Pass The Controller* is a Slice of Culture series where we highlight video games, both AAA (blockbuster) and indie. Llanes will share honest and balanced opinions on what could be your next favorite game as well as some random tips every now and then!
At the beginning of October I spent a weekend at the Too Many Games Expo at Oaks, Pennsylvania.
I met some of my favorite content creators, played a bit of “Nickelodeon All Stars Brawl,” and bought some things for a super secret project I’m working on.
But more importantly, I checked out the expo’s Indie Game Showcase. Here’s ten games that caught my eye while I was there.
by Previously Pluto
“Oddwave” is a science-fiction visual novel.
Players wake up as an android in a space colony. This android remembers nothing.
In the demo I met a variety of other androids such as the gardener, Dirt and the human obsessed Nova.
Throughout the demo I played, I simply listened to these characters talk, learning about them and the world of “Oddwave.”
At times I also made some dialogue choices that may or may not affect how the story plays out later on. What’s interesting about it all are the hints of how humans are portrayed.
Nova has a fascination with humans, the same way some people have a fascination with dinosaurs or aliens. None appear in the demo, but there are hints of them showing up later in the story.
by Starfall Studios
“Sneaky Ninja” is a 2D stealth platformer described as a mix between “Mario” and “Mark of the Ninja,” another 2D stealth game.
This title features four playable characters with different stats.
Some characters can be faster or stronger than others. There is also a variety of weapons and equipment that characters can bring to each level such as swords, smoke bombs and grappling hooks.
There is inspiration from other games as well.
All equipment that is brought needs to be organized in a suitcase similar to “Resident Evil 4″, so selecting your items becomes a whole puzzle in itself.
There are numerous ways to sneak through enemies including disguises similar to the game “Hitman.”
“Sneaky Ninja” is coming soon to the Nintendo Switch and Steam.
Mason and Strings
by In The Snow Studios
“Mason and Strings” is a 2D platformer with an art style that looks heavily inspired by “Adventure Time.”
It follows the titular character Mason and his talking guitar.
Occasionally there will be puzzles and minigames that will involve playing guitar. Certain notes can be used to activate switches or pop balloons.
Overall, “Mason and Strings” is a nice platformer with a chill and charming vibe.
City of Murals
“City of Murals” is a 3D roguelike with an emphasis on exploration.
At the start of the demo I got on my ship and was able to travel to different parts of different planets. Once I landed that’s when the game truly opened up.
The planet I explored was huge and I tried to cover as much as I could within the time limit.
Luckily, the use of my character’s grappling hook made moving around more fun.
There’s also extra character skins in the game including one inspired by Aang from “Avatar: The Last Airbender.” That’s a nice touch.
by Exit 73
“#Blud” is a game about a teen with an attitude.
Similar to “Mason and Strings,” this game also has a Cartoon Network art style.
This is a 2D Zelda inspired title with a lot of witty dialogue.
When the demo started, I interacted with a poster of “The Thing” and the protagonist said something along the lines of “Here’s ‘The Thing’ about this poster… I like it.”
At that moment I was hooked on the game.
There’s even a joke about walking into someone’s home and breaking all their pots, just like in “The Legend of Zelda.”
by QuadaTron Games
And here’s another cartoon inspired game.
“Fish Heads” is an infinite runner where you play as a fish attached to a robot body. The gameplay is easy to pick up, but tough to master.
This fish will constantly run as long as they have enough batteries. With the only button being the jump button, the fish must run and jump in order to survive and collect more batteries.
It’s pretty addicting.
Every time I glanced at the booth, someone was always really into the game.
Fish Heads is available now on PC and mobile.
by Abysso games
Continuing on with the sea-themed games, we have “Seahorse Saga.”
It’s been 17 years since the release of “Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door” and we never got a game that’s played similarly or even a re-release from Nintendo.
So Abysso Games came in and said fine I’ll do it myself.
“Seahorse Saga” is a turn-based RPG.
Similar to classic “Paper Mario,” each spell and attack requires these special button prompts such as hitting the A button at the right time or pulling back the control stick.
And usually these prompts would go on to become muscle memory. With this game and last year’s “Bug Fables,” I hope this style of RPG will have a big resurgence in the 2020s.
by LuNaTiCoS Productions
Project Soulstar is a third person action RPG.
It has this bright and colorful art style that caught my attention immediately.
Once I had the controller in my hand, the game immediately reminded me of “Kingdom Hearts.”
It has the hack and slash combat, the RPG elements and the enemies even look Heartless.
The developer also mentioned that the game would be structured similarly with a variety of smaller open areas. I’m interested to learn more about the story and characters as the game comes closer to release
“Fight E.X.E.” is a fighting game based on developer, Solidvalentine’s “Dungeons and Dragons” characters.
There’s a decent roster of fighters that are featured in the game’s very creative story mode.
I’m trash at fighting games, so I didn’t get very far in it.
However, the developer let me know about a big twist that happens.
At one point, the story mode turns a fighting game into a first person horror. I was pleasantly shocked and began to appreciate the game more because the developer stated that survival horror is becoming a genre.
Scarlet Of The City of Devils
Last but not least is “Scarlet Of City of Devils.”
This is a metroidvania game that is heavily inspired by “Dark Souls.”
“Scarlet” takes a lot of elements such as having to retrieve our currency at the last spot you died and a huge emphasis on dodging attacks.
Upon dodging an attack, at the last possible second, time temporarily freezes, giving more time to land some attacks similar to “Bayonetta.”
This game kicked my ass, but I liked it a lot.
The combat is quick and fluid. The hand drawn art style looks beautiful.
Additionally, I tried their other game “Miracle Mia” which was pretty solid as well. And I can’t wait to see and play more of “Scarlet” and everything else that Shademare has up their sleeve.
So I tried out a lot of good games and overall had a great time at Too Many Games.
But for now check out these ten games. Some of them are out now and some have demos available. I’m definitely going to try to come back next year to check out another batch of indie titles from hardworking developers.