Gridd - Indie Game Reviews 2017 Steam Screenshot

Genre: Action / SHMUP
Game Page: Game On Steam
Should You Buy It: Wait for 50% discount

GRIDD is a neon-cyberpunk game, where you control your craft and try to “hack the system,” while avoiding and destroying enemies. Behind simple concept there’s a good execution with well-detailed and thought out neon 80’s-like style. Think of Tron, a 1982 movie. The style of the game world vaguely reminds of a famous lightbike scene that the movie portrayed to us.

The Good

  • Simple, but action packed gameplay. You can move in 4 directions (up/down/left/right) and shoot. There are different obstacles and enemies that makes it interesting and engaging.
  • Difficult, skill-based gameplay with two modes: the arcade mode offers one same gameplay sequence again and again so you have a chance to study / adapt to it. Endless mode offers randomly-generated levels, so you’ll have to rapidly react to what’s happening on the screen since you can’t actually prepare for it.
  • Neon-Cyberpunk Style: glowing neon futuristic levels, with amazing particle effects, stylized enemy models and well-thought out obstacles. This gives a great vibe of “system hacking” like you would imagine it in 1980’s movies.
  • Music is repetitive, but not annoying: the music loop fits the game fine.

The Bad

  • There’s not much in the game content-wise. Sure, different enemies and obstacles are there, but your ship remains the same and there are only 3 bonuses: health / shield / weapon upgrades. It gets repetitive after a while: Arcade mode throws the same level at you again and again. Endless mode adds variety, but somewhat diminishes the skills: since obstacles and enemies are random, you can’t learn the positioning and predict them in a timely manner.
  • Dying sequence deserves an extra mention: after you die, you are shown the final screen with score (acceptable). Then, after you have to press the button to close the screen, you get thrown to the main screen of the game (press start to continue), where you have to navigate to the game mode you want and pick it (more button presses). For a skill-based game that requires lots of retry attempts – that quickly gets annoying. Simple restart/retry button would make it so much better.

Summary

The game offers an engaging gameplay with exceptional style, but does get repetitive after a while since there’s not that much content present. I say grab it during 50% discount.

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Rocking Pilot - Indie Game Reviews 2017 Steam Screenshot

Genre: Bullet Hell / SHMUP
Game Page: Game On Steam
Should You Buy It: Yes, if you have a good twin-stick gamepad

About the Game

Rocking Pilot is a bullet hell game where you fight the enemy waves on your helicopter. It is inspired by the classic arcade games, but tries to introduce new features to the genre. Without spoiling the ending, the setting of the game itself takes place in “reality show” that shows wars and armed conflicts across the world. During every mission, your helicopter stays on screen and tries to perform the task given.

The Good:

  • Each game zone brings its own interaction: hostages to be rescued, gas that blocks enemy and your bullets, mutant growth that can be killed only by rotors, etc. It feels like developers really spent a lot of time developing the enemies.
  • The graphics are bright and very polished: player’s action receive a good visual feedback. Picking up hostages, dealing damage and picking power-ups – all of this is clear and pretty.
  • Challenging and difficult. You can turn invulnerability/bullet deflection for some time, but not for long. It’s up to you when to turn this one, which direction to face, where to go and what enemies to shoot. Overall, the gameplay feels very skill-based.
  • The game by itself is not that long (probably the base storyline can be completed within 2 hours), but there’s a lot more stuff to do if you want to perfect it. There are also bonus levels with much higher difficulties. As it often is with shmup games, each stage offers extra milestones that can be completed for additional rewards / pickable bonus unlocks.

The Bad:

  • Collisions: bounding boxes are utterly confusing. You often have to kill the enemies using your helicopters rotors, that means you have to approach them, and it is not always clear how far you can go into the enemies without exploding. To sum it up, the death from collisions in this particular game felt like it was hurting the gameplay instead of helping it.
  • The mouse controls are awkward at the very least. When playing using controller, the helicopter turns towards the direction of the second stick. When playing with mouse, however, your helicopter seems to be turning right/left depending on where you move your mouse, and since there’s no cursor being shown – it’s just hard to navigate using the mouse. It just gives an impression that there was no effort to make the game use devices that PC can offer. This type of game on PC often uses cursor for targeting and easier rotation, but not in this case, and that makes mouse controls so much worse without a particular reason.
  • The UI is obviously meant for consoles: you can’t navigate the menus with the mouse, you have to pick language every time you launch the game. The game keeps launching on your display #1 no matter which one you set as a main one. No way to tune that in the settings. My monitors have different resolution and so I could not set it to run on the one I wanted to. You can turn on the windowed mode, but you don’t seem to be able to resize the window.

