Those who keep an eye on the indie sphere (or indeed those of you who have been reading MoeGamer recently) may well already be familiar with one-man development team Stranga Games.
Just Ignore Them is his debut game, and it’s clearly something of a passion project. While in many ways it’s noticeably clunkier than its successors My Big Sister and Red Bow — both mechanically and narratively — it’s still a worthwhile adventure, and one that Stranga has striven to improve with the lessons learned from his subsequent releases.
So let’s take a look at the console release published by Ratalaika Games, which at the time of writing represents the most up-to-date version of the game on offer. Bring a torch.
Continue reading Just Ignore Them: Ah, Real Monsters
One-man development team Stranga Games has been quietly establishing himself as one to watch in the world of independently developed psychological horror games, presented in gorgeous lo-fi pixel art.
At the time of writing, Red Bow is the latest in a series of games with a loose thematic link to them, following Just Ignore Them and My Big Sister. And, in keeping with the way Stranga apparently likes to do things, we once again have another short-form, thought-provoking adventure that provides ruminations on the subject of mortality, explored through interactions with the monstrous.
The world of Stranga Games is not a happy one… but it’s certainly a fascinating one. Let’s descend into the darkness once again.
Continue reading Red Bow: Older Than Water, Stubborn as Stone
I’m not sure exactly when a lo-fi pixel art aesthetic came to be associated with horror games, but I’ve always rather liked the juxtaposition between supposedly “primitive” visuals and the primal emotion that is fear.
We can probably trace the whole thing back to classic NES survival horror RPG Sweet Home, but it seems to have become particularly popular with the indie sphere in recent years, with titles such as Lone Survivor, Home and various rereleases of Corpse Party all fully embracing the “retro horror” aesthetic.
My Big Sister, a pixel art horror adventure for all the current major platforms, follows this mould, but does a few interesting things all of its own. So let’s take a step into the darkness and see what’s going on!
Continue reading My Big Sister: Blood-Red Pixels
Yuumi “Skipmore” Kimura is a modern Japanese independent developer who deserves a lot more attention.
His Fairune series provides a fascinating twist on the item-based action RPG formula, emphasising puzzles of traversal rather than all-action combat.
And, as it turns out, his game Kamiko does precisely the opposite… while still maintaining that distinctive Skipmore magic. Let’s take a closer look.
Continue reading Kamiko: Fighting for the Transient World
Fairune and Fairune 2 were originally available as separate games for mobile devices and Nintendo 3DS, but in more recent releases for Switch and Windows PC, you’ll find them packaged as part of the Fairune Collection alongside two pleasant little extras: Fairune Origin and Fairune Blast.
The two titles are fairly self-explanatory — Fairune Origin is essentially the prototype for what would become the first Fairune, while Fairune Blast is a shoot ’em up themed after the series — but they’re both well worth playing in their own right.
Plus they’re pretty interesting in that they essentially represent both the genesis of and the conclusion to the series as a whole — well, that is unless creator Yuumi “Skipmore” Kimura decides to give us any more, of course — so let’s take a closer look at both.
Continue reading Fairune Origin and Blast: Beginning and End
After the first Fairune successfully proved that you can make something that looks convincingly like an action RPG into a two-hour puzzle adventure, the natural next step for creator Yuumi “Skipmore” Kimura was to go bigger.
With that in mind, Fairune 2 is a considerably expanded affair over its predecessor, but maintains the same compelling, enjoyable and oddly relaxing blend of light action RPG elements, item-based puzzle solving and mind-bending navigation brainteasers.
If you’re coming straight from the first one, it might not subvert quite as many expectations as that one did — in that it’s a lot more of “the same” — but it is similarly delightful, and a pleasure to explore. Let’s take a closer look.
Continue reading Fairune 2: It’s Exactly What It Looks Like
Fairune is a game that, at first glance, could be mistaken for an homage to the original The Legend of Zelda, the early Ys games or perhaps even Hydlide if you’re a real hipster.
It’s a top-down open-world game presented in chunky pixel art, in which you defeat enemies by simply running into them. You collect items which allow you to access new areas or provide you with new abilities, and your ultimate aim is to explore the whole world thoroughly until you locate three plot-critical doohickeys, at which point you descend into the final dungeon, rescue the three equally plot-critical fairies, kick the snot out of the Big Bad and then relax, safe in the knowledge of a Job Well Done.
However, it does just a few things a little bit differently to what you might expect from that description. And those little differences are enough to make it a unique experience well worth your time.
Continue reading Fairune: It’s Not What It Looks Like