If you find yourself constantly buried under an avalanche of indies then don't worry; you're not alone. I recently played a bunch of them and here are my thoughts on 8 retro-style games that stood out to me.
Obey Me Review Xbox One ★★★☆☆
Here's a nifty overhead arena brawler that stars a cool lady and her dog from hell but does it offer rewarding gameplay?
Obey Me has you run through somewhat elaborate stages with an overhead perspective and it's a very combat-heavy game. The combat itself features a solid amount of mechanics as you hack and slash, dash to evade, perform special moves, throw projectiles, and command your dog. Although there are a lot of ingredients in this brawler stew, I wish I could say that they all come together in a cohesive way. Instead, battles frequently feel sloppy and chaotic with its unfocused gameplay. Don't get me wrong; Obey Me is a fun game and it can be rewarding, especially when you play it cooperatively with a friend who can control the dog. Plus, acquiring upgrades and new abilities is quite satisfying and the voice acting is great complete with a spot-on sense of humour that'll make you laugh out loud.
If Obey Me's many elements culminated in a more focused combat system then it would have been a must-have arena brawler.Obey Me gameplay video →
ITTA Review Switch ★★★★☆
Fighting an array of ridiculously challenging bosses has its niche and ITTA is definitely one of the best games in this specific genre.
ITTA is a strange and unsettling game. I honestly don't know exactly what's going on in its game world but the NPCs can be alarming in their eerie dialogue and the cutscenes will surely make you think, "Just what the heck is going on here?" Meanwhile, a ghost cat follows you around. To be frank, I kind of like the odd violent world that ITTA presents. Its soundtrack is incredible, too, and enhances the experience greatly. When it comes to gameplay, it's not much different to your average twin-stick shooter but everything's done so exceptionally well that I didn't mind the lack of originality much. You basically select weapons on the fly then try and take down one boss after the other while dodging their projectiles. You'll also unlock additional weapons and extend your health meter as you explore the comparatively peaceful overworld and doing so is both calming and rewarding. It has everything you'd want from an indie shooter.
Twin-stick shooter fans who are up for a challenge will have a literal blast toppling ITTA's dozen and a half challenging bosses.ITTA gameplay video →
Freakout: Calamity TV Show Review Xbox One ★★★★☆
Ever since Smash TV debuted, there have been countless clones but does Freakout: Calamity TV Show live up to the classic?
When I started playing Freakout: Calamity TV Show, I didn't like it. The opening stages are simple, tedious, and very standard for what twin-stick shooters have been offering for decades. However, once you escape the TV show setting and set out on your violent rampage of an adventure, things become much more enjoyable. Not only are there a wide variety of enemies that are fun to figure out how to effectively deal with; you'll encounter some truly impressive bosses that are as frustrating as they are challenging. So, if you're the kind of gamer who gets irritated when trying tough bosses over and over again, this isn't a game for you. However, if you like wacky and dark humour, steep challenges, and tight old-school gameplay then you'll thoroughly enjoy Freakout: Calamity TV Show.
It may look generic at first but once you dive deep into Freakout: Calamity TV Show, you'll be impressed with its over-the-top gameplay.Freakout: Calamity TV Show gameplay video → More twin-stick shooters
Quest Hunter Review Xbox One ★★★☆☆
Going on a journey while helping out NPCs and enhancing your powers is a tried and true formula so let's check out Quest Hunter.
Quest Hunter is about as simple as an overhead action adventure RPG can get. After crash-landing in a forest, you play as a character who soon meets a bunch of NPCs that may be able to help him take to the skies once again. In order to do so, you'll traverse a wide world full of locales, dungeons, and treasures. Along the way, you'll complete plenty of side-quests while enhancing your gear, crafting new items, and taking on a bunch of goofy-looking enemies. The core gameplay is basic and somewhat fun as you can dig up treasures with a shovel, light torches to ward off enemies, and use cool abilities to take down hordes of monsters. However, the combat is Quest Hunter's main issue as it simply feels like you and your enemies stand next to each other as you watch HP gauges decrease. There's no real strategy or skill required and it doesn't even feel like attacks actually connect. Outside of combat, it's a fairly fun and laidback adventure.
