-jump mechanic. Also, you'll later unlock the ability to switch to the future that looks and plays like a 16-bit Metroidvania game which is very cool but this is also when the campaign occasionally turns into an irritating exercise in tedium. It's still enjoyable, though, and I wasn't expecting it to be as funny as it is but I'm glad that the dialogue scenes are full of self-referential humour and goofy characters.

Ninja games have been around since 8-bit classics like Ninja Gaiden, Strider, and Shadow of the Ninja. The Messenger fits right in with its tight gameplay, challenging degree of difficulty, and satisfying campaign.

The Messenger gameplay video →

Torn Review PlayStation 4 ★★★☆☆

Exploring mansions to uncover mysteries is a captivating premise for a game. However, Torn may not be quite what you'd expect.

Torn screenshot
Trust me; the mansion is much lovelier in VR

I didn't know what to expect when I first started playing Torn. Considering it's a PlayStation VR game, I was hoping it wouldn't be a horror game and I'm glad to say that it's not. You play as a vlogger named Katherine Patterson in first-person and you can either warp around or use conventional movement controls. For the record, I chose the latter and even though it made me a little bit disoriented, it made the gameplay feel more authentic. Anyway, you discover a mansion in a forest that you later find out is owned by Dr. Lawrence Talbot, a long-missing scientist. You soon find a ball of energy that Katherine communicates with that's presumably the spirit of Talbot. They also meet in an alternate dimension known as The Parallel throughout the story as Talbot turns from charming friend to mysterious and possibly sinister. It's quite an interesting story for sure and Katherine's goofy personality makes it engaging throughout.

Cool story aside, the gameplay basically has you solve simple puzzles by carrying objects around with a technologically advanced wand. Being able to move and rotate these objects is intuitive and simple which is very welcome in a VR game. That being said, the puzzles are incredibly basic and don't require much thought at all. As a result, the primary reason to play Torn is for its story and dialogue. You can find hidden collectibles within objects that move around on their own accord but doing so is pretty mindless and unsatisfying.

Slowly working your way through Torn's mansion setting while gradually uncovering the strange plot makes for an immersive experience. However, its lack of challenge means that it's a lot less satisfying than it could have been.

Torn gameplay video →

Hyper Light Drifter: Special Edition Review Switch ★★★★☆

After debuting a couple years back, Heart Machine's Zelda-style action adventure game is finally available for Switch in a brand new Special Edition release. Hyper Light Drifter is a stylish indie but it can be quite tough so do you have what it takes to master it?

Hyper Light Drifter: Special Edition screenshot
The Drifter sure has a long journey ahead...

This is the first time that I played Hyper Light Drifter and I'm glad that I did. For starters, its visuals are gorgeous with intricately-rendered environments, cohesive colour palettes, and smoothly animated sprites. The soundtrack is phenomenal, too, and provides a haunting atmosphere as you play. When it comes to gameplay, you basically run around and fight enemies whenever they stand in your way. You do so by dodging attacks, slashing your blade, and aiming and shooting your gun whenever things get too hectic. You have a limited amount of ammo and healing items so being able to battle foes effectively is crucial for success.

Between fights, you'll explore plenty of branching paths and sprawling environments while uncovering NPCs and secrets. When you finally make it to a boss, you'll be in for one challenging fight to the death. The degree of difficulty gets substantially high but it's not too frustrating. The most irritating part of the gameplay is that healing makes you stand still for too long which is rather counterintuitive. This Special Edition also includes a challenging Tower Climb mode so if you want to play Hyper Light Drifter on the go and enjoy more content then picking up this Switch version is a must, even if you already own it on another console.

Indie games don't get much more memorable than Hyper Light Drifter and this Special Edition acts as a good excuse to finally play it if you haven't already. Just make sure you're ready for an intense challenge before taking the plunge.

Hyper Light Drifter: Special Edition gameplay video →

Tyler: Model 005 Review Xbox One ★☆☆☆☆

You don't see many 3D platformers anymore, never mind ones that star cute robot protagonists. Tyler: Model 005 offers an interesting mix of genres but does it come together to make a worthwhile experiment?

Tyler: Model 005 screenshot
This little robot may look cool but he controls horribly

It takes a while to understand how to effectively play Tyler: Model 005 so be thankful that I played it so you don't have to. You basically control a solar-powered robot that constantly needs a light source for energy. Once you stray from the light, your battery depletes incredibly fast so you better find a lamp or something quick if you don't want to die on the spot. Unfortunately, the visuals are super-dark so being able to make out anything is extremely difficult, especially if you're playing in a well-lit room. As you run around squinting while trying to find sources of light, different kinds of insects attack you for some reason and the combat is absolutely atrocious. Both you and your foes simply perform some attack animation then damage is dealt even if the attacks don't look like they connected.

The platforming is an annoying mess as well. Even the ability to automatically climb up shelves and such ends up looking awkward. To top things off, there's a tower defense mini-game that's just a nightmare to play. Enemies seem to go wherever they want and can break down your defenses so I came up with a strategy where I basically surround the object that I'm supposed to protect with defenses then keep running around replacing them. This tactic makes these parts brain dead easy. As you progress, you'll collect costumes and upgrades that provide boosts but why bother when the core gameplay is so terrible and aggravating?

When it comes to 3D platformers, Tyler: Model 005 is likely the worst one that I've ever played. The premise and mix of mechanics are definitely promising but it all comes together to make an absolute mess of a game.

Tyler: Model 005 gameplay video →

Flood of Light Review Switch ★★★☆☆

Relaxing puzzle games are a great way to wind down after a particularly rough day. Flood of Light is laidback and slow-paced but it can also be rather tricky so let's solve some puzzles.

Flood of Light screenshot
Fun fact: light makes water disappear

Flood of Light has you play as a girl simply referred to as the Guide. It's your job to rid a flooded city of water by lighting up certain nodes. You do so by absorbing light from lamps then releasing it by connecting it to unlit lamps. This sounds simple but figuring out the specific series of events that you need to perform in order to master each puzzle as well as light up the optional collectible lamps can be quite challenging. The Guide moves extremely slowly and the piano music is lovely so it's definitely a chilled game. That being said, be prepared to retry puzzles over and over again if you plan on collecting everything. If you're looking for a more immediately gratifying puzzler then you'll probably become too annoyed with Flood of Light's slow pace and simplistic gameplay. It's definitely not for everyone.

Whenever you want to play a laidback yet undeniably challenging puzzler, Flood of Light will certainly do the trick.

Flood of Light gameplay video →
Gameplay video playlist for Quirky Indie Adventures 27:50
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