In the gaming industry, January is considered a slow month. Everyone is still recovering from the holidays and attending conventions. The occasional Indie game still hits the shelves in the first 30 days of the year, but the number is usually limited.
Apparently, someone must have missed the memo this time. Ever since 2018 came around, we’ve received a humongous amount of keys. With only six people to go through the games, it was impossible for us to review them all!
This is why we thought of something different, a way to give more games more visibility. Every month, we’ll choose five titles that caught our attention but didn’t quite make the cut. As usual, you can expect us to say exactly what we think about them; with no filters!
Number 5: Reptiloids
To tell you the truth, Reptiloids shouldn’t really be on this list. We’re in front of a run of the mill 3rd-person action adventure that brings nothing new to the table. The combat feels clunky, there’s no story-line to speak of and the whole premise seems rather far-fetched. Lizard-faced humanoid kidnapped the protagonist’s girlfriend and now he’s out for revenge. This is as much as this indie game tells you before you’re thrown into the action.
What really caught my attention, though, was our hero’s likeness. In an industry where main characters are handpicked for their physical and mental qualities, here comes a chubby white-collar man that looks average at most. As a fat guy myself, I immediately felt I could relate to him.
Whether the choice was deliberate, Alexey Glinskiy is on the right path. With a trip to the drawing board and a bit more effort, Reptiloids could turn into an extremely interesting indie game.
Number 4: WeakWood Throne
How can you convey utter and total disappointment in a single concept? Have you ever unwrapped a shiny Christmas gift just to discover it contained the same old pair of socks? That’s pretty much how I felt when I first played WeakWood Throne. A Russian-made RPG, this game was so close to being a hit that it actually hurt when I found out the truth.
On one hand, we have a beautifully-crafted world with plenty of colors and an amazing art-style. Various enemies litter its plains, quests are readily available to be completed, and the combat is extremely sweet. Even some of the NPCs and their stories struck a chord with me.
On the other, we see a total lack of QA. In fact, it almost looks as if someone had to stay up all night just to meet their deadline. Several lines of dialogue are still in Russian, a handful of quests won’t work, and the team seems unwilling to push out a much needed patch. Too bad! I had high hopes for this one!
Number 3: Staxel
I admit I was intrigued by this Stardew Valley meets Minecraft project but I’m not really into building games, indie or otherwise. Just to avoid appearing biased, I eventually asked my sister to give the title a go and tell me what she felt. As a result, we could spend hours discussing the many faults of Staxel.
The experience was subpar to say the least. We spent hours navigating the less-than-clear menus, fighting the obnoxious controller settings, and chasing rogue cows who would escape our fences no matter what. Ultimately, this voxel adventure gave us no goal to pursue other than refurbishing an old farm. The available quests, for instance, felt more like uninspired chores than genuine challenges.
Regardless of that, the final nail in Staxel’s coffin wasn’t hammered by its features. On the contrary, the culprit is its release date. The game’s early access period started just as another countryside simulator – My Time at Portia – saw the light of day. You can imagine which indie game most people went with. Nevertheless, I still hope development continues so that I can pick this one back up once it gets closer to the finish line!
Number 2: Hollow Throne
There are games than don’t make it because they’re not interesting enough and games that fail to show their full potential. Of the two groups, Hollow Throne definitely belongs to the latter. Described as a 2D rogue-lite action platformer, this tiny and cheap adventure could have reached unimaginable heights.
Unfortunately, it all felt as if someone was drawing me back right from the start; as if the game had been deliberately designed not to be played. In only a few words, achieving anything was a lot harder than it should have been. The developers suggest you use a gamepad, for instance, but the analogue stick on the Steam Controller simply won’t work.
I did, however, want to give this indie game the fair chance it deserved. I invested an entire evening in getting familiar with it, up until I realized the title was actively taunting me. As the same boss kept paralyzing my character over and over without even being on the screen, I quickly crossed Hollow Throne off the list and moved to the next one. Not all is lost, though. With a few tweaks, I can see Onyonvoid’s project rise from its own ashes!
Number 1: Dig Dog
A good indie developer has the ability to turn a simple concept into a successful project. That’s exactly what Rusty Moyher and Matt Grimm did with Dig Dog. The premise is as simple as it sounds: you’re dog, wait for it… digging for bones. The duo managed to build an entire roguelike platformer on top of my pet’s favorite past-time. I’m genuinely impressed!
Dig Dog might be the only indie game on this list that I’d spend more time with. The titular character quite literally dances from world to world as they collect tasty treats. Competitive leaderboards and a free-roaming mode actually give us a goal for a change. If I were to nitpick, I’d gladly do without the menu’s sound effects, though.
Sadly, as amazing as this game sounds, it only packs a limited amount of content. While that doesn’t lower the title’s value, it did prevent us from writing a full-on review of it. Nevertheless, the next time you have 3 bucks lying around, do yourself a favor and add it to your library!