Unless you live off the grid in an entirely internet-less existence, then it’s hard to go
more than a few minutes without seeing a trailer or ad for one upcoming video game or another. After all, triple A publishers have big marketing bucks to sell their big budget games, so its not surprising that we players often find our social media feeds saturated with the hottest new titles. Sadly though, this often means that we’ll never get to hear about all of the great indie games out there that generally rely on word-of-mouth to reach their audiences. Well, enough, says I! I’m sick of hearing about Elden Ring and the latest iteration of Skyrim. I want to see more representation for the little guys; those that may not have shouted the loudest, but that still have an awful lot to offer. For this list, we’re spotlighting the titles from the last couple of years that have gotten lost in all of the noise, but that deserve your attention.
Have you ever played a game of solitaire and thought to yourself, “Hmm, this is great, but I do wish there were a bit more mortal peril”? Then you might just have a fun time with Inscryption, the deck-building roguelikedeveloped by Daniel Mullins Games and published by Devolver Digital. The game follows vlogger, Luke Carder, as he attempts to escape from a cabin by playing a card game against a demonic force. The player must choose from an assortment of creature cards which will attack their opponent, and the overall aim is to do enough damage to tip the scales. There’s obviously far more to it than that, as one might expect for a game played against a demon, but we don’t have all day to explain the rules. Inscryption is far from simply being a slightly spooky version of Free Cell though, as the developer has crammed a whole load of different genres into the game, making it quite the unique experience. It’s difficult to say too much about Inscryption without spoiling it, so forgive us for not sharing all of the plot details. If you’re a fan of deck-building card games, roguelikes, RPGs, psychological horror, or escape room-style puzzles though, there’s going to be something in there that you’ll love.
If you’re a fan of Souls-like games but would have liked them better if you’d been able to combine their challenge level with your love of ornithology, then you might just get a kick out of Death’s Door. Developed by Acid Nerve, this 3D isometric adventure sees players taking on the role of a small crow who works as a reaper, and it’s his job to collect the souls of the dying for an organisation called the Reaping Commission.A unique combination of genres that together resembles a card game on steroids, even players often turn to hearthstone boosters (like this website) to progress through the game as quickly as possible.
Crikey, who knew the afterlife was so bureaucratic? Armed with just a sword and a bow, it’s up to the crow to make his way through a number of different dungeons in order to uncover the truth behind the Reaping Commission’s dealings. Many critics have likened Death’s Door’s aesthetic and difficulty to games like Dark Souls, though it is worth noting that the learning curve for Death’s Door is a whole lot less punishing, so those looking for a Souls-lite experience might find it a good place to start. Its gameplay mechanics have also drawn comparison to The Legend of Zelda series, particularly the earlier, top-down games, so anyone familiar with those will find a great deal to love when they’re at Death’s Door.
We’re sticking with Devolver Digital for a moment as we take a look at another game they published in 2021; Loop Hero. Developed by Russian studio, Four Quarters, Loop Hero is a strange sort of game where players start out with nothing. To clarify, that’s not nothing in the sense of “I have no armour or weapons”, but rather in the sense that there is very little to the game and players have to build the world as they go. The hero starts out on a looping path, encountering enemies as they potter around. Defeating an enemy causes it to drop a landscape card, which can then be used to add new features to the map. Once the hero has completed a circuit around the map, players have the option to bank the resources they’ve collected, or gamble on making it through another lap without dying. It’s basically like The Weakest Link only without having to put up with Ann Robinson calling you mean names if you get a bit too cocky and lose all of your hard-earned loot. Loop Hero is an interesting combination of the deck-builder, roguelike, and idle genres, and though we can guarantee it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, it’s one that fans of any of the aforementioned game types will definitely appreciate.
Not that he ever would, but if Quentin Tarantino were to create a hack-and-slash video game with the bright, colourful, animation style of your average Cartoon Network show, then the result would probably be something akin to Bloodroots. The only difference is that Tarantino’s version would definitely have Samuel L. Jackson in it, which incidentally, is one of the only things that Bloodroots doesn’t have going for it. Players jump into the shoes of Mr. Wolf and embark on a journey of visceral vengeance as he sets out to find and kill the gang that betrayed him. In order to make it out alive, players will need to fight their way through a whole bunch of different enemies. The twist? Rather than being equipped with a trusty sword or bow and arrows, Mr. Wolf must use what he can find in his surroundings. Some items will be conventional weapons, whereas others will need to be used a bit more creatively. Not all weapons work on all enemies though, and oftentimes, Mr. Wolf can be downed in just one hit, so it’s up to players to figure out the best use of the items they have to strategically take down their adversaries. Bloodroots is bright, colourful, violent, and most of all, it’s a bloody fun time (pun intended).
Before Your Eyes
Over the years, there have been a lot of different ways to control our favourite titles. From humble joysticks and game pads to high-tech motion controls and VR systems, we really have seen it all. Or at least, we thought we had, right up until we stumbled across GoodbyeWorld Games 2021 title, Before Your Eyes. The game tells the story of Benny, a recently deceased man, as he makes his way to the afterlife. He’s picked up by the Ferryman, who explains that he believes there to be something unique about Benny, and if he can prove himself worthy before the Gatekeeper, he’ll be granted eternal paradise. Rather than controlling Benny by conventional means, however, players are encouraged to interact with the game using only their eyes. Through the use of a webcam, the game is able to track every time the player blinks, which progresses the story. Admittedly, the eye-tracking in the game can be a little wonky at times, but if you can look past that, you’ll find a game that is able to weave a compelling and powerful narrative in a unique and innovative way, and that’s got to be worth a few quid of anyone’s money.