Retro-Inspired Indie Games (Part 2)

Retro-Inspired Indie Games (Part 2)

7 new old-school indies

A.J. Maciejewski

Written by for Rapid Fire Reviews on

The indies keep on coming so here are seven more games clearly inspired by blasts from the past.

Move or Die Review PlayStation 4 ★★★★☆

Although there was no online multiplayer back in the day, Move or Die takes 2D platforming battles online and it's a ton of fun.

Move or Die screenshot
I'd hate to be one of those competitors in real life...

Move or Die is a 2D platformer where you compete within a succession of various modes with up to 4 players. Although this doesn't sound particularly new or exciting, the gameplay is super-tight and there's a nifty gimmick. As the title suggests, you must keep moving and whenever you stop, your health drains. This makes a lot of the modes especially difficult such as the one where you have to dodge falling red blocks because you can't just stand still out of harm's way. As you play, you'll level up and unlock wacky characters including a few licensed ones such as Rick and Morty and Shovel Knight. Whether I played solo, with local chums, or online; I had an absolute blast with Move or Die. My only complaint is that some of the stage layouts repeat a bit too often. Other than that, it's great.

Competitive 2D platforming fans will absolutely love Move or Die. The amount of variety and constant fun is unmatched in the genre.

Move or Die gameplay video → Similar game: Jump Stars

Overload Review Xbox One ★★★★☆

If you're into classic six degrees of freedom games such as Descent then you'll have a blast with Overload from Revival Productions.

Overload screenshot
This is retro six degrees of freedom done right

Last year, I played and thoroughly enjoyed the retro revival Forsaken Remastered. Flying around elaborate futuristic space dungeons while blasting enemies away is top-notch entertainment. Thankfully, Overload is a more than worthy successor in this lineage of stage-based six degrees of freedom experiences. Soaring through the environments while shooting an assortment of weaponry at encroaching enemies is a ton of fun and the graphics and sound are fantastic as well. Everything looks very sharp and flashy and as you play, you'll hear plenty of radio chatter that helps provide a sense of urgency and fleshes out the narrative. The controls are the best in the genre as you can easily manoeuvre your ship and realign it to your surroundings by the tap of a button. It's an epic game through and through.

Overload might just be the greatest six degrees of freedom game yet with its tight and intuitive controls and gorgeous presentation.

Overload gameplay video → Similar game: Sublevel Zero Redux

Braveland Trilogy Review Switch ★★★☆☆

The Switch's eShop library is full of ports so let's see how this trilogy of turn-based strategy games holds up.

Braveland Trilogy screenshot
These little warriors may be cute but they're deadly!

Braveland Trilogy consists of 3 games: Braveland, Braveland Wizard, and Braveland Pirate. Each of these games basically follows the same formula: you fight a battle then navigate the node-based world map to enhance your party in some way then head to whichever battle you want to fight next. The battles themselves take place on hexagon-based playfields which is similar to the underrated Blackguards 2 although Braveland is far cuter. Anyway, commanding your party to inflict the most damage while staying defensive is fairly enjoyable yet the gameplay is far too simplistic to satisfy hardcore genre fans. However, I did enjoy increasing my unit counts, purchasing equipment, and learning new abilities, especially considering how limited resources are which creates an additional level of challenge.

Even though there is a lot of content in Braveland Trilogy, it's still a very simplistic take on SRPGs that doesn't offer anything new.

Braveland Trilogy gameplay video → More turn-based strategy RPGs

Crimson Keep Review PlayStation 4 ★☆☆☆☆

Fans of first-person dungeon crawlers may have their interest piqued by Crimson Keep but is it any good?

Crimson Keep screenshot
If only it played better than it looked...

