Terror of Hemasaurus is a great "remember when?" kind of game. The way most good indies do, it takes that foundational experience of an underserved genre and tries to flesh out the experience to make it more substantive while retaining the good feelings from playing its inspiration. But with limited gameplay options and a game which can't handle more than one person on screen, this'll be relegated to the "fun if you like this kind of game" category.
The slower paced gameplay won me over as I learned to use that limited toolset to outright embarrass the other teams. The rogue like campaign, as threadbare as it is, does give the game a sense of longevity that's sorely needed. You'll be in for a fun time, if not for a long time.
Fae Farm is a game where the developers have successfully streamlined the more tedious pieces of farming, chores, dungeon crawling, quest completion, and exploration so the player can quickly dive into the features and figure out their sim life rhythm. The sheer number of things to do keeps the experience fresh and for the most part limits the tedium that this genre can be guilty of. Beyond the glaring technical issues, Fae Farm has a lot to offer for both new and experienced players of the farm sim if you can forgive it.
Teslagrad Remastered is an accomplished 2D platformer with a unique magnetic-based ability that shines while traversing the tower and being a puzzle-solving tool. Though the boss battles sometimes feel a little less tight an experience, that's a small blemish on an otherwise fantastic gameplay experience. With a fresh coat of paint and sharing the same price point as the original, this is an easy recommendation for those who enjoy older feeling indie platforms or as a primer to Teslagrad 2.
Its simplicity is its strength, focusing on the action first and foremost and using those limited toolsets to approach each flame. An impressive approach to difficulty and an appropriate amount of mystery puts this game into a neat package that is approachable and as challenging as you'd prefer. Nuclear Blaze is short, sweet, and definitely worth a look.
There are a few games that are tough to go back to, but when they're good, they're really good. The worst I can say is that it doesn't reach the heights of fan service some of the aforementioned collections do, but comparing Wonder Boy to those standard bearers might be a bit unfair. If you enjoy 2D platformers, liked a game in the series and want to explore more, or just have a curiosity for lesser known classic games, then The Wonder Boy Anniversary Collection is something worth looking up.
The crisp anime art style works for the backdrops and character designs, but loses something in translation when the characters are in motion. Despite what grievances I have, The Rumble Fish 2 is a foundationally strong fighter which makes it easy for me to overlook the blemishes to enjoy what lies underneath. This won't grab the casual fighter fan, but the devotees should give it a look.
The Easy mode is a welcome reprieve, giving several more lifeboats before letting your drown, but even that has the ethos of "you will be testing your limits". But if ready to climb that mountain, players will be rewarded with some of the most refreshing hand-to-hand combat out there with inspired stylistic flair. If you enjoy the struggle, SIFU is in the upper echelon of video game fighting.
It's that coagulation that makes the experience so unique, if a little shallow. That said, the Switch version is so tainted by the oppressively bad technical performance that it tanks the entire experience. Don't play it here unless it's your only option or Massive Monster resurrects it with a patch.
Tinykin is a "stop and smell the roses'' kind of game that is brief in a way that gives a meaningful experience without overstaying its welcome. Its charming world and endearing characters are a pleasant window dressing to this safe, mellow bit of fun, and that's all it needs to be. Splashteam's singular focus on exploration and charm runs deep, and the end result is laudable for their Sophomore outing.
Rayne as a character is a cardboard cut-out of female action stars of the time, and the story would be laughably bad if it weren't there already. As well, the action has aged poorly with its unrefined hack and slash nature, even if you can wring a few drops of fun out of it. It's hard to recommend Bloodrayne to anyone other than people who've played it and have a fond nostalgia for it.
The developer knew to keep the focus on the fundamentals - multiple game modes to keep things fresh, a way to play with friends, leaderboards, and a clean look. If you're not a fan of brick breakers, then this won't convert you. But if the last one you played was Arkanoid, then you're in for a fun revisit.
Okinawa Rush attracted me the moment I played it and dragged me in with its visceral, fast paced powerful battles. You won't find a developed story or a stellar soundtrack, but sound design in combat is top tier, with each hit feeling like it's forceful enough to crush skulls. If a dark, gruesome brawler that empowers you to be a badass is what you're itching for, then Okinawa Rush is just the right scratch for you.
It's actually pretty disappointing that Thea 2: The Shattering shoots itself in the foot on Switch. The world is unique and mysterious to me. There's a ton of things to tinker with in the overworld sections, and the combat is engaging enough to mix things up. But this game proved to me what I didn't want to hear - to me the inherent sluggishness of Thea 2 was enough to sink it.
The Great American Circus' strengths lie first and foremost in its family friendly premise and presentation. That smart lure roped me in to a well fleshed out card match game with a leveling system that doesn't quite grab me. If that and an uphill climb for making a comeback in a performance doesn't deter you, then there's a lot of fun to be had in this upcoming attraction.
There needs to be a clear logic to the puzzles throughout that acts as a foundation for each sequential one to build off of. What elevates it even further is world building and music design that sews it up into a tight, cohesive experience. A Monster's Expedition's quick hits of small puzzles passes all of those criteria with flying colors, and you owe it to yourself to give it a look.
In essence, Arietta of Spirits plays out like a pleasant introduction and first chapter of a larger story yet untold. It has a protagonist who is easy to root for and the framework for development into a larger scope story, broader cast of characters, and a larger variety of combat tools that this game currently lacks. Arietta of Spirits keeps those issues from becoming more glaring thanks to a brisk game length, but I hope her next adventure is a tad more, well, adventurous.
Despite its hair-pulling moments, Induction really is a stellar example of taking a simple concept, building upon it incrementally through each level, and pumping your fist in the air or jumping for joy with each tall hurdle you're able to leap over. Coupled with that minimalist style, you'll find that the juice is worth the squeeze. If you are a fan of puzzle games and have patience, Induction has plenty to offer.
Boomerang X is a textbook example of short and sweet. It's a bite-sized experience that rewards persistence with a vague, mysterious narrative, dynamic combat, challenging enemies, and so much satisfaction when you squeeze out a victory in the last wave. I had to test my mettle and tolerate a bit of slowdown, but Boomerang X is one of the best indies I've played this year.
The world is vibrant and colorful, and the characters have distinct personalities and relationships that feel genuine. Dipping up and down to close those weave gaps is one of the most meditative experiences I've had this year, and it's only one small piece of the gameplay pie that's chock full of delicious combat filling. Weaving Tides is a treat, one to share with friends and make room for seconds.