Brokeass Gamers looks at gaming on the twilight side of your bank account. That means cheap indies, timely deals, and forgotten treasures that won’t ransack your disposable income.
It’s happened to you before, I’m sure. You stumble into one of those games everyone has been talking up that you never took the opportunity to play. Always more gratifying than disappointing when in that sitch, late to the party but dressed to the nines. With the glut of mighty indies floating around and increasing in number, this is totally reasonable, and we’re here to guide your hand to those experiences not to be missed. Meaning: games like Gorogoa.
Platform: Windows/iOS/Switch/Xbox One/PS4
Price: $14.99 (PC/Console) / $4.99 (Mobile)
Gorogoa is a low-priced game at retail, but it’s quite short, start to finish. Still, the hour or two you’ll spend in its clutches have little to compare. For five bucks on mobile, you get a gorgeously animated wordless storybook, split between four quadrants on the screen. Players push around each of these comic panels and zoom between them, directing unexpected interactions which transform the scene. It could be as simple as a character walking from one to the other. Other times, the very boundaries of reality are bent and twisted as you shift between machines.
There’s something here that’s reminiscent of those old Mad Magazine Fold-Ins. Similarly, Gorogoa‘s images and scenes seem straightforward at a glance, before you start mixing them around each other. There’s an interesting story being told as well, though it’s a little bit hard to gather on a first playthrough. For the most part, you help a young person collect five colored essences scattered over time to save their city.
Gorogoa really is as good as everyone’s said, and its graphic novel origins help make it an approachable game for anyone. To be honest, it doesn’t even look very much like a game in screenshots, but its nudge-it-till-it-works gameplay is really satisfying.
Fission Superstar X
An oddball roguelike entry appeared on the Steam store about five years ago known as Death Skid Marks. It featured hand drawn art in a frenetic post-apocalyptic comic book style and a scuzzy rock aesthetic, DSK was a sleeper hit. A few years later, the developer shared screenshots for a new treatment with a different style, this time pointing to b-movie sci-fi for inspiration. Then, earlier this year, Fission Superstar X hit the scene.
Fission Superstar X tasks you with piloting a bomb-carrying warship through the galaxy to blow up the Earth. Each time you fail in this mission, a deranged mad scientist simply re-clones you and sends you off with a fresh bomb. WASD keys move your ship around while the mouse controls weaponry and shields, with threats and hazards approaching from every direction. They include buzzsaw space bikes, huge mutated aliens, peaceful space whales, and the brutally powerful space PD.
The game is definitely tough during the first few runs, but you’ll soon learn the best methods of dealing with the challenge. A slate of upgrades provide stronger weapons, ballistic guns, and even melee options. It definitely has that roguelike energy where you learn from failure, along with that deliriously colorful art style. Fans of Jhonen Vasquez, Simon Bisley, and old-school shlocky sci-fi will absolutely love it, and the soundtrack rocks.
You can pick up Fission Superstar X on Steam, and hopefully there’s a console port forthcoming? That would be dope.
Price here is zero cents, for which you get a hand-drawn and animated physics puzzle platformer. Yes, you’re a cute little bug (apparently a bee? not a very strong likeness), swallowed up by a bird for a digestive adventure.
Despite that premise, BirdGut is a really cute and accessible little game. There’s even some lore to deduce as you pick apart the internal workings of the bird on your journey. Some puzzles can be tough or obtuse, but the whole thing is (I’ll say it) digestible, even though a few of the puzzles are head-scratchers.
Don’t delay and install the game for free on Steam. BirdGut is charming, approachable, and smart (and friggin’ free).
Throwback Pick of the Week:
Legend of Dungeon
I ran into the Robot Loves Kitty devs the very first time I went to PAXEast almost a decade ago. I saw their sign from afar and was taken aback, since I hadn’t seen their name on the printed roster of indie studios. As it turned out, a booth became available last-minute, so they hustled to make their way to Boston for their successfully Kickstarted game, Legend of Dungeon.
I’m a complete sucker for side-scrolling beat’em’ups. They were some of my favorite games as a child in the arcade, and I don’t think enough of them are ever in the works. Legend of Dungeon takes the beat’em’up genre but mashes it together with dungeon-exploring. There’s co-op play for up to four players and a chaotic assortment of weapons, gear, potions, and spells—and cats! there are many cats. It’s a fun game to just jump into for a daily run, but actually completing it is a herculean task. Luckily, patient players can also unlock other characters to use, so even failed attempts feel meaningful.
I will say that there’s a very chunky pixelated style here that may be make-or-break for some people. Since each level is procedurally generated, starting over always feels like a square-one scenario. Despite that, $10 gets you multiplayer chaos and an entertaining challenge. And cats. If you run into any cats in the dungeon, protect them…please.
You can find Legend of Dungeon on Steam.