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Here’s a Toast to the 20 Best Indie Games of 2020

Despite the circumstances, this year had some of the best indie game releases in recent memory. Here are 20 of our favorites.

Best Indie Games of 2020

Our Favorite Indie Games of the Year

In a year characterized by viruses, a worldwide quarantine, racial tension, and more, video games have been a rock for many of us. Indie games in particular have continued to be a beacon of creativity and comfort juxtaposed to the big budget, movie-like AAA experiences so common throughout the medium. Despite having a fraction of the resources of those major studios, independent developers have consistently released some of the most innovative, gripping, and just plain fun games of 2020. Here are some of our favorites.


Streets of Rage 4

Streets of Rage 4

Streets of Rage 4 is a textbook example of how to revive a long-dormant, beloved property. It has all the same personality, style, and satisfying combat that made the series such a hit in the 90s, while its old-school arcade design has been tempered with modern sensibilities to refresh the formula just enough to appeal to new audiences just as much as nostalgia-fueled longtime fans. Special moves that drained your life in the original games now allow you to recover health; traditional move sets have been updated with new combos and screen-clearing ultimate attacks; and original characters like Cherry Hunter and Floyd Iraia add entirely new gameplay styles to series veterans like Axel and Blaze.

Pulling off grand uppers has never looked as good as it does now. LizardCube and DotEmu have gone above and beyond when cleaning up these streets with a fresh hand-drawn art direction. Streets of Rage 4’s painterly world bursts with countless little details hidden in every frame of animation. However, while the visuals and gameplay are important, it’s the house-inspired soundtrack that defines any true Streets of Rage title. Streets of Rage 4 proudly carries on this legacy, boasting several tracks from series creator Yuzo Koshiro as well as a whole host of other contributors to create an incredible, danceable soundtrack that makes for a worthy companion to its legendary predecessors.

In the end, though, Streets of Rage 4 is most remarkable for the way it perfectly encapsulates the bliss of classic arcade action. Its gameplay loop might be basic – old-fashioned, even – but chasing high scores and building bigger combos never fails to elicit a sense of childlike excitement. In a year defined by uncertainty, such simple pleasures deserve to be celebrated. (Campbell Gill)


Spiritfarer

Spiritfarer

Spiritfarer is the gem 2020 needs. As Stella, the new Spiritfarer, players traverse a mystical ocean, befriending spirits and helping them depart to the beyond. It’s an easy-breezy comfort blanket with gratifying gameplay loops, addictive micro-management, and tear-jerking character arcs.

Spiritfarer’s gameplay is an exercise in exploration, gathering, and crafting. But it sidesteps the tedium this could bring by linking players’ progress to a mechanic packed with physicality: upgrading Stella’s ship. Constructing kitchens, gardens, sawmills and more brings a laundry list of perks along with aesthetic and physical progress. Best of all, organizing the layout of said ship in a Tetris-like tidy-up is creatively satisfying and grippingly time sink-y.

It falters in its pace and polish but soars in its originality, emotional depth, and every other quality imaginable. It’s difficult to put into words how special it is, but consider this a hearty recommendation to anyone with a penchant for good fun, good feelings, and hecka good games. (Harry Morris)


Carrion

Carrion

There are plenty of games where the player controls a villain or a morally questionable character. But Carrion ups the ante by putting players in the shoes of an alien being with no motivation or character traits other than “escape.” Only it’s not so much putting players in somebody’s shoes as it is placing them inside the writhing, slithering, mouth-covered tentacle mass that is the controllable being in Carrion. The mind of a monster is unfathomable, and Carrion’s beast is less of a thinking, feeling consciousness and more of a ravenous, unrepentantly violent force of nature. Over several distinct environments, players will smash, swim, and snack their way to freedom. It’s a metroidvania with heavy inspiration from John Carpenter’s The Thing, and a gleeful burst of catharsis in a year that saw many locked down in their homes as stay-at-home orders became the new normal.

