Unconventional Indie Games

Unconventional Indie Games

Play outside the box

A.J. Maciejewski

Written by for Rapid Fire Reviews on

Indie games usually fit into nice little packages but there are some that offer unconventional experiences so here are 7 such titles.

Star Crossed Review Xbox One ★★★★☆

Co-op games are more plentiful than ever yet Star Crossed manages to create a fully engaging gameplay formula that's super-tricky.

Star Crossed screenshot
Warning: playing Star Crossed will make your eyes go bloodshot

Star Crossed is unlike anything I've ever played. You and a friend basically control 2 intergalactic warriors from a handful of magical girl types. The core gameplay merely involves bouncing a star back and forth between the 2 characters. If you manage to time a button press correctly, you can have the star speed up and as you do so, a special attack meter fills. Once that's full, you can deploy a devastating offensive mode for a limited time. Meanwhile, projectiles and enemies are all over the place which results in a formula that'll have you dodging and juggling many different elements in order to succeed. The artwork is fantastic and the music is perfect for its quirky setting. My only complaint is that it can be a very frustrating game but overcoming that challenge is a big part of the fun.

If you want to enjoy a challenging co-op game with a friend then Star Crossed is here to thoroughly test your gaming abilities.

Star Crossed gameplay video → More Local Multiplayer Indie Games

Spuds Unearthed Review PlayStation 4 ★★★☆☆

There's a surprising amount of real-time strategy games for PlayStation VR but is the odd Spuds Unearthed worthwhile?

Spuds Unearthed screenshot
Hi, little spud; ready to go to war?

Spuds Unearthed has you stand in a command centre as you throw little critters onto the battlefield ahead. You can also man a couple of turrets which will give your spuds some much-needed cover fire. Although this core gameplay is rather simple, the main appeal of Spuds Unearthed is the fact that you'll consistently receive upgrades and new spuds that'll join your central hub area. Altering the turrets with clever combinations of shot types is satisfying stuff and being able to deploy new spuds is fun, too. That being said, using the turrets is incredibly straining on the arms as you have to manually turn a crank on them while the other arm aims. Plus, the simple core gameplay doesn't really offer a full-fledged experience. It's still a fun game, though, and worth checking out if the genre appeals to you.

It surely offers quirky and fun gameplay but Spuds Unearthed is held back by its simple structure that doesn't really go the extra mile.

Spuds Unearthed gameplay video → More PlayStation VR games

Dread Nautical Review Xbox One ★★★★☆

Here's a roguelike turn-based strategy game that's set in an eerie yet goofy Lovecraftian game world. Well, that's a lot to take in.

Dread Nautical screenshot
This is the last time I book a cruise during a pandemic

Dread Nautical has you play as your character of choice as you traverse floors of a haunted cruise ship that's filled with monsters. The goal of each floor is to simply blast the foghorn yet reaching it usually involves taking out monsters in clever ways as well as assisting fellow passengers. The gameplay is set on a grid which you can traverse freely until you encounter an enemy then you'll have to use action points to move and attack. This is implemented wonderfully and the fact that you can use stealth, found weapons, and help from NPCs to overcome monsters is just awesome. I also enjoy the survival element where you try and craft equipment and ration food. However, the visuals are pretty generic complete with PS1-era character models. I mean, it's stylish but it definitely feels dated.

The many elements of Dread Nautical culminate in a formula that makes it enjoyable to chip away at the challenging campaign.

Dread Nautical gameplay video → More turn-based strategy RPGs

Deliver Us The Moon Review PlayStation 4 ★★★★☆

Adventure games that offer imaginative stories which hit close to home are a rare breed so let's check out Deliver Us The Moon.

Deliver Us The Moon screenshot
Soon, I will be on the moon!

