Winter Falling is a surprisingly tough survival strategy game, but fortunately the difficulty is finely tuned to always leave victory within reach. There are two ways to win, kill the Ice King, or survive for 90 seconds, even my first attempt felt within reach with only 15 seconds to spare. Every second matters, and before I knew it I was on my 10th attempt convinced I would be able to shave off a few more seconds, or make a charge for the king. There more than meets the eye here, with a few interesting mechanics that really take this game from satisfying curiosity to really clever strategy.
For one, a nice twist comes with the Ice King’s ability to periodically revive all his enemies on the battlefield. A well timed cavalry charge can dispatch a large group with a single swipe, but it’s hard to decide the perfect moment when they’ll be back on their feet soon enough. It really lends itself to the feeling of survival, you can’t win this game from merely defeating everyone, you need to make risks.
The unique art style and feel of the game is really the cherry on top, sound effects are clean and satisfying and everything feels wonderfully smooth. Plus there’s a great deal of extra strategy that I haven’t mentioned, numerous decisions determine how the fight starts adding a nice bit of variety when you get stuck. I still haven’t succeeded, and I’m really keen to see what a future version holds.
I’ll get straight to the point, Three Doors is one of those games that can’t really be described without completely spoiling it and I won’t be spoiling it here. It’s a puzzle game, it’s clever, it probably won’t take you longer than 15 minutes to finish and you should play it. I could leave it there, but I do think it offers an interesting opportunity to say a little about how indies and gimmicks work hand-in-hand.
Gimmick is often a bit of a dirty word when it comes to games design, however they can be an incredible use of resources for indies that don’t have much time, they’re punchy, get straight to the point and provide brilliant player feedback to learn from. They also spread perfectly by word of mouth, of which Frog Fractions is a perfect example, revealing just enough to entice but carefully preserving the secret inside for the next player to enjoy.
This is what I love about small indie games such as Three Doors, discovering and figuring out the secret is very personal, but the joy of passing that on for someone else to experience is also greatly unifying. Go and play it!
sok-stories made by sok-pop collective is a neat little tool for creating your very own mini point and click adventures. It’s crafty style perfectly matches who it’s made for: everyone. Anyone can make a little game in a matter of minutes, and you might think that would dilute the experience, but it really doesn’t. Every sok-story I’ve played feels sincere and personal, I highly recommend playing some yourself, or even better, making some of your own. For only $3.00 you really don’t have an excuse.
While you need to buy the creator to make your own, anyone can play published stories, so I’ve made a little selection to get you started.
How to Be a Tree is the definitive self-help guide for trees, ever find yourself slipping to degenerate, un-tree-like habits? Bad habits such as: launching yourself into the stratosphere, spending time with dodgy fractals, waging war against humanity and/or befriending worms? Well, this interactive edutainment piece will solve all your problems!
If you like the weird and the wonderful mixed with a healthy dose of subversive story-telling, How to Be a Tree and it’s 16 different endings will keep you guessing with its bizarre mixture philosophical themes and dumb humour. These different endings branch out from one another, knowledge and abilities learned from some paths open up other levels, in the strangest Metroidvania I’ve played.
As you get to discover the back story of the mysterious eye or live out your days as a broom, the attention to detail is gleeful. The whimsical endings convinced me that I needed to see everything and it makes me happy that games like this can exist, small experiences that are completely full of heart and personality.
Simplistic, mysterious and engaging, this little puzzler Foxhunt only took me 45 minutes to complete, but I will remember it for longer than games I’ve played for tens of hours. With a playful swish of a bushy tail, this elusive critter leaves the first of many clues as little written cue cards.
These cards are used in a multitude of clever ways, some of which I’ve never seen in other games before. Spoiling it would be a shame so I’m going to shut myself up, hop on over to itch.io and give it a try!
Some games can only be born from the internet, a strange concoction of pop-culture references combined from incompatible eras, smothered in nostalgia, both alien and comforting.
Critters for Sale distinctly reminds me of the Vaporwave Movement, although a direct comparison surely doesn’t do it justice. Real-world threshold images are blended with sprites, to make a distinctly unyielding aesthetic. This is the first of a few episodes too, certainly one to keep an eye on.
Sometimes you just need a game for a coffee break, a perfect mixture of relaxation and concentration. Numgeon is a great little game to play for 10 or 15 minutes, the objective is simple, click the grid of numbered tiles in ascending order to destroy the enemy, while clicking on red tiles will restore your mana.
The short sessions and clicker gameplay is really well suited for mobile platforms, I hope this becomes a possibility in the future.
Ever wanted to play as an ethereal being, manipulating a pack of spinning teeth? Well, I had no idea until I was bitten by this game, the ASCII style drew me in, and the satisfying controls kept my hand glued to my mouse. Guide a whirling swarm of teeth in this surprisingly heartfelt game. You start off small, hunting your foes by tracking their footprints, frantically striking until they are limping and helpless.
I really didn’t know what to expect with this game, but it really surprised me, it’s wonderfully weird and very memorable.