Closing out the week, we look at another trio of indie titles that were just released or are releasing in the near future. Up today are the PS4 versions of 112th Seed by Eastasiasoft, the PS4 port of Escape from Tethys by Sometimes You and Tiny Racer, a brand new Micro Machines-inspired racer for the Nintendo Switch published by Icetorch Interactive.
Another retro-inspired title from Eastasiasoft, 112th Seed is a new puzzle platformer that’s exclusive to consoles (it’s also available on Xbox One and the Switch). In it, humanity has almost perished because the earth is no longer a habitable place and all hope rests on an experiment with 112 different seed types engineered to re-populate the earth’s flora. 111 of the experiments have failed, and everything falls to you, the 112th seed.
It’s a bit of a silly sci-fi premise, but it does explain why you’re controlling a little seedling through a series of 2D pixel art-inspired levels of puzzles. The objective is always to reach the exit, but doing so requires a bit of basic jumping, block pushing, and of course plant growing. Carrying a droplet of water to a plot of dirt fertilizes it, and once you stand on it you can sprout a plant that will push you upwards, creating a new platform.
Later levels allow you to transform yourself into a flying seedling and back again, or introduce moveable flower pots. As such, new mechanics are consistently being introduced through puzzles that you’ll initially get through quite quickly. I did worry about this when a trophy initially popped after every single level, but even after getting the final trophy in level 30 there were still 40 or so levels left, and they get gradually more challenging over time.
Definitely a title that’s great for trophy hunters, 112th Seed also satisfies puzzle fans who want a bit more content from their games – though the 70+ levels still won’t tide puzzle purists over for too long, I’d assume. One feature that’s sorely missing in the game is a level select option, your only choice being to pick up where you left off. If you want to practice a certain mechanic, or experiment with alternate solutions, you can’t – making the rare lack of a level select option a frustrating one. Still, as a casual little puzzler at a budget price, 112th Seed is a fun little diversion even if it doesn’t last long.
Escape From Tethys
Not out until August 12th, Escape From Tethys is a port of a game that originally launched on Steam for PCs back in 2018. It’s a challenging action platformer with metroidvania elements in which you find yourself inside a research facility on a remote planet with an urgent need to escape when things go haywire.
What seems like a simple enough objective eventually turns into quite the adventure, as you venture deeper into the planet, encounter a variety of bad guys and unlock new weapons and abilities as you go forward and defeat the occasional boss as well.
Visually, Escape From Tethys is a retro-inspired title with graphics that feel like they would fit in well with the Commodore 64-era of home computing. A few modern day conveniences include relatively fluid (though sometimes floaty) controls, a minimap (which isn’t super helpful because it’s low on detail) and modernized controls that allow you to fire in multiple directions even while jumping.
It’s not a game that will set the world on fire, but if you enjoy the sci-fi metroidvania genre then this is a nice little indie take on it. It’s double the price of the Steam version though, so that’s worth noting and useful to know if you also play on a PC.
I’ve always enjoyed the Micro Machines, even before they existed. That sounds strange, but back in the 80s I loved games like Super Sprint, Super Cars and Ivan “Ironman” Stewart’s Super Off Road – games that featured tiny cars you could steer across the screen. A few years later, the Micro Machines franchise was born as we also saw the birth of the kart racer – and Tiny Racer by Icetorch kind of falls in the middle of those genres.
On the surface, Tiny Racer ticks a lot of the right boxes. For a budget game, it features a good number of tracks (15 in total), all using the miniature nature of your cars to create fun scenery as you race around various parts of the house, for instance. There’s also support for local (split-screen) multiplayer, which is always great, and you can play against CPU racer of various difficulty levels.
There are rough edges in the details though, as too many tracks are initially locked and require you to win championships first. That wouldn’t be so bad, but the driving model isn’t the greatest either. It’s rough when coming from something like Mario kart 8, but even a similar game like Table Top Racing felt like it provided a smoother driving experience – with Tiny Racer’s cars regularly feeling like you lose control even after the tiniest bit of contact.
Still, with a budget price point in mind and a decent enough amount of content, it’s a game that has promise for the budget-minded Switch gamer – especially if they make the tracks more easily accessible and tweak the driving model a little.