Carrion is short and sweet, with just enough novelty to keep players engaged the entire time. The beast can manipulate its mass, impacting abilities. After scarfing down several hapless scientists or soldiers, the monster balloons to a disgustingly large size and is able to use its weight and power to rip open steel doors or blast the surrounding areas with spines. But sometimes stealth is the key to victory, and depositing a little biomass lets the player invisibly slip past guards and push levels or buttons previously out of reach. Movement is deceptively quick, and players can traverse areas and defeat enemies quickly and in increasingly satisfying ways. This 2D sidescroller feels great to play because sometimes, players just want to hop on a roller coaster and go for a ride. Carrion is a thrilling shot of adrenaline. (Cameron Daxon)


Fall Guys

Fall Guys

I don’t think anyone was expecting one of the biggest games of the summer to be an adorable battle royale indie title – but I suppose far stranger things have happened this year. Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout became a huge hit after its release in August, gaining a lot of attention when it was one of the free PS Plus games that month. The game takes the oversaturated battle royale genre and cleverly turns it on its head by replacing warfare and firearms with obstacle courses and pink slime. 

Fall Guys quickly gained a huge online following, spawning memes, fan creations, and even some big-name partnerships for developer Mediatonic. These collaborations include an in-game Godzilla skin with Toho Co., a chunky egg boy Sonic the Hedgehog skin with SEGA, and several different Valve skins including Chell from Portal and Gordan Freeman from Half-Life. The world’s biggest boy band, BTS, even played the game on their web series. There’s no doubting that these are some pretty impressive achievements, and the fact that Fall Guys manages this without any violent or controversial content at all–not to mention being an independent game–is remarkable. Bursting with color, personality, and silly fun, Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout is definitely one of 2020’s most remarkable indie games.  (Antonia Haynes)


Necrobarista

Necrobarista

Despite being host to some of the most captivating stories in gaming, the static format of most visual novels and the sheer amount reading they demand often bottlenecks their potential audience. Necrobarista nimbly avoids both of these hang-ups and triumphs as a VN that feels cinematic and atmospherically rich while delivering a gripping, down-to-earth story about the stages of death, grief, and eventual acceptance.

The entirety of Necrobarista occurs in and around a cafe that doubles as a River Styx for the recently deceased. Maddy, the titular necrobarista, is in charge of attending to patrons dead and alive while hustling to make ends meet the best she can. Since the story starts off at the end of her exploits rather than during her first days on the job, there’s an immediate air of mystery and intrigue that ropes the reader in from the jump. This uneasy, solemn atmosphere is driven home all the more thanks to the VN’s unique use of 3D visuals with dynamic camera work to meaningfully enhance a given scene’s gravity, drama, or comedic effect. Instead of the visuals serving to accentuate the “novel,” the two are given equal importance, and this combined with a fantastic score from Kevin Penkin feeds into the intoxicatingly moody anime aesthetic Necrobarista is going for.

Necrobarista has undoubtedly made great strides in making visual novels more approachable and engaging. Seeing the pain on a character’s face when told bad news or watching genuinely funny exchanges hit thanks to on-point comedic timing simply wouldn’t have had the same impact if they were delivered in the standard static form factor. It’s on the shorter end compared to many other VNs, but Necrobarista’s length feels perfect for the story Route 59 wanted to tell here. I can’t recommend it enough. (Brent Middleton)


Bug Fables

Bug Fables

Say what you want about the current state of the Paper Mario series, but there’s no denying that it’s a far cry from what it used to be. However, anyone who longs for the glory days of The Thousand-Year Door owes it to themselves to check out Moonsprout Games’ Bug Fables. From its handcrafted aesthetic to its sense of humor to its timing-focused turn-based battle system, Bug Fables features much of what made the original Paper Mario games so special.

