The second part of this Indie Spotlight of 2017 is in effect! Cue the horns!
Welcome to Part 2 of this end-of-year retrospective. If you missed Part 1, check it out and play the games I mentioned before continuing. We’re here to showcase 5 more indie titles that meet the parameter of not having an official review on Sick Critic and kick several types of arse. Yeah, Breath of The Wild, Persona 5 and other such nonsense leaps heads and shoulders above my picks, but who cares, this is my airtime, let’s get into it.
Another specification I should point out is that these titles count as indie games of the year due to their ports coming to Xbox One, my console of choice, in 2017. It’s might seem a bit unfair but then, this is sort of like a second chance for them, especially when you consider just how unknown most of these are. One final thing to mention is that despite me choosing these due to playing them on the Xbox One, that doesn’t make them the definitive platform to experience them on. You’ll see why right underneath you.
Kholat – Sean Bean’s Snowy Cream Machine (PC/PS4/XB1)
A quick bit of backstory behind this choice.
I first saw “gameplay” of Kholat at my mother’s house, as her now ex-boyfriend was playing it on PC. I was blown away by how it looked, and prayed to the great big Bruce Lee in the sky, for an Xbox One port. Lo and behold, the port came in early June of 2017 and I was ecstatic to finally go through it… aaaaaaand I made the wrong choice, as this is unbelievably shoddy.
Constant screen-tearing, crap draw distances even when you’re out of the blizzards, and a pathetically long time for textures to pop in ruined my experience, and I was left devastated. However, given my tendencies to not give a tightly-laced turd about graphical quality, I soldiered on and enjoyed everything else about IMGN.Pro’s experimental title.
I think the best thing about Kholat is the atmosphere and real-life mystery behind it. If you search up the history behind the creepy deaths, you might pin it down to animals taking a chomp out of the victims, but there’s so much more if you look into the finer details. The story might take a weird turn, but it’s a great change from the norm, gameplay-wise, and there’s really nothing else like it. In a good way, I mean.
Just… play it on PC. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Unit 4 – Saturday Morning (XB1/PC)
Unit 4 is another one of those titles that evoke childish intentions, in the same way Flinthook did, but not to the same positive effect Flinthook did. The difficulty is unfair at points, the mechanical execution is ham-fisted, the game isn’t visually appealing, and yet, Gamera Interactive’s risk/reward management is superbly done, and completing levels definitely makes you feel great.
It’s more of a tribute to NES titles than say, A Hole New World, where instead of making well thought out level progression, the developers of AHNW just made everything stupidly difficult in order to hide behind the “Castlevania did it first!” excuse. There are glimpses of genius throughout, and the positives mostly outweigh the negatives. Give Gamera a slightly bigger budget and I guarantee that they’ll be able to create something on par with Shovel Knight.
Momodora: Reverie Under The Moonlight – Danced with the Succubus (PC/PS4/XB1)
Bit of a weird one, this.
Reverie is the 4th entry in the Momodora series and is set 400 years before the first Momodora. Now, given that the other 3 titles in the series are as long as an episode of CSI without ad breaks, you expect Reverie to be the same. You couldn’t be more wrong, as Bombservice has pulled out all the stops to make this one a special treat.
It’s been a few years since I’ve been to Koho, but from what I remember, Reverie has improved on previous entries in almost every way. The animation, the style, the minimalist intentions, all of it is handled with such nuance and beautiful, restrained grace. If you’re a fan of Metroid-vania’s or games with superb pixel art, you’d be doing yourself a disservice if you didn’t play the peak of the Momodora series.
forma.8 – A Head of The Game (PC/PS4/Switch/Wii U/XB1)
Another weird one that I can’t help but recommend is MixedBag’s odd approach to the Metroid-vania. Specifically, a Metroid-vania where you play the disembodied head of a robot slave, that is as fast a tortoise trying to run away from his tax returns. Sounds like shite on a toilet roll, but the developers managed to prevail, and make a game of literal disembodied comfort.
What starts off as tedious trekking through tunnels, turns into an absorbing and slow-setting surreal horror experience, that is latched onto you thanks to the lack of musical input. It’s a bizarre title and one that I haven’t been able to get out of my head since I last played it. Kudos to MixedBag, and I hope they move on to bigger and better things.
The Long Dark – Fargo’s Cargo (PS4/XB1/PC)
Who’d think a game that spent 3 years in Early Access would actually come out, AND actually be kind of good?!
Welllllllll, that’s what the general public thinks. Me? I don’t think it’s the be all/end all of survival games, like most say, due to just how unwelcome the game thinks you are. “Oh, you really think you’re ready for this harrowing adventure? Well, tough tits, mate, here’s some virtually impossible conditions to survive in!” Yeah, I suppose that’s how the game was supposed to be marketed, but I don’t dig that. The rest of the game, however, I’ll dig to the core of the earth.
The story mode that’s tacked on is arguably the best part of this game. Superb voice acting, superb direction, and a depressing narrative tie the experience altogether. Despite the unfriendly nature of the mechanics, The Long Dark sets on captivating you and does just that, which is more than commendable in my books. Kudos to Hinterland Games.
That’s that in terms of honorable mentions for indie titles released this year. Everything else has either been salivated over or disregarded on Sick Critic. Stay tuned for the rest of the End of Year round-up, where we look at the biggest “Uh-oh” moments from 2017 and look forward to the indie side of 2018. For now, let’s give 2017 a pat on the back for some quality material.