With The Company Man, The Adventures of Elena Temple, Back Again and Rick Henderson, we’re looking at a quartet of games that got their start through a PC/Steam release but have recently been ported over to consoles. Time for a closer look at these interesting indies.
The Company Man review (PS4)
Sometimes a lesser known publisher manages to capture our attention right away, which was what Leoful did with The Company Man, a game that was developed by Malaysian indie developer Forust which initially came out on PC but recently got a console launch. With a vibrant and attractive hand-drawn visual style, it’s a 2D platformer we couldn’t wait to try out – which we did on a PS4.
Story-wise, The Company Man is about Jim, who’s not having a killer first day at the office. He’s almost instantly demoted to customer service, while he actually had dreams of quickly making it up the corporate ladder instead. It’s not exactly a narrative-driven adventure, but anyone’s who’s ever worked in an office setting will probably appreciate the nods to office life that you’ll run into, as there’s plenty of satire here – the kind where sales agents are werewolves.
The Company Man impresses most through its visuals though, which beautifully animated characters and nicely designed levels. It mostly performs well, and I only ran into a visual glitch once during my playthrough. The audio is also well done, with an excellent soundtrack to back up the action.
We were surprised to see that kind of audiovisual polish in a game that clearly needs a few gameplay tweaks though, especially when you consider that the PC version’s been out for a while. Hit detection feels off, which hurts your enjoyment of the game’s combat, which feels unnecessarily clunky as a result and should have been more refined in what’s only a three hour adventure. If that gets tweaked post-release, this is an easy recommendation – though it’s a tad pricey compared to indie games with a similar length.
The Adventures Of Elena Temple: Definitive Edition review (PS4)
We had never heard of The Adventures of Elena Temple before, but then suddenly there was a Definitive Edition of the game that introduced the game to consoles after an earlier PC launch. As we like retro-inspired games, we decided to test the PS4 version.
Despite its distinctly retro look and feel, complete with monochromatic/low color visuals, The Adventures of Elena Temple is actually a relatively new title – one that combines that classic look with puzzle platforming gameplay in which you play an explorer-type character who ventures into dungeons, grabs collectibles and secrets and tries to overcome puzzles and obstacles. Basically an Indiana Jones knock-off had they made one thirty-five years ago (and yes, they did – Livingstone comes to mind).
The definitive edition adds two entirely new dungeons into the mix, giving you close to fifty additional rooms to explore. This brings the total number of levels to over 100, which makes for great value for money considering the fact that this is a budget release. You can visually tell which rooms you’ve ransacked already, which gives you a good sense of exploration as you search for new treasure – with often well-designed puzzles standing in your way.
Retro fans will also appreciate the game’s unique visual template, which lets you select a retro gaming station of your choice and changes the game’s visual appearance accordingly. The developers (Grimtalin) didn’t actually license that actual systems, but they’ve creatively adapted the familiar look and feel of old MS-DOS, Game Boy and old Apple systems, just to name a few. Just that alone makes this enough to bring a smile to fans of classic gaming – the solid puzzle platforming is really just a bonus.
Back Again review (PS5)
It’s hard to do a port roundup and not somehow get around to featuring Eastasiasoft – so here we are. Back Again originally launched on Steam when developer Manning Media released it in 2021, and thanks to EAS it’s now come to consoles as well, bringing its surreal brand of puzzle platforming to the PlayStation and Switch.
When we saw surreal here, we mean it. Back in Again’s visual style borders on the bizarre, with its mix of red, black and white visuals and giant mannequins that somehow populate the game world. It gives off a creepy kind of vibe, but it’s in no way a horror title or anything like that. It’s more of a challenging-but-also-floaty first person platformer, and interesting for its visual style.
It’s a very short game though, which we suppose is good news for trophy hunting fans, but on consoles this is reflected less in the game’s price tag than it is on Steam, where it’s one of those games that’s permanently under a dollar in price. With under an hour of gameplay time, this is a title where you might want to wait for the inevitable sale if you’re looking to pick it up. Without the striking art style it’d be a very generic platformer, so how much you get out of it will depend on how much you like a more artful look and feel in a game like this.
Rick Henderson review (PS4)
For some reason we kept thinking that Fat Pug Studio’s Rick Henderson was going to be a throwback to Rick Dangerous, but despite the similarity in name it’s actually a retro game of another variety – a classic 16-bit style arcade shoot ’em up. After a 2019 release on Steam, it’s now available on all major consoles thanks to Eastasiasoft, and it’s a great homage to the classics.
While you can play as the titular hero in the game, you can also select two other characters: Ben and Thorax – all three have their own ship, which comes with its own characteristics and special weapons. This adds some replay value, though we opted to play with Rick first – whose ship can cast a temporary decoy while the others can dodge/teleport or call in additional firepower.
In addition to the special weapons, you also have three firing modes. One is your basic bullet-shooter that’s best against standard enemies, but you can also fire off energy weapons that are great at blasting through shields. Once that shield’s done but you’re faced with armor, you also have missiles to fire, which makes for a great bit of having to be on your toes while playing, not just weaving in between incoming fire and spamming that fire button.
But while you’d think that memorization will help you here, levels and the way that enemies come at you are randomly generated, even down to the bosses. They’re the same bosses at the end of each level, but they come in different versions, where defeating them gives you access to upgrades, which come on top of the plethora of weapon pickups during the levels. One downside of randomly generated levels is that there’s no carefully placed scenery though, so you’re basically just flying horizontally through empty spaces.
With its solid gameplay and a decent amount of challenge, Rick Henderson is a nice little arcade shooter with a colorful 16-bit aesthetic and plenty of content for the price. We’d love to see the developer tackle a more traditional arcade shooter (without the randomization aspect) next, as we really like some of the shooting mechanics and the look and feel here.