Well holy flaming SHIT BALLS I have a lot of ground to cover with this one. It’s been a “whirlwind of rad” when it comes to indie games lately, and if my press-release inbox is any indication that’s not gonna be stopping- like, EVER.
Good, cause that means the indie gaming community is thriving, and that’s good for everyone. The Nintendo Switch has become THE destination for indies and it makes me all the more stoked it’s my platform of choice. It just WORKS, and with it damn near anyone can integrate the joy and art of video games into their bat-shit crazy modern life with ease. Bueno.
Anywho, in the interest of “don’t bore us, get to the chorus” I’ll get down to business here. I’m leaning into my “sorta mini-reviews” format because I like doing these, people seem to agree, and it allows me to showcase multiple games in one shot. Plus, with the upside of getting more things to cover comes the inevitable DOWNSIDE of having more things to cover which is LESS time for it all. Great, now I’m out of breath. Point being, I want to keep bringing you the best indies the Switch has to offer and I’m stoked to have locked into a format that seems to work for everyone, especially since I’m one dude. With kids. And a day job.
And a raging Rockstar Energy Zero Carb addiction, but who’s counting?
To say that Kunai is “on the weird side” would be a hilarious understatement. The concept is absolutely BANANAS, and I say that with a positively huge grin on my face. You’re a sentient tablet (yeah, like an iPad) who has essentially found himself in the middle of a dystopian war-scenario as he is awoken from technological slumber. This little tablet becomes the face of the resistance and action/platforming, kunai-swinging, exploration wonderment ensues!
The combat and exploration are some of the best on the system, and once you get the hang of swinging those kunai around you’ll be flying around like Batman’s weird electronic cousin all over the place. Combat is quick and varied thanks to upgrades you can snag w/in game currency found all over the place and for killing enemies. It’s contagious stuff, and it earns it’s space next to the titans of the genre for sure. Its also a pretty meaty game, so you’re in for a nice fleshed-out experience here which I’m always a fan of.
The whole thing is done in a GameBoy Color-esque palette which changes based on the area you’re in, and it’s SUPER cool in motion. The chiptune soundtrack fits the visuals perfectly, and the thing runs like butter. Not a slowdown in sight. The gameplay WOULD be pretty standard “metroidvania” fare but Kunai injects an infectious sense of fun, fluidity, and originality into the genre and it’s one of my favorites outside of Dead Cells and Hollow Knight. The sense of humor isn’t juvenile either, it’s just damn cute- I mean, the little dude swings around with a SMILE on his screen save for in combat when it’s replaced with a determined scowl.
Our iPads are normally covered in kid-slime so a little cuteness is a welcome change of pace.
It’s adorable as shit, and other reviewers/websites agree too. It’s been getting super-high marks out there and for good reason. Kunai is a stunning effort from TurtleBlaze and The Arcade Crew and it’s gonna be in my rotation for a long time to come. OH YEAH- I forgot about the HATS/HELMETS! There’s hats and helmets and they’re all hilarious! Ok, sorry, back to it. I have 0 negative things to say about this wonderful game. It is an absolute MUST-have in your Switch library and if you don’t like it you’re a poo-poo head.
I’ll be brutally honest here, I always THINK I’m gonna like puzzle games. I start with the best of intentions but I almost ALWAYS end up just not sticking with them. I guess it’s just my tastes, I don’t know, but it IS the truth.
7th Sector (from Sometimes You) has managed to change that, helped very easily by the fact that it’s one of the most gorgeous-looking games on the Switch for SURE. In case you’re not on the up and up with what the game is about, I’m not gonna give you any spoilers here.
It all boils down to this: you’re in an extremely dystopian future and you are playing as a spark of electricity who must navigate wires, junction boxes, and even moving objects to find your way through this dark and dreary world. The puzzles are inventive, challenging, and while a handful WERE a little on the frustrating side I persevered which MEANS something- normally I’ll just say “screw this” but 7th Sector kept me locked in.
And I have the attention span of a tsetse fly- it’s very short.
Like I said, 7th Sector is STUNNING to look at. The sounds are atmospheric and perfectly suited to the environment you’re inhabiting, and the game runs great docked or handheld. It’s one of those games that makes you FEEL smarter after you’ve overcome a particular puzzle and I like that. When you’re raising two small children life frequently makes you feel like a complete idiot so anything that helps me feel like I’m not going full-shit-for-brains is fantastic in my eyes.
If I say much more I’ll have to start explaining more than I want to-go into this one blind, challenge your brain a little, and marvel at the pretty things. I mean, dark DYSTOPIAN pretty things, but pretty nonetheless! If you’re down to put on your “thinking cap of doom” then this is definitely another gotta-have-it game for you. It’s a fantastic game to settle into on a rainy Saturday, just be aware that before you know it MIGHT turn into a rainy Sunday cause it’ll suck you into its world for SURE.