Summary

Overall, it’s a really decent bullet-hell game when it comes to the gameplay itself, but poor mouse controls make it an unsuitable pick for those of you who prefer gaming with keyboard and mouse. If you have a twin-stick controller and enjoy bullet hell games though – the game will be a good addition to your library.

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Feature Image taken from the game store page, here

Riptale - Indie Game Reviews 2017 Steam Screenshot

Genre: Action
Game Page: Game On Steam
Should You Buy It: Wait for 50% discount

About The Game

In Riptale you take the role of the swordsman, a dragon hunter of sorts. You go through randomly generated levels and hack/slash through the enemies. Literally. There’s lots of blood and when you strike an enemy, you really go through him. Non-boss enemies die from one hit, but you must plan your attacks carefully, because it’s pretty easy for them to hit you too.

The Good

  • Hitting enemies feels great. The blood, the slow-down of time at the moment of impact that allows you to start another combo.
  • Challenging Difficulty: the game is really hard
  • Good selection of music and sounds. The music can get repetitive after a while, but it never felt annoying. The hit sounds are very satisfying: it’s exactly as you would imagine when you think about something alive that got hit by a sword.
  • Customizable attack combos: you don’t have a traditional attack cooldown. Instead, you have three attacks (gems). Each attack costs one gem, so you can do three rapid attacks at once. Gems replenish over time though, so you can’t combo immediately. The interesting thing is you encounter shops as you progress in the game, and those sell special gems that can alter your attack pattern and make you stronger. This is the main way to change your strategy and playstyle. For example, as you play, you discover that placing some gems in first position makes charging harder, so you put them in second attack position (i.e. your first attack remains normal, but second attack becomes homing, allowing to kill the enemy quickly if he dodged).

 

The Bad

  • Collisions could be better. Occasionally you go through flying enemies without damaging them.
  • Gems are not recharged when you enter new room. If the game expects to have a fast gameplay, it’s a bit counter-intuitive to have player stand in one place and wait till the gems are refilled.
  • Aiming controls felt subpar quite a while: the 45-degree directions are fine, but enemies that are located at a different angle from you are frustrating to hit.
  • Slow-mo during falls could be useful. From time to time you get into situation when you jump down a platform and collide with a monster below (but there was no way to see it).
  • The levels are randomly generated. Traversing some rooms is not very pleasant due to a huge number of obstacles or maybe randomly placed stuff. The level compositions seems to be a bit broken and the gameplay speed gets hindered because of that.

 

Summary

What game excels at is the feel when you kill something: once your character cuts an enemy, you know this was for real. The time slows down for a split second and you just know that you’ve delivered a crushing blow of unstoppable force to something. That feeling of speed, action and being in the center of the events is something. Due to the other flaws and pretty simple graphics – I suggest waiting for 50% discount before grabbing the game; It gave me ~2 hours of good gameplay, but I doubt I’d return to it later.

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Feature Image taken from the game store page, here

Ruin of the Reckless - Indie Game Reviews 2017 Steam Screenshot

Genre: Action / Roguelite
Game Page: Game On Steam
Should You Buy It: No

Think of Ruin of the Reckless like Nuclear Throne with melee feel. Traverse the tower levels, kill the monsters, get the key to go to the next floor and then escape via elevator. All that until you are free! As you progress through the tower, gain levels and collect “power orbs” – the orbs that amplify your abilities / enhance your character. Think of those as of mostly passive skills: vampirism, pet follower, “more money drops. You can also gather new spells that are more like active abilities (but you can have one at a time).

The Good

  • Good item / spell variety. You can also unlock different cards that affect the gameplay: be it a new starting item / spell loadout, more enemies on levels (for harder difficulty) or more money drops to make the game easier.
  • Characters / Monster are very well-detailed for a pixel art. You can see that a lot of effort went into this.
  • The music/sound effects are decent.
  • Interesting approach to difficulty: no traditional difficulty settings per se, but a special “cards” that you can equip in the game lobby. Those cards affect the gameplay modifiers, making the game easier or more difficult: your character can have more hp, more monsters can spawn on the level, levels become easier, etc.
  • The tower that you are climbing feels like a part of its own world: the characters you meet have their own personality and it adds to immersion.