However, by no means is this RPG purely derivative of its inspirations. Bug Fables’ storytelling helps it rise out of Paper Mario’s shadow. It begins with a simple premise: three unlikely heroes are roped into a quest to save Bugaria from the rising risk of the Wasp Kingdom. However, this story gradually unfolds into a touching narrative filled with memorable characters, quirky personalities, and heartfelt moments. It tackles themes of self-discovery, insecurity, and doubt: as the three bug heroes embark on their journey, they slowly learn more about each other and begin to accept themselves for who they are.

And as for its gameplay, Bug Fables is the epitome of less is more. Unlike other RPGs that give players a diverse roster of playable characters, Bug Fables only offers three party members. Yet this smaller party was a conscious decision that allowed Moonsprout to make the most out of each one of them. Each character feels completely unique with their own distinct set of abilities that constantly grow throughout the game’s 20-hour runtime, ensuring that your strategies stay dynamic from start to finish.

With its wholesome story and its dynamic gameplay, there’s a lot to love about Bug Fables. It takes much of the magic of classic Paper Mario games but injects it with a new sense of heart and personality. It’s the follow-up to The Thousand-Year Door that you’ve been waiting for, and better yet, it’s simply a brilliant RPG in its own right. (Campbell Gill)


Risk of Rain 2

Risk of Rain 2

Time and again video games have shown us that it’s fun to rocket into alien worlds and blow up space monsters, particularly with friends. Risk of Rain 2 does exactly that, and does it extremely well.

Risk of Rain 2 has all of its predecessor’s mechanics but, like Mario taking 64 steps forward, it all takes place in 3D environments that look and feel amazing. The game plunks you and up to three friends down upon increasingly difficult alien worlds where you gather up endlessly stackable upgrades. The more upgrades and characters with unique looks and attributes that can be unlocked, the more space baddies can be killed. Fans of the original are doubly rewarded to find the intriguing monsters of the original now brought to life in stylish and wonderful new ways. As you traverse forward, the longer you stick around to pick up more goodies and buffs, the harder a board gets. The risk and reward push and pull is intoxicating.

If all that fun isn’t enough, Risk of Rain 2 is rich with a bounty of little secrets and offbeat challenges, all of which yield still-more rewards. Secret zones, tricky-to-unlock characters, and all sorts of space-fighting fun abound. The loops of traversal, battling, leveling up, and gathering endless piles of loot feels familiar, but it is all very satisfying, indeed.

Nothing on hand in Risk of Rain 2 is a revolution, but as a whole, it comes together extremely well. While fun enough to play alone, it hits its greatest heights with a crew of friends, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Rest safely, children of video games, the sacred act of killing piles of space baddies is safe in the hands of Risk of Rain 2. (Marty Allen)


Hades

Hades

With Hades, developer Supergiant Games has created the roguelike for people who haven’t clicked with the genre before. It’s a hat trick that feels incredible, especially in the year where Spelunky 2 released and Dead Cells saw some major DLC. Hades strikes a balance between being inviting and punishingly difficult, and the results are incredible.

In Hades, player character Zagreus, the son of the titular god of the dead, must use everything at his disposal to escape the underworld. Fortunately, the gods of Olympus want to see him succeed (anyone who is even a casual fan of the Greeks knows they never pass up on an opportunity to dunk on each other, particularly the ever-feuding brothers Zeus and Hades) and grant him powerful boons on his quest for freedom. These boons completely alter Zagreus’ attacks and dashes, powering them up to blast enemies with Zeus’ lightning bolts or freeze them with Demeter’s chilling blasts. The way these dozens of boons interact with each other ensures that every run will be different and memorable.

Crashing against the difficulty of Hades has been one of 2020’s unexpected pleasures. Defeating the final boss is a moment of euphoria, but to see the end credits players have to master anything Hades throws at them and do so under increasingly stringent conditions. Rather than feel frustrating, though, Hades is pleasurable all the way through. With exceptional writing and art direction and truly addictive gameplay, Hades is proof that Supergiant is the studio that can’t miss. (Cameron Daxon)


Foregone

Side-scrolling action games with platforming elements used to be one of the most popular genres across systems. Foregone is a return to form for players who miss the glory days of Super Metroid and Mega Man X. The player controls a badass super soldier character called an Arbiter on a mission to defeat the remnants of the ill-conceived Project Hera. The Arbiter is more than a match for basic enemies, using all manner of swords, daggers, shotguns, bows, and gunchucks to dispatch whatever comes her way. The game has a soulslike system of currency where money is lost upon defeat but can be picked up again if the player can reach where they last died. Bosses are tough but fair, providing a welcome change to basic battles.

