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Cheers to the 21 Best Indie Games of 2021

You can always count on indie developers to push the limits of creativity. Here are our picks for the best indie games of 2021.

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Despite suffering a wave of delays due to the ongoing effects of the pandemic, the video game industry at large–and the indie space in particular–has thrived this year. Some of the most long-awaited titles of the last decade finally released, as did sequels to indie darlings of previous generations. The independent space has continued to prove that a larger budget or team doesn’t equal a higher quality game, and this list of our favorite indies from the year drives that point home. Arranged in alphabetical order, here are our picks for the 21 best indie games of 2021. Enjoy!

Alisa: The Awakening – Alpha Demo | Alpha Beta Gamer
Image: Casper Croes

Alisa

Alisa combines the magical surrealist world of Alice in Wonderland with the tense aesthetic of a late 90s survival horror game, and the fusion is absolutely wonderful. There’s so much charm in this game, between a captivating story revealed piece by piece through a terrifying surreal world and the classic survival horror tank controls gameplay that goes down smooth. The atmosphere is oppressive at times, and the tense and creepy setting is magnified by a minimalist but incredibly effective soundtrack.

The player takes on the role of Alisa, an Elite Royal Agent, and chases a wanted criminal deep into a dark forest. Somewhere along the way she gets lost and wakes up in a Victorian mansion infested with aggressive doll-like creatures and filled with puzzles and locked doors. It’s difficult in places, and resources are scarce, but whenever you conquer a new area it feels so satisfying. The mansion, with all its puzzles and eccentric layout, is a joy to explore and slowly clear out. There are a handful of areas as well that are mysteries yet to be unlocked, and there are others that are dangerous deathtraps.

Alisa comes highly recommended not just for the nostalgic classic survival horror gameplay, but also for the incredible art direction and character design across both the title character and all the enemies throughout. Survival horror has been having a bit of a resurgence over the past few years, and it’s just so great to see the classic format still finding ways to feel fresh and exciting. (Shane Dover)

Image: Thomas Happ Games

Axiom Verge 2

2015’s Axiom Verge was a derivative watershed moment for the metroidvania genre. During a time when Nintendo had seemingly abandoned the Metroid series, this sci-fi adventure solo developed by Tom Happ demonstrated that the classic formula established by Super Metroid still had some life in it. For all its brilliance, though, it hardly felt original: it seemed content to follow in the footsteps of its inspirations instead of introducing any new ideas. Six years later, its sequel, Axiom Verge 2, blows past the limitations of its predecessor. It offers a truly innovative take on its genre, a wildly ambitious demonstration of what the future could hold for the next generation of metroidvanias.

Axiom Verge 2 provides not just one vast interconnected world for players to explore, but two. Putting players in the role of a disgruntled former CEO searching for her daughter, Axiom Verge 2 takes place in a distant dimension where high-tech technology intermingles with ancient Sumerian art and architecture. As otherworldly as this environment may seem at first, there is still more to it than meets the eye: by entering various “breaches” scattered across the world, players can verge into an 8-bit alternate reality featuring a unique map of its own. These two worlds intertwine with one another, adding literal new dimensions to the act of exploration—a dynamic facilitated by an arsenal of incredibly unique items and abilities, such as the powers to hack enemies to bend them to your will, deploy a sentient drone to sneak into smaller crevices, and self-destruct in a massive explosion before your atoms immediately reassemble themselves.

With dimension-hopping gameplay, an unmatched arsenal of innovative items, and its evocative world design, Axiom Verge 2 offers something new for metroidvanias, making it an experience that genre fans can’t afford to miss. (Campbell Gill)

Image: Nicalis

The Binding of Isaac: Repentance

The Binding of Isaac is a very special video game for me, one that drew me into the ‘roguelike’ subgenre and somehow never got old after hundreds of hours. Repentance is the finale, the full Isaac experience and the cap on the story, and with it comes one of the best gaming experiences I’ve ever had. Things have changed in so many little ways that, whilst there’s still a lot of familiarity carrying on from the previous versions, everything feels new and exciting.

