There comes a time when one gets overwhelmed with so many games, they have no choice but to give a short impressions list of games in a one-pager feature. Here is one of those times.
I’ll be going through some indie titles that need some mentioning. Why? Because these slew of titles are really fun for the first few hours and offer a lot of different experiences and thrills. And they’re not insanely priced too.
If you can’t wait for S.T.A.L.K.E.R 2, why not try out this clear inspiration? Just like the prequel, this first-person RPG pits you as as a scavenger exploring Chernobyl after it’s ravaged by radiation, with many of its areas filled with mutants, spooky stuff, and a messload of weirdness and Eurojank. Yes, the latter “quirk” is what will make or break the game for you.
If you don’t mind some oddities in your survival horror experience, go ahead and dive in. It’s an ambitious and atmospheric adventure, provided you are okay with the game’s simple mechanics that get thrown at you.
Unbound: Worlds Apart
Do you like to play as a tiny wizard person who can summon portals in creative ways? Unbound: Worlds Apart is the 2D action-adventure title for you. This indie title offers a ton of manageable puzzles and a lot of tricky levels to navigate through using your portal powers. The checkpoints are generous, so feel free to experiment and experience death countless times so that you’ll eventually succeed.
Toodee and Topdee
Merging two types of playstyles at once isn’t anything new, but Toodee and Topdee is a league of its own. One part 2D platformer puzzler, one part top-down block-pushing maze-running brain teaser, both game types are combined seamlessly. You need to switch between these two perspectives to solve all of the game’s puzzles; they can get really tough so don’t feel too bad if you’re stuck in one segment for longer than 10 minutes. Great examples include fighting bosses in a 2D perspective first, and then switch back to your top-down avatar to expose its weakness. It’s really brilliant.
Lots of people have been talking about this isometric action-adventure title featuring a crow who reaps souls and have to search high and low to get the one that your “agency” wants you to specifically hunt for. With a melancholy soundtrack and art style, alongside some no-frills and no-padding action-adventure gameplay with puzzles and combat, this Digital Devolver title is definitely worth your time.
If you’re hankering for an action RPG that feels like the Mario & Luigi titles, but with an anime sports feel going on, you cannot go wrong with Dodgeball Academia. Published by Humble Games, you’re put in the shoes of Otto, a dodgeball protege who is now learning the ropes in a school focused on all things dodgeball.
All your real-time RPG fight are dodgeball matches with various mechanics, like elimination rules that whittle your team down to one if you keep losing, but your team members are on the opposing court harassing the opposing team. Your teammates have different special dodgeball moves like counter parries, healing moves, and buffs you can activate while your opponent has possession of the court’s balls.
We covered this roguelite action RPG during its Early Access phase; it’s now out in full and it’s worth a deep dive if you’re into the genre. You play a girl named Cassidy who has to socialize in the new town she’s in during the daytime, and then fight monsters and her repressed memories manifesting as levels in the nighttime when she’s asleep.
Making more friends and building connections means more buffs and powerups during the RPG moments. Dreamscape also features many features like revisiting areas you’ve visited with fast travel and a plethora of weapons, skills, and special Lucid powers (ie magic) to use, experiment, combine, and abuse. This one’s definitely worth killing time for, especially for its art style and music.
Axiom Verge 2
The first Axiom Verge is a critical darling that emulated the Metroid series of games; the 2D ones. Axiom Verge 2 is now emulating Metroidvanias with primary melee characters, since now you play a lost billionaire stuck in an alternate dimension and has to fight using an icepick and some gadgets. These range from spider drones to a boomerang you can call back at your whim.
The pixel art, chilling music, and overall fun search action gameplay combines for a unique 2D platforming experience that’s worth US$20. You can get this on PC (via Epic Games for now), and Nintendo Switch.
Arietta of Spirits
Part Zelda clone, part story about a family trying to move on after a major death in the family. Arietta of Spirits features nifty sprite art, a touching story with some bouts of humour, and some nice puzzle-filled and action-savvy gameplay. It’ll make you feel good just playing it if you’re looking for a kinda uplifting game about a child coming to terms with death. Strange, I know.
Need a more relaxing action RPG that isn’t as tense as the ones mentioned above? Then try out Garden Story, with its low-key palette and pixel art style, slow-yet-methodical paced storyline, and gameplay that is a hybrid of an action-adventure title and a community-building sim like Stardew Valley. Except your characters are all literal fruits and vegetables. It’s really cute, and it doesn’t make you want to rush through things.
If things seem difficult, there are options where you can change up the pace of the game, or you can just skip a day cycle and do it again. No pressure.
Star Hunter DX
Let’s end on a retro-tastic note. Star Hunter DX is a tough-as-hell-but-still-fun 2D shmup with bullet hell and scoring mechanics involving grazing onto enemy shots and slowing down time. It’s got a ton of neon retro vibes, a slew of bosses to kill off, and a lot of bullets for you to dodge and weave away from. If this sort of pew pew action is your jam, you should check out the PC and Nintendo Switch version.