The Bad

  • The melee mechanics just do not seem to work. Technically, everything is there, but the process becomes pretty straightforward and repetitive: go to the monster and kill him. If he rushes – stay a bit back, wait until he attacks, find an opening and perform your own strikes. The weapons do not feel different: they have different hit patterns, but mostly the attacking process feels the same over and over again. Spells save the situation a bit, but this is not enough (charges are limited and you are holding 1 spell at a time, right?).
  • Backgrounds / Tiles are rather bland. They do the trick and they fit into the style color-wise, but overall they are not detailed well-enough compared to other characters.
  • The Game is made in Game Maker, which might not be the best choice to show so many details / monsters on the levels. My setup is I5-4670 @ 3.4GHz / 8 GB Ram / GTX 760 – the game’s fps would drop significantly when a lot of monsters appear.

Summary

I really wanted to like the game: you can see how much effort went into making it. However, the core idea of melee combat just did not seem to work well. It is done with a lot of attention, but that does not make it interesting or exciting. If we compare it to the Nuclear Throne: there, you have different weapon shooting patterns, but so do enemies. You need to get creative when dodging the attacks and shooting on the run, trying to avoid the enemy touches / bullets like a plague. On the contrary, the process here feels repetitive and not captivating: there’s some dodging involved, but most of the time (when you are not using spells) the end of the combat is the same. You need to approach the monsters and hit them in melee. You don’t care much about the environment / hiding like you did in Nuclear Throne. The challenge of masterfully evading and keeping the distance is gone here, and while it seems like a minor thing, it changes everything. Because eventually the ending of every melee combat is the same: you need to approach the enemy and hit him. Because of that, I can not recommend the game.

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Feature Image taken from the game store page, here

Battle Riders - Indie Game Reviews 2017 Steam Screenshot

Genre: Racing / Action
Game Page: Game On Steam
Should You Buy It: Yes

Battle Riders is a racing game. Plot twist: there are also weapons involved. You race around in your car while trying to destroy other racers. There are multiple game modes and three bonus types (ammo, boost, health) spread across the tracks. While the premise sounds simple, the execution is surprisingly fun.

The Good

  • Old-School racing feel and great car handling. The car really feels good to control. And the game is just fun.
  • Decent AI opponents: the AI is not unbeatable, but you’ll definitely need to practice and you will get surprised a few times when it takes you down right before the finish line.
  • The car models are great: those feel like a battle cars on the track. The feeling of car weight is also there, which really makes you feel like you’re driving a heavy, albeit fast, vehicle.
  • The cars are also upgradable, which gives a sense of progression for the game.
  • The music and sounds are alright. It puts you in the racing mood + engine roar/tire screech is really well done which is detrimental for immersion in the racing game.

The Bad

  • No joystick/keyboard control in menu: you’ll have to put your controller down and navigate with mouse
  • Can Get Repetitive: there are 9 tracks for ~100 campaign levels. Might not seem that bad, but campaign split into 3 parts. First part only features 3 tracks. That means those 3 tracks repeat over 32 missions. Yes, I enjoyed riding on those tracks for the first ~5 times. After that: that’s the first time I seriously wished that the game I like was shorter rather than longer. And to get all tracks / cars in solo racing mode – you’ll need to grind through all these 100 levels.
  • The backgrounds are somewhat bland. There are track surroundings, but behind them it looks like an infinite empty space, especially noticeable in the city tracks.
  • Extra mention goes to the strongest weapon, railgun: the shot does good damage, but it not feel powerful at all. It’s just a small red dot that appears/disappears when you actually expect something like a railgun from quake 2, leaving a good trail of particles for a few seconds.

Summary

What surprised me about the Battle Riders is the car handling. It just feels really great to drive and succeed on turning. It reminded me of driving in Need For Speed 2 and Need for Speed 3 – when you get so excited that your body literally follows the cars turn direction (I’m sure you know that feeling if you played racing games when you were a kid). The only serious drawbacks is the lack of multiplayer (would be tons of fun) and a small variety of tracks: there are 9 tracks, multiplied by two (the reverse directions are also possible). It might sound a lot, but first 32 races happen on 3 of them and it really starts to feel somewhat grindy to go through the same road over and over again, even if it includes reversed tracks. Other than that – the description of the game mentions “adrenaline pumping, high octane action and a lot of fun” and I agree to it. Despite the flaws – I can strongly recommend the game. If you love racing games and aren’t afraid of practicing the same track over and over again – that’s the game for you. If you are simply looking for a good game but maybe lack patience – that’s also a solid choice, but wait for 50% discount.