With multiple extra paths, brand new floors, countless new items and combos, and a whole host of new enemies and rooms, Repentance brings the best of Isaac and somehow just keeps getting better the deeper you dive in. The new alternate path leading to the hectic Mother fight also brings a lot of difficulty and a new learning curve, then there’s another new path up and into the finale of Isaac’s journey. The story of Isaac has always been something more in the details than explicitly stated, and whilst that’s still true we do get a much more major focus on what happens with the terrified boy, his murderous mother-driven crazy through religion, and even get a glimpse into the previously largely unknown father.

Repentance offers an off the walls and challenging experience that’s still easy to get into. The addiction it brings on calls for “just one more run…” after every single playthrough, after all, where else can you find a game where one run has you filling the screen with yellow eyeballs that deal aura damage and splatter the room with creep, followed by the next run with a face full of lasers shooting in spirals and spawning spiders? (Shane Dover)

Chasing Static
Image: Headware Games

Chasing Static

Horror mixed with sci-fi is usually a formula that breeds success, and it’s no different with indie walking simulator Chasing Static. Something is amiss out in rural Wales and it’s up to an Englishman named Chris, who’s innocently stopping by at a roadside café, to figure out what the heck it is. Although not overly terrifying as far as horrors go, playing out more like an immersive film experience, it’s still not a bad place to start for relative newcomers to the genre or those simply on the lookout for something different. And, unlike the terrors within, it’s not all-consuming, with only a short playtime required for completion. Said completion can be achieved in a fairly open-ended way, as Chasing Static gives players free rein to progress through the story in whatever order they like.

The only downside is the occasional horror cliché and perhaps a rather uninspired ending, but although Chasing Static may only be the latest in the recent wave of lo-fi PS1-inspired titles that have slowly reshaped the horror genre, it is notable as one of the very few video games to feature a Welsh setting – wet, wild and windy. Perfect for those dark winter nights. That being said, it could just as well be anywhere that matches that description, though the waitress at the café does have a beautiful regional accent which North American players in particular may find of interest. Just don’t cry too hard when you see what happens to her. (Michael McKean)

Chicory: A Colorful Tale

There are plenty of games this year that have explored topics of self-hate, depression, and realization, but none will likely ever be akin to the success that indie developer Greg Lobanov and his team of friends have created. Chicory: A Colorful Tale may yield adorable esthetics and an artist tool kit adaptable for painters of all ages, but behind its digestible gameplay is a sea of emotion and trauma that players will find themselves tearing their own heartstrings with. The story of an anthropomorphic dog who is hilariously named after the player’s favorite food is nothing short of a living wonder. Chicory: A Colorful Tale is quite literally a game that players will decide whether or not it lives in a prosperous land of color or a gloomy monotone horizon.

Surrounding itself with the key philosophies of art and painting, Chicory: A Colorful Tale is constantly creating a perfect picture that is bleeding with emotion, color, inspiration, and heart. While the story and characters of the game do take a primary focus, the puzzle-solving, collecting, and artistic capabilities of the gameplay have not been simply presented as secondary colors. It is both an epic adventure across the land of Picnic Province and a stroke of relaxation as it welcomes players to a land they may fill to their heart’s content. From its beautiful hand-drawn graphics and vibrant world to the heartfelt story and characters worth investing time into, Chicory: A Colorful Tale is truly a title that will go down in gaming history as a cult classic of its time. Its aspirations culminate into an emotional venture that is nothing short of beautiful. (Marc Kaliroff)

Curse of the Dead Gods
Image: Focus Home Interactive

Curse of the Dead Gods

Hot off the heat of indie hit Hades, Curse of the Dead Gods will feel to many like a me-too imitation of Supergiant’s smash rogue-lite, and that’s really too bad. Curse of the Dead Gods was actually in development during the same timeline as Hades, making its timing just very inconvenient in that regard.

