Indie Games Reviews 30 — 02/23/2023

Planet Graveyard by HamezTeam—

One of the great titles born of LSDJAM 2022. The bittersweet atmosphere of fatalistic doom creeps through the digital fog, pushing you to explore the margins of this necrodome.

Undertide by Jacob Potterfield—

Another peculiar title of LSDJAM 2022. The aesthetic and narrative of Undertide totally blew me away. The colour palette and textures are discordantly unique and the characters you meet are as strange as they are hilarious—especially the film crew. The world building is impressive, with various environments to explore, from the cryptic to the awe-inducing. Highly recommended.

The Tunnel by Orbis Tertitus Games—

Brilliantly written tale of Kafkaesque technological hubris. The minimal pixel art is exquisite with surprising uses of colour effects.

Breadbasket by Annswwr—

A cryptic tale embedded in 3D trinkets and a forgotten garden. Crushing solitude made interactive.

Enupishi by vmu_—

vmu_ is developing a distinguishable aesthetic where kawaii, glitch, metaverse and gloom blends into a singular view of the world. It’s a short experience, but packed with crucial post-human ideas and a jaw-dropping sense of details.

Atuel by Matajuegos—

This single-handedly proved video games can be an incredible medium for documentary strategy. Something to explore in continuation with documentary theatre and essays in filmic form.

Rooted In Darkness by Twash—

I’m a sucker for FPS with visible lo-res photos of hands (think the RIP series from Madvent Calendar) and this provided me with my fix. Good news: the team will develop a full fledge game out of the base they created.

Feet in the Snow by Abstract Machine—

Point and click adventure and dream logic goes hand in hand and this is the perfect examples. Make sure you explore both paths…

Pop to the Shops by wiredconnection—

More dream logic from the bottom of the Win95 shareware bin. After recently having started four AAA games and abandoning them after 1 hour, I realize I’m more interested in games working as weird system to explore than redundant gameplay mechanics based on “entertainment”. And this fully delivers.

TET by Playables—

Something a bit more lighthearted than my usual fare. This exquisite but short Wariowarish cooking game is pure joy. Treat yourself.

A Time Traveller’s Guide to Past Delicacies by Gabriel Helfenstein—

More cooking game/show, but of the demented variety. You get FMV puppetry, gushing ooze, “lessons” about culinary history, space-time continuum fracture, etc. A real roller coaster of insanity.

Other games played:

Morbid: Seven Acolytes — It is janky and the overload of weapons and items serves little to no purpose, but this top-down take on the Souls-game formula offers some of the most putrid and decadent pixel art I saw in a bit. For that reason alone I strongly recommend it.

Self—As mentioned in the past, I’m not a fan of the interactive fiction genre in general, but this one worked for me. It drives its hallucinatory narrative through unexpected locales and an eerie MS-Dos era aesthetic that made me want to explore the different paths. Unfortunately, the “true” ending lacks any punch and fail to deliver on its surrealistic ambitions.

Akane—Got back into Akane for a bit and wow, this is top-down fuck ’em up at its peak. Addictive.

Battle Mania: Daiginjō—I can’t believe this amazing side-scrolling shmup doesn’t get more recognition. I also can’t believe such a detailed and colour-saturated game could run so smoothly on the Genesis. The J-Horror levels are the cherry on top.

Super Castlevania IV and Castlevania: Bloodlines—Played both in a row and a fusion of the two would be the best. The SNES one as great control and level design, but the enemies, music and ambiance pales in comparison to Bloodlines. Inversely, I ragequitted Bloodlines at level 5 spinning staircases. Fuck that jazz.

Games abandoned:

Dead or School—Controls are too clumsy for portable and gameplay too grindy on TV. Sad, since the perverted proposition was quite charming.
Fobia—St. Dinfna Hotel—May come back later to this Brazilian title, but I can’t for the life of me deal with another FPS puzzle horror with poor combat in a dark setting at the moment.
Hard Reset—Bought that for a buck on my PS4 and I regret it.
Beyond a Steel Sky — The original one is one of my favourite adventure games of my youth. This sequel is colourful, well written, etc. but lacks the signature mean spiritedness.