Switch Indie Game Round Up
Updated: Jan 7
They don’t call me The Indie Knight for nothing. I’ve played a lot of indies this year; mostly on the Switch, which has become – perhaps surprisingly – a wonderful console for indies. Despite being somewhat underpowered in terms of graphical grunt, with most indie games not running on particularly demanding engines the Switch makes an excellent choice of platform for many developers – especially given its portability.
The problem we have - with so many developers, publishers and titles flooding our digital storefronts of choice - and not just the Switch’s eShop, it must be said – is that of discoverability. How on Earth can we keep up with so many titles being released on a daily basis – how can we possibly sort the wheat from the chaff, so to speak? It’s a real problem and hopefully one that I can assist within a small way. I intend to give you a bit of a heads up on indie titles I’ve tried - to let you know whether or not they’re worth your time.
A surreal 2D platformer with a similar feel to games such as Super Meat Boy, Awesome Pea is a deliberately tough game with a graphical style meant to evoke memories of the original Game Boy. Though the CRT filter doesn’t make sense in this context – and the game is easier to play without it – it nonetheless gives Awesome Pea a somewhat uniquely lo-fi look. Though it can feel overly punishing at times – given that you need to complete a whole level without any checkpoints, and some can be extremely elaborate, long and difficult – it’s an addictive challenge and has some nice variety in the stages you’ll face, with more vertically inclined stages and stages taking place on moving trains, for example.
It’s a decent enough game - but be prepared for some very tough levels that could really use some sort of checkpoint restarts in some cases. Undead’s Building
An odd little game with an unfortunately basic graphical style and unusual mechanics, Undead’s Building sees you trying to save the inhabitants of a building overrun with zombies, by controlling the elevator and taking as many of the hapless humans to the exit as possible before they’re devoured by the hungry flesh-eaters on each of the tower’s floors.
You view each floor via CCTV and can switch to the view in the lift itself; residents run to the lift and wait for it to arrive as you control its destination; if you stop on their floor, they get in – but wait too long and its likely they’ll be eaten by the zombies on their floor. The elevator can only carry a certain number of people and it takes time to get them to the exit floor; it’s a somewhat tense exercise in time management that’s brief – with only seven stages – and becomes quite frustrating in the latter few stages with convoluted building layouts. It’s an off-kilter and unusual game, but unfortunately feels a little repetitive and limited by the time you’ve reached the end.
Being a long term fan of cyberpunk and synthwave, the wonderful aesthetic of Cyber Protocol seems to be laser-targeted at my brain. Unsurprisingly, I love its minimalist, retro-styled puzzle charm. Tasked with hacking your way through increasingly difficult-to-penetrate networks, in practice you’ll be moving an icon in one direction at a time, attempting to avoid the increasingly numerous and deadly traps along the way. It’s a game that’s so confident in its 80s-esque synth soundtrack that it comes with a music player as a menu option, allowing you to take in the wonderfully atmospheric soundtrack without even playing the game itself. An absolutely fantastic experience.
The Adventures of Elena Temple
Another retro-styled – and challenging - indie platformer, The Adventures of Elena Temple’s presentation is absolutely inspired. Presented as a game on a fake system – though it’s easy to tell which system you’re supposed to be playing on, from the colour scheme and name that closely apes the original in a parodic manner – you’ll guide Elena on a quest for artefacts through a trap-laden network of single screens as you make your way through a deadly temple. It’s pretty good fun and very impressive work for a one-person development team – as with Awesome Pea, however, be warned that the retro aesthetic also extends into the gameplay itself, which can often be pretty difficult, albeit rewarding once you make progress.
Horizon Chase Turbo
One of the best games I’ve played in recent months, Horizon Chase Turbo is a sugar rush flashback to the arcade and arcade-style racers of the late 80s and early 90s. Highly evocative of games such as Out Run, Top Gear and Lotus Turbo Challenge, it’s a beautifully colourful, wonderfully fast and smooth experience with a ton of content to play through.
It evokes a style of game you perhaps didn’t realise you missed so much, with racers splitting between ultra-realism, kart racers and arcadey-but-still-relatively-realistic titles – with this type of pixel-art racer being left behind. Nostalgic, for sure, but with a more modern approach to presentation and a bold colour palette that its predecessors couldn’t quite pull off, its significance and appeal may not be entirely lost on younger gamers – who may not have experienced this type of racer the first time around. The sublime soundtrack – by Barry Leitch, who was also responsible for the still excellent tunes in the aforementioned Top Gear and Lotus games - is the icing on the wonderfully presented cake.
A blocky ragdoll fighting game with a Minecraft-esque look, Goonya Fighter is fun in single player but not exceptional – but it absolutely shines in multiplayer. With up to four players trying to secure victory in a number of competitive multiplayer modes, you’ll have a great time trying to wrangle your deliberately wobbly fighter to victory.
It’s very easy to pick up and play for gamers of any age or experience level, with the biggest complaint I have being the price – which, when Goonya Fighter isn’t on sale, seems a little too high.
Decay of Logos
A title that disappointed and frustrated in equal measure, Decay of Logos takes place in a beautifully realised, wonderfully designed world that most players will never see. Why is that, you ask? Well, the difficulty level has been pitched way too high, with even the first few enemies you face being ridiculously tough – dishearteningly so. To add insult to injury, your stats – health, attack etc –are reduced by 10% every time you die, thus making it harder to succeed even when you’re trying to learn the ropes. There’s no easing in or any warning when you’re first attacked by an enemy, so it’s infuriatingly easy to be killed immediately by something that looks like a screaming onion. I suspect that Decay of Logos will be enjoyed by players who have the time and patience to cope with ultra-difficult challenges – the Soulsborne players among you are probably shaking your head at me right now – but I can’t say with any honesty that I had fun with Decay of Logos.
So there you have it. My first brief roundup of a variety of indie titles I’ve played on the Switch over the last few months; many of which are available on other consoles too. Thanks for reading!