A game by Morgondag for PC, Mac, Linux, PC, Xbox One, Wii U, and iOS, originally released in 2015.
RymdResa is a story of solitude. A lone astronaut pilots a spacecraft through the depths of limitless space following the destruction of his home world by a gigantic asteroid. But space is dangerous and unforgiving. Hurtling asteroids, floating debris, and enemy ships stand between you and the salvation of your people… and even the emptiness of space threatens your existence, as resources are scarce.
Throughout his multi-year journey, the astronaut occasionally pauses to ruminate over his situation and his very existence… often informing the player of the toll his journey has taken on him.
These ruminations are often poetic in nature, and in fact, much of the game centers around a somber poetry, whether it be from the narrator himself or from words floating in space.
This does a great deal to set the tone of the game – as does the player’s interactions with planets and derelict spacecraft – painting a very dour picture of the universe and the player’s place within it, which is further supported by a melancholy soundtrack.
The day you died.
Watched it explode.
Watched it burn.
Observed… the… explosion.
Observed… the… fire.
Thinking of you.
A game by Bits & Beasts for PC, Mac, and Linux, originally released in 2015.
Feist is an atmospheric physics-based platformer starring a creature who must make his way through a dark and hostile landscape filled with dangerous beasts and deadly traps. The game is presented in a silhouette style, inviting the inevitable comparison to Limbo, although gameplay is quite different. The story is also far less heavy, and the overall presentation not as dreary... offering subdued greens, blues, and, yellows, and much less haze and fog.
At the start of the game, the player character is trapped in a wooden box that is hanging from a tree. By swinging the box back and forth, the rope eventually breaks and sends it falling downward. However, the box remains intact upon contact with the ground, and the creature within must roll the box down a slope and jump in order to make its way over obstacles. Eventually, the box reaches a steep hill where it tumbles down and builds up speed, eventually smashing open at the bottom and revealing a short hairy creature.
A game by Joymasher for PC, originally released in 2015.
Odallus: The Dark Call takes place in a foreboding land that is slowly being consumed by evil. The old gods have stopped answering the prayers of mankind, and an aged warrior named Haggis (yes, like the meal consisting of sheep innards) must take up the sword once again to rescue his son from these dark forces.
Thematically, the game draws its inspirations from the Castlevania and Ghosts ’n Goblins series, though the level layouts are most similar to Capcom’s unappreciated masterpiece of the macabre, Demon’s Crest.
Like Demon’s Crest, levels are layered and nonlinear, with multiple paths to explore, alternate routes through many levels, and numerous hidden areas to uncover.
In Demon’s Crest, every level is essentially two levels compressed into one, with a direct path leading to the level’s end boss and progress to the next level, and an alternate path leading to a separate boss, with no small number of miniboss encounters in between.
Odallus is very similar in this regard, with some levels containing more than one boss, and several minibosses along the way, many of which are hidden behind large level branches that may only be accessed by using sub-weapons or new movement abilities. In addition, Odallus offers entirely new levels that can only be accessed by finding alternate branching paths.
A game by Tomasz Wacławek for PC, Mac, Linux, PS4, and Vita, originally released in 2015.
Ronin stars a young woman on a mission of vengeance. Wearing a motorcycle helmet and wielding a katana, she infiltrates various office buildings to take down the five leaders of a corrupt corporation. At the start of each mission, a black and white photo is displayed, and the protagonist draws circles around the faces of each target, crossing them out once they have been killed.
However, if the player is detected – by moving into the light or making a loud noise – the action shifts into turn-based gameplay, with the player able to plan out individual moves while attempting to take down enemies and avoid gunfire. A single hit spells instant death for our young assassin, and danger waits around every corner.
A game by Pixel Barrage Entertainment for PC, Mac, and Linux, originally released in 2015.
Adventure in the Tower of Flight begins with a telling of its history. Long ago, there were five kingdoms, each of which possessed a powerful relic gifted to them from the gods. However, the kings of each land were not satisfied with what they had, and chose to invade the other kingdoms in hopes of winning all of the relics for themselves and claiming ultimate power.
Angered by humanity’s greed and lust for power, the gods rounded up all of the artifacts and placed them within a gigantic tower, declaring that whomever is able to ascend the tower, overcome its challenges, and collect the them all will become ruler of the world.
Generations have passed and no one has yet been able to make the ascent. Knights continue to arrive from all over the world, hoping to claim ultimate power for themselves… but none of them have ever returned.
As the game begins, a young boy named Wing stands before the tower, armed with only a short sword and a helmet that allows him to fly. No explanation is given for why he seeks out the relics, and many of the nearby NPC’s suggest that he is a fool for even making the attempt. Nevertheless, he presses forward.
A game by WayForward for PC and Wii U, originally released in 2012.
Mighty Switch Force got its start on the 3DS as a downloadable title showcasing the system’s stereoscopic 3D effects while providing a short fast-paced puzzle platforming adventure. It is the third entry in WayForward’s “Mighty” series, following Mighty Milky Way and Mighty Flip Champs. The game introduces police officer Patricia Wagon (a play on “paddy wagon”) as she attempts to round up five escaped female prisoners in each level, with a supplementary goal of completing each of the 16 levels under a specified par time. Completing each of these levels unlocks five tougher bonus levels (originally released as free DLC on the 3DS).
Mighty Switch Force! Hyper Drive Edition (a.k.a. Mighty Switch Force HD) is a high definition re-release of the original game with redrawn HD graphics. In addition, the game offers an entirely new set of Hyper levels, remixing the original levels into a more challenging experience with tougher layouts and more difficult environmental puzzles.
The Hyper Drive Edition was originally released on Wii U where the system mimicked its portable counterpart’s dual screen display, showing a map on the game pad that helped the player locate the escaped convicts. Other versions of the game feature onscreen indicators when the player gets close to a convict, which operates in a functionally similar manner.
