You know an indie game has made it big when other indie developers start making fangames based on it and the Touhou series has a ton of fangames. I’ve played my fair share of Touhou fangames over the years and at the end of the day Touhou – Wandering Souls remains not only my favorite Touhou fangame, but one of my favorite freeware indie games. This sidescrolling action RPG perfectly translates the gameplay of a bullet hell shmup series into an entirely different genre alongside some surprisingly deep mechanics and an outright obscene amount of content all while being made in the utterly unlikely RPG Maker VX engine. (more…)
Odallus: The Dark Call is what you would get if you tossed a classic Castlevania game into a blender along with Berserk and added a dash of modern game design sensibilities. With its somewhat methodical approach to platforming and combat and a world divided into levels filled with branching paths and secrets, Odallus takes many of the best ideas the action platformer genre has to offer and combines them with fantastic aesthetics and a dark fantasy setting to create an incredible experience which outclasses much of the competition. (more…)
This little game starring a Triangle Rotating In Space was created for Game Boy Jam 5, the same game jam which gave us Derelict. You can’t jump, all you can do is rotate from one tile to the next and let gravity take its course as you make your way to the ship at the end of each level while collecting water drops along the way. The quiet, minimalistic music works well alongside the muted red and green color scheme to give the game an otherworldly atmosphere while the louder sound effects help to put the focus on the action. Though there are only ten short levels, space is used extremely well with crumbling blocks, crushers, spikes, turrets, and spinning blades every step of the way with a few small safe areas for checkpoints.
The gameplay gets changed up somewhat on the fourth level where gravity is reversed and you must make your way to the top of the level, but a far more significant change is introduced soon after that. From the fifth level onward you gain the ability to flip in a straight line from the floor to the ceiling or vice versa. This new mechanic becomes an integral part of the platforming in T.R.I.S. as it is used for maneuvers such as dodging between turret bullets or flipping from a crumbling tile to a solid one while waiting for the timing on a crusher and then flipping back to the crumbling block after it respawns and rushing under the crusher. The difficulty level becomes fairly demanding later on, but frequent and well-placed checkpoints ward away any sense of frustration.
The fact that this game was created within a limited amount of time for a game jam becomes a bit apparent when it comes to the camera. Namely, the camera doesn’t move with you unless you’re on solid ground so flipping your orientation can result in a death if you fling yourself off the edge of the screen and this is fine on its own, but the camera is somewhat inconsistent. There were a few times when I would fly to a ledge near the edge of the screen and the camera would barely move, if at all, and at other times the camera would move a great deal. This usually isn’t a problem, but it can get in the way a bit if you’re trying to backtrack to a checkpoint or a water drop which has disappeared outside of the play area since you won’t know if the camera will actually let you backtrack until you get near the edge. Other than the minor camera issue, T.R.I.S. has consistently solid level design, the movement mechanics make the platforming interesting, and it effectively combines its various hazards together to make for an entertaining game which I only wish was longer.
I knew I would probably like Hollow Knight from the start, but I was not at all prepared for it to resonate with me as much as it did. With the release of Bleed 2 last month and with virtually guaranteed heavy hitters like Iconoclasts and La-Mulana 2 on the horizon, 2017 is an incredibly exciting year for indie games, yet Hollow Knight may very well end up as my favorite game of the year. With a massive world to explore, an outright ridiculous number of secrets, a combat system which manages to feel extremely fluid while giving each and every attack a sense of weight, and an atmosphere which seamlessly combines some good old-fashioned Dark Souls gloom with lighthearted humor, this is one experience which is far from empty. (more…)
The Floor is Jelly is a colorful and relaxing drop of chaos. It can be quite demanding at times, but generous checkpointing, instant respawns, mellow atmosphere, and the constant lack of precise control caused by the floors, walls, and ceilings all being made of bouncy jelly make even failure fun. Not willing to stop at just turning everything into jelly, this game introduces a string of delightfully experimental surprises from start to finish. (more…)