Indie Ranger's Reviews
Infinite – Beyond the Mind is an entertaining, short game with a strong approach to gameplay, visuals and sound. The unfortunate stumble here is in the story, which feels like it has more to offer than what we were given; the bits that are there work well, so it’s a shame.
Brace Yourself Games, creators of the rhythm-based dungeon crawler Crypt of the NecroDancer, have been given the keys to the kingdom of Hyrule, imbuing the signature gameplay of the original while mixing in all the characters, locations and melodies you love from the Zelda universe. What results is a clever blend of action and music that might be the best Zelda spinoff in history.
Devolver Digital is hitting it out of the park this year with their indie game lineup, adding Doinksoft's Gato Roboto to its growing list of must-play games. This adorable game, which they have cleverly referred to as a "meowtroidvania" is a fantastic, albeit short, experience that distills the genre down to its core, delivering a bite-sized adventure that feels right at home on Nintendo Switch.
Vectronom is the latest title from game developer Ludopium. Ludopium is a team from Germany whose other games include Vandals and Bury Me, My Love. Vectronom is a game that feels like a platformer but is actually a puzzle game. Each stage is set above a void that needs to be navigated. The rhythm of the music sets the pace for the stage, in addition to providing clues about the hazards of the stages. In Vectronom, stages are solved with planning rather than quick reflexes.
‘Nonsense’ is the specialty of Super Cane Magic ZERO. The action-RPG tasks the player to save the land of WOTF after a magician’s dog named AAAH inexplicably gains powers and drives it into magic-induced insanity following the death of their owner. Unfortunately, Studio Evil doesn’t seem to know when exactly to reel things in.
At the outset of Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night I could see the castle that would be the major setting for the game. In the distance, even just the sight, I knew there would be an immensity to this game. The quest that Miriam, our protagonist, was on would be daunting and hard fought. Most of all, I could tell a great amount of passion and care went into the creation of Bloodstained.
My Friend Pedro is weird. At first, you’re just sort of placed in this post-apocalyptic world with no recollection of your memory. You have no name and with no backstory, the action immediately begins. Enter, Pedro. The weirdness kicks right off by introducing you to a sentient banana named Pedro, reminding me immediately of Sparx from Spyro The Dragon. No explanation, you wake up and he is there. Is he your conscious? Is he a hallucination?
The gameplay in Lucid Dream consists of typical point-and-click adventure-style gameplay. You’ll select points of interest on the screen for Lucy to walk to, all while looking out for a variety of clues scattered throughout each world. These clues are sometimes easy to miss, but pressing the Spacebar will highlight the clickable items in green, making discovery easier.
With that older era comes a much more vague approach to the story that I actually appreciated. It is strange how little you are given to know, but the entire time through the game I always felt like I was progressing towards something and getting closer to my final destination. And each area of the game itself feels like it’s own thing while still fitting with the game’s overall theme, from a doomed lab to an abandoned cityscape, and a wasteland in the middle of a war.
The enemies stand out to me and are genuinely creepy. The designs are solid, and I think this is the true winning point for Crimson Keep. It helps that the combat is not too hard or too easy. Admittedly, it takes a bit to get used to the style of combat as there is no aggressive block; instead, a dash.
Also, with its limited camera, the game chooses to tell its story primarily through text messages, with only a handful of cutscenes. The plot won’t be spoiled here, but it is both extremely oddball in its storytelling, and also incredibly resonant to our times and anyone who has ever truly questioned if they were happy with themselves for various reasons as J.J. not only seeks to find Emily but also to come to terms with who exactly she wants to be. All of this is done in surrealistic imagery and some surprising revelations.
... the game is a decent starting point especially for being made by a single man. The imagery is gorgeous, and I respect trying new styles to set the game aside from the countless ones being released. However, there are some major flaws which took away from the enjoyability of the gaming experience.
As with most traditional platformers, there isn’t much of a story here. You play as a knight who hears a beautiful mermaid singing. Before you can talk to her, she swims off. You spend the rest of your adventure chasing after her. It isn’t much of a driving factor, but one isn’t needed because the primary focus is on gameplay.
... Blossom Tales stands tall even next to its legendary predecessor. It starts with its storytelling. Zelda games can get slightly repetitive with the “evil entity steals or harms the princess” arc, and admittedly, Blossom Tales doesn’t stray too far from that.
The puzzles involve a host of mechanics, slowly introduced over the course of the game, mainly centering around terrain being reshaped, much like Play-Doh. The character’s dash ability allows the player to mold the environment to a certain extent in a bid to access previously inaccessible areas.
Even with the restrictive hardware used to make this game, Tanglewood prevails in its overall presentation. Having Nymn run through the forest, hop from branch-to-branch and push boulders feels smooth and enjoyable, while chase sequences are filled with a rushed atmosphere to get the hell away from your pursuer.