We’re in the Endgame now.
With Avengers: Endgame, the world has seen one of the biggest story arcs in movie making history come to a close. As we mourn those we have lost, some are looking for another way to satisfy that ground-punching itch. You only need to look at the success of Marvel’s Spider-Man or Batman: Arkhman Knight to see why superhero games are so popular. Want to feel powerful while escaping the humdrum banality of your everyday life? Video games and superhero movies are usually the prescribed solutions, and when they come together the results are often magical. Here are our favourite superhero indie games.
7. Fallen Hero: Rebirth
Although not the most screenshot-able game out there, Fallen Hero: Rebirth is a bit of hidden gem in the superhero genre of games. For a start, it’s not the usual trope-ridden affair you’d expect. As a twist of fate, you don’t play the good guy in the story, but rather the villain – a terrifying telepath of unmatched ability. As a choose your own adventure interactive novel, you have a plethora of options available to you as you fall deeper into the underworld of Los Diablos. There are no sound effects or visuals to mould the action for you; it’s a game wholly dependant on the power of imagination. Something video games don’t often ask you to do.
It’s not afraid to delve into the person behind the mask, either, exploring complex relationships that form over the course of the story. It also touches on the fascinating nature of managing secret identities, including a range of different genders to explore. It’s fearless in its quest to offer something a little deeper than the superficial cliches that saturate the genre. It’ll even let you romance a mad scientist – who hasn’t wanted to date a crazy genius before? The writing is brilliant and the choices weighty, bringing an alternative supervillain story to life with action and consequence. So, if being the hero is not your thing, then you this is the game for you.
While triple-A has largely forgotten four-player split-screen, the indie scene has helped keep local multiplayer alive. Speedrunners is a great example of this, providing riotously good fun for you and your mates around a single telly. But that’s not all – you can also play online, or even a combination of local and internet play.
What sets Speedrunners apart from other superhero games is that these heroes aren’t exactly working together. It’s a no-holds-barred race for glory through numerous cityscapes, with you having to use whatever you have at your disposal – bombs, rockets or simply slamming doors in your opponents’ faces – in order for you to claim victory. As soon as a player gets left behind, they’re out of the race.
As well as the thrill of screwing over your mates, Speedrunners is also satisfying in how well it lives up to its name. The place is relentless – stop for a breather for a few seconds and you’ll be toast. Swinging on grapple hooks, running over speed pads and performing boost jumps make this an exhilarating racing platformer you’ll go back to time and time again.
5. Chroma Squad
Imagine if five stunt actors suddenly decided to quit their day jobs and start their own Power Rangers-esque TV show. You’ve just imagined Chroma Squad, and it’s absolutely as cool as it sounds. In your bid to make the best Saturday morning spoof ever imagined you’ll have to cast actors, kit out your studio and craft fantastical props to use in your episodes. Described as a tactical RPG, as soon as the cameras roll you take control of your colourfully-clad heroes as they battle the forces of evil in the ridiculously-over-the top fashion you’re no doubt expecting.
It’s not all high kicks and diving to the ground to a backdrop of huge explosions though – this endeavour is going to need some off-screen effort as well. You’ll have to manage your new studio, taking care of things like marketing and set design. This is all achieved through its in-depth RPG mechanics requiring you to manage a range of skill trees, crafting and a branching storyline with three unique endings. It really is a pixel art homage to one of the greatest Saturday morning cartoons to ever grace our screens. And, yes, in case you’re wondering, it does have giant mech battles.
4. Mr Shifty
If being able to teleport, dodge bullets, and punch doors straight off their hinges makes you a superhero, then Mr Shifty has it all. Armed only with a trenchcoat and red cap, you’ll use makeshift weapons to wipe out hundreds of armed guards in brutal takedowns, all in a crisp top-down perspective. It’s your job to put an end to a nefarious plot by the evil StoneCorp by stealing a hunk of mega-plutonium from deep within the floors of its office building.
There are plenty of twists and turns in Mr Shifty’s story, and enough fast-paced action to have you twitching for days after a straight playthrough. This is a one-hit-kill scenario, so you’ll have to be on your toes as you navigate the corridors and storage rooms of Olympus Tower. Teleporting into a room only to shift out the wall and attack your opponents from behind feels incredibly satisfying, and every encounter ensures you’re as cunningly nimble as possible. It’s a mixture of beat ’em up, stealth, and tactical combat that feels perfectly at home in the superhero genre.
3. Guacamelee! 2
Not all heroes wear capes. Some wear masks, as is the case with Juan Aguacate of Guacamelee! 2. Once a humble farmer, his life was turned upside-down when the malevolent Calaca killed him and a magical luchador mask brought him back to the land of the living. Though he eventually defeated Calaca and planned to settle down, a hero’s work is never done. So when a former hero from another timeline, Salvador, turns rogue and threatens to tear the fabric of reality apart, Juan dons his mask again and sets out on another adventure.
What’s rewarding about Guacamelee’s approach to heroism is its Metroidvania qualities. Rather than starting as the ultimate powerful warrior from the off, you gain more powers over time courtesy of mystical Choozo statues – the Rooster Uppercut, Goat Jump and Frog Slam, to name a few. These are invaluable not just for brawling against the undead but also traversing levels and reaching new areas.
But that’s not the best part. Perhaps the biggest improvement in Guacamelee! 2 over the original is to your chicken form. Previously an amusing handicap or at best an ability that let you squeeze through small spaces, now you can gain Pollo Powers to turn your feathery form into a formidable fighter in its own right. A chicken saving the universe? That’s my kind of superhero.
2. Batman: The Telltale Series
How could we make a superhero indie list without including Mr Wayne himself? Telltale dipped their toes in both the DC and Marvel Universes but Batman definitely came out on top against Guardians of the Galaxy. Existing outside of most of the current Batman lore, The Telltale Series had players take on certain situations as either Bruce Wayne or the Batman himself, weaving their classic branching narrative decisions between high-octane superhero fights and chases. Don’t get us wrong, this is a Telltale game, so you won’t be practising your combos ahead of the big boss fight. Action will obviously take place through those lovely quick time events, but they’re a small jolt of adrenaline and nice to look at all the same.
Batman was hailed for its ability to take the superhero genre and generate an exciting experience out of narrative alone. Though its studio may have bowed out of the fight, Batman: The Telltale Series remains battle ready.
1. Megaton Rainfall
Alien invasion? Check. Sprawling cities just waiting to be demolished for the good of mankind? Check. Glowing purple man in tiny pants? Check. Megaton Rainfall has it all, including an interdimensional protagonist with more respect for public property than superheroes regularly do. However hard you work to defend Earth’s cities from the onslaught of alien enemies, if a single one succumbs it’s game over.
That’s okay, though. Megaton Rainfall’s massive game world is procedurally generated, an unbound playground for you to unleash your powers on. Flying at supersonic speed is so Level 1 – once the game moves away from Earth your ability to move at well above the speed of light opens up an entire galaxy of intricately detailed life to defend. Unlock new superpowers and watch as they shatter enemy ships in gloriously complex explosion animations, or explore your powers of flight across distinct planets.
Not enough for you? Try it in VR.
So, if you are the vengeance, if you are the night, if your spidey senses are tingling, it’s probably clobberin’ time. And Odin’s beard, there are some good indie games to get your thumbs around.