Gelato Games‘ Goblin Sword is, true story, maybe one of my favorite action/platformers of all time. It started life as a mobile title and I HATE mobile games- but I liked THIS one. Literally, the only game I’ve ever truly enjoyed on mobile (besides this one) was Dust: An Elysian Tail which is my high-watermark for action/platformers not called Dead Cells and one of the most beautiful games I’ve ever seen. Something about Goblin Sword just felt RIGHT, even with shitty touch controls on my old-ass iPhone, so when I heard it was coming to switch I did this:
Seriously, it’s THAT good. I made “Po Face”.
Goblin Sword has 80+ levels of uncomplicated-but challenging, sword-swinging, platform jumping goodness and I love it for it’s excellence in simplicity. The challenge ramps up as you go along and some of the levels can be downright devious, but it’s never anger-inducing- it’s just a fun game. The pixel art is gorgeous, the animations are more beautiful than you realize at first glance, and it sounds AND runs fantastically.
There’s weapon and armor upgrades galore, and a little “home” are where you can decorate your house. It’s nothing that’s fleshed out at all, but who cares? There’s shit to smack with your sword! The secrets are well hidden, the controls are simple and perfectly executed, and it’s a STEAL at an insanely low price so there’s really no excuse.
I’m not exaggerating in the slightest, everything about Goblin Sword is awesome and if you like action/platformers OR if you’re a retro gamer who wants a modern game that feels like you REMEMBER your old games feeling like, you’re gonna want to get in here and fast. I’ll say it again, this one is a must-have which comes with my FULL, 100% endorsement.
GLASS MASQUERADE 2
Yet again, I hadn’t tried the first Glass Masquerade cause I just didn’t think I’d like it much. Truthfully, there isn’t much to talk about- they’re stained-glass jigsaw puzzle games with a surreal, almost art-deco flair about them and I have to admit- I judged it as something I wouldn’t like.
That was a stupid mistake, cause about 5 minutes after downloading Glass Masquerade 2 (from Onyx Lute and Digerati) I was hooked. It’s stone-cold simple stuff- 30 or so jigsaw puzzles inspired by stained glass artisans, each one having somewhere between 30-50 pieces, all fitting within a large circle in the middle of the screen. You’re on a timer and you- well, I don’t need to explain hpw to put together a jigsaw puzzle, do I? No. No I don’t. You get it, and Glass Masquerade 2 does too, cause the whole thing is incredibly relaxing, beautifully done, and plays great handheld OR docked. Nothing complex with the controls, nothing overly flashy, just beautiful to-look-at gameplay, relaxing puzzles, and unintrusive music.
The fact that there isn’t much more to say is NOT a negative thing, quite the opposite in fact. Glass Masquerade 2 does precisely what it sets out to do, and nobody else is really doing it so it’s essentially an automatic win and it DEFINITELY deserves your time.
10Tons make some of my favorite games on Switch their specialty being twin-stick shooters. Neon Chrome and Tesla Vs. Lovecraft are straight up genre classics and I’m ALWAYS stoked on what they’re doing next (here’s lookin’ at you Tesla Force!), I guess I just missed Undead Horde somehow. It’s not really a twin-stock shooter, or a hack and slash, or a strategy game- its kind of a mashup of ALL of them, with a little roguelike thrown in for good measure, and a fantastically dark sense of humor to boot.
It’s an incredibly addictive formula: the story isn’t much to speak of, you’re a necromancer raised from the dead to raise MORE dead to kill the living. You know, real “Sunday Afternoon Picnic” stuff. You accomplish this by raising an undead army to follow you (from your hub area) and taking on missions. Most of these are some variation of “storm village, take out enemy-spawning stronghold kill all humans” but variety isn’t really what you;re after here. The missions grow in complexity, your range of summonable undead minions increases, and there’s plenty of other upgrades too (a rad card-based perk system is there too). Pretty soon you’re an unstoppable swarm of horrifying people-killers and it’s fucking awesome. Think “Undead Pikmin w/Action Elements” and you’ll be close. Your main character can hack and slash a bit , and in conjunction with your horde it makes for some DAMN fun gameplay. Looks wise? Eh, nothing much to rave about but it runs well and gets the job done.
For me, this one is ALL about the gameplay and on that front it delivers. This is a unique game and yet ANOTHER reason why 10Tons are an indie dev to keep your eyes on. They make FUN games, and I’m stoked that I decided to give Undead Horde a spin cause I’m hooked, I’m happy, and you will be too. Muy Bueno indeed.
I’m super excited to talk about this one and I REALLY want to have your full attention right now. 3,000th Duel (from Neopopcorn) is a game that I’m pretty sure will go largely unnoticed and I’d like to help change that. It was made by a very small Korean dev team, they are SUPER passionate about making video games, and while this one might be a LITTLE rough around the edges I can CONFIDENTLY tell you that it, along with Kunai from above, stands tall and I enjoy it just as much as those titans I mentioned (Dead Cells, etc.). Short version? 3,00th Duel is an extremely rad game that you really shouldn’t miss out on.
