E3 2019 Hands-On IMPRESSIONS: IndieCade

Tuesday, June 18th, 2019

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When I saw that IndieCade would once more be gracing E3, I made appointments to play a bunch of different games. Simply because I’m an indie nut, and I love playing new and unusual titles. As such, I decided to branch out and try 4 totally different titles – a puzzle game, a rogue deckbuilder, a sinister VN and a tactical sequel. The games will be listed in the order I demoed them, along with a recap at the very end.

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First up, I played a colorful puzzle game called Keen. To my great surprise, this is by Cat Nigiri, the same folks behind hardcore platformer Necrosphere. Keen is quite different, though no less entertaining. It’s a cartoony puzzle adventure game with a surprising amount of lore. You play Kim, a sort of shinobi guardian. As you play, your goat is to rollerskate into foes to battle them, while finding keys and unlocking the path forward. Essentially it’s like a giant ice puzzle, but not in a bad way. I found the gameplay quite intuitive, and the fact that it’s a huge open world with side missions really endeared me. It was a lot of fun slashing my way through zombies and robots, and I’m looking forward to Keen when it releases in Q2 of 2019 on Steam, PS4, Switch and XBOX One.

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After that at IndieCade, I delved into one of my favorite sub genres – the rogue deckbuilder! That game was none other than Dicey Dungeons, and I needed absolutely no explanation for how it worked. Everything was very apparent from the outset, probably due to me playing too many games like Guild of Dungeoneering for hours upon end. Much like Keen before it, Dicey Dungeons is a very colorful and exuberant game, though admittedly less story focused. You roll dice during combat, and use your point values to initiate attacks. Depending on the attack, you’ll want certain point values in particular for additional effects or to do maximum damage. Each time you play, you’ll traverse a randomly generated dungeon, fighting to level up, acquiring loot and learning new skills. There’s also a variety of classes at your disposal, ranging from Thief to Robot to Inventor and more. Oh and if that wasn’t enough, it was also developed by Terry Cavanagh, the mind behind VVVVVV, one of my favorite platformers. If you enjoy rogue games with a bright and cheery aesthetic, you’ll want to check Dicey Dungeons out when it launches this Summer.

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The next title I played at IndieCade I was in no way prepared for. I always do a wee bit of research before I demo things, but even then I was totally flummoxed by Knife Sisters. All I really knew was that it was a Visual Novel, but I couldn’t have guessed it was such a different and frankly creepy one. For the record, I mean that in the best way possible. I’ve played my fair share of VNs, but usually they don’t hook me quite so soon. I was drawn to Knife Sisters early on by the stark black and white art style. It also stood out due to its focus on gender non-conformity, which you quickly learn is a theme of the game. If that were all it was about, I would have lost interest, but there’s also a focus on mystery and possibly even supernatural themes as well. Few games manage to attain this level of urgency or unsettling paranoia, which actually reminded me a bit of the work of Alan Moore. You play Leo, a non-binary protagonist whose life quickly starts to spiral out of control after meeting their new roommate. As the demo progressed, there was a ton of options to choose from, which leads me to suspect there’s also multiple endings. If any of that floats your boat, or if you just are interested in a dark and twisty plot, Knife Sisters is already available to play on Steam.

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The final game I demoed at IndieCade was actually a sequel to a tactical game I enjoyed previously, Tiny Metal. This one is called Tiny Metal: Full Metal Rumble, and I was instantly familiar with the controls and setup. What took me by surprise was the challenge. Not to say the original game was a pushover, but I do not remember the AI being nearly so competent. Additionally, now your commanders have special abilities a la Advance Wars or Wargroove. Better yet, there are new units to keep things fresh. But best of all, now when you produce a unit they clearly indicate visually what you’re strong and weak against, which was one of my issues with the first game. The only real complaint I had with my time playing Tiny Metal: Full Metal Rumble was a graphical problem, or so it seemed. Whenever the camera panned around or zeroed in on a unit before battle, the screen got very fuzzy, and not in a good way. While it’s certainly possible this was due to this being a demo, or because FMR has some pixel art, it didn’t feel intentional to me. That said, since it releases later this year, there’s still every chance for niggling problems to be fixed beforehand. If you love tactical RPGs and need a new obsession, you should check out Tiny Metal: Full Metal Rumble later in 2019 when it releases for Steam and Nintendo Switch.

All in all, I had a really good time playing my way through IndieCade. There seemed to be even more fantastic games than last time, and that’s saying something. Thanks as always for tuning into oprainfall for our continuing E3 2019 coverage. Stay tuned for even more in the coming days!

About Josh Speer

Josh is a passionate gamer, finding time to clock in around 30-40 hours of gaming a week. He discovered Operation Rainfall while avidly following the localization of the Big 3 Wii RPGs. He enjoys SHMUPS, Platformers, RPGs, Roguelikes and the occasional Fighter. He’s also an unashamedly giant Mega Man fan, having played the series since he was eight. As Head Editor and Review Manager, he spends far too much time editing reviews and random articles. In his limited spare time he devours indies whole and anticipates the release of quirky, unpredictable and innovative games.