Crimson Keep seems like a fantastic game on paper: a first-person roguelike dungeon crawler that plays like an FPS except with swords and magic instead of guns. Before starting, you can choose one of 3 warrior classes: Berserker, Witch, or Drifter. The first 2 play rather differently while the latter is basically a joke character that doesn't stand a chance to emerge victorious. Upon actually playing the game, you'll realise just how shabby everything is. Not only does it look awful with its drab environments and downright ugly monsters, it plays horribly, too. Trying to aim and attack is incredibly frustrating, especially when enemies regularly advance so far ahead that they seem like they're going into you right in the heat of battle. Why can't they stay back at a comfortable distance so I can aim and attack them? It's such a frustrating game that even once you adapt to its crap factor, it's still ridiculously difficult to enjoy.

I'm sure the developers of Crimson Keep had a clear vision of a fun dungeon crawler in mind but what they actually made is one of the worst games that I've played in a long time. Here's hoping they go back to the drawing board before working on their next game.

Crimson Keep gameplay video →

Treasure Stack Review Xbox One ★★★☆☆

Competitive puzzle game fans will find a lot of fun to be had in the Wario's Woods inspired Treasure Stack.

Treasure Stack screenshot
What's this screenshot from Wario's Woods doing here?

Treasure Stack is played very similarly to Nintendo's often overlooked mid-'90s puzzler Wario's Woods. You essentially match coloured keys to treasure chests of the same colour in order to clear them off the playfield. There are also plenty of power-ups to help mix things up, too. You can play either solo to see how long you can survive or up to 4 players via local or online multiplayer. Obviously, Treasure Stack is best played with as many players as possible although going it alone provides some enjoyment if you want to wind down with a puzzler. Anyway, grabbing the descending pieces with your grappling hook to speed things up as you carefully place each chest only to have junk pile up provides some classic puzzle fun. However, I disliked the fact that you can't get combos by having pieces fall into place after executing a match like in Puyo Pop. Instead, you just have to make matches as fast as possible which is far less satisfying.

It may not be the most original or rewarding game out there but Treasure Stack is certainly a solid and fun competitive puzzler.

Treasure Stack gameplay video →

Assault Android Cactus Plus Review Switch ★★★★☆

Cooperative twin-stick shooters don't get much more enjoyable than Assault Android Cactus so let's see what's in this new Plus version.

Assault Android Cactus+ screenshot
NieR: Automata isn't the only game where you play as androids who kill robots

Considering I already reviewed Assault Android Cactus when it released on PS4 3 years ago, I won't go into much depth here. Thankfully, the action-packed gameplay where you blast away robotic enemies while trying to maintain your battery level remains as enjoyable as before. The detailed visuals complete with big-headed android characters are great and the audio is super-satisfying, too, with spot-on effects and charming voice acting. What sets this Plus version on Switch apart from the original is that you can play it portably, it features a Campaign+ mode with different stages, and it supports many controller configurations. It's a must-have for any shooter fan.

Assault Android Cactus was an incredible game when it released a few years ago and it's just as great now with a few extras, too.

Assault Android Cactus+ gameplay video → Assault Android Cactus Review

The Walking Vegetables: Radical Edition Review PlayStation 4 ★★★☆☆

Here we have another twin-stick shooter and this one goes the extra mile when it comes to offering a retro '80s experience.

The Walking Vegetables: Radical Edition screenshot
My mom was right; I should have eaten my broccoli...

The Walking Vegetables is a twin-stick shooter where you kill hordes of zombie-like vegetables. You do so either with firearms, grenades, or a baseball bat that you can also use to deflect certain projectiles back at your enemies. Additionally, you can get a local friend to join you which makes the gameplay a bit more fun. As you play, you'll acquire Skills that are unlocked by completing certain achievements and will help alleviate some of the difficulty. The core gameplay where you clear out areas of vegetables then move on to the next area within impressively large stage maps is definitely solid. That being said, I can't help but wish it didn't play as generically as it does. Dealing with wave after wave of kooky vegetable enemies gets old very fast although the boss fights are quite distinct and enjoyable.

The Walking Vegetables: Radical Edition may feature generic twin-stick shooting gameplay but its '80s aesthetic makes it feel unique.

The Walking Vegetables: Radical Edition gameplay video →
Gameplay video playlist for Retro-Inspired Indie Games (Part 2) 48:31
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