Indie Games Reviews 42 – 04/30/2024

Restart by JesseAidyn – 

This poetic experience offers a sumptuous world to explore and unravel – the hints hiding in the verses of a poem. This game is part of Jesse Aidyn’s more extensive research in logical contradictions, but I dare say it also explores sensorial and affective contradictions, offering magical and horrifying surprises. It’s also technically superb visually and worth the extra stress on the GPU.

Three Verses by sphere –

This title also explores the videoludic potentials of poetry, combining the quest for missing verses in PS1-era glitchy world exploration and JRPG mechanics. A must-play if you enjoyed Fatum Betula or Neko Yume, with an extra dash of Shin Megami Tensei spell casting. Any game where magic equals submachine guns is S-class in my book. The soundtrack is also excellent.

Angiogenesis by rdb –

Biomechanical anatomical/architectural eye candy speeding in the ocular channels – what I imagined N20 on PS1 would have been when I got it in the discount bin as a kid.

Wandering Soul by Zirael Dev –

Malign solarization is used as a symptom of cognitive impairment – leading to the exploration of an uncanny city fully reflecting mental breakdown. Unfortunately, a few typos extracted me from immersion (and the textual element could have been fully removed in my opinion), but this is a great example of the violent affective force of color saturation.

Stamp stamp stamp by ducc – 

Short and excellent corpohorror fully exploiting the paranoiac element of cubicles. The ending is predictable, but there are a few good jumpscares before getting there.

Barbotine by Alex Rasslof –

A house-party vomiting accident quickly escalates to a full-blown floral infection. Alex Rasslof seemed to enjoy building this hallucinatory rollercoaster of exquisite body horror. For me, this pleasure was as infectious as the mysterious illness corrupting the protagonist – beautiful PS1 and music to boot.

Pan by DobraStudios –

Abandon all logic and appreciate the postmodern janky hilarity of this punk-naruto point and click adventure game.

Phantombild by 95 rats –

Part elevated analog horror, part Mr. Potato reimagined by a raging psychopath, Phantombild is a unique and challenging puzzle game with an ambiance oozing with malice. Highly recommended.


Super 56 (Steamdeck)—It has a few flaws—such as the narrative element I couldn’t care less about—but this compilation of Wariowarish minigames is probably the best one on the market right now. It’s absolutely unhinged and bonkers, though a bit repetitive.

Automaton Lung (Steamdeck) – As janky as it is cryptic, I was pretty blown away learning this game was initially released on Nintendo DS. Automaton Lung boils down the platforming mechanic to its core elements: to locate and pick up tokens and find ways to reach seemingly inaccessible sections. The real charm here is the weird, abandoned architecture and the brilliant soundtrack by Luke Vincent. Meditative weirdness.

Robocop: Rogue City (PS5) – After the brilliant Terminator: Resistance, Teyon does it again with the Robocop IP. Even without the Verhoeven masterpiece of cyberpunk pitch-black comedy as a backdrop, this game as an AA is still way ahead of the rubbish collect-a-thon of the modern RPG-esque shooters.  It does start slow, but as soon as you can upgrade the Auto-9, the game turns into a glorious pyrotechnic gorefest where your walking tank mows through hordes of punks and mercenaries: very dumb, very fan service-y, but pure enjoyment.

Dap (Steamdeck) – Folk/Lovecraftian horror take on Pikmin. It can get frustrating at times due to insane difficulty spikes and confusing spatial mechanics, but in the end, it adds to the mystifying lore that absorbs you in its weird world-building. The pulsing dark ambient soundtrack is highly effective at rattling nerves as you witness your little buddies slowly turning homicidal through spore contamination.

Happy Game (Switch) – Psyops through child mental abuse. Extraordinarily creative and cruel puzzles, especially when the dog comes into play. Heed the warnings.

Tsugunohi (Switch)—It’s mechanically significantly barebone—press left to advance and submit yourself to progressively more horrifying jumpscares. It’s closer to an interactive novel than a game, per se, but it perfectly conveys that specific charm of J-Horror movies, especially the more obscure straight-to-DVD ones from the early 2000s. It goes hard on the cheese, but in a very specific static style that injects some ambient uncanniness. And that was, for me, way more effective and anxiogenic.