Category Archives: Indie Wonderland

Indie Wonderland: Mothergunship

Mothergunship. The word is evocative. What is it? Is it a mothership that’s also a gunship? That seems like the obvious choice, but what if it isn’t? What if it’s a mothership in the shape of a gun? Or a gunship that holds smaller gunships inside itself, like a sort of mother-gunship? Or maybe it’s a… I can’t think of a joke for ‘mothergun’. Or rather, I can, but I don’t want to tell it and you don’t want to read it.

At any rate, Mothergunship is also a new shooty bang game by Terrible Posture Games and Grip Digital. Maybe… maybe the only way to find out what a ‘mothergunship’ is is to play that game? Wouldn’t that be a strange world we lived in?

(Spoiler levels: Narrative, nope. Mechanical, medium.)

(Game source: Patreon funds.)

After the break: I envy you, all of you, as you got a chance to find out what a mothergunship is without actually having to fight one.

Indie Wonderland: Heaven Will Be Mine

I reviewed We Know The Devil (by Worst Girls Games) way back in the winter of 2016, when I lived halfway across the world and the world was only somewhat smoldering instead of outright on fire. I thought it was an excellent game, one that I thought about all the time and talked about a whole lot — significantly strengthening at least one friendship over it. So when the creators (one of whom I follow on Twitter) announced their next game, Heaven Will Be Mine, I reacted the exact same way I did to We Know The Devil: Studiously avoiding any and all mentions of it, but keeping a sharp eye for the eventual release date.

Turns out: That date is now.

(Spoiler levels: Narrative, low. Mechanical, medium.)

(Game source: Bought it myself.)

After the break: Between knowing the Devil (presumably in Hell) and claiming Heaven, what more is there for these developers to claim? I figure that Limbo

Indie Wonderland: Hollow Knight

There’s a fun thing that happens to me sometimes when I think about using this column for games that have been out for relatively long, and to good acclaim: I get anxious about reviewing them. Like, I get anxious about… doing it wrong, I guess? I’m not 100% on it myself. Am I anxious about not contributing to a closed discussion, if I just say ‘yeah, it’s as good as everyone else says’? Am I anxious about having a bad experience and becoming the one dissenting voice? Am I just anxious that nobody will care anymore? I’m legitimately asking because I can’t parse how my own mind works.

This is what happened with Team Cherry‘s Hollow Knight, a game that everyone and their parent of preference has been telling me to play since forever. I bought it a little over a month ago, when on sale, in case you were wondering how strong my commitment to this has been. Again: No idea why. But I finally managed to finagle a week in which I had relatively little other commitments: If I’m going to take a look at a game that this many people seem to love, I might as well do it right.

And hey: Turns out the ‘final content pack’ for Hollow Knight, ‘Gods & Glory’, is releasing a few weeks from now. How’s that for accidental timeliness.

(Spoiler levels: Narrative, low. Mechanical, high.)

(Game source: Patreon funds.)

After the break: Yeah, maybe it would have been better to pretend that was my angle all along. But, listen, I don’t do lies.

Indie Wonderland: Diluvion

Open question: What’s your dream superpower? For me, it’s being able to breathe under water. I don’t mean that in the sense of really wanting that power over any others, or even thinking it’s particularly cool; I just have semi-regular dreams about being able to breathe underwater like it’s no big thing. Maybe it’s because I’m Dutch, and as such used to living ‘under water’; maybe it has to do with my agoraphobia; maybe I just like the idea of living in weird desolate places. Maybe I’m just tired of dry heat, who knows.

It’s probably no coincidence that I have a particular fondness for games that are set underwater in some way. I have never once minded water levels, including that one Zelda temple everyone always brings up, and that one World of Warcraft zone where you ride seahorses — it rules, fight me. I reviewed Abzû, I spent eleven hours on Aquaria, I built more underwater dwellings in Anno 2070 than I care to remember — before the update that made that a viable strategy! — and resisting the pull to disappear into Subnautica forever is a daily struggle.

So when I ran into Arachnid GamesDiluvion, a “Jules Verne-inspired undersea adventure”, I… Well, I mean, here we are.

(Spoiler levels: Narrative, low with one exception, I guess. Mechanical, high-ish, but you’ll thank me for it..)

(Game source: Bought it myself.)

After the break: Dive into the wonderful world of Diluvion, which is neither – wonderful nor world.

Indie Shorter-Than-Usual-By-Necessity-Land: Masters of Anima

I’ve made bad memory jokes on here before, right? Right. I make these on here every so often, mostly because my own absentmindedness is a never-ending source of hilarity for me, and I always worry whenever I do this that my stories seem to far-off. Too made-up. Like I’m just telling tales to entertain, instead of relaying the way my brain is fundamentally pointless.

Remember that Steam even that ran a month or so ago? The one with the checklists with games that you might enjoy? On a whim, I looked at the list of ‘games you should give a second chance’, and was surprised to find Passtech Games‘ and Focus Home Interactive‘s Masters of Anima. This was surprising mostly because I didn’t remember ever giving that game a first chance. But then I did some digging (of both the memory and email varieties), and sure enough, it turns out that I thought this game looked really neat and I got it for review purposes. In April, when it launched.

I worry that stories like ‘I bought a game because I thought it was cool, but misclicked the Steam install link and as a result almost instantaneously forgot about it for several months’ are too far out. Sometimes I’d really like them to be.

(N.B. This review will be a little shorter than you’re used to for previously documented reasons of tomfoolery. You didn’t miss much, honestly: The opening page would have included a whole bit about me not being able to tell Scottish and Irish accents apart, which — listen, I know, okay.)