A game by Andrade Games for PC, originally released in 2015.
SturmFront - The Mutant War is a top-down run-and-gun shooter where you take on the role of a SturmFront cyborg battle unit named Siegfried von Hammerstein in a war against mutants. Siegfried begins his mission in Stadt der Verdammnis (City of Damnation), left by a dropship that flies off into the foreground as the stage begins. From here, Siegfried must destroy every living thing that he sees.
SturmFront is inspired by classic top-down arcade shooters like Commando, Mercs, Outzone, and Shock Troopers. The game borrows from the conventions established in those titles and adds in a dash of bullet hell, something that was not common in the genre previously, but which has grown more popular thanks to the popularity of the run-and-gun’s nearest genre neighbor, the shmup.
A game by Tic Toc Games for PC, Mac, PS4, Xbox One, Wii U, and iOS, originally released in 2015.
Adventures of Pip begins with a fairytale opening, telling of a strange kingdom that can fit in the palm of your hand. This kingdom is populated by pixel people… but in this land, a person's station in life is determined by his resolution, with low-rez citizens being relegated to simple lives, while the high-rez people are rich and powerful.
One day, a princess is born who holds the power to manifest pixels out of the Bitstream, but on her 16th birthday, the princess is kidnapped by the evil Queen DeRezzia so that she can harness this power for herself. In the process, DeRezzia kills the castle guard and transforms the formerly high-rez king and queen into single-pixel beings.
This is where Pip comes in… A boy born as a single pixel, no one thinks that he is capable of accomplishing much. At most, they think he might be able to go and find someone more qualified to help… someone of a higher resolution. But Pip soon discovers that he is the one who is meant to save the kingdom.
A game by WayForward for PS3, PS4, Vita, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Wii U, and PC, not yet released.
The Shantae series got its start on the GameBoy Color in 2002, but it wasn’t until recently that the purple-haired half-genie really made her way into the spotlight. In her original adventure, she used her magical animal transformations and hair whip attack to defend Sequin Land from a nefarious pirate named Risky Boots. But it wouldn't be until 2010 that her story continued with Shantae: Risky's Revenge. In this adventure, Shantae was able to defeat her nemesis once more, but victory came at a price… Shantae lost her magical abilities and was transformed into a human.
As you may have guessed by the title of her latest adventure, Shantae regained her magical abilities (well, in the good ending anyway) and returned to her former half-genie self.
Shantae: Half-Genie Hero is currently under development by the folks at WayForward, but they have released a 3-level beta to demonstrate what players can expect from Shantae’s next outing… Shantae’s trademark hair whip attack and animal transformations make a return, but the visuals have undergone a significant makeover. Like WayForward’s own DuckTales: Remastered, the latest game features high definition 2D character sprites intermixed with 3D environments. The series' trademark visuals shine in this new format, with vibrant colors, lots of detail, beautiful animations, and loads of personality.
A game by Last Dimension for PC, Mac, and Linux, originally released in 2015.
Mystik Belle stars a young first-year witch named Belle MacFae who is studying at the Hagmore School of Witchcraft. One night, while practicing a fire spell, surprised by a shadowy figure running past her. Before she can react, one of the headmistresses grabs her by the ear and pulls her into a room to stand before a council of witches, accused of having ruined the Walpurgisnacht (Witches' Night) brew. The witches refuse to listen to her pleas of innocence and demand that she find three ingredients for crafting another, or face expulsion.
The game features a traditional metroidvania map, and players must explore the environment and gain new abilities in order to reach previously inaccessible areas, per genre standards. The way in which the player goes about this, however, falls firmly in line with the conventions of the point-and-click adventure genre.
A game by Roll7 for PC, PS4, and Vita, originally released in 2015.
Not a Hero is a game about running a successful political campaign and getting your candidate elected to office… sort of. The game has absolutely no simulation elements; rather, this is a run and gun actioner where all of your goals are accomplished with the liberal application of bullets, heavy munitions, and the occasional exploding kitten. You play an assassin who blasts his way through a bevvy of baddies while BunnyLord waits for you in his BunnyWagon, or his BunnyCopter, to whisk you away to a diner for breakfast as a reward for your dedicated service.
BunnyLord is your political candidate, and he is a giant purple anthropomorphic bunny who is about as grounded in reality as the Katamari Damacy series’ King of All Cosmos. BunnyLord hopes to win undecided voters to his constituency by ridding the streets of the criminal element – and occasionally enacting revenge on his enemies – with his team of oddball assassins. His cockamamie schemes are conveyed in between-level sequences that are filled with zany dialogue. While the assassins each have speaking voices, BunnyLord sounds somewhat like a squeaking balloon.
A game by Barnyard Intelligence Games and Crystal Labs for PC, Mac, Linux, and Wii U, originally released in 2015.
High Strangeness is an action adventure game starring a young man named Boyd whose normal day-to-day life is turned upside down when he inadvertently stumbles into a dimension-hopping journey to save the world from destruction by an unknown enemy.
As the game begins, Boyd is having a strange dream where he is standing in a glitchy area with a plain white background, and he finds himself transformed from his 16-bit self into an 8-bit version. While he sleeps, a mysterious robed figure wanders into his bedroom and then leaves, and Boyd’s cat – named Abydos – follows the shadowy intruder out of the room.
Boyd wakes up and grabs a flashlight, but he doesn’t use it to light the way; rather he equips it as a weapon. When Boyd leaves his bedroom, he finds Shadow Men all around his house, which he destroys with repeated blows from his trusty flashlight. The flashlight is actually the player’s primary weapon throughout his adventure, although several secondary abilities are also gained along the way.