Nindie Rundown - Episode 2

We’ve been playing a bunch more indie titles recently. Here’s our thoughts and impressions on a handful of them.

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Peasant Knight

Peasant Knight is a pixelart auto-running platformer that moves quickly but sadly never gets very far. The simple controls and lightning-fast snapback to the start of levels after death, make this a great little title to pick up and play when you have a few minutes to spare.

There are a few simple mechanics that get slowly added, such as moving platforms and magic portals, and all these manage to mix up the action. However, fiddly controls hamper enjoyment by making some of the harder levels feel more like luck than skill. This and the general lack of inspiring level design means that while it’s briefly entertaining, Peasant Knight sadly cannot rise to the occasion.

+ Simple to pick up and play
+ Quick respawn

- Uninspired level design
- Fiddly controls

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Zeroption Invasion

Zeroptian Invasion is a classic arcade alien invasion shooter in the spirit of Space Invaders. Blasting through waves of enemies, the player is tasked with fending off shooting and dive-bombing alien forces whilst attempting to rack up the highest score.

This game has all the challenge of the original Space Invaders, but the developer didn’t stop at standing in the classic’s shadow. Zeroptian Invasion leaps into the present with widely varied enemy waves, obstacles, and large bosses to take down. The ship itself initially moves slowly on its own and suffers from a slow firing rate, but can be upgraded through randomised collectable power ups. The game is very forgiving in its recovery from death, both in its single-shot shield upgrade and it’s Continue option allowing you to sacrifice your score to restart at the top of the level.

I must admit that the ramp in difficulty surprised me. The enemy movements and actions paired with their increasing resilience makes for a difficult climb through the levels. If you’re after a challenge or itching for that classic alien-slaying arcade action, Zeroptian Invasion will hit the mark.

+ Classic arcade alien wave destruction
+ Easy to pick up and play
+ Ramping difficulty with boss fights

- Unexplained powerup benefits

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Anodyne is a top-down adventure that bears more than a passing resemblance to classic Zelda games. It even starts out with a sleeping protagonist and is displayed in a square, much like Link’s Awakening would have been back on the Game Boy.

Where it differs from Zelda however is the dark-yet-intriguing story that propels the game forward. The world exists within the dreams of Young, the hero you play as. You’ll have to explore and investigate, chat to NPCs, defeat enemies and yes, explore dungeons.

The world is really intriguing, and the obstacles and boss fights you’re presented with offer a real challenge.

The story can be a bit obtuse, and it can be difficult to know where to go next at times, but if you’re after that old-school Zelda fix whilst we wait for the Link’s Awakening remake, this is well worth checking out.

+ Great dungeons and puzzles
+ Cool boss fights
+ Intriguing world

- Story can be a little obtuse
- Easy to get stuck at times

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Stylish cel-shaded Rico looks the part and controls like a dream, with fantastic use of motion controls throughout. While it’s tongue-in-cheek humour misses more than it hits, it’s commendable to try and put actual personality into a fairly generic shooter such as this.

Missions are brief but satisfying, with the gunplay constantly feeling slick and rewarding, with plenty for you to do throughout different campaign missions, co-op, and daily challenges. This could be too much of a good thing however, as the lack of variety in enemies and mission types comes through in long play sessions.

Still, Rico is a blast to play, you may just not be staying up all night to finish it.

+ Great controls
+ Lots of modes
+ Pretty to look at

- Soon gets repetitive

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Taking heavy influence from the Mega Man games of old, MetaGal jumps right in with its platforming, blasting fun.

This single player title is every bit the robot-busting experience, but with a bot-tastic female lead. MetaGal will have you running and gunning through eight themed stages and boasts a unique rebirthing system that takes the edge off of what is usually a rather punishing genre.

Playing this was every bit as enjoyable as a Mega Man game. Nothing was too hard or unfair, even though I had to try many, many times to defeat the final boss. It delightfully kept delivering that classic run and gun platforming challenge. The post-game “what-if” reward was such a treat too.

+ Forgiving platforming system
+ Catchy soundtrack
+ Post game replay-ability

- Occasional frustration from random enemy patterns