Stylish Indie Games

Stylish Indie Games

They have style but do they have substance?

A.J. Maciejewski

Written by for Rapid Fire Reviews on

Indie games come in many varieties and ones that have a unique sense of style really stand out so let's take a look at 6 stylish indies.

At Sundown: Shots in the Dark Review PlayStation 4 ★★★☆☆

Overhead competitive twin-stick shooters are nothing new but At Sundown has a surprising twist on the tried and true formula.

At Sundown: Shots in the Dark screenshot
It's satisfying to emerge from the shadows and claim victory

At Sundown: Shots in the Dark features basic gameplay at its core as you run around, aim, and shoot with your firearm of choice. It can be played solo against CPU bots as well as in local or online multiplayer. You can even play with a combination of local and online players which is fantastic and there's a comprehensive training mode featuring loads of fun challenges, too. What makes At Sundown unique is that you can only see the characters when they're standing in the light or firing their guns. To get a sense of where you are, your controller will vibrate whenever you push against a wall and you can also tap a button to reveal yourself which isn't advisable.

Even though this is a very cool premise for a game, it does have some glaring issues. For starters, the weapons aren't very well balanced. Sure, you can choose to have all players use the same guns but when playing online, you might not have the option. Also, some of the power-ups are way too overpowered such as a laser beam that wipes out everything in its path. Finally, there's a bit of lag when playing online as I clearly shot opponents on multiple occasions yet they didn't perish and I also got killed a few times for no apparent reason.

At Sundown is an innovative and enjoyable competitive shooter but it could definitely use more balancing and finer tuned online play.

At Sundown: Shots in the Dark gameplay video →

FutureGrind Review PlayStation 4 ★★★★☆

FutureGrind is a nifty new 2D stage-based vehicle-driven platformer that's as challenging as it is stylish so get ready to flip.

FutureGrind screenshot
This odd little vehicle sure is tricky!

If you've ever played a Trials game then FutureGrind's core gameplay will feel very familiar. You basically control a vehicle that usually has 2 coloured wheels at either end. Each wheel can only touch its own colour of platform or white and if a wheel touches the wrong colour, you'll blow up. Progressing through the impressively long campaign while performing cool tricks, climbing leaderboards, and unlocking new vehicles is great fun. However, if you lack patience then the high degree of challenge will quickly make you lose it as you'll find yourself restarting certain missions over and over again. Speaking of missions, they involve having to perform certain tricks or complete the stage within a given criteria which adds a rewarding level of complexity to the campaign. It's a formula that works very well.

FutureGrind is a colourful and highly addictive vehicle-based platformer that'll thoroughly test your 2D gaming skills.

FutureGrind gameplay video →

Mark of the Ninja: Remastered Review Xbox One ★★★★☆

Mark of the Ninja originally released back in 2012 for Xbox 360 and now it's back and better than ever.

Mark of the Ninja: Remastered screenshot
I'm glad that the enemies can't see that giant B button icon...

Mark of the Ninja has you play as an unnamed ninja who's on a mission to put an end to an evil corporation known as Hessian and its private military. The gameplay starts out simple enough as you find yourself running, jumping, and attacking all while trying to remain unseen and unheard as to avoid being spotted by enemy guards. As the campaign progresses, you'll solve plenty of intricate puzzles and face increasingly aggressive foes and you'll also acquire a wealth of cool gadgets, items, and skills that you can use to your benefit such as smoke bombs, darts, and a super-handy grappling hook. Using your tools to carefully dispatch guards in gruesome one-hit takedowns feels awesome. Oh, and this Remastered version features the original's Special Edition DLC, too, which is a nice bonus.

It's been years since it debuted but Mark of the Ninja is as much fun now as it's ever been so if you've never had the pleasure to play it then getting this new Remastered version is a good excuse to finally do so.

Mark of the Ninja: Remastered gameplay video →

Vane Review PlayStation 4 ★☆☆☆☆

Some indies look good on paper but once you play them for yourself; it might be a completely different experience than expected.

Vane screenshot
I'm a bird! Now what do I do...

Vane is a weird game. After the brief abstract introductory sequence, you start flying around a desert as a bird. Right off the bat, the controls are frustrating and the camera certainly doesn't help. Trying to land the bird on thin wires (which you have to do) can be a nightmare. Also, why did they decide to make the screen so narrow with big black bars across the top and bottom? It makes no sense and only needlessly limits what you can see. Anyway, you eventually gain the ability to transform into a small boy but the gameplay doesn't get much better. Knowing what to do next is nearly impossible at points as there is little sense of guidance and traversing the game world is incredibly slow. When you combine both of these aspects, you're left with an extremely frustrating experience.

If you love pretentious indie games then you may enjoy Vane but those just looking to have fun will likely get irritated with it.

Vane gameplay video →

Mars: Chaos Menace Review PlayStation 4 ★☆☆☆☆

There are so many shmups that it takes a lot for one to hold its own in the genre so does Mars: Chaos Menace have the goods?

Mars: Chaos Menace screenshot
It may look like a solid shmup but it sure doesn't play like one

At first, Mars: Chaos Menace seems like a decent shoot 'em up. You basically fly around and shoot in 2D while trying not to get shot within its 3D world. There are power-ups that work like the ones in the Raiden series as they change then upgrade your current weapon and you can use special attacks, too. However, Mars: Chaos Menace falls apart when you realise just how poorly executed everything is which doesn't take long at all. The most frustrating part of its gameplay is how it's hard to gauge where bullets are compared to your hit zone. Not only are the visuals ambiguous, enemies can seemingly come out of nowhere and end your life. Even on easy difficulty, it can be a brutally difficult game and the bosses are downright relentless as well as being huge damage sponges.

It appears to be an adequate shooter but even skilled shoot 'em up veterans will find Mars: Chaos Menace to be a frustrating mess.

Mars: Chaos Menace gameplay video →

8-Bit Hordes Review Xbox One ★★★★☆

A few months ago, the delightful 8-Bit Armies released on consoles but it's time to go medieval so here's 8-Bit Hordes.

8-Bit Hordes screenshot
It's the ultimate battle of DeathSworn v Lightbringers!

8-Bit Hordes has you command either an army of demonic goblins (DeathSworn) or human soldiers (Lightbringers). It plays almost identically to its predecessor 8-Bit Armies in that you gather resources while building up your army and base in order to eventually send your soldiers out to slay their foes. Whether you're new to real-time strategy games or not, 8-Bit Hordes is an easy to pick up and play game that's quite rewarding. However, it does have difficulty spikes but once you get the knack to master these challenges, it can be very satisfying to move on. Plus, there are two campaigns that you can swap between whenever you wish.

With an enjoyable medieval setting and intuitive real-time strategy gameplay, 8-Bit Hordes is an easy to recommend game for anyone with a fondness for the genre. Watching little soldiers and monsters beat the tar out of each other is just the icing on the cake.

8-Bit Hordes gameplay video → 8-Bit Armies Review 8-Bit Invaders Review
Gameplay video playlist for Stylish Indie Games 27:08
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