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The Pop Culture Wing of Hot Corner Harbor

Indie Game Reviews

(starting with most recent)

Cassette Beasts (Bytten Studio)-The developers behind Lenna's Inception try their hand at a creature collecting game, and deliver a wonderful RPG/Top-Down Adventure game about exploring a mysterious island, recording monsters on tapes and transforming into them to fight.
    Part 2-Trying something new, I return to Cassette Beasts to build off my initial review with a deeper analysis of the gameplay mechanics, themes, worldbuilding, and story.

Tinykin (Splashteam)-A cute 3D collect-a-thon platformer that dares to ask: "What if Pikmin was set in a normal house (and also the insects have established and advanced civilization rather than trying to eat you)?" 

Neon White (Angel Matrix)-Probably my favorite game of 2022, Neon White sees to guiding the titular sinner through a mysterious demon-killing competition in Heaven, in a mix of fast-paced 3D platforming and first-person shooting gameplay (as well as some fun story elements where you try and discover what's behind it all).

Transiruby and Flynn: Son of Crimson (SKIPMORE and Studio Thunderhorse, respectively)-I take a quick look at a pair of pretty pixel platformers that do a lot with a little. 

Nobody Saves the World (Drinkbox Studios)-The devs behind the Guacamelee series take their "exploration + combat" mash-up approach to a new pair of genres, to great success.

Haven (The Game Bakers)-A loveable sci-fi adventure game about two star-crossed lovers who flee to a broken, deserted planet to escape their authoritarian home planet. 

Sable (Shedworks)-An open-world 3D platformer where you guide a young girl across an alien desert world on her coming-of-age journey.

Demon Turf (Fabraz)-A demon girl named Beebz attempts to take over the various demon gangs in my favorite 3D platformer since A Hat in Time.

Nexomon: Extinction (VEWO Interactive Inc.)-An interesting monster collecting game that feels like a fun alternate take on Pokémon mechanically, while also taking its story in a fun and twisty direction.

Blue Fire and Toree 3D/Toree 2 (Robi Studios and Siactro, respectively)-A direct sequel to its predecessor article, where I recommend and look at more 3D platformer indie games and their worlds.

Tasomachi: Behind the Twilight and Here Comes Niko! (Orbital Express and Frog Vibes, respectively)-In the first part of a two-parter looking at indie 3D platformer titles, I recommend and analyze two impressive games and the distinct worlds and feelings they create.

Heaven's Vault (Inkle Studios)-Inkle Studios creates a 3D update of old adventure games combined with words puzzles, where you play as an archeologist in a far-off galaxy exploring planets and deciphering an ancient language to uncover her universe's lost history.

Monster Prom and Monster Camp (Beautiful Glitch)-This series brings together the first competitive dating sim, as you compete to woo colorful characters with wacky hijinks.

Chicory: A Colorful Tale (Greg Lobanov)-The developer of Wandersong returns with an all-star team to deliver another great game with an interesting art mechanic, this one about drawing and painting to return color to a monochrome world.

Rogue Heroes: Ruins of Tasos (Heliocentric Studios)-An indie title that takes the feel of classics like Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past and goes wild adding new elements.

Ikenfell (Happy Ray Games)-A turn-based RPG about students investigating mysteries at a school for magic, Ikenfell is a leading candidate for my favorite game I've played in 2021. 

Monster Sanctuary (Moi Rai Games)-A monster collecting game set in a Metroidvania world, and built around a fairly complex battle system.

3D Platformer Round-Up-A look at a variety of interesting, smaller-name 3D platformers, including Poi (PolyKid Games), Regina & Mac (Diplodocus Games), Evo\Wave (MagnaVex Entertainment), and Macbat 64 (Siactro).

Phoenotopia: Awakening (Cape Cosmic)-A sprawling epic of a 2D platformer that sees you guiding a young girl through the post-post-apocalypse in search of the members of her town, who suddenly vanished in the wake of a UFO appearance. Another largely-one-person effort.

Lenna’s Inception (Bytten Studio)-Probably my Game of the Year for 2020. A 2D Zelda-style roguelike that shuffles the map and dungeons every time you play it, telling the story of a schoolteacher trying to save her students from an otherworldly force that is slowly tearing apart her world. 

