One indie gem that I thoroughly enjoyed was 2018's Moonlighter. Sparklite is the "outdoor" version of that game, but doesn't succeed as well as it. This is a 2D Zelda roguelike that implements so much for its own good that it turned out a bit underwhelming in the end. The pixel graphics hit the spot, the music is soothing and evokes previous eras of gaming, and the controls are responsive. There's so much here, however, that no one particular element feels exceptional to another or as a whole, leaving many features of Sparklite feeling like they can be ignored. Red Blue Games is talented and sparked something good, but one should take the "lite" for its word.
New Super Lucky's Tale is the most refined version of the game to date. There's so many tweaks, additions and improvements to the game that it's perfect that it got the treatment it deserves when hopefully more people get their hands-on time with it. It's Conker's Good Fur Day. Any one who enjoys 3D platformers such as the typical Super Mario or Banjo-Kazooie should give this a look. The only downside is that it's easier, but that still doesn't mean it can't be fun with the tight controls and gameplay variety it has to back that up. New Super Lucky's Tale has been part of the resurgence of 3D platformers and I just hope it's enough to get a true sequel.
Atelier Ryza: Ever Darkness & the Secret Hideout not only turns a new leaf for the series, but is the perfect entry for newcomers as well. The revamped synthesis mechanics are just that much better. I personally feel that the new turn-based/realtime battle system is an improvement by being fast and feeling fresh, but may not be for all. It just takes a while to unlock all its best features. The cast of characters and the new visual upgrade really amplify the cozy slice-of-life nature the series is known for. The plot stays steady, but it's the slow burn of the main cast and people of Kurken Island that make it worth it if the slice-of-life genre is your jam. It's wholesome, jolly vibes all around.
Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch hits all the high notes. It's a great JRPG, but it also transports you into an interactive Studio Ghibli world. The art and sound is directly that of Studio Ghibli. Careful production and planning went into this and it shows. It's easily one of the best out there. The Nintendo Switch is quickly becoming the one-stop RPG machine and this is one of the top recommendations. Many games in the genre can keep your attention, but seldom do you get one to entertain you like this one. It has that magic. Studio Ghibli: The RPG, developed by veteran Level-5.
The Sinking City might be worth looking into for anyone who enjoys using their noggin to solve investigations. It may be even more intriguing if you enjoy getting sucked into Lovecraft atmosphere. You might even say we can never have too much of either of these and that's probably true. This game shouldn't be overlooked at all, but what lies here is potential drowned in a sea of mishaps. If only the optimization and performance on Nintendo Switch was a little better and the controls didn't feel like it was borrowed from a previous console generation, it could've been smooth sailing to a full recommendation.
You're either in for it or you're not. Gun Gun Pixies has the right concept and mixture of things to satisfy. It has platforming, shooting and takes the ecchi genre full-on with babes and more babes. The most frustrating aspect of the game are its controls. Platforming and movement is super clunky. Shooting sensitivity is one speed and not dynamic. The gameplay suffers as a result. That isn't to say being miniature running around rooms without being detected and shooting larger than life girls doesn't have its appeal. If one can deal with the controls, there's certainly entertainment to be had. If only the gameplay was as great as the visual novel aspect, it would be a well-rounded experience overall.
I didn't know how interested I was in Creature in the Well until I've first seen it. I didn't know how much I wanted it until I first played it. Creature in the Well is a mashup of some stellar genres and it serves up a fresh dish of well-balanced gameplay. There's more skill needed here than a simple hack & slash, but the challenge is enough that it feels satisfying at any level. Though some puzzles are rather simple, others challenge you in all the right ways and reward you for it. It's a unique game that remained fun for its entirety and one that begs for more content and/or a sequel. Another indie highlight for the books.
If winter never came for you, then it's here now. Vambrace: Cold Soul does a fine job in its atmosphere and has the lore built around it that's believable and easy to get into. It's a harsh world and death could come easily. It's even more enjoyable thanks to the fantastic artwork and dozens of outfits to unlock. The turn-based battles aren't groundbreaking, but they're enough to present a challenge at the very least. What's impressive about Vambrace is its world. Every character has something new to say after every event and so much of it can be missed. Depending on your choices, you will get one of three different endings. The people you meet along the way play a huge role in what's to be seen. Even with its flaws, Vambrace: Cold Soul is a chilling ride that many players could warm up to.
6 Eyes Studio is a 2-person developer who had a vision to make a great rpg experience and they've succeeded in every regard. Fell Seal: Arbiter's Mark is a joy to play. Turn-based Strategy purists should give this one a run as the customization and gameplay are easily the core highlights to that type of experience. The fantastic art and music only make the experience grander. If you've been missing a Final Fantasy Tactics-like game, then look no further.
The Forbidden Arts is charming, colorful, and has its heart in the right place. The 2D portions make up the bulk of the experience resulting in fun exploration and boss fights. The 3D portions are bland and empty making it not the focus if that was one's assumption. That leaves everything else riding on the 2D levels which are fine as they are, being varied and full of enemies, hazards and platforming challenges. It's the poor implementation of the mechanics and design that hinders the experience. What you think should work and doesn't only causes frustration. Toss in a few glitches and you only wish this had more time in the oven. Still, it's a solid effort that's likable. If you can get past the hurdles, you'll be left satisfied with a side of disappointment for dessert.