Today we’re checking out three indie titles that we recently played: Reed 2 and Thy Sword which were published by Ratalaika, and DCR: Drive.Crash.Repeat by Tarboosh Games.
It was only February when we reviewed Reed Remastered for the PlayStation Vita, and besides being on the short end it was a challenging platformer that was fun to play. Now, developer PXLink and Ratalaika Games are teaming up yet again to bring us the sequel – Reed 2.
If you’ve played the first game, this is essentially a carbon copy – just with new level layouts, new secrets to find and over 50 additional levels to complete. Some of these will stump you for a while, but with some perseverance and a decent amount of talent for platforming games a playthrough shouldn’t last you more than two hours. Visually the game uses many of the same assets, making it a vibrant and detailed 16-bit retro adventure rather than the 8-bit visuals so many Vita games use these days.
Collect three cubes in each level to open up the exit, and keep an eye out for secret passages that unlock extra levels. You’ll encounter plenty of dangers along the way as well, ranging from spikes to enemies. As with Reed Remastered, this is a solid retro platformer that fans of the genre should briefly enjoy and will certainly be a hit with trophy collectors. You need to get to level 29 to unlock everything, but it’s certainly worth it getting all the way to the end.
Now here’s one that nearly everyone missed, as it’s been out since August of 2018. Developed by Tarboosh Games, it’s exclusive to Steam and while it looks like a circa 1990 racer like Super Cars, it has a twist and doesn’t actually involve any racing against other cars directly.
Instead, gameplay sees you car driving forward by itself, with your only option the ability to steer it left and right and apply a bit of turbo boost. Using these controls, DCR is a game that’s more about skill than it is about racing, tasking you to get to the finish zone in each of the game’s 45 levels. After the first few levels that becomes challenging enough, but there’s a leaderboard option as well – urging you to push for faster times through the use of that turbo boost option.
It’s a fun concept but the game quickly becomes too challenging for its own good, so the developers’ claim that it’s the “hardest car game in the world” isn’t too far-fetched. What’s sorely missing is controller support as well, since the game only features keyboard controls at this point. Probably smart to wait for that to get implemented, unless you have way better keyboard driving skills than we do.
Ratalaika’s most recent release is Thy Sword, previously released on Steam by developer GamePhase. We tested the PlayStation Vita version that comes packaged as a cross-buy game with the PS4 version, but you can also pick this up on the Xbox One and Nintendo Switch when it releases this week.
With randomly generated/procedural levels and a retro aesthetic, Thy Sword is a fantasy hack ‘n slash platformer with a few light RPG/roguelike elements to it. There’s a storyline that involves a Dark Overlord and five crystals of power that you have to collect – and you do so by defeating five other bosses in the game.
Besides a basic sword attack, a block and a jump button, there is also a spinning sword attack. It looks a lot like the spinning move in 1987’s Barbarian by Palace, and if executed correctly it will (like in that 1987 classic) allow you to chop off an enemy’s head. Best of all, there are trophies that reward you for doing so.
That’s not the only retro throwback in the game though. The overall visuals look a bit like another eighties Barbarian title – the one by Psygnosis, and I even came across a little guy dressed in a blue cape who’d drop or steal coins. Surely a nod to Golden Axe, which brought a smile to my face.
Progress further and you can also unlock the use of a bow, and you can purchase stronger gear and weapons with the money you find as well. There are three difficulty levels, but even on the easiest one Thy Sword presents a serious challenge if you’re not careful, and the last boss fight is a challenging one indeed. You’ll need to get past him to unlock all the trophies in the game, but when we tested the game pre-launch the trophies on the Vita were glitches and the game kept us from achieving the platinum trophy. The PS4 version didn’t have this problem, it’s worth pointing out.
One extra neat feature is that Thy Sword actually has a mode that’s ‘exclusive’ to the PlayStation TV! You can play local multiplayer matches against another player, and although it needs a PSTV unit to work it’s great that they didn’t rip it out of the Vita version just because of that. This is a well done little indie game that combines retro nods with modern gameplay, and it’s worth picking up.