Yooka-Laylee (Playtonic Games), plus A Hat in Time DLC levels (Gears for Breakfast)-The new Hat in Time levels make an already great game even better. Yooka-Laylee didn’t quite reach those heights, but it’s still a solid entry in the canon of 3D Platformers.

Murder by Numbers (Mediatonic)-A fun little detective visual novel starring a ‘90s TV detective moonlighting as a real detective and her amnesiac robot friend, where you find clues by solving picross puzzles.

Underhero (Paper Castle Games)-You play as a video game minion who has accidentally defeated the hero too early, and is now torn between listening to the hero’s talking sword, who’s pushing you to take up his mission, and your boss, the big bad, who seems to be planning more than he’s letting on. A fun platformer RPG, especially recommended for fans of the classic Paper Mario entries.

Super Mega Baseball 3 (Metalhead Software)-The new edition of my favorite baseball game right now, now with a franchise mode!

A Fold Apart (Lightning Rod Games)-A cute little puzzle platformer that sees you guiding a long-distance couple through their relationship challenges made physical.

One Step from Eden (Thomas Moon Kang)-A roguelike, deckbuilding action game about colorful characters traversing an ambiguous apocalypse landscape that takes the long-discarded battle style of Megaman Battle Network and refines it to perfection. 

Sayonara Wild Hearts (Simogo)-An arcade-style rhythm game that also serves as a visual album for a stellar synthpop soundtrack.

Timespinner (Lunar Ray Games)-My 2019 Indie Game of the Year, made largely by just a single developer. A Metroidvania platformer where you play as a time-travelling heroine who tries to use those powers to save her home planet from invasion by a looming empire. 

Cadence of Hyrule (Brace Yourself Games)-This one is a little questionable here given that it carries the Nintendo seal of approval, but Brace Yourself Games did a lot of fun things in their follow-up to their 2015 hit Crypt of the NecroDancer.

Genre Mash-Ups, featuring Yoku's Island Express (Villa Gorilla), Battle Chef Brigade (Trinket Studios), and The Messenger (Sabotage Studio)-Genre Mash-Ups are a video game idea that I explore repeatedly here, and I first explained the topic in this look at three of my favorite games from 2018. Yoku's Island Express is a Metroidvania that sees you navigating a mail-beetle around his tropical home, with the twist being that vertical exploration is controlled via pinball mechanics. Battle Chef Brigade is like Lord of the Rings-meets-Chopped, where you play as fantasy knights who must hunt monsters (in a beat-em-up), and then cook them (via tile-matching puzzler) into dishes for judges. And The Messenger is an 8-bit 2D platformer about guiding a ninja on a mission through a demon-infested world, which offers a narrative and gameplay twist on the basic premise halfway through. 

Alwa's Awakening (Elden Pixels)-I really enjoyed this really solid 8-bit Metroidvania and didn't see anyone talking about it, so I decided to write something. The sequel, Alwa's Legacy, is also really fun, and featured in my 2020 round-up.

Wandersong (Greg Lobanov)-One of my co-Games of the Year for 2018, a narrative-heavy platformer where you play as a Bard who stumbles upon an apocalyptic prophecy and decides to save the world with the power of music. Also interesting for being a music game that leans more heavily on pitch than rhythm.

Iconoclasts (Joakim Sandberg)-Another of my co-Games of the Year for 2018, Iconoclasts is an almost entirely one person effort from Joakim Sandberg. A Metroidvania set in a far-future society out in space, you play as a mechanic named Robin and her allies as they challenge oppressive structures of their world and find themselves in the middle of a power struggle that spans the galaxy. 

Celeste (Extremely OK Games)-My final co-GotY 2018, Celeste has since gone on to widespread acclaim through it's brilliant combination of challenging-yet-accessible platforming and an extremely moving narrative about anxiety, growth, and self-acceptance. 

Blossom Tales: The Sleeping King (Castle Pixel)-A recommendation of an 2D Zelda-style indie game that went under the radar at its release.

A Hat in Time (Gears for Breakfast)-A breakdown of the level design in one of the best 3D platformers in the past decade.

Event[0] (Ocelot Society)-One part first-person puzzle platformer aboard an abandoned space station, one part text-based mystery story, Event[0] is one of the most groundbreaking and interesting games of the year.

Yearly Wrap-Ups, featuring multiple games: 2017, 2019, 2020

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