Foregone is gorgeous in action, with a retro art style that invites comparisons to Dead Cells while still being very much its own thing. It has skills and skill trees that vary wildly from each other, and players will have a blast finding their favorite ways to rip through the world. Dashing and double-jumping is always pleasurable and though weapon and item drops are random, the levels are well-designed and are packed full of secrets. It’s a great blend of design elements, and a fresh way to combine genres. Players still have to learn the ins and outs of levels, but might stumble across a powerful weapon in an area they didn’t expect. The thrill of a great drop combined with tough-as-nails action makes for a compelling experience.

Overall, Foregone is a forward-thinking love letter to action games of the past, and a welcome reminder that just because something has been done before doesn’t mean that a new spin on the idea won’t be welcomed. (Cameron Daxon)


Hyperdot

HyperDot

HyperDot is a minimalist game about evasion. No matter the stage, the core strategy is the same: Complete objectives while avoiding the shapes flying towards or around you. What gives HyperDot depth are a vast slew of game, enemy, and stage types. Some levels simply require you to survive until the timer runs out, while others task you with collecting tokens or staying in specified areas until a meter fills up. Static enemy shapes moving in defined patterns are entirely different beasts from ones that chase you or explode into deadly fragments, and stage-based gimmicks like ice and darkness make your character harder to control and enemies harder to see, respectively.

Over the 100+ levels included in the single-player campaign, players will see their twitch skills put to the test time and again in unique, visually striking ways. HyperDot isn’t a walk in the park; completing the upper levels of the campaign is grueling to say the least. But it’s this same stiff challenge and easy pick-up-and-play design that makes HyperDot the ideal “one more game” type of experience. Players can even take the elements seen in campaign levels and create their own stages via a robust built-in level editor.

As a package, HyperDot is nearly perfect. Had it shipped with online multiplayer and leaderboards, it very well could’ve been. But that doesn’t take away from the ridiculous amount of polish given to every bit of the game’s visuals, UI, and super-tight controls. The intense amount of concentration required to best HyperDot’s toughest levels might be off-putting to some, but for those who love the endorphin rush that comes from overcoming steep challenges, this is an absolute winner. (Brent Middleton)


Journey to the Savage Planet

Journey to the Savage Planet

In Journey to the Savage Planet, you are a disposable working drone who is nominally treated like an intrepid explorer. You’ve been tasked by your clearly awful and inept corporate overlords with finding habitable planets. It won’t be easy, but it will be funny.

Comparisons to No Man’s Sky and The Outer Worlds are apt on the surface, but Journey’s scope is smaller than either of these. Its humor is closest of all to the unreachable heights of Portal 2, and its exploration harkens more to the unplumbable depths of Metroid Prime than anything else. Both its humor and exploration are gameplay facsimiles that cannot reach such lofty heights, but both are still well-executed in this ambitious and weird ride.

Journey to the Savage Planet is most fun when it really clicks and you’re jumping and jetting from colorful platform to colorful platform while discovering exciting new areas. It falters a bit with its gun mechanics, but makes up for it with legitimately funny satire videos that feel like they’re cut from the same cloth as Adult Swim’s weirder forays into the night.

While not every element is as strong as the next, Typhoon sticks the sometimes bumpy landing and has synthesized a really interesting game that borrows from many sources, but has its own unique trajectory and feel. Eat your GROB and grab a meat buddy; if you’re up for an adventure, Journey to the Savage Planet is a fun one. (Marty Allen)


Kunai

Kunai

Kunai takes the simple act of movement and makes it supremely satisfying. Putting you in control of a heroic tablet ninja named Tabby who must save humanity from a computerized threat, there’s an intoxicating rhythm to its gameplay. Whether you’re swinging across chasms with the eponymous kunai or bouncing off of enemies’ heads with a katana, there’s an almost musical quality to every action you perform.