(Spoiler levels: Narrative, low. Mechanical, high.)

(Game source: Bought it myself.)

After the break: Masters of Anima, as much as I still remember of it. It’s been like, two days since I last played, I can feel my knowledge slipping.

Indie Shortieland: Shape of the World

Having a memory as bad as mine comes with a lot of downsides. I require external measures and software to keep track of birthdays up to and including those of my immediate family; I’ve developed a habit of patting down my pockets ‘to check I still have everything’ as a security measure; I really need to get my jackets dry-cleaned soon; I genuinely can’t remember if I’ve done this bit for an intro before or not. It is, all in all, not an experience I would recommend.

The one upside of excessive forgetfulness, though, is that it’s really relatively easy to be surprised. For instance, take Hollow Tree GamesShape of the World. I backed this game on Kickstarter back in 2015, and subsequently between then and last week proceeded to forget every single detail about this game and why I chose to support it, up to and including forgetting that it even existed in the first place. No, really. You might think that should be impossible, especially given that Kickstarter update emails are still a thing. But, what can I say? I take my absentmindedness seriously. And 2015 is at this point several decades ago.

You’ll notice from the title that this Indie Wonderland is of the shorter variety again. I’d intended to play Shape of the World sight-unseen this week, but part of what I forgot is that it’s the sort of game that doesn’t gel with the full Indie Wonderland formula well. For reasons of critical accuracy, this time, not for reasons of experience-spoiling. How do you write a full review about a game that can accurately be summed up in four sentences?

(Spoiler levels: Narrative, ???. Mechanical, sorta.)

(Game source: Backed it on Kickstarter, apparently.)

After the break: If you thought I was above holding those three lines hostage to get you to click this link, then guess what – you apparently don’t know me all that well.

Indie Wonderland: Moonlighter

Regular readers of this column will know that I generally only review two types of games: Games that I’ve been carefully and anxiously awaiting for many years, and games that I didn’t know anything about until I bought them ten minutes ago. Digital Sun’s Moonlighter is, surprisingly, the former: I’ve had some form of reminder tab floating around my Chrome hellzone ever since the first announcements and teaser trailers starting surfacing back in 2016. I try not to get prematurely hyped, but Moonlighter purported to fill an item-shop-shaped hole in my heart, left there by perennial darling Recettear and only somewhat tided over by the likes of Pixel Shopkeeper [reviewed here] and Holy Potatoes! A Weapon Shop?! [reviewed here].

Yeah, so I have a type. What can I say? Most video games are some form of power fantasy, and item shop games are a type of power fantasy I crave right now more than anything else: The ability to engage in ethical consumption under capitalism. Or, well, ‘ethical’ — I know times are tough right now, grandma, but if you can’t afford the ridiculous price tag I put on this stack of apples you’d better get the hell out of my store.

(Spoiler levels: Narrative, low. Mechanical, high.)

(Game source: Patreon funds.)

After the break: I’m looking to have cool adventures and bilk rubes out of their hard-earned cash. Will Moonlighter deliver on either front?

Indie Wonderland: Spartan Fist

Glass Bottom Games is one of the few development teams whose work I actually follow. Mostly due to serendipity, though the cat-heavy focus of their games probably weighs more than I care to admit. Jones On Fire: Kitties Are Cute And Should Be Saved was the first-ever game that I bought to play on my tablet — man, remember tablets? And I wrote about Hot Tin Roof: The Cat That Wore A Fedora in the early days of 2015, back when things were calmer and we hadn’t lived through 2016 yet (review here).

And now we’ve got Spartan Fist. Which doesn’t have a lengthy side-title like its older siblings, but if it did, it would be ‘Punch Dudes So Hard They Explode’. Because that’s what you’ll be doing in this game.

I don’t need to explain why this review exists any further, do I?

(Spoiler levels: Narrative, nope. Mechanical, medium.)

(Game source: Patreon funds.)

After the break: Spartan Fist, a game in which no kitties are ever punched – they’re present, but no direct punching happens. Dudes, however…

Indie Wonderland: The Swords Of Ditto

One Bit Beyond‘s The Swords Of Ditto rather unceremoniously exploded onto my Twitter feed a few weeks ago. I hadn’t heard anything about it before that, but then, you might know that I don’t actually follow games news all that closely — either way, it came as a surprise. But a pleasant surprise: From screenshots, The Swords Of Ditto looks engaging and colourful, and from early discussion, it seemed to center around an interesting procedural gameplay system: ‘If your hero dies before defeating the dark lord, the next hero of prophecy has to deal with the consequences’. It was enough to get me to pick it up, and as such, here we are.

(Spoiler levels: Narrative, somewhat high. Mechanical, medium.)

(Game source: Patreon funds.)

After the break: The Swords Of Ditto, which may or may not feature a Pokémon blacksmith. It probably doesn’t. But wouldn’t that be cool?

Indie Wonderland: Frostpunk

A fun fact about me: I moved into Boston early this year, in the aftermath of (and somewhat delayed by) the weather phenomenon known as the ‘bomb cyclone’. My first two weeks were characterized by feet-high piles of snow bordering all walkways, public life slowly starting back up as the white-grey snow banks refused to melt, and perpetual cold winds.

So what I’m saying is, 11 Bit StudiosFrostpunk? A game about fleeing the crumbling remnants of a once-temperate climate to establish a whole new life in an unknown perpetual arctic wasteland? I might actually have the credentials needed to review this.

(Spoiler levels: Narrative, medium. Mechanical, high-ish.)

(Game source: Patreon funds.)

After the break: Frostpunk. If this game has Dunkin’ Donuts around every corner, I’ll know for sure I’m the most qualified person in the world to write about it.