Luckily, Curse of the Dead Gods does plenty to distinguish itself from its high-profile progenitor. Centering around a mechanic that lets you choose your path forward through the dungeon based on a map, which shows upcoming upgrades, Curse of the Dead Gods enables you to strategize your build as you go while cursing players who become too greedy along the way.

The tight, twitchy gameplay will have you shaking with each pathway you clear, while the unlockable upgrades and weapons will give you the elastic edge you need to conquer this addictive adventure once and for all. If you’re looking for more of that sweet rogue-lite goodness, look no further. (Mike Worby)

Cybershadow
Image: Yacht Club Games

Cyber Shadow

An uncompromising spiritual successor to the Ninja Gaiden games on the NES, Cyber Shadow is a blood-pumping ninja adventure that remains unflinchingly committed to the difficulty of the classic games that inspired it. Cyber Shadow is filled to the brim with instant-death obstacles, unrelenting enemies, and pixel-perfect platforming challenges. Even then, though, the game is never unfair: it introduces just enough modern sensibilities to keep the game from ever getting too brutal. Simple additions like generous checkpoints and unlimited lives bring even its steepest challenges within reach, minimizing frustration while maximizing satisfaction.

Cyber Shadow provides a full-fledged roster of abilities along with rock-solid controls, giving players all the tools they need to jump, slash, and dash their way through the fiercest robot hordes. A surprisingly deep storyline, immaculate pixelated presentation, and a soundtrack filled with unforgettable chiptune beats make it tough to put the game down even after hundreds upon hundreds of deaths. With a striking sense of style and supremely satisfying gameplay, Cyber Shadow brilliantly scratches that ever-present retro itch. (Campbell Gill)

Death's Door
Image: Devolver Digital

Death’s Door

This isometric action-adventure packs a delightful adventure exploring the philosophical musings of life and death in a neat 8-hour package. Being a crow whose corporate job is to reap the souls of those whose time has come is as silly as it sounds, and that playfulness carries on throughout Death’s Door. It explores this somewhat dour subject matter with levity and humor while still holding the ultimate fate of all living beings in respect.

The actual act of reaping is lean and smooth, with a simple control scheme that encourages a mixture of close and far-range offense. A diverse set of enemies and tight level design bring the challenge and keep you on your toes, though, as you navigate a stylized, cell-shaded world that provides quick little hits of dopamine for going out of your way to explore.

Death’s Door is a prime example of a game knowing exactly long it needs to be.  By the time I collected all three Great Souls and saw my crow’s journey to its end I felt wonderfully satiated. Another bite and I would have felt overstuffed, and any less and I would have been left hungering for more. That’s a difficult feat to accomplish in video games today, and a big reason why this one is one of the biggest delights of the year. (Matthew Ponthier)

the good life
Image: White Owls, Inc.

The Good Life

Ah, The Good Life. The lead-up to this delightful little indie game release was long, with a Kickstarter dragging out and developer White Owls Inc. making sure the game hit all the marks they wanted. A murder mystery set in a tiny little English town named Rainy Woods, the story follows a New York big city photographer new to the town. It lands on a few cliches on the way, but what comes out is one of the most charming adventures in recent years.

Feeling like another spin on the Twin Peaks likeness that defined SWERY’s previous game, Deadly Premonitions, The Good Life comes together in a much more stylized and peaceful package. Plus, the addition of another mystery in the townsfolk (and now our player character Naomi Hayward) turning into dogs and cats overnight adds a great spin on things.