You wake up with amnesia and a mask on your face and you set out about the word around you to reclaim your memory and find out what’s happened to this place. The story is mostly told through NPC encounters and I’m not gonna give anything away here cause I HATE doing that and also this one wa REALLY fun to watch unfold without knowing what was coming. it’s alternately super-weird and emotionally hefty and you really end up caring about this word you’re in.
The NPCs are anthropomorphic badgers, squirrels, and such. Do I even need to SAY any more?!
The action is pure hack and slash, platforming, exploratory awesomeness and there’s a MASSIVE interconnected world to explore here. All the requisites are here: exploring and backtracking, sword-swinging til the cows come home, and stat/weapon upgrades, and skill trees OH MY! It’s an incredibly full-fledged experience and I can’t stress enough how much it holds up next to more well-known games in this space.
The music is excellent if you’re asking me, the sound effects are stellar, and every swing of a weapon has that heft you want it to have. Running is just the right speed, and that’s gonna bring me to the sticking points. They aren’t for ME, but I know these few small elements will keep some people from jumping in.
There’s no getting around the fact that it doesn’t feature the most “current-gen” graphics on the block, it just doesn’t. Don’t be a snob about it though, cause you;d be missing out on a damn fine game and while some elements show their low-budget-ness, other absolutely SHINE. The backgrounds in the forest areas are absolutely stunning, and the game gets bonus points with me because of the purple-swishy effect that happens every time you swing your sword. What can I say, I’m a sucker for purple.
There’s also occasions where figuring out where to go next can be a LITTLE on the tough side, and as is requisite with metroidvanias (sorry, I tried to not say it!) there are times when dying means a bit of arduous backtracking which is admittedly not much fun. Lastly, the jump is just a TINT bit “off” sometimes. its nothing game-breaking but I’m not the only one to notice it so it must be a thing.
Ok, now that we’ve gotten past that- I REALLY want you to play 3,00th Duel and I REALLY don’t think you’ll regret it. It’s a gargantuan effort from a small team and if this is their FIRST damn game I cant WAIT to see number two. If enough of you guys buy this one, that’ll be much more of a reality. it’s not perfect but neither am I, and neither are you- so don’t let another game go to waste because it didn’t have the budget to catch your eye right away. Give the underdog a chance to show you it can do that rad crane-kick thing, and show those damn Cobra Kai a fucking thing or two!
The last one in the line(no pun intended) is Last Encounter (from Silesia Games). As you guys know, I’m not like other reviewers- I seek out games I think I will really like so I can curate rad shit for you. Since I love roguelikes AND twin-stick shooters, (My favorite game of all time, NeuroVoider, is the best hybrid of the two ever created in my opinion) I figured Last Encounter would be a shoe-in for me.
I wanted to like it a lot more than I did, and there IS a good game here- it’s just not enough to get me jazzed to keep going. It’s essentially your standard “aliens vs. everything” setup but the twist here is that you and your comrades can clone yourselves and essentially keep living and dying through your cloned avatars. A leader of sorts, Dr. Connor has developed a component-based weapon system so there IS a ton of customization at work here which is always a nice element to games like this. There’s unlock able and customizable ships, unlockable pilots, and all the levels are procedurally generated so each playthrough is totally different. Mostly-it all starts to feel a little similar after a while, so it’s not ENTIRELY different every time.
After a little while, I honestly just lost interest in this one. There are just SO many games like this, and unless you excel at bringing something fresh to the table its just tough for me to invest. Plus, it edges towards frustrating because the controls aren’t the tightest, the enemies are fast and confusing, and it all just doesn’t quite gel together for me. Unavoidable attacks are a thing here too, and I don’t think anyone’s a fan of those.
You might disagree, this might be your new favorite game in waiting, but for me it just didn’t do enough to stand out and keep me in to the finish line. I’m not even a graphics snob (see 3,000th Duel above) but there is also this sort of “mobile game” quality to the visuals in this one that just doesn’t work for me either. Maybe I’m too picky, maybe I’m a dick, and maybe you think I’m both-who knows. All I know is, when somebody sends me a code to check out a game I appreciate it very much and I do my best to find the good in their hard work. This one just didn’t work for me when there are so many others in the genre that are so far ahead of it in almost every regard.
That’s the key though, maybe it just didn’t work for ME- It’s reasonably priced enough, so if you’re a fan of the genre like me check out the trailer and give it a shot, I might just be an idiot!
I HAVE ran into a sliding glass door before, so that’s entirely possible.
So there you have it, Ghosties! Another fine batch of magnificent indies to assault your SD card with, and some super-talented developers and publishers to support too. Thanks to EVERYONE who helped to make this article possible and stay tuned for more Switch radness. Next up, I’m doing a deep-dive article on how I fell back in love with fighting games by way of Arc System Works, and there’s plenty more where that came from too!
A blog/website where these happily married, 30-something parents of 2 little minions rant, rave, and speak in tongues. Raw, honest, and riddled with profanity. Get on board and let’s make The Ghost Generation awesome together! http://theghostgeneration.com Twitter.com/Gh0stGeneration