Three recent indiegame releases to explore! Here are our thoughts on Voyage, Gigapocalypse and Sofiya And The Ancient Clan.
Voyage review (PS5)
When Ratalaika (together with Venturous) announced Voyage, it immediately captured our attention – especially because it didn’t seem like their normal type of release. Where we’ve seen plenty of retro/pixel-style platformers from the publisher, this one’s an atmospheric platformer, and it’s out now for all major consoles – we reviewed the PS5 version.
Of course, when you think of atmospheric platformers, you quickly think of games like Limbo. Where that game, much like INSIDE, has a subdued color scheme, Voyage delivers a lush colorful picture – one that almost looks handpainted in places. It’s gorgeous to look at, and wonderfully animated, which makes it a joy to watch even when you’re not playing.
You might as well play though, as Voyage supports two player gameplay and when you play solo a second character will just tag along. You can switch between them, but it’s clear that the developers are trying to promote co-op play here. Perhaps that’s because, unlike the visuals, the gameplay is a tad minimalist and thin in nature. This is an adventure that’s fairly on rails, so don’t expect the smartly designed puzzles of the games mentioned earlier or a game like Unravel.
Instead, Voyage is low on frustration, and mild on difficulty. You’ll likely breeze through this one as you interact with objects and keep moving forward through the (largely implicit) story, but its great presentation will keep you engrossed for all of its (admittedly short) runtime of about two hours. It’s a shame this one’s priced a bit higher than Ratalaika’s other games, because otherwise this would have been an easy recommendation. The short runtime and limited interactivity might hold people back, but grab it for the right price and it’ll be a delightful little adventure.
Gigapocalypse review (PS4)
Kaijus certainly seem to be all the rage. We just reviewed GigaBash a few days ago, and now here is Gigapocalypse. Luckily, it takes a very different approach to the genre, and it’s available now on PlayStation, Xbox and Nintendo Switch after an earlier release on Steam for PCs.
Gigapocalypse feels like it has connections to the clicker genre that’s so popular on mobile platforms, which certainly makes it feel different on consoles, where the genre is rare. You can also tell that it was developed for PCs first, as your main method of control is to move a cursor around the screen as you normally would with a PC mouse.
Your control of your kaiju is mostly indirect here, as you select abilities and pick targets to fire ranged weapons at in order to keep your kaiju safe and able to move forward and destroy stuff. But while that sounds like it’s all-action, you also have to be a kaiju caretaker in between these assaults. You’ll feed them, clean them, and in return they will let you grow and upgrade them and their passive and active abilities. There’s a surprising amount of ‘kaiju management’ here for a game that looks arcade-like in screenshots, and you can even add cosmetic improvements to the home in which you manage your kaiju pets.
Gameplay typically flows between these two styles, as you earn points while destroying stuff to spend with kaiju management – and it’s the latter that makes you grow stronger and get further in your attempts to lay waste to a variety of locations. At first, the odds will be overwhelming, but as progression carries over there’s a roguelike quality to the game as well.
It’s definitely a game that feels most at home with a touch-screen or mouse-driven interface though, due to the abundance of clicking and its menu structure. We didn’t test it, but we assume that means it works great on the Nintendo Switch – if you have the option, that’s perhaps where you should check this one out, as it’s a fun time-waster that’s held back by a slightly awkward user interface for gamepad users.
Sofiya And The Ancient Clan review (PS4)
When Eastasiasoft’s latest release came our way, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Sofiya And The Ancient Clan is out on all major consoles right now – we checked out the PS4 version.
Seeing that this game was previously released under the name “Sexcraft – Sofiya and the Lewd Clan” didn’t exactly fill me with anticipation though. I was assuming this was going to be some type of visual novel with a World of Warcraft-like theme to it that would struggle to keep my attention, but was pleasantly surprised to find out that it’s much more like a classic retro platformer instead.
As with Warcraft, there’s certainly a fantasy theme to it as well, with a world full of clans and witches. It’s far from a narrative-driven experience, but it’s nice to see some thought being put into the game’s many (medium-sized) levels, which are spread across chapters with bosses at the end of them. The platforming itself is fairly basic though, with the usual double jump and a magic attack that uses mana. The latter’s on a slowly recharging meter though, which means you can’t spam your attack and can be faced with a frustrating wait when it need recharging.
You’ll add more attacks to your arsenal later through pickups, but the bulk of the platforming always feels generic and unpolished, with clunky controls and clipping issues on top of some less than inspiring enemies. Bosses fare a little better in comparison, but you’ll find better platformers out there that also feature a similar pixel art style presentation.
But what about this ‘sexcraft’ stuff then? Well, for some odd reason, the developers felt the need to include sexualized imagery that you can unlock – which seems to only exist here for the purpose of attracting a certain niche crowd. It doesn’t do anything for us, to be honest, and certainly didn’t distract us from the shortcomings of the game itself.