Longtime fans of the site know I tend to be a little long-winded. Because of that, I tend to review games that are a longer or have more story elements so that I have a little more to chew on. The problem with that is that I also play a lot of smaller, shorter, games that I really enjoy, but don't necessarily have a good venue to tell people about (other than through my often-cluttered Twitter feed). To make things a little more official, I'm going to start posting an as-often-as-needed compilation of the smaller games I've been digging. Up first are three brand-new indie games released in August 2021 that I think are great. Even better - they're all under US $15.
I, along with many people roughly four times my age, love card games. Not the deck building kind like Magic the Gathering, but games like Solitaire - something you could play with an actual deck of cards if the mood struck you. I've played a lot of these, but it's always exciting when someone comes up with a new take on the genre. Brave Hand is a new and accessible card game that combines strategy, deck building and luck with a solitaire-style game.
Players clear stacks of cards by playing a high value card out of their hand, and then choose to either push their luck by going against the next card in the pile, or take their points and put a new card into their hand. I found the game easy to pick up and understand, but pretty difficult to master - I'm not sure if this is because I haven't figured out how to properly strategize, or if some hands are tied a little more to luck than skill. Despite that, I really enjoyed playing and the satisfaction of pulling off a great run made up for previous crushing defeats. The art and music are beautiful and complement the simple gameplay well. It's a simple and fun game that I feel like has a lot of value for it's very small $2 price point.
Brave Hand is available for PC via Steam, Android and iOS.
The Ramp perfectly exemplifies something I've long maintained about games: they don't all need to be never-ending, endlessly expansive projects. Sometimes games can just be small things that are enjoyed for a period of time and then moved on from - for both player and developer.
The Ramp is a sweet little skateboarding game that's been described as an "interactive toy". It's super simple, with one button to pump, one to steer, and one to do tricks. There are three different maps - a pool, a double bowl, and a huge ramp. And that's it! It's super fun to zip around and try to pull off tricks, and the breezy soundtrack and vibrant graphics give it a great backdrop. It's a really cool little thing that I've found myself going back to play way more than I thought I would. If this at all sounds interesting, you'll probably enjoy it, and for $5 it's pretty hard to go wrong.
The Ramp is currently available on Steam.
Sometimes a game comes along and shocks me with how cleverly simple it is. Lifeslide - a game where you fly a paper airplane around gorgeous maps - is one that adds a great amount of depth to its incredibly simple premise. There are different power-ups and things to collect, and energy levels to worry about, but mainly it's a relaxing game that has you zipping through stunning low-poly landscapes.
The flying feels fun and exciting, and is surprisingly strategic in the regular mode. Your plane loses integrity over time, so you'll need to collect yellow triangles to repair your plane as you glide, and blue triangles for upgrades to stats like flight speed. You'll also need to maintain momentum as you travel to avoid running out of speed. These things all happen pretty naturally as you explore so I never felt burdened down, but there were multiple levels that I needed to try a few times before reaching the end. Zen mode has none of the worries about energy, and allows you to just glide along to the breezy and uplifting soundtrack. Both modes were a lot of fun to play, and I loved trying out new planes just as much as I did as a kid.