Tag Archives: indie games

Dead or School: A Passion Project Pays Off

I reviewed this game over at Nintendo Life — please go support my work over there, then join me back here to delve into the game in more detail!


It’s abundantly clear when you’re experiencing a creative work that was genuinely special to the people who made it.

The end result of such a passion project might be scraggy around the edges, it might not be technically perfect and you can probably find things that are “better”, whatever that means… but for me, finding something with genuine heart and soul will always trump big budgets and technical efficiency.

And so we come to Dead or School from Studio Nanafushi, a passion project that certainly still has a few scraggy edges even after two years in Early Access on PC… but a game that captured and maintained my attention from the moment I booted it up to the time the last of the credits scrolled off the screen. Let’s take a closer look.

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Coffee Talk: It’s A Brewtiful Day

One of the great things about modern gaming is the sheer diversity of experiences you can have from one moment to the next.

If you’re in the mood for hacking and slashing through hordes of enemies as the cute girl personification of a video games console, gaming has you covered. If you fancy taking photos of spooky scary ghosts in a creepy old mansion, well, there’s a game for that, too — several, in fact.

But what about if you just fancy chilling out in a nice quiet coffee shop, enjoying the company of a few good friends and leaving all the troubles of the world outside for an hour or two? Sure, you could pop down your local Costa if you can face leaving the house… or you could settle in for an evening with Coffee Talk, a thoroughly pleasant story-centric game from Indonesian developer Toge Productions.

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Just Ignore Them: Ah, Real Monsters

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.

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Fairune: It’s Not 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.

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The MoeGamer 2019 Awards: The Most “Retro” Modern Game

The MoeGamer Awards are a series of “alternative” awards I’ve devised in collaboration with the community to celebrate the sorts of things that never get celebrated in end-of-year roundups! Find out more here — and feel free to leave a suggestion on that post if you have any good ideas!

Last week, we celebrated the Least “Retro” Retro Game, a title that, despite being quite old at this point, still remains fun and solid to this day. Today, we take a slightly different angle.

Over the course of the last few years, independent developers in particular have been very keen to adopt a retro-inspired look and feel to their games. And some pull it off better than others.

It’s a lot more than just using pixelated graphics and chiptune music, you know, so today’s award celebrates the modern game that most clearly understands, appreciates and pays homage to older titles while simultaneously being something that is downright desirable to play in 2019. If you’ve listened to a particular recent podcast, the choice here will be obvious, but let’s do the thing anyway…

And the winner is…

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Kero Blaster: Amphibious Assault

Daisuke “Pixel” Amaya is an extremely talented developer with a keen eye for what made older games truly enduring.

His most well-known work Cave Story is quite rightly held up as a shining example of the open-structure 2D platformer done right — and thanks to its numerous rereleases over the years, can be played on a wide variety of systems.

But don’t sleep on Kero Blaster, a very different but equally magnificent love letter to classic old-school gameplay that, like Cave Story, can now be enjoyed on a variety of different platforms, including Windows PC, iOS devices, PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch.

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House of Golf: Tabletop Tee-Off

Video games don’t have to be complicated to be enjoyable. They don’t always need to be grand, sweeping great works of art, nor do they always need to have something to “say”; sometimes they can just be fun.

Such is the thinking behind House of Golf, a Nintendo Switch release from Liverpudlian studio Atomicom, a group made up of ex-Psygnosis staffers who were last seen bringing us a game about driving JCB excavators on Mars.

This is a game designed to be nothing more than a bit of fun for 1-6 players — and it achieves this pretty admirably. Let’s take a closer look!

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