Kunai thrives on flexibility. With its eponymous kunai hookshots, players can latch onto just about any service and scale any height. Then, with rocket launchers and katanas that can send you flying from one ledge to another, there’s almost no surface that’s off-limits. Most importantly, each item and ability feels intuitive to control. As large as the arsenal of abilities might be, controlling them never feels overwhelming. Instead, Kunai is consistently fluid, making it easy to pull off platforming gymnastics with ease and grace. Every region of the game’s map is a playground for your abilities with a constant stream of new and exciting obstacles, providing ample opportunity to test your skill and discover secrets.

There’s an infectious charm to every inch of Kunai. From the heroic Tabby’s many expressive faces to the bountiful quirky hats you can acquire to the way that NPCs constantly wish you “dogspeed” on your quest, Kunai is a master of keeping a smile on your face at all times. Even its muted Gameboy-esque pixelated graphics significantly add to its understated and welcoming sense of atmosphere. It might have gotten lost in the shuffle of other games releasing early in the year, but Kunai is a more than worthy metroidvania deserving of any genre fan’s time and appreciation. (Campbell Gill)


Ikenfell

Ikenfell

With Witchbrook, Hogwarts Legacy, and Ikenfell, the next couple years should see fans of magic school games incredibly well-fed. Unlike the others in that lineup, though, Ikenfell subverts expectations by eschewing the typical school sim approach in favor of a combat-led mystery. The protagonist, Maritte, doesn’t arrive at Ikenfell because it’s the start of the new semester; she’s a regular non-magic-using person looking for her missing older sister.

In fact, Maritte isn’t even supposed to be the main character of this story–she’s essentially just crashing her sister’s narrative several years in. Like if Harry Potter had had a younger muggle brother who suddenly showed up at Hogwarts four books later, stories of Maritte’s sister’s exploits are everywhere. She has friends, enemies, rapport with shop owners and teachers, forbidden secrets, you name it.

Being able to experience the world of Ikenfell from this incredibly fresh perspective has been some of the most fun I’ve had with a game narrative this year, and Ikenfell’s combat is just as enjoyable. Half grid-based strategy and half Paper Mario-inspired timing mechanics, each battle requires some serious thought and decent reflexes. The sheer number of spells–each with their own unique animations and timing–is astounding, and goes a long way in selling the many forms of magic that take place in this world.

Ikenfell’s diverse cast, creative battle mechanics, and overarching narrative just ooze charm and delight. In terms of colorful and “fun for fun’s sake” kinds of games, this is one of the year’s best. (Brent Middleton)


Cake Bash

Cake Bash

The party game, like the racer, is one of those notoriously inconsistent genres in gaming. For every great party game there’s a half dozen middling entries that make you wonder why you even bothered in the first place. 

Luckily there are games like Cake Bash to remind you what this genre is capable of. A silly, four-player bonanza, Cake Bash is packed with mini-games that see you punching, shoving, smashing, and outrunning your fellow desserts on the road to victory. 

With a delightfully whimsical sense of humor and the kind of aesthetics that just ooze sugary sweetness, Cake Bash is just the spoonful of sugar we need in this dreadfully heavy year. (Mike Worby)


Creaks

Creaks

Creaks is the latest quiet masterpiece created by the extraordinary Czech studio Amanita Design. Best known for the beautiful and challenging Machinarium, Creaks is a small departure that yields wonderful results.

Players take the role of an unassuming gentleman who travels through an errant hole in the wall into a sprawling cavern-like mansion of creeping wonders (as you do). Like every game Amanita has created, Creaks is beautiful, surreal, whimsical, and rich with hand-painted creatures and environments. But where it stands apart from their previous adventures is in its more focused gameplay.

