Indie roundup: Helvetii, Tails: The Backbone Preludes & The Redress of Mira

With Helvetii, Tails: The Backbone Preludes and The Redress of Mira, we’re diving into the indie scene with three very different titles. With a Vanillaware-inspired roguelike, a prequel to an adventure game with anthropomorphic characters and a hybrid of a walking sim with puzzle/action elements, there’s something for all tastes here.

Helvetii review (PS4)

The relatively unknown developers at Team KwaKwa paired up with Red Art Games to bring Helvetii to PCs and console – a game that was inspired by Vanillaware’s catalogue, which includes games like Odin Sphere and Dragon’s Crown. And it’s not difficult to see that, because Helvetii’s striking art style will immediately remind players of the colorful fantasy epics that came before.

Gameplay-wise, Helvetii taps into a genre that’s been very popular these past few years – the roguelike, but set against the backdrop of the conflict between the Gauls and the Roman empire and a bit of supernatural influence. A victory was won through a pact with a deity, which turned into a curse soon after – corrupting the land with monsters and bringing chaos. The war chief involved, Divico, now pairs up with half-beast Renart and druid Nammeios to see if they can turn the tide.


The story campaign is split up into stages, which themselves consist of acts. As you battle through them, you’ll gain abilities, some of them by making deals with deities. Depending on the character you’re controlling this can result in a wide range of possible fighting styles, with the option to change characters in between stages. All of these abilities will be taken away if you fall in battle through, but this wouldn’t be a roguelike if there wasn’t something to help you on your next run. This comes in the shape of tokens that you can spend on sigils – which in turn provide you with permanent boosts, for instance towards your base stats.

These permanent upgrades feel far less impactful than some of the special abilities you unlock while playing though, so Helvetii can feel grindy and repetitive until the moment you actually feel you can get over the difficulty spike you’re currently facing. Helvetii isn’t a game that’s looking to add anything fresh to the roguelike genre in this sense – the biggest delight from that perspective are the striking visuals. So if you don’t mind a small lack of innovation in terms of roguelike mechanics and love the Vanillaware aesthetic, this is a good little indie action adventure with a lengthy campaign.

Tails: The Backbone Preludes review (PC)

We covered Backbone when it launched for consoles a few months after developer Eggnut and Raw Fury released the game on Steam. They’ve paired up again to deliver us a prequel, which at the moment is a PC exclusive though we have our fingers crossed for a console port.

What made Backbone stand out for us was the quality of the writing in the game, so when we booted up and played Tails: The Backbone Preludes we weren’t surprised that this second take on anthropomorphic post-noir storytelling was well developed in that area as well. It’s still worth mentioning though, because as Tails is actually a prequel it can’t rely on too many surprising plot twists and unexpected developments. After all – at the end of Tails you kind of have to end up where Backbone begins.


The team at Eggnut did a great job with this, coming up with interesting origin stories for the characters we already know – which are all engaging in their own right. And although the start and finish points of each story are more or less set in stone, there are opportunities to discover different branches of the narrative through choices you make, and the game conveniently shows you these different paths once you complete a character arc. For example, (not) doing something inside a scene or (not) picking something to say can make a difference – though not all of these things are impactful so we’re not sure how much replay value is there once you get past that “I wonder what would have happened if….” sense of curiosity.

Audiovisually speaking, Tails: The Backbone Preludes is very much on par with the high quality we saw in Backbone, and combined with the excellent writing that makes this is a must-play for fans of the original. If you played that one on a console, however, you might have to be a little more patient and hope for a port – or get this on Steam, where it has modest system requirements.

The Redress of Mira review (PS5)

When we look at the catalogue of games that EastAsiaSoft ports over to consoles, we can’t help but notice how prolific developer Tonguç Bodur is. And while it’s not uncommon for indie developers to crank out a bunch of games in a relatively short amount of time, this particular developer always has a high standard for audiovisual design that makes it especially striking how quickly our library of Tonguç Bodur games is growing. The Redress of Mira is the latest title to get ported over – we checked out the PS5 version of the game, which launched about half a year ago on Steam.

While it features the signature gorgeous environmental work of the developer, The Redress of Mira is different from previous games in that it’s not a walking simulator with limited gameplay mechanics. The game’s also quite a bit longer, and features a heavier emphasis on story (compared to the more atmosphere-driven other games). In said story, you’re Mira, whose father if the chief of an Elven tribe. Told through storybook excerpts, her tale is a rather dark one, told over the course of about four hours.


From the perspective of Tonguç Bodur’s other games, adding more story content feels like a good decision in making sure the game appeals to a wider audience. We also like seeing the developer branch out to other game mechanics, but that part of The Redress of Mira feels less successful by comparison. There’s some combat that feels awkward, traversal (especially climbing, but there’s platforming too) feels rough around the edges and the puzzles are so-so. These aren’t easy things to get right in a first person title, and it shows.

The end result is a game that feels a little stuck in the middle between Bodur’s other work and a more traditional game. You still get the gorgeous design work though, and for its asking price there’s a good length campaign here. Rough around the edges gameplay-wise, but we’re hoping the developer’s next game will show improvements in that area as well.

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