Deliver Us The Moon's premise is that mankind discovers an energy source on the moon. However, after it suddenly malfunctions, people lose hope so you decide to take an abandoned ship to the moon and investigate what happened. For starters, the atmosphere is pitch perfect for a mysterious and eerie adventure complete with haunting audio and detailed albeit dark environments. When it comes to gameplay, it always adapts to whatever situation you find yourself within. By this, I mean that it shifts from first to third-person as well as changes whenever you're in a place with no gravity or driving a vehicle. This results in a varied and immersive campaign although it can be frustrating at times like when things are too dark to work out and some situations require a bit too much precision to survive.

I'm glad that games like Deliver Us The Moon exist as they prove that adventure games don't have to follow a cookie cutter formula.

Deliver Us The Moon gameplay video →

Monochrome World Review Switch ★★★★☆

Controlling a raindrop to bring colour back to a greyscale world sounds pretty weird but Monochrome World is actually impressively fun.

Monochrome World screenshot
Making the world colourful is trickier than it sounds

Right off the bat, Monochrome World reminded me of de Blob although its gameplay is more similar to Marble Madness. You basically slide a raindrop around tile-based stages and once you touch a new tile, colour is returned to it. The goal is to colour as many tiles as you can and you can't complete a level until you colour at least 70% of them. Anyway, the level of challenge begins very simply yet it gradually ramps up throughout as new mechanics, enemies, hazards, and abilities get introduced. It ends up being a surprisingly difficult game and simply passing some of the later stages will require a great deal of concentration and skill. I absolutely love the minimal visuals and the fact that you can unlock skins for your raindrop. I made mine a cute little fox! Anyway, it's one unique and highly enjoyable game.

If you have a fondness for tricky games like Marble Madness then Monochrome World is sure to delight and provide a solid challenge.

Monochrome World gameplay video →

Kingdom Two Crowns: Dead Lands Review Xbox One ★★★☆☆

Kingdom Two Crowns has been out for a while but it's recently received an update with a very cool cameo so let's check it out!

Kingdom Two Crowns: Dead Lands screenshot
Miriam is definitely used to more verticality than this...

Kingdom Two Crowns: Dead Lands is essentially an updated version of the core game which includes a new campaign starring Miriam from Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night. If you know me then you can probably guess that's the reason why I finally decided to check the game out and you'd be correct. Thankfully, Kingdom Two Crowns is a fairly enjoyable little game. All you do is pace left and right through a kingdom while collecting and allocating coins and other valuable resources to various things. For example, you can build walls, cut down trees, extend bridges, craft ships, and upgrade various aspects of your kingdom. Every once in a while, demonic creatures try and invade but if you have enough archers then you can take them out. Plus, Miriam can help with a stun attack. Overall, it's very simple and often feels like it plays itself but there's something addictive about it and the visuals are pixel-perfect and captivating.

It may be a simple and repetitive game but Kingdom Two Crowns is oddly compelling and the new Dead Lands update offers even more content to sink your teeth into. In the end, it's a solid game to wind down with whenever you want to escape.

Kingdom Two Crowns: Dead Lands gameplay video →

Make War Review Switch ★★★☆☆

There are all sorts of war games out there but have you ever played one where it doesn't really matter who wins? Here's Make War!

Make War screenshot
Who will win this war? Who cares?! As long as there's bloodshed! Mwahaha!

Make War has you play as some sort of strategic alien overlord as you watch epic battles unfold. The goal is to accomplish a list of tasks and you do so by shifting the tide of battle via deploying your own soldiers and hazards to the battlefield. For example, a task might be to ensure that 1 side wins by a certain margin so you try and set up a bunch of hazards to thin out one of the sides enough so that they lose. If you fail to do so, you then make adjustments and run the simulation again and again until you get it right. Obviously, this is a very clever premise for a video game and it had me hooked for quite a while. However, you'll eventually become frustrated with the fact that the gameplay can be extremely finicky and making slight adjustments time and time again can really bog the experience down.

Indie strategy games don't get much more unconventional than Make War yet its gameplay becomes a bit too tedious at times.

Make War gameplay video →
Gameplay video playlist for Unconventional Indie Games 83:22
Super Mario World Trivia

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