Exploring the town and the very expansive landscape around it is almost cathartic, the peace and quiet of the countryside mixed with the mysteries surrounding all of the colourful cast of characters. There’s a lot to see, although in saying that there’s also a lot of open space that gives the feeling of a real town completely isolated from larger civilization. Your little house gifted to you upon arrival also has decorations you can customize and move around, as well as a garden that has quite a bit of depth to it. Time passes, weather changes, and the amount of content hidden away in all corners of the map is fairly tremendous. And being able to run around as a cat or a dog any time you want is a massive bonus.

We were waiting a while, but SWERY’s new quirky mystery is finally here for us to explore. Rainy Woods feels alive, even as a slow-moving country town, and the rich cast of characters really draws you in. It’s a comfy game, photographing the countryside whilst uncovering mysteries makes for both a relaxing and an addictive title that really shows the developers put a lot of love in. (Shane Dover)

Image: Team17

Greak: Memories of Azur

Mexican developer Navengante Entertainment created a stunning work of wonder with their first side-scrolling adventure title, Greak: Memories of Azur. Inspired by the Super Nintendo hidden gem The Lost Vikings and Ubisoft’s well-received role-playing platformer Child of Light, Navengante Entertainment was not out to innovate on their favorite titles; the developer was on a mission to refine them. Greek: Memories of Azur is keen on improving upon where The Lost Vikings once innovated in game design while carrying the beautiful hand-drawn graphics of Child of Light. Even in the shadow of technical issues with its blended genres, the game is a passionate love letter that dabbles into some of the best aspects of its inspirations.

Greek: Memories of Azur has a simple premise helmed by two key tasks. The player must reunite with their siblings and assist in constructing an airship to escape incoming catastrophe. As to be expected by the game’s title, the sibling player’s first take control of is none other than the eponymous Greak, a young and evasive sword wielder who has always wanted to be a scout for his people. Later on, however, they will discover two other playable characters; Greak’s sister Adara, an oracle who utilizes magic, and his older brother Raydel, a towering scout who holds a slingshot, shield, and sword. With a variety of options laid out, the game’s big catch is that the player must control all three siblings simultaneously or one at a time to solve puzzles and defeat enemies.

Greak: Memories of Azur should unquestionably be on your radar for side-scrollers to play from 2021! (Marc Kaliroff)

Image: Klei Entertainment

Griftlands

Griftlands is a wonderful deck-building roguelike that is not to be missed by fans of both Slay the Spire and great storytelling.

If you are of the legion of Slay the Spire enthusiasts, the core deck-building mechanic of Griftlands will feel familiar. You build up your deck, but instead of simply battling, you have a separate deck for negotiating, and by and large it is up to you how you decide to move forward.

And therein lies the secret sauce of Griftlands. The excellent and distinctive visual style is set atop wonderful storytelling and characters. The narrative differs for each of your playable characters, and veers and turns based on the choices you make–and they all lead down compelling roads rich with dynamic characters to invest in.

At the end of the day, the two-deck twist on the core mechanic doesn’t elevate the gameplay beyond the long shadow of Slay the Spire, but its excellence in narrative does. Griftlands is a must-play for fans of the genre and one of the best games of the year. (Marty Allen)

inscryption
Image: Devolver Digital

Inscryption

It seems as though it is impossible to open up Steam without coming across a new deck-based indie roguelike. The genre is packed with incredible titles, but none of them are like Inscryption. This Devolver Digital-published game is unique, a knockout among a sea of other indies. Part deckbuilder, part escape room, part mind-bending horror puzzle adventure, Inscryption defies expectation at every turn to burn itself into the memories of those who play it.

Inscryption is dripping with style. Players see everything from a first-person perspective, as though they are sitting across the table from their opponent. The rough wooden table where the cards are dealt feels tangible, and the creaking timbers of the mysterious cabin players find themselves trapped in adds atmosphere in spades. The card mechanics at the core of the game are incredibly well-realized, familiar to anyone who has played Magic: The Gathering or Yu-Gi-Oh!! but distinct enough to differentiate themselves. Every match becomes a race to deal enough direct damage to the opponent to tip the scales in favor of the player, but the game doesn’t stop after a few victories.