Quest Hunter is one of those games that you'll wind down with after a long day as you chip away at its many side-quests and dungeons.Quest Hunter gameplay video →
Fairy Knights Review Switch ★★★★☆
Indies that combine an RPG framework with a puzzle-based battle system always make for interesting concoctions so here's Fairy Knights.
Fairy Knights is a delightful and silly game where you play as a hero and his cat who go on a quest to bring the rain back to your kingdom. Along the way, you'll meet many charming NPCs and some of them will even join you from time to time. Anyway, the gameplay simply involves moving from left to right as enemies confront you then you engage them in combat. The battle system is basically a take on Taito's underrated arcade puzzler Tube-It where you try and connect a path of tiles between nodes that line the left and right walls of the playfield. Once you make a match, it determines your next attack's strength and performing combos will allow you to attack multiple times in a row. I found this formula to be extremely fun and I highly enjoyed enhancing my characters' capabilities as well.
I can already tell that Fairy Knights will be one of those super-fun indies that flies under most gamers' radars. Don't let it; play it now!Fairy Knights gameplay video →
Taimumari: Complete Edition Review Xbox One ★★★★☆
There are so many 2D action games that it's mind-blowing but Taimumari is here to offer a varied, challenging, and memorable journey.
I've never heard of Taimumari but I decided to buy this Complete Edition of it when I saw it in the Xbox Marketplace. First of all, I'm glad that I did because it's one relentlessly action-packed indie. Throughout its handful of stages, you'll encounter many tricky platforming scenarios, challenging arena combat rooms, and loads of genre-shifting segments such as a part where you play through a horizontal shmup level. There's even a section that's like the Battletoads level where you hang from a wire and slowly descend. At the end of each of these lengthy and varied stages, you'll face a challenging boss and between levels, you can purchase items and enhancements. There's also a mini-game that you can play from the main menu called Legend of Himari but I didn't particularly care for it.
Retro 2D action game aficionados will find a lot to love with the jam-packed and rather cute Taimumari: Complete Edition.Taimumari: Complete Edition gameplay video →
Doug Hates His Job Review Xbox One ★★☆☆☆
A lot of people hate their jobs but not as much as Doug hates his. The question is; will he hate this game, too? Let's find out.
If you're looking for a laugh then Doug Hates His Job is a solid game to check out. You play as Doug who finds himself in many humorous situations that he usually has to fight his way out of. As a result, the core gameplay is similar to a classic beat 'em up although you'll also encounter many more gameplay styles such as driving a car through somewhat busy streets and stealthily sneaking around an office as if you're Thomas A. Anderson. Although these diversions are enjoyable, the core beat 'em up gameplay is some clunky and frustrating stuff. I found the best way to succeed is to simply be as relentlessly aggressive as possible because whenever I tried any sort of strategy, I often met my demise. If the fighting was tightened up a lot then I could see this being a very promising game.
It may offer a variety of crazy situations but the core gameplay of Doug Hates His Job is nothing short of sloppy and irritating.Doug Hates His Job gameplay video → More beat 'em ups
Black Rainbow Review Switch ★★★☆☆
Ocean Media has already brought a couple of Cateia Games' adventures to Switch but is their third and latest offering worthwhile?
Having already played and reviewed Where Angels Cry and The Man With The Ivory Cane, I knew just what to expect with Black Rainbow and I was right as it doesn't really differentiate itself much from the point-and-click formula that I've already enjoyed in those 2 games.
For the unfamiliar, these games involve solving puzzles by snooping around screens full of objects and points of interest and using items wherever they can be applied. From time to time, you'll play through a short mini-game in order to progress the story and it's all thoroughly entertaining and well-done. However, just like the previous games, the graphical quality of Black Rainbow is often subpar, especially in the choppy cutscenes. Speaking of which, I enjoyed the story and setting where you play as Helen Stone who tries to help the Amazonian people by uncovering and conquering an ancient evil. If you enjoyed the other games, you'll surely like this, too.
By providing a rewarding adventure that features nifty mini-games, Black Rainbow is a worthwhile albeit dated point-and-click game.Black Rainbow gameplay video → Where Angels Cry Review Where Angels Cry: Tears of the Fallen Collector's Edition Review The Man With The Ivory Cane Review Myths of Orion: Light from the North Review Tales from the Dragon Mountain 2: The Lair Review