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Eight More Buried Indie Gaming Gems

Keep your eyes open in the next Steam sale

By Andrew JohnstonPublished 2 months ago 6 min read
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It's that time of the year again - when the video game press pretends it cares about the indie scene with a flurry of listicles featuring rearrangements of the same dozen mega-sellers you've already heard of.

In response, here's a short list of some more overlooked titles that you might not have seen in twenty or thirty SEO articles. These games are a mixed bag. Some are brand-new titles that dropped in 2022 while others have been buried for longer; some sold reasonably well while others are entirely unknown.

If any of these titles should catch your fancy, I hope you'll consider adding some of them to your wishlist - after all, all but one of these games is under $20, and most are under $10. Steam sale season is right around the corner, you know.

Nitro Kid

Wildboy Studios - 2022 - $19.99

Deckbuilders have been all the rage this year, and here's one that brings some new features to the table.

Set against the neon-drenched backdrop of an 80s action B-movie, Nitro Kid has the player taking charge of one of three agents (each with a different deck type) tasked with infiltrating the world's largest company to rescue test subjects on behalf of a mysterious organization. The story is intentionally vague, but the player can pick up clues as to what's going on via in-game events.

The gameplay combines deckbuilding with tactical RPG elements, so you're not at the whim of the random number generator - one can overcome a subpar deck with top-tier strategy. This won't be easy, as things like movement are more restrictive than you might be used to, but a skillful player can find a way out of any situation.

DEATHRUN TV

Laser Dog - 2022 - $14.99

Welcome to hell, techno-futuristic style. This twin-stick shooter truly stands out for its spectacle and style.

DEATHRUN TV puts the player in the role of a participant in a game show where death is spectacular but never permanent. With guns akimbo, you'll force your way through a series of studios packed with mutant freaks and deadly traps, all the while trying to rescue helpless fans being tossed into the arena along with you.

This isn't the hardest twin-stick I've ever played, but expect the difficulty to ramp up fast as the levels flood with projectiles. For anyone eager for a challenge, you'll find it here.

Wallachia: Reign of Dracula

Migami Games - 2020 - $9.99

If you were wondering, Wallachia was a historical principality that happened to be the home of Vlad Tepes, the figure who inspired Bram Stoker's Dracula. As you might imagine, this game draws more from history than most comparable titles.

Set shortly after Vlad's conquest of Wallachia, the game follows Elcin, a young woman who's one of the few survivors of Vlad's purge of the nobility. Tasked with a plot to overthrow Vlad and install his brother as ruler, Elcin goes on a quest across Wallachia, encountering places and events drawn from Romanian history and legend.

Wallachia is a classic sidescroller at heart, with gameplay and graphics that recall vintage titles such as Magic Sword. It is challenging but not overly hard and should really appeal to anyone who appreciates old-school gameplay.

Unit Down

Randy Becker - 2021 - $4.99

It's not so often that the aliens invading Earth are the good guys, but that's the situation in Unit Down.

The game is something of a hybrid, with management and arcade-style gallery shooting layers. The ultimate goal is to defeat three bosses protecting Earth and begin the invasion proper, but you'll have to contend with countermeasures on other planets first. Everything runs in real time and the humans are constantly getting more powerful, so completing the game requires strategically suppressing enemy forces while building your own stats enough to deal with the bosses.

Unit Down definitely has its rough patches, but it is a unique experience that make it worth a look.

Gunmetal Arcadia

Minor Key Games - 2017 - $9.99

There aren't many outfits that do retro as well as Minor Key, creators of the faux-CRT effect that's in everything these days. This might be the best example of the style.

Gunmetal Arcadia is a roguelike sidescroller reminiscent of Zelda 2, but with a few twists on the style. The player is tasked with fighting through four procedurally assembled levels, completing quests and choosing between factions that can help the player along the way (or possibly get in the way, depending on the circumstances). The game also keeps track of what the player does, bestowing game-shifting "legacies" at the start of each run that are based on the previous run.

Lulu's Temple

Agelvik - 2022 - $4.99

There's been a distinct lack of horror-themed titles up to this point - let's amend that.

Lulu's Temple is a short puzzle platformer in which the player must explore - and subsequently escape - a cursed ruin. It's dark in that temple, and light becomes a key mechanic. The protagonist carries a torch which he can fling to ignite distant torches, and using that torch is the only way to solve many puzzles...but it also puts the player at risk, as stumbling through a trap-filled ruin in the dark is ill-advised.

Special consideration has to be given to the graphics and sound. The MSX-style design doesn't easily lend itself to horror, but the slightly dissonant music, the red eyes glowing in the dark, and the occasional roar of something coming closer are all enough to give the game a very foreboding feel.

My Night Job

Webcore Games - 2016 - $3.99

Continuing on the horror theme, we have My Night Job, an arcade throwback for fans of vintage B-movie horror.

Responding to a late-night commercial on a dodgy channel, you find yourself in the employ of a strange company specializing in rescues. Your first mission? Save a bunch of random people who've been inexplicably confined to a mansion that's under attack by every horror movie monster ever dreamed up.

The objective of My Night Job is to rescue 100 people and then demolish the mansion and escape. That's easier said than done, though. If left alone, the monsters flooding in to the mansion will eventually attack the mansion itself, eventually collapsing it on your head. Finishing the game (which is far from an easy task) means managing the mansion as best you can while completing your mission as fast as possible.

Live by the Sword: Tactics

Labrador Studios - 2022 - $24.99

Tactical RPGs are something of a rarity, and this one brings a few new ideas to the table.

Live by the Sword: Tactics has two novel mechanics that need to be mentioned: The characters don't level up and each one can respec at any time. This might sound curious for an RPG, but it lends the game a more tactical feeling. You're not going to blow through it by power leveling one party; you have to study the circumstances of each fight and pick just the right characters and skills to finish it.

The game also features a few additional modes meant to increase replay value. Most interesting is Adventure mode, a randomized mode with some roguelike elements. A series of updates are planned for Adventure mode, so expect to see more classes, constant and mechanics to come.

For more about the state of indie games, check out this article.

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About the Creator

Andrew Johnston

Educator, writer and documentarian based out of central China. Catch the full story at www.findthefabulist.com.

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