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Salt and Sanctuary


Steam Page || Developer’s Site

There are a whole lot of games out there which, to one degree or another, can be described as “indie Dark Souls” and, to their credit, a surprising number of them are quite good. But none are as deserving of that title as Salt and Sanctuary. The methodical combat, the perpetual gloom, asynchronous multiplayer elements, and just about everything else is all right here. Ska Studios doesn’t just stick with the familiar though as this action RPG takes full advantage of its 2D perspective with plenty of platforming. Various other original touches, such as a rather literal skill tree, blend together with familiar features to create one of the best indie games out there.
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Zangeki Warp


Steam Page || Developer’s Site

The warp mechanic in Zangeki Warp revolutionizes horizontal shmups to a degree on par with what Ikaruga‘s color shifting did for vertical bullet hells. On the surface this game looks much like other horizontal shmups and the R-Type influences in particular ring loud and clear, yet the ability to warp your ship around changes everything. The warp isn’t just there to save you from close calls, the entire game is build around it.

Aside from warping away to dodge bullets, you’ll constantly be asked to use it to circumvent solid obstacles and to obliterate enemies via the warp trail which your ship’s gun can’t reach. By the end of the game I felt like I was relying on this technique more than my bullets in combat and the final stages become very demanding indeed, even on Normal! Beyond the main feature itself, Zangeki Warp earns plenty of praise with significantly varied difficulty settings, a rather nice upgrade system, and exceptional enemy designs which gradually shift from standard robots and ships to creepy body horror-style monsters which would even make Abadox proud.
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A Robot Named Fight


Official Site || Steam Page

It’s an all-out war between the robotic residents of Earth and the endless spawn of a moon-sized glob of flesh in the sky called the Megabeast! I was skeptical of a Metroidvania roguelike because I generally prefer it when games with procedural generation only last about 30 minutes per run. However, while a successful run of A Robot Named Fight does indeed take about an hour, the game does a fantastic job of keeping things fresh by changing up the obstacles you encounter based on the powers you obtain. Sometimes this just amounts to adding in doors which require a certain type of weapon to open, but it also means things like adding in dark rooms if you get a light source and high barriers if you get a jump upgrade. It’s delightfully gross, surprisingly varied, and an all-around awesome game about becoming fight enough to take on cosmic abominations.
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The Music Machine


Steam Page || itch.io Page

Before anything else, I want to share a personal story about The Music Machine in October of 2016 I began to play through this wonderfully atmospheric first-person horror game for the sake of writing an article about it. Unfortunately, I accidentally overwrote my save data and lost some progress, but this isn’t a particularly long game so that wasn’t really much of an issue. Except, then my entire hard drive died and with it went my save file until I found a replacement. Then my computer died, taking my third save with it. Once everything was back in order the Halloween season was long over and plans to write about The Music Machine fell through the cracks.

With Halloween once again on the horizon, this week seems like the perfect time to at last delve into this story about a girl, the ghost possessing her, and the mysteries surrounding a very creepy and exceedingly orange island.
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Cuphead

Cuphead


Official Site || Steam Page

Cuphead was one of the most highly anticipated indie games of 2017 and, while I always enjoy stumbling upon great overlooked games, it’s rather refreshing to see a game with so much hype behind it actually (mostly) live up to that hype. Both visually and audibly Cuphead is an aesthetic masterpiece and this is something that was obvious from the first, painfully brief E3 trailer, but there is a breathtaking world of difference between seeing a few disconnected trailers and brief gameplay demos versus playing it for yourself as one cohesive whole. Even more importantly, it plays extremely well.
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