I've been playing a ton of indies lately and many of them have been rather weird so here are 7 new indie oddities.
Mosaic Review Xbox One ★★★★☆
If abstract social commentary appeals to you then here's an impressively well put together indie game that you should check out.
As a fan of independent films that reflect society in unconventional ways, Mosaic really clicked with me. With that being said, it's not much of a game so if you're looking for challenge or some sort of engaging gameplay loop then you won't find it here. Instead, Mosaic offers a linear and deliberately slow-paced campaign. You play as a cog in a corporate machine who's clearly unsatisfied in his life. He also has curious tendencies so it's difficult to tell which parts of the story are real and what's merely a figment of his imagination. Witnessing things like how music emotionally moves him and that he has an affinity for animals contrasts with the otherwise bleak overpopulated city where unchecked capitalism reigns supreme. There's even an awful mini-game to play on his phone where you simply tap a button to earn points. That made me laugh out loud as it's a fitting analogy for how mindless gaming can be. How ironic.
It may be my inner-hipster talking but I found Mosaic to be a phenomenal anti-game. Even though it's a tough pill to swallow, the journey within is full of stunning visuals and some of the best audio production that I've ever heard in a game.Mosaic gameplay video →
Aviary Attorney: Definitive Edition Review Switch ★★★☆☆
You don't have to be as smart as Charlie Kelly to understand bird law with the new and silly Aviary Attorney: Definitive Edition.
First of all, Aviary Attorney borrows extremely heavily from the Ace Attorney franchise, especially its gameplay format where a client comes then you investigate scenes and talk to people, do a trial, and cross examine witnesses to spot inconsistencies. In fact, it borrows so much that it's kind of unnerving. It even feels the same when it comes to the level of challenge. On the plus side, the art style is fun and unique yet sometimes creepy with its characters having human bodies with animal heads. There's also a strong sense of humour as seen by folks' general incompetence. For example, one attorney graduated bottom of his class yet he makes fun of a prosecutor that graduated 2nd from bottom. Something that's unique is that you can make choices for how to answer questions when interviewing people which affect the rest of the case. If you tell a guy that you're a detective, he may out you later in the middle of a trial.
Aviary Attorney is a funny and distinctly stylish game yet it owes Phoenix Wright a bit too much in residual cheques.Aviary Attorney: Definitive Edition gameplay video → Similar game: Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy
EarthNight Review PlayStation 4 ★★★★☆
You don't see many roguelike endless runners out there and that formula works wonders for the action-packed EarthNight.
EarthNight has you try and dispatch a collection of sky dragons by controlling one of 2 unlikely heroes. You basically skydive from an airship then fall through the sky only to land on a dragon. Once you do, you take part in an endless runner stage that's full of bizarre enemies, odd power-ups, and loads of trinkets to collect that you can exchange for permanent unlockables in between runs. Anyway, once you reach the head of the dragon, you have to effectively time blows depending on which kind of dragon it is in order to kill it. This gameplay loop blew me away and kept me hooked, especially with the psychedelic art style and top-notch chiptune soundtrack being front and centre from start to finish. It may not be the deepest game but I'll be darned if it isn't a blast to play.
Snuffing out dragons as you run and jump through trippy over-the-top stages makes for one mind-blowing journey.EarthNight gameplay video →
EQQO Review Switch ★★★☆☆
There have been a few VR games adapted to play on Switch so let's see if EQQO is worth playing on a 2D screen.
EQQO tells the emotional story of a mother who guides her visually impaired son from the stars to go on an epic journey in a fantastical world with mythical creatures and elaborate ruins. The gameplay is basically a point-and-click formula as you tap where EQQO should head next and he carries a giant egg with him to hopefully return it to where it belongs. Considering EQQO was built for VR, it's kind of frustrating to enjoy from time to time. For example, you may trigger a mechanism yet have no idea what it did because the camera doesn't pan to it. If it was in VR, you could simply move your head around and see for yourself. You can tilt the Switch while undocked to control the camera but it's definitely not the same. Also, the visuals are frequently blurry which I guess is supposed to emulate up-close objects but it just looks like a mess. At least the music and voice acting are top-notch. I hope EQQO releases for PSVR!
Even though it features nifty puzzles and a strikingly unique narrative, EQQO is held back in this non-VR console release.EQQO gameplay video →
7th Sector Review Xbox One ★★★☆☆
Have you ever wanted to play a game where you control a spark of electricity travelling through wires? Well, here's an indie for you!
I reviewed a game back in 2016 called TurnOn and 7th Sector is a very similar experience at first. However, whereas TurnOn is a cute little adventure, 7th Sector is much darker and puzzle-oriented. Anyway, you basically control various objects throughout; the first being an electric current as you hop between wires and nodes while solving puzzles in order to progress. You'll also eventually control an orb, a robotic quadruped, and a drone that each have unique puzzle mechanics. I didn't find most of the puzzles to be challenging because with some common sense and simple math, you can work everything out without too much mental strain. The best part of 7th Sector is its atmosphere which is creepy from start to finish but its gameplay is pretty straightforward and there isn't much replay value.
As far as atmospheric 2D puzzle-solving adventure games go, 7th Sector offers a mostly middle-of-the-road experience.7th Sector gameplay video → Similar game: TurnOn
Skellboy Review Switch ★★★☆☆
Is there anything weirder than swapping out your body parts to gain new attributes? Probably but here's Skellboy anyway.
Skellboy has you play as a skeleton named Skippy who can swap its body parts with ones from defeated enemies. Needless to say, playing it while watching Skippy's appearance and capabilities change is quite a strange experience. That being said, it's chock-full of goofy humour and visual gags that help elevate the adventure within to new silly heights. I thoroughly appreciated the 3D environments and how they blend with the cardboard cut-out characters but on the downside, the gameplay is pretty stiff and you'll find yourself struggling to jump and attack effectively even after getting used to the controls. Also, although the body part swapping mechanic is fun and unique, I wish there were some substantial RPG elements because aside from unlocking new weapon types, I didn't feel like there was enough character growth. Oh, and the old-school chiptune soundtrack and effects are fantastic.
Although it features a lovely presentation and goofy humour, Skellboy's gameplay could use a lot more fine-tuning.Skellboy gameplay video →
Bookbound Brigade Review PlayStation 4 ★★★★☆
If controlling 1 character at a time is too humdrum for you, here's a game that'll scratch an itch you didn't even know you had!
Bookbound Brigade has you play as a group of literary characters such as King Arthur, Count Dracula, Robin Hood, Dorothy Gale, Sun Wukong, Queen Victoria, and Cassandra on your quest to return a book to a magical library. The core gameplay follows a standard Metroidvania formula where you run, jump, and attack your way through complex stages. Seeing as you control a whole horde of characters, you can make them compose various formations that allow for different platforming and combat abilities. Trying to balance when everyone's standing on each other's shoulders or launching enemies like a cannon once everyone's in a horizontal line is great fun. With that said, it can be a highly frustrating game with plenty of sensitive situations where you can perish instantly so make sure you have the patience to play through tricky parts over and over again before deciding to play this weird gem of a game.
If you're looking for an impressively challenging Metroidvania then Bookbound Brigade is a game that you'll definitely want to play.Bookbound Brigade gameplay video →