Summer means great games are coming, and my Summer Indie Quickies are just the treat for you! If you’re looking for some underrated recommendations that aren’t just the same AAA premise pasted over and over again, check out my list below.
From shoot-em-ups to zombie RPGs, here are some great games to check out this season! Can’t break the bank this month or missed the Steam summer sale? Don’t worry, because all these games retail at $19.99 USD or less on their respective digital storefronts!
Corgis are one of my favorite breed of dogs; I also enjoy bullet hell shoot-em-ups from time to time. What if we were to put those together? Kemono Games answers this in the form of Protocorgi, a deceptively cute horizontal shoot-em-up game with a great artstyle.
In Protocorgi, you play as Bullet, a Cute Cybernetic Corgi that needs to save his owner from an alien invasion. In the main campaign mode, you will play through a gauntlet of stages dodging and barking… erm, shooting foes. While your main attack is a steady stream of barks (which you can customize!), you’ll have upgradeable weapons as well. However, you need to be careful, because one hit from an enemy or wall kills Bullet and loses a life. It’s tricky, but you’ll need to maneuver Bullet away from bosses and enemy fire.
Why is Protocorgi a Summer Indie Quickies Recommendation?
Look, if “corgi weaponizing barks to defend his planet” isn’t a good hook, I don’t know what to tell you. In all seriousness however, I can tell that Kemono Games put a lot of love in this title. I died a few times from errant movements (especially in later stages with faster platforms), but it’s a fair shooter. The level design is great, and I love the sprite art that’s used within the game itself. The art is lush and adorable (seeing Bullet zip around with his spirit corgi is so heartwarming). You can also design your own levels with a level editor.
In addition, composer Francisco Cerda carries Protocorgi with his killer soundtrack. Every track is a banger, and I’ve been looping Imminento Destruction ever since the soundtrack was available digitally. The soundtrack does a perfect job emphasizing the chaotic nature of the game, and it’s up there with some of the greatest indie soundtracks.
I’m a sucker for anthropomorphic food, what can I say? Goofy games with punishing difficulty helps as well, and Garlic is one of those titles that fit the bill nicely.
The titular Garlic wants to meet the Cyber Goddess that resides on the top of the Sacred Tower. It’s not the deepest story, but it never pretends to be. To climb the tower, you’ll need to traverse through 12 different zones of deadly traps. While the game features a retro palette mix of 8 and 16-bit games, movement is fluid and precise. Garlic feels like the best parts of Celeste mixed with the aesthetics of Wario Land (or more recently, Pizza Tower).
Why is Garlic a Summer Indie Quickies Recommendation?
The main draw Garlic is how difficult it gets. However, the game is forgiving and gives out generous checkpoints throughout each zone. You also immediately respawn every time you die, which means it’s not super frustrating. This, mixed with the innovative level design, makes this a fun experience for those that like a tough-as-nails 2D platformer.
I enjoyed how Garlic never holds your hand and lets you experiment with your moveset; it encourages momentum-based play while testing your reflexes. It feels so fun to zip around zones and nailing a particularly hard section is an amazing feeling.
Finally, this game is goofy (in a good way!) The game feels charming with its silly animations, even when you die. From getting squished into bite-sized pieces to your head growing when getting hit, I laughed at the presentation of Garlic. It helps that this feels like an homage to games in the 16-bit era, complete with Saturday morning cartoon antics. The game doesn’t take itself seriously (even if the gameplay itself does), and it’s an oddly refreshing experience.
Garlic is a textbook example of never judging a book by its cover. It’s a shame that some people are going to pass on this amazing platformer. However, those looking for a hilariously fun time with nail-biting twitch reflexes and crushing (but fair!) difficulty will love this.
Sephonie (Available July 21)
I’m always in the mood for a puzzle game, and I love it when it’s wrapped up in an engaging story. Sephonie accomplishes this task and makes for an entertaining tale that’s heartfelt and emotional.
The game stars three biologists who travel to the titular island to improve their ONYX implant technology. Amy, Riyou, and Ing-wen suddenly get shipwrecked and are forced to explore the island while waiting for a rescue team. While they continue to analyze the flora and fauna for research purposes, the island seems to have a mind of its own. Throughout this tale, the three characters will face their own conflicts and grow closer to each other and the island.
Why is Sephonie a Summer Indie Quickies Recommendation?
I was quite surprised with how innovative the puzzle-platformer elements of the game manifested. The main draw of the game is twofold, the first of which is puzzles where you clear colored tetromino-esque tiles. You have unlimited time, but you need to clear a set amount of points or else you lose health. Lose too much health, and you have to retry the puzzle.
While simple in nature, the game ramps up quickly, and you’ll need to account for beneficial tiles and other hindrances. Things like slime that will destroy tiles to vents that will unlock other areas in the puzzle will appear. The variety of mechanics makes each puzzle unique (as is the case of the species you’re analyzing in the game). If you’re a fan of cerebral block puzzles, this is a great game to sink your teeth into.
The other part of what makes Sephonie unique is the platforming element. You can control each of the characters as they traverse the island. Moves like a parkour wallrun and dash mean that you’ll have plenty of options to roam around. The retro low-fi aesthetic is a unique and charming touch as well. While I personally thought the platforming segments were too tricky for my liking, there are plenty of accessibility options. If you like the puzzles but have trouble with the platforming elements (or vice versa), you can modify the difficulty. I appreciate the ability to make this game more accessible, which complements Sephonie’s theme of inclusivity in cooperation.
KEMCO is my gaming fast food publisher; they make titles that I zone out to. While most of their published titles are EXE-Create RPGs, there are a few great standouts. Raging Bytes is a title that surprised me with its entertaining turn-based battles and great art style.
Ben is a police officer who wakes up from an injury to see that zombies have taken over the country. Hoping to find survivors, he teams up with Barbra, a nurse in the area, alongside a couple other allies. During the journey, the group will team up with each other across the country. Raging Bytes doesn’t have the deepest story, but it fits well with the b-movie vibes of the RPG.
Why is Raging Bytes a Summer Indie Quickies Recommendation?
Zombie-based video games are nothing new, but a turn-based RPG based on the idea is unusual. After all, how can you implement attacks with a scarcity system? Thankfully, Raging Bytes pulls it off well. Each turn, characters can do one action (though healing with items is free). Each character has a unique action (such as healing without serum or buffing attack for one turn) and weapons. Every turn, zombies will move closer to you (with some also having ranged attacks). Once they reach your screen, they will deal a ton of damage, so you best have a plan to fend them off.
Most ranged weapons require ammunition which will be found by exploring or as a battle reward. Melee weapons deal a lot of damage but can only be used when a zombie is nearby. These melee attacks also take a chunk off your HP, so you have to be careful with health management.
The battle system is relatively easy for the first few chapters to help ease you in. However, when you get into the middle of the game, there are enemies willing to whittle your health instantly. It’s also not in your best interest to fight every zombie on screen, since you need to conserve ammo. This oddly realistic approach to the battle system feels thematically restrictive and tense for harder fights. It’s a cool mechanic that I don’t see in many RPGs, so I’m glad there’s a way to implement it.
And there you have it, summer indie quickies to help cool you off these next two months! What indie games are you playing today? Sound off in the comments, and stay tuned for more gaming, anime, and manga reviews here on Miso!