The indie scene is full of lesser known titles that still manage to catch our attention. We’re looking at three of them today, with Road of Death, Seduction: A Monk’s Tale and Aniquilation.
Road of Death review (PS4)
This one’s being published by Ratalaika, so you probably won’t be surprised to learn that you could technically call it a port – though it’s actually more of a re-launch under a different name, as developer Diedemor Studio launched a previous iteration of Road of Death on Steam before. The gameplay hasn’t changed much though – this is a twin stick shooter with a few survival elements thrown in.
Originally, this one has Chernobyl in its title, so it won’t come as a surprise that we’re dealing with a post-apocalyptic theme here – one where radiation has done a serious number of those living there. But where this could easily have been a straight up shooter where you gun down mutants, survival elements like limited ammo and the darkness of night make things more complicated than that.
Over time, you can apply upgrades that make things a bit easier, and you can also earn these by clearing away some of the irradiated sections of the game’s nine levels. You’ll generally want to take things slow, looking for meds and ammo as you go along. This also helps account for the fact that switching between weapons – which you need to frequently do in the early stages, is a bit cumbersome.
While Road of Death is an okay game if you’re into the genre, it feels a tad generic outside of the survival elements – which aren’t that exciting either. The shooting’s not that satisfying, and the visuals certainly have a generic feel to them – especially when enemy and level designs start feeling repetitive. But stick with it past the rough early stages, and there’s a nice easy platinum in it for you.
Seduction: A Monk’s Fate review (PS4)
Despite the recent release of Sword and Fairy: Together Forever, Eastasiasoft is also still supporting smaller indie productions. Seduction: A Monk’s Fate certainly fits into that category, as it was developed by just a single developer going by the name KOEX Studio. It deals with a Buddhist monk in a monastery that’s dealing with a malevolent deity trying to sway its inhabitants and making them doubt their beliefs.
That perhaps sounds overly religious, and you’d be surprised to know that this is actually more of a side-scrolling adventure/puzzle hybrid, where some of the cleverly designed puzzles are highlights in the game. It has a very short runtime though, and you should expect your playthrough to only last about an hour – which is short even for a low budget game like this one that offers little replay value.
Luckily, the (short) story is interesting, and the art style certainly catches the eye, especially in how the monastery and the evil deity’s influence are being brought to life. Tons of little details have been tucked into the design of the game’s various locations, so it pays to take it easy and not just rush ahead to the next puzzle. Considering the runtime, that’s what you shouldn’t do anyway, unless you’re in it for the easy platinum trophy. For us, it was woefully short, but it has a good story with solid puzzle gameplay.
Aniquilation review (PS4)
We hadn’t heard of Columbia-based developer R-Next prior to the release of Aniquilation, which is being published by Gamera on all major systems – we checked out the PlayStation version but versions for Steam, Xbox and the Nintendo Switch are also available.
Checking out the screenshots and gameplay footage ahead of time, Aniquilation caught our interest as it looked a bit like a twin stick shooter in a similar vein as Geometry Wars 3 – moving across spinning spheres in a familiar fashion. There are contours of a storyline here as well, dealing with a sci-fi premise in which an alien race cooperates with mankind as you clear thirty or so levels in which you destroy key targets on a selection of small planets.
The actual delivery is much more arcade-like though, and we wouldn’t consider this to be narrative-driven title by any stretch of the imagination due to the lackluster way in which the story is told, with sub-par writing/translations and awkward computer-generated voicework. It’s less of a twin stick shooter than we intially thought as well, as you’ll find yourself often using a melee-like attack instead.
Although Aniquilation doesn’t manage to impress, it does feature support for cooperative play, which is somewhat rare in a genre dominated by single player gameplay. If you have the option to play it that way, then Aniquilation might be worth a look – it supports both local and online play. Geometry Wars 3 can regularly be picked up for next to nothing though, and we’d definitely go for that one first if you never played it before.