There is a mystery at the heart of Inscryption whose layers are slowly peeled back as the player stands up from the table to interact with their environment. The cabin is a puzzle box, filled with interactable objects. Solving one mystery soon leads to another, up to the game’s stunning, unpredictable finale. Even for players new to card games, Inscryption is essential. (Cameron Daxon)

Knockout City
Image: EA

Knockout City

Knockout City is a rare achievement. In a world full of live service games vying to be the only title players keep coming back to on a daily basis, Knockout City has not only managed to carve out an audience for itself, but it’s done so by being wholly unique.

Somehow the team at Velan has managed to tap into what makes both dodgeball and live service-based games fun. Finely-tuned dash and catch mechanics that’re easy to grasp but difficult to master are the backbone, while a wide variety of maps and special balls ensures that each match stays exciting and dynamic. On the live service end, Knockout City offers fairly standard monetization options like a seasonal battle pass and cash shop that lets players buy cosmetics to express themselves without it feeling too predatory.

Beyond the core mechanics being rock-solid and the monetization being surprisingly tame, Knockout City has continually impressed throughout the year with its creative seasonal themes and events. It doesn’t have the budget of a Fortnite, of course, but the last couple seasons have still seen map alterations, new lore introduced, and some of the most creative customization options out there. From a Superpowers mode that gave players a randomized superpower at the start of every respawn to seasonal events like Candy Wars and Snowbrawl Fight, the fact that such a small team has managed to outdo some of the big dogs when it comes to events is stunning. With a healthy playerbase and dedicated community support, here’s to many more years of Knockout City. (Brent Middleton)

Little Nightmares II
Image: Namco Bandai

Little Nightmares II

The prequel to 2017’s Little Nightmares hits all the marks, diving deeper into the captivating story cryptically revealed in the first and looking damn good while doing it. Instead of playing as Six like in the original, the player takes control of a new character named Mono, instead teaming up with Six in their own journey through the Pale City.

The gameplay is very similar to the first game, although adding the extra dynamic of being able to swing certain objects as weapons. The ability to fight back against a few enemies though doesn’t take away from the tension present at all though, as the greater threats aren’t bothered in the slightest by Mono’s efforts. Plus, there’ are now collectible hats! Maybe not TF2 levels, but hats!

Little Nightmares II not only meets the first game’s incredible storytelling and tension but manages to exceed it. As the game proceeds and reality starts to bend around the duo a fantastic and surrealist world is opened up. Navigating the terrifying environments and slowly unraveling the origin of Six is captivating. There are a few moments that tug at the heartstrings, and others that grow to be profoundly unsettling. There are a lot of horror game gems shining brightly over the past few years, and Little Nightmares II finds its way right near the top. From the mannequin level to the dark and eerie school, right into Pale City and the Signal Tower as things fall apart more and more, so much of this game sits with you long after it’s done. (Shane Dover)

Loop Hero
Image: Devolver Digital

Loop Hero

Loop Hero is an indie standout that is not easily categorized. Part role-playing adventure, part idle game, part weird base-building simulation, Loop Hero is a puzzle box that keeps its secrets close. Players control a hero who has woken up in a world that has forgotten itself. A powerful lich has wiped seemingly everything from existence, but as the hero explores his surroundings and meets living beings, it seems like there is more going on beneath the surface. Our hero decides to unravel this mystery, by building a settlement out of loot found during expeditions into the darkness. The story is intriguing, but it’s the gameplay that ends up being the most compelling and addictive part of Loop Hero.

