Content of the article: "10 Overlooked Single Player Indie Games"
We're all familiar with the Hotline Miami's, Hollow Knight's, and Celeste's of the world. These are some of the indie games that hit the big time. Of course, for every one of these games, there's 100 other indie games that have been glossed over, relegated to a spot in a digital store few people will ever find themselves in. I wanted to bring attention to some of these lesser known indie games.
Note: The games aren't numbered in any particular order.
1. Four Sided Fantasy – PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Steam – 2D Puzzle Platformer – ~2 Hour Completion Time –
This is a game I actually just stumbled on in the PlayStation Store on sale for $0.99 and beat yesterday. The premise is a fusion of side scrollers and oldschool fixed screens that teleport you to the opposite side of the screen when you pass through one side – think Pac-Man, arcade Mario Bros., or Balloon Fight. You will find obstacles in your path that are impenetrable in a typical side scroller, but can be overcome by holding a button to turn the screen into a fixed screen that allows you to pass through one side and out through the other end. This is a totally unique take on a puzzle platformer I haven't seen before, and all five worlds bring something new to the table. For example, World 2 will flip you upside down when you pass through a screen, allowing new types of challenges as a result. There's more emphasis on the puzzle elements than the platforming.
2. Daggerhood – Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One – 2D Platformer – ~2.5 Hour Completion Time –
Daggerhood's main hook is the use of its sword teleportation mechanic. You throw your sword with a button, and you press the same button again to teleport to where the sword is. While this is a mechanic that has been seen in some Metroidvanias, I haven't seen a tight, linear 2D platformer make use of this mechanic before. Each level has a number of collectibles and some small side sections as well, but for the most part the path to the finish is clear – it's just the execution that's the tricky part. Add in teleportation portals to make things even trickier. The game also has a very easy platinum trophy that takes about 20 minutes to get.
3. Late Shift – All Modern Systems – Interactive Film – ~1.5 Hour Completion Time –
If you liked Detroit: Become Human or Until Dawn, Late Shift will be right up your alley. This game is a bit different from both those titles in that it's an FMV, with the gameplay solely consisting of the choices you make. You receive prompts at key moments in the story on what you want your character to do next, and this effects the outcome of the game. It plays more like Black Mirror's Bandersnatch, though this game came before it. The story follows an everyman who gets tangled up in London's criminal underground just as a result of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. There are 180 choice points and 7 different endings.
4. Bleep Bloop – Switch, PlayStation 4, Steam – 2D Puzzle Adventure – ~2.5 Hour Completion Time –
This game revolves around using two square characters who fling themselves from one end of the room to the other to reach an exit. You must position yourself in such a way that you use each character's body to get around the level. Each world introduces a new mechanic to keep things fresh. The whole game is played only using the two analog sticks (the d-pad and face buttons work, but the two analog sticks are best, in my opinion). It can also be played in local co-op, however with how often you have to fling yourself around, coordinating the correct movements to the other player would be exhausting, and it is easier to experiment yourself.
5. Ape Out – All Modern Systems – Beat 'em Up – ~2 Hour Completion Time –
This is a top-down beat 'em up similar in style to Hotline Miami, but with greater emphasis on melee combat. The controls are very simple, employing just the back two shoulder buttons, in addition to both analog sticks. You play as an ape that breaks out of his cage and goes on a rampage, killing various different enemies with guns by either charging at them, throwing something, or luring them into hazards. The action is fast-paced and the slight rumble with each kill feels satisfying. The jazzy music fits the tempo of the game well. You'll naturally want to keep moving – it feels real good to get in a flow of killing enemies.
6. Momodora: Reverie Under the Moonlight – All Modern Systems – Metroidvania – ~4 Hour Completion Time –
Usually with Metroidvanias, I expect a long, difficult game that's easy to get lost in, in the sense that I don't know where to go next. Momodora: Reverie Under the Moonlight is a counter to those ideas while still maintaining the exploratory nature of the sub-genre. The plot is pretty simple and doesn't feature a ton of story, but there are a few NPCs you talk to throughout your quest. The combat is also fairly simple, but the boss fights you engage in are all great. Without much weapon customization, it's stripped to the basics of dodging enemy attacks while trying to get a hit in. It makes for a game that's easy to get into and instantly start enjoying. All of the areas are visually appealing, some more than others, and each of them lasts shorter than you'd expect. The game is only around 3-5 hours, but it feels like you've played so much more in that time. Some games only really start to take off by the time this game finishes. It also features New Game+, allowing you to carry over most of your items, making the game more difficult, and changing up enemy placement.
7. Biolab Wars – Switch, Steam – Run & Gun – ~1.5 Hour Completion Time –
At $1.99 (or $0.99 if you own anther game by the same publisher, as I did), this game feels under-priced. This is a Contra-inspired game with NES graphics. There are seven stages to overcome through a combination of platforming and shooting. Your character can only shoot horizontally, can crouch, can jump, and that’s about it. I particularly like the bosses at the end of each stage – they all feel different from one another. They’re mostly the big, gross alien types, but a few of them humanoid. With one you’re riding a motorcycle and firing behind you, one of them will having you running back and forth dodging fire on a small kayak, and with another you’re climbing railings to line yourself up for a shot.
8. Remothered: Tormented Fathers – All Modern Systems – Survival Horror – ~6 Hour Completion Time –
Remothered: Tormented Fathers feels very old school in its design philosophy – no weapons outside a few self defense items and distraction items. You go back and forth in the mansion and have to learn the layout and where things are to proceed. You have to manually select the key item from your inventory to use on triggers (but a key icon is stilled shown to guide you a little). The sounds in this game do a great job of evoking tension, and I appreciate that the stalkers don’t seem to teleport, so if you can get away from them, you’ve earned your freedom for awhile. This is the first game in a loosely connected trilogy, with the second one due later this year.
9. Gravity Duck – All Modern Systems – 2D Puzzle Platformer – ~1.5 Hour Completion Time –
Pressing A/X in most platformers makes you jump, but in Gravity Duck, it flips you onto the ceiling. This mechanic is the core foundation of the game, and it remains interesting all the way to the end. There's more emphasis on the platforming side than the puzzle side. The puzzle elements basically revolve around knowing when to hit a yellow flash that flips you side to side instead of up and down. For the most part, the game is about avoiding hazards as you flip instead of jump. Just like Daggerhood, this game also has a very easy platinum trophy that takes about 20 minutes to get.
10. Penarium – PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Steam – 2D Platformer – ~2.5 Hour Completion Time –
This is a quirky carnival-themed 2D platformer. The whole game operates on a single screen and utilizes only a double jump and movement. Jump to the edge of one side and you pop out on the other. You're tasked with dodging hazards and overcoming obstacles while smashing barrels around the stage or executing some other task, like staying in a spotlight that moves around and shines in different spots. There are three cut-scenes in the game that total less than two minutes and about 10 minutes of dialogue. Even though the story is very brief, I still felt the ending was a satisfying conclusion and offered more than I expected. There is a local multiplayer mode for two players, but it's nothing special and probably won't entertain long.
Have you played any of these games? What are some other overlooked single player indie games?
See below for other indie spotlights I've done in the past month:
Local Co-op Indie Spotlight – 10 Games From 10 Different Genres
Local Competitive Multiplayer Indie Spotlight – 10 Games From Various Genres
Top 5 Most Anticipated Indie Games
- HUE – a game review
- Recommendations for “Progression” In Platformer Games, Puzzle Games, and RPGs?
- New Super Lucky’s Tale – Review Thread
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