Each scene and area you step into is a discrete puzzle for you to navigate and solve. Puzzles consist largely of manipulating light and switches to evade and trick a rogue’s gallery of baddies (e.g. nasty robot dogs and looming metallic jellyfish). Whereas Amanita’s other games have been prone to requiring trial and error experimentation like many point-and-click titles, the logic in Creaks is always sound; even when the puzzles are devious and difficult (and some truly are), their solutions are also sensical. This results in that most-excellent feeling of playing a game that is not only gorgeous, but also well-designed.

Creaks is yet another extraordinary game created by one of gaming’s most quietly wonderful studios. For fans of both beautiful design and clever puzzles, it should not be missed. (Marty Allen)


Monster Train

Monster Train

Monster Train effectively melds the creature-collecting elements of Magic the Gathering with the on-the-fly randomness of Slay the Spire to create a unique card battling blend all its own. The setup for each run is simple. You’re on a train carrying the last shard of the Pyre, a flame needed to rekindle the fires of Hell. Your goal is to fend off legions of Heaven’s warriors and deliver the shard to Hell in one piece.

What sets Monster Train apart is twofold: its wave-based structure and the train’s multi-level configuration. Every battle becomes a balancing act of trying to defeat new foes while staving off existing ones. Then there are Commander cards, a class of special cards that appear in the first hand of every battle and can be significantly upgraded throughout the run. They grow in power throughout the run, so by the time you’ve weathered the gauntlet and built a battle-hardened deck, your Commander is a powerhouse right there alongside you. It’s a small but meaningful addition to the genre that’s indicative of the game’s quality as a whole.

Despite wearing its influences on its sleeve, Monster Train is one of the most polished, meticulously detailed deck-builders out there. The game balance is solid, there are well over 100 cards to unlock through accruing experience points, and everything you’d need to know is communicated clearly right on screen. Though new runs can take a bit to pick up steam, the mid- and late-game action (particularly boss encounters) more than makes up for it. Whether you’re a fan of traditional or roguelike card battlers, there’s a great deal of fun to be had here. (Brent Middleton)


Bloodroots

Bloodroots

Imagine if Kenndy Tartakovsky’s most blood driven animated scenes from Primal, Samurai Jack, and Clone Wars were transformed into playable rapid-fire segments broken down into story arcs. Bloodroots from Paper Cult is a fever dream that is as fast as it is psychotic. It visually draws inspiration from the Russian animator’s creations, but it more importantly takes a lot of beats from some of his most action-littered sequences. Bloodroots is able to combine the triangular visuals of the shows previously mentioned in a three-dimensional environment with gameplay that feels thematically appropriate with its focus on bloodshed and extravagance.

After being betrayed and left for dead, Mr. Wolf embarks on a journey of revenge to find his killers. Outnumbered and outgunned, it is his job to improvise his way through a dangerous land to discover why he was betrayed by the fellow members of The Blood Beasts gang. The story might be simple, but it gets the job done as you start to learn more about its complex lead and the world he has a grudge against. To carry out that grudge, just about any object is viable as a weapon; tires, axes, spears, fish, tables, ladders, you name it. Bloodroots urges you to bash your enemies in creative ways without getting hit even once. Restarting levels with the click of a button is the key to victory as you do reconnaissance and observe enemy patterns before making a tactful assault.

With addicting gameplay, a satisfying story, and an online leaderboard that will make you yearn to act faster, Bloodroots is the type of game that’ll have you shouting at your screen for seconds before diving right back in. (Marc Kaliroff)


Shantae

Shantae and the Seven Sirens

There’s nothing quite like a Shantae game. While there are countless indie metroidvanias released every year, not many of them can mimic the perfect marriage of rock-solid level design, memorable characters, quirky personality, and compelling abilities that defines WayForward’s flagship series. The latest entry, Shantae and the Seven Sirens, continues the series’ winning streak by doubling down on everything that makes the eponymous half-genie hero so beloved in the first place.

