Review Roundup: Vectronom, American Fugitives & More!
May was a good one, indie-lovers.
May brought with it a pretty nice new haul of indie games. If you’re looking for something new to play, your search is over. At least, for now it is. Our review roundup features a fun, affordable and diverse line-up of new titles for you to try out.
Vectronom offers an inspired new take on the puzzle game genre, combining elements of rhythm and platforming to create something fresh.
The game uses its electronic soundtrack to dictate the rhythm of its puzzles. Blocks within the maps appear, disappear and move along with the beat. You learn early on that understanding the pattern of the beat and how it applies to the level’s movement is the key to completing it. But executing the movements is a whole other story. It takes precision, concentration and a half-decent musical ear to find and stick with the beat.
Vectronom’s minimalist art style lends itself well to its gameplay. Simple at face-value, complex once you dig yourself into it. The puzzles are challenging, yet satisfying. The controls easy to learn, but tough to master. The pacing of the levels is brilliant. Nothing ever seems out of reach, but always offer a new challenge.
If you’re into fresh, new puzzle games that offer a decent challenge, Vectronom is really a no-brainer. It’s super cheap, too. Buy it.
[Reviewed on Switch]
Dark Future: Blood Red States
Dark Future: Blood Red States sunk its hooks in me almost immediately. The strategic, Mad Max-style highway combat is infectious and offers another fresh new title to add to your list.
You play as a contract killer from the future, taking on jobs and blasting through your enemies in your souped-up, machine-gun-equipped death machine. In most missions, you’ll find yourself cruising down a multi-lane highway. The car maintains its own speed, but it’s up to you to choose how to go about getting rid of your enemies and completing your objective. Entering command mode allows you to slow down time and plan out a course of action. Aim your weapons, choose a lane, slow down, speed up, repair your car—these are all options, and you’re free to go about them as you see fit.
The game is loads of fun, but I did occasionally have a tough time with the UI. I get the style they’re going for here with the faint green retro feel, but it just ends up looking clunky and makes it hard to navigate.
However, it’s a small price to pay for such a fun game. This one screams badass, and if that’s your style, definitely check out Dark Future.
[Reviewed on PC]
Irony Curtain: From Matryoshka with Love
Irony Curtain: From Matryoshka with Love feels like a long-winded inside joke for people who watch and enjoy Russian spy movies. And that’s not a critique, it just makes this title a little more niche than some of the others on this list.
Irony Curtain is a tongue-in-cheek, point-and-click puzzle game that follows Evan, a dorky journalist who is pulled into the middle of a substantial Russian conflict. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, but occasionally, the references flew right over my head and made the bits of story a little boring. But the hand-drawn art style is beautiful to look at, so at least I got to enjoy the scenery behind the words.
The point-and-click mechanics and puzzle designs are also quite clever. Irony Curtain certainly does not reinvent the genre’s wheel, but it does a good job of challenging you while still making the solution within reach. Nothing feels tedious and it really feels like you’re progressing with every clue you find.
Although I didn’t connect with most of Irony Curtain’s writing and references, I can see how someone would. If anything, the point-and-click puzzling style is good enough here to warrant a try.
[Reviewed on PC]
Super Cane Magic ZERO
I never knew I needed a game like Super Cane Magic ZERO in my life until I played it. This one is truly wacky, strange, confusing and hilarious all at the same time.
It’s a top-down action RPG that is definitely best played cooperatively with three of your best buddies. The gameplay is fairly straight forward. Each character has its own unique ability and uses a wide array of ranged and melee attacks and weapons to kill packs of enemies that will eventually charge you. The art style is colourful and really pulls inspiration from titles like BattleBlock Theatre and Castle Crashers, while adding its own spin to it.
The real magic of Super Cane Magic ZERO, though, lies in its writing. Most lines actually don’t make any sense at all, and the trajectory of the plot is incredibly weird, but that’s what makes it so special. The core gameplay is standard, but that’s about the only normal part about it. Some of my best gaming moments involve playing couch co-op games like this one with my friends, and I can definitely see Super Cane Magic ZERO being at the centre of some lasting new memories.
[Reviewed on PS4]
American Fugitive wears its influences on its sleeve, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In this case though, it just doesn’t add anything new to the formula. It’s a top-down, open-world, old school Grand Theft Auto-style shooter and not much else.
The game is fun and tells a somewhat engaging story. The shooting mechanics, which rely on aiming with the right thumbstick and firing with the right trigger, don’t quite feel right. They are a little too loose which sometimes makes it hard to aim accurately. I think the game as a whole could have benefitted from some sort of auto-targeting mechanic.
However, the driving mechanics feel great. The funnest moments happen when you’re in a car. Steering is arcadey in the best way, and using that emergency brake has never felt more satisfying in a game like this.
But at the end of the day, I couldn’t help but feel like a slightly altered version of American Fugitive already exists.
[Reviewed on PC]