At the start of any expedition, the player character moves around the titular loop, presented on a pixel-art grid. They will encounter monsters to battle as they travel. Players don’t control movement or battle strategies beyond equipping their character with different gear. The goal of these expeditions is twofold: to scrape together enough loot to expand their home settlement, and to defeat a boss at the end of each chapter. Loot is collected by adding tiles to the loop and the surrounding areas. It sounds confusing – and it is, at first. But once players start to understand the flow, Loop Hero becomes addictively fun. There is nothing else quite like it. (Cameron Daxon)

Lost in Random
Image: EA

Lost in Random

Lost in Random is a weird and special action platformer that flew a little under the radar in 2021, but is well worth a look into its dark corners. It’s an action-adventure game that borrows a great deal from the aesthetic of Tim Burton and stop motion work of Henry Sellick and Laika studios. But its obvious source material is no bad thing, as it carves out its own quirky identity and executes beautifully.

In a world where everyone’s fate is controlled by the roll of the dice, you are the protagonist Even in search of your lost twin sister, Odd. You progress through battling, exploration, and light puzzle-solving as aided by your trusty companion, Dicey. All of which sounds like a predictable set-up, but Lost in Random ends up crafting something special.

The core gameplay mechanic is a unique blend of dice-rolling, card-play, and real-time combat. It’s unlike anything else, and it’s fun. While battles can sometimes overstay their welcome, the approach is novel and rewarding.

And this innovative mechanic is set against a beautifully sly and sprawling world. The twisty and weird setting of Even and Dicey’s adventure looks like it’s pulled from the screen of a lost Laika scene, a dark fairy tale come to life. The NPC characters are a perfect mixture of grim and funny, and the story itself pulls you along with twisted delight.

Lost in Random is a special game that deserves more attention than it has received. If you’re in the mood for a beautiful and odd dark fairy tale set to the tune of unusual gameplay mechanics, check it out and roll the dice yourself. (Marty Allen)

Olija

Olija

Ethereal landscapes crawling with shadowy creatures, elusive societies emerging from the mist, and an ancient prophecy come true: Olija is an action platformer with an unrivalled sense of atmosphere. The story of Lord Faraday’s quest for redemption in the desolate archipelago of Terraphage overflows with beguiling mystery told through wordless cutscenes and enticing pieces of environmental storytelling. Hints of romance and a shadowy call of destiny make for a truly memorable tale that keeps players guessing through to the very end.

Alongside its plot, Olija boasts a lightning-fast gameplay loop that marries traditional action combat with brisk exploration. Faraday wields a mystical harpoon that he can toss across the stage and immediately zip to it, allowing for dynamic exploration and snappy combat. With a vast island nation to discover, robust gameplay, and a mesmerizing story, Olija is a truly remarkable expedition that stays with the player long after the credits roll. It may have gotten lost in the shuffle since it was released in January, but even now, Olija deserves a place among 2021’s very best. (Campbell Gill)

Sable
Image: Raw Fury

Sable

Sable is one of the best indies of the year because it excelled at something most open world games in general fumble: naturally compelling players to explore. It’s tough to overstate just how impressive it’s been to simply move through Sable’s world, both due to superb world design and because riding Simoon—Sable’s hooverbike—is fun in and of itself. Gliding across ever-changing landscapes to the tune of Japanese Breakfast was one of the most meditative experiences I’ve had since playing Journey on the PS3.

That said, players aren’t just drifting through the world for their health. The overarching goal of Sable’s Gliding—a coming of age journey where she must venture out into the unknown—is to gain worldly experience, learn more about herself, and settle on a career path. There’s a wide variety of ways to go about doing this, and none of them limit the other. As she comes across settlements, speaks with other tribes, and helps people with tasks, Sable assesses whether or not she can see herself living the lifestyle of a guard, cartographer, trader, and so on.

This quest to find her true purpose is nothing if not relatable, as is how she encounters different cultures and ways of life along the way. To communicate all of this as a more visceral experience compared to something more text-heavy like Mass Effect is a tremendous feat in and of itself, and it’s hard to imagine a world where Sable’s Moebius-inspired aesthetic and intuitive exploration philosophy doesn’t inspire other studios for years to come. (Brent Middleton)

Subway Midnight
Image: Aggro Crab

Subway Midnight

Delving through a haunted subway train, utilizing impossible space and various different gameplay formats, Subway Midnight is a wholly unique and enthralling game. Indie horror games have been booming as of late, with all these excellent ideas blooming into incredible experiences.