Seven Sirens doesn’t rewrite the Shantae formula. Rather, it takes the best elements of all four games before it and dials them up to 11. It offers more original and returning characters than any other game in the series, plus a streamlined arsenal of abilities that make exploration more fun and exciting than ever before. Most importantly, it presents an immaculately designed world brimming with enticing secrets, challenging dungeons, and colorful locales. Every discovery and achievement feels like your own, and in a genre that revolves around exploration, striking that delicate balance between player freedom and guidance is a monumental achievement.

Like icing on a magical cake, Seven Sirens is easily the most beautiful entry in a series known for its art direction. Its graphics beautifully refine the 2.5D style of its predecessor, Half-Genie Hero, featuring living character animations that make even the most nondescript enemies and NPCs spring to life. Topping it all off is the addition of anime cutscenes (with an opening movie from none other than Studio Trigger), which add significant depth and beauty to every moment of the story. Whether you’re a longtime Shantae fan or looking for a perfect entry point to the series, you can’t go wrong with Seven Sirens. (Campbell Gill)


Bugsnax

Bugsnax

Bugsnax is an oddity. Revealed during a PlayStation 5 event this past summer, Bugsnax captured the internet’s attention with a funny trailer that had just a dash of existentially horrifying implications. Wild speculation about what the game actually was followed for months, buoyed by the infectious theme song (performed by the wonderful Kero Kero Bonito). The game looked charming as could be, but what would players actually do? The end result was surprising: an intoxicating, delicious combination of several different mechanics and genres that is wholly unique. From the art direction to the characters, Bugsnax emerged as a counterbalance to the bombast of Demon’s Souls and Cyberpunk 2077.

Snaktooth Island is a lonely place, but a group of explorers, led by the intrepid Lizbert Megafig, have chosen to create their own community. The player must interview the island’s residents in an attempt to understand why they decided to change their lives and move to Snaktooth (not to mention find out what happened when Lizbert disappeared). Every character has a big personality, and importantly, they’re surprisingly well-written. To use one example, Cromdo Face seems like an opportunistic blowhard upon a first meeting. But dig a little deeper and players will see a man broken on the wheel of a capitalist society. These kinds of interactions are all over Bugsnax.

Of course, the real stars of the show are the adorable ‘snax themselves. Part bug and part meal, the creatures are the cutest and weirdest video game characters to ever be captured in traps this year. The ‘snax are definitely the face of the game, but Bugsnax succeeds because of its well-drawn characters and fun mechanics. (Cameron Daxon)


PHOGS!

PHOGS!

What do you get when you combine physics-based puzzles and two adorable dogs? Get some sleep and grab some treats because you will not want to stop playing PHOGS! until you see its credits roll. Publisher Coatsink and developer Bit Loom Games’ latest title stays focused on exploring the concept of controlling one conjoined entity whether you are playing by yourself or with a friend.

PHOGS! constantly remains engaging as it upholds a vibrant and whimsical world of challenges that coincide with both its visuals and mechanics. As you explore the esthetically entertaining worlds of every phogs’ favorite activities (food, sleep, and play), your goal is to solve puzzles, help local inhabitants, collect some delectable treats, and just have fun. It may lack a story, but it never really needed one as gameplay always remains in the spotlight no matter which world you are perusing.

Two heads are better than one and PHOGS! always knows how to utilize both of its leads as it sticks to being a simplistic journey that manages to balance being a relaxing experience for all ages. It provides just enough challenging obstacles to make skilled players want to aim for that full completionist score, but also a substantial amount of leisure to never make the experience stressful. The phogs, Red and Blue, are each controlled through one half of a controller. Each phog head makes use of a single joystick and their appropriately coordinated shoulder buttons. Like any well-developed physics-based game, the core mechanic that fuels the game’s level design can be used in so many different ways that players can progress through levels in ways even the developers might not have intended. (Marc Kaliroff)

Written By

Humans by birth. Gamers by choice. Goomba Stomp is a Canadian web publication that has been independently owned and operated since its inception in 2016.

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