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Feature Image taken from the Battle Riders store page, here

Spaceship Looter - Indie Game Reviews 2017 Steam Screenshot

Genre: Action / Roguelite / Bullet Hell
Game Page: Game On Steam
Should You Buy It: Yes

Disclaimer: the game is in early access, some things will probably change

Spaceship Looter is an action-roguelite. The premise is simple: your character visits abandoned spaceships to pick the abandoned goods there. The game is a mix between “Enter the Gungeon” and “Nuclear Throne”: lots of shooting, using the environment to dodge / kill monsters, some unlocks and money for upgrade purchases.

Pros

  • Great style, the game’s colorful pixel-art is pleasant to look at
  • Dynamic gameplay: small movement space and interactions with environmental destructibles make sure that you keep moving all the time
  • Challenging Difficulty: the game is not easy; good for hardcore players, but probably better avoided by casual players
  • Responsive movement / shooting controls

Cons

  • Performance is linked directly to your screen refresh rate: on my G-Sync 120hz monitor the game ran at double speed, making it essentially unplayable
  • The interactive obstacles sometimes fail to respond in time when you press E button (you just really need to be close to them, but it’s easy to miss this interval)
  • As with lots of these games, you can get screwed by random: some rooms get too much enemies and not enough obstacles or are too small; that makes it impossible to leave them undamaged

Summary

The game solves the problem that Enter The Gungeon had: Spaceship Looter has small rooms and that ensures that you get more action-packed fights and less movement. Right now, the game focuses on core game loop: the plot is close to nonexistent, just run, gun and use your surroundings wisely. There’s really not much else behind the gameplay process, but it’s well polished and addictive. If you don’t mind the lack of plot and consider yourself a seasoned gamer looking for an extra challenge – go for it, you won’t be disappointed

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Feature Image taken from the Spaceship Looter store page, here

Lil Tanks - Indie Game Reviews 2017 Steam Game Screenshot

Genre: Shoot-em-up / Action
Game Page: Game On Steam
Should You Buy It: Yes, but wait for 50% discount

Disclaimer: I got the key for free

Lil Tanks is a retro-styled shoot-em-up. You control a tank and his smaller assistant and try to singlehandedly repel an alien invasion. One of the innovative things about the game is the small assistant that also shoots and follows you. Its movement is comparable to movement in a snake game: the head moves, the tail follows in its track.

Pros:

  • Nicely drawn enemies / backgrounds, the game has its own visual style
  • Intense gameplay, a lot of things are going on at the same time
  • Difficult, challenging
  • Good music / solid sounds
  • Four different tanks that can be levelled up, eventually increasing in power. Each has special ability that can be used to your advantage
  • Different enemies with different movement patterns

Cons:

  • Only 3 different bonus weapons, not much variety bonus-wise
  • Level 6 deserves an extra mention: drive for >1 minute almost without enemies
  • Enemies do not spawn randomly, but bonuses do: especially on level 5, your fate is decided by random: if you get flamethrower bonus in the beginning on the round, you’ll probably do much better than if you get it at the end

Summary

I’ve played for ~4 hours and got to level 6 (I did not complete it, but as I understand, this is the last one). I’ve beat 4 levels on hardcore mode before that, but the 5th was just too overwhelming and it felt more frustrating than rewarding. I still say the game is good, but with 6 levels I honestly did not feel like it has enough content to justify $9.99 price. I’d suggest waiting for 50% discount.

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Feature Image taken from the Lil Tanks store page, here

Furious Angels - Indie Game Reviews 2017

Genre: Shoot’Em’Up
Game Page: Game On Steam
Should You Buy It: Yes, but wait for 50% discount

Disclaimer #1: I got the key for free

Furious Angels is a sci-fi arcade shooter focused on score attack mechanics. You try to kill enemy aircraft as it attacks you and your carrier. The concept might be simple enough, but the it’s the execution that gets the prize.

Even if you are not a competitive person – you’ll feel that way because game shows leaderboard and your position in it before every launch. That’s a great design that tries to push “competitive” philosophy to every player. “Go ahead, look how far you can go if you try to survive just a little bit longer!”

Pros:

  • Great graphics, the game has its own style: not high-poly, but not minimalistic either. The landscape does not have a lot of detail, but the enemies and your own ships do.
  • Good, minimalistic UI
  • Challenging, skill based gameplay, the more you play – the better you get
  • Fun, action-packed gameplay. I mean it.

Cons:

  • After a while, the game will get repetitive: you always get the same plane and same equipment at the start
  • The controls could be better: the game requires good precision, but it’s really hard to have precise angles on controller. The mouse is OK (I had 35% accuracy with mouse compared to usual 17-18% with controller). Forget about playing with keyboard. Maybe I’m unskilled, but turning the plane on keyboard has really been painful.
  • Music does not fit the game. It’s not bad, it’s just somewhat relaxing and does not put you in “go get em, instant action!” mood.
  • The price is a bit steep for the content offered: if you think about it, the game has less than 10 types of enemies and 3 player upgrades in total.