Subway Midnight manages to tell a touching story without a single line of dialogue, through physical storytelling and terrifying imagery instead. Things get weird, then things get weirder, and even with the spookycute aesthetic, there’s a chilling energy to everything. In the game’s brief first-person exploration segment, the quiet creates this overwhelming terror that elevates the tension. Despite looking cute on the outside, horror is navigated with masterful skill, even though this is Bubby Darkstar’s first foray into the gamemaking world.

There’s a finality to Subway Midnight’s gameplay experience: once you’ve gotten the true ending, loading up the game just puts you at the ending, the story still told. Whilst that effectively eliminates replay value once you’ve worked out all the different puzzles and secrets, the move is a great cap on a fantastic narrative. Some of those puzzles are fairly obtuse and really give a feeling of satisfaction as the secrets open up to you.

The game also provides a bit of a meta surprise, with a secret ending only available if you open the game back up after getting the true ending at exactly midnight. Brilliant stuff, developer Aggro Crab put their faith in this project and it paid off in spades. Indie horror is such a special subsection of gaming, and Subway Midnight is one of the brilliant diamonds hidden away in it. (Shane Dover)

Toem
Image: Something We Made

TOEM

TOEM, created by Scandinavian developers Something We Made and available on Steam, PlayStation, and Nintendo Switch, is a short and sweet photography adventure that feels like a warm hug. Unlike the sprawling nature of 2021’s largest, most ambitious adventures, TOEM is comparatively quiet and modest. The player character is on a journey to ascend a far-off mountain and observe the Toem phenomenon. On the way there, they will fill their photo album with as many fun and interesting pictures as they can, fulfilling discreet goals to earn stamps to progress to the next area.

TOEM has many strengths, but its most striking aspects are the stunning black-and-white art direction and the beautiful, subtle soundtrack. The music is mostly acoustic guitar and mellow synths, the perfect accompaniment for a walk through the woods or a stroll by the sea. Every new area is bursting with variety, delighting the curious without feeling overwhelming. The entire game feels like a friendly picture book, but it doesn’t feel overly cutesy or pandering. It is simply lovely at every turn and a welcome respite from the bombast of AAA blockbusters. (Cameron Daxon)

UnMetal Game Review
Image: Versus Evil

UnMetal

In a time where military stealth games have gone missing in action, UnMetal is a hysterical take on the two revolutionary 8-bit entries in the Metal Gear series. While it may not be a serious alternative to Hideo Kojima’s duology that predated his pinnacle PlayStation masterpiece, UnMetal is as solid as a Metal Gear-like game can get. As lone agent Jesse Fox, players take on the same birds-eye view Solid Snake first was viewed from to clear their name from a crime they didn’t commit. With plenty of action sequences, dialogue options, and quirky drawbacks to keep gameplay vastly distinctive from its inspiration, UnMetal is a parody game gone right. It manages to balance gameplay and comedy just right for an optimal experience that always throws puzzling curveballs.

Whether you are constantly grinning with stupidity by the no-kill rule or the protagonist’s inability to take a logical approach because of environmental care, Jesse Fox’s first major stealth mission to uncover Project Jericho keeps players tense and tiptoeing. It may not be the high-stakes action-packed political-driven replacement for the Snake mantle’s legendary tactical espionage operations, but considering its aspirations and comedic focus UnMetal is no doubt worth every minute of your time. For anyone looking for a title that is similar to Kojima’s original vision of Solid Snake’s nuclear world, you absolutely can not go wrong with playing through UnMetal. Besides, after viewing the game’s first cutscene, how could you not want to know what Agent Fox did? (Marc Kaliroff)

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