Summary

I am a bit hesitant to recommend the game at the current point (01.03.2017): on one hand, I liked the game; the graphics and style are well polished and it’s really engaging. On the other hand: there’s not much content (<10 enemies I think and only 2 player upgrades).

I think definitely buy it once it’s on 50% discount, but for the current price it seems a bit too expensive to me.

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Feature Image taken from the Furious Angels store page, here

Hyper Knights - Indie Game Reviews 2017 Steam Screenshot

Genre: Action/Strategy
Game Page: Game On Steam
Should You Buy It: Wait until bugs are fixed

Disclaimer #1: I got the key for free
Disclaimer #2: The game is in early access, so some things are probably going to change

Hyper Knights is as indie as it can get. The game puts you in the role of a knight, set to reconquer your lands. Hire your own army and participate in large battles. Simple enemy soldiers don’t have hp: instead, you need to press joystick key combinations in order to defeat them successfully. The graphics are not awesome, but the gameplay fully compensates for that.

Pros:

  • Interesting game mechanics: the blend between action and strategy game in 2d adds a unique flavor to the game
  • Intense gameplay (hope you have a controller!): very dynamic combat system, where you quickly kill one enemy and rapidly jump to the next
  • Lots of content for that price
  • Good price for what the game has to offer
  • Most of all, fun to play: the blend of ideas and game mechanics made the game enjoyable

Cons:

  • Graphics are not very good
  • Sometimes, after you win the battle, when the next one starts, yours and enemy units are frozen. Happened ~10 times to me within 3 hours. Does not spoil your progress in any way (I think the game autosaves after each victory), but can still be pretty annoying. It will probably get fixed, but at the moment of writing this review (27.02.2017), the problem is there.
  • Lousy AI: Sometimes, when you attack the castle with lots of soldiers, only some of the archer are actually attacking the gates. Other units are just standing there and doing nothing.
  • To expand on that, you can’t attack buildings. You just have to stand there and wait while your troops are hitting them.

Summary

Took me about 3 hours to finish the game and I honestly enjoyed most of it until the gamebreaking bugs started to appear, making me restart the game multiple times. Overall, Hyper Knights seems like a game that entered early access a bit too early. While I honestly recommend the game for its awesome mechanics and I had lots of fun playing it at first, end-game ai issues made it somewhat frustrating. Definitely grab it once it’s progressed further in development.

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Feature Image taken from the Hyper Knights store page, here

Badass Hero - Indie Game Reviews 2017 Steam Screenshot

Genre: Action/Platformer/Roguelite
Game Page: Game On Steam
Should You Buy It: Yes

Badass Hero is a roguelite platformer where the action hero under your control goes through the comic book universe. The game is well styled: each level is shaped like comics which you traverse, „picture by picture”. There’s a lot of action going on and the game rewards you being fast: as you kill enemies, your combo meter goes up. The death is inevitable, but as you die, you get a chance to improve your character, making further walkthroughs much easier. During each playthrough, you have a chance to find armor / weapons. You lose them when you die, but they greatly affect how far can you go.

Pros:

  • Action packed gameplay
  • Plenty of items like armor / potions
  • Very-well polished/juiced: even basic weapons feel awesome to shoot, lots of effects on hits, gore, explosions
  • Responsive character controls, which is very important for the genre
  • World is generated randomly, but there are good room variety so the room layouts do not feel boring

Cons:

  • Not much weapon variety so far (yes, stats are generated randomly (I think), but shooting patterns do not differ much: gun, smg, shotgun, bazooka, grenades)
  • Only 3 worlds planned, with 2 first ones available (they have plenty of enemies, but backgrounds get repetitive pretty quickly)

Summary

One of the biggest achievements of the game, in my opinion, is the way that authors dealt with random element. In roguelites, you often feel cheated when the random is against you. Since initial weapon is not bad and killing enemies is pretty much skill based, there’s no feeling that you are getting dealt a bad hand, which is really commendable.

I think that’s a great game for anyone who’s into Roguelite Platformers. Definitely grab it if you liked Rogue Legacy. At its current state, the game gave me ~3.5hours of fun gameplay (I completed the first world a few times, and since the second world is not really complete – I’m putting it in a box until it is done).

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Feature Image taken from the Badass Hero store page, here