Light Fantastik

A game by Hayali for PC, originally released in 2018.
Light Fantastik begins with the tale of a village that is suddenly stricken with a sickness, but instead of becoming ill, the people of the land are transformed into little squares with eyes. The introductory cutscene plays out with stylish 2D artwork in a pre-Renaissance style, showing people collapsed into square shapes in a somewhat disturbing manner, until the hero of the tale holds up a sword and a square chunk of his face pulls itself loose and scrolls off the side of the screen. The game is an unusual platformer with light puzzle-platforming elements, featuring a world split in two, with one side awash in light and the other covered in darkness, and players must pass from one side to the other to navigate the environment.

The game’s primary mechanic centers around passing between the two sides of the world. On the light side, the player has average platforming abilities and is able to hop about to mount platforms that are clearly visible around him. On the dark side, the player’s view is narrowed to his immediate surroundings, but he is able to jump incredibly high. The light side of the world appears on the left side of the screen, and the dark side is on the right, with wavy white lines sometimes appearing between the two worlds – and warp points later on – to indicate places where the player can cross over.

Treasure Adventure World

A game by Robit Games for PC, originally released in 2018.
Treasure Adventure World is an open world action adventure that acts as both a follow-up and an expanded remake of the developer’s previous work, Treasure Adventure Game, which was released as freeware in 2011. Treasure Adventure Game offered an astounding scale for a game that was created entirely by one person, and the developer has spent years giving that world new life in Treasure Adventure World. Gone are the pixelated visuals from the original game, which have been replaced with HD artwork, and the amnesiac boy who starred in the original is replaced with an amnesiac girl.

The game’s prologue shows the girl out on a seafaring adventure with two men, who are later revealed to be her father and her uncle. The trio set out to explore a series of islands on a quest to find 12 legendary treasures. Along the way, they meet with some of the islands' inhabitants, plumb underwater caverns, avoid ghosts, and occasionally flee from pesky pirates. In the final scene of the introduction, their boat comes across a giant sea serpent, and the girl’s father unsheathes his sword and dives toward the beast.

Snow Fall

A game by EHTechnology for PC and Linux, originally released in 2018.
The story of Snow Fall centers around a character clad in winter gear whose world has been attacked by the Destroyer of Worlds, a being capable of absorbing entire galaxies… although this premise isn’t apparent in the game itself, and is featured only in the product description. The player must make his way through 18 platforming environments in five themed areas (the earliest of which are covered in snow), blasting enemies along the way and collecting crafting materials that allow him to create more powerful weapons for an eventual showdown with the evil villain.

The protagonist has a 2x nonvariable jump and the ability to wall slide and wall jump, and he is capable of jumping up almost any vertical surface. At the start of the game, he is equipped with a shotgun that does heavy damage up close but is less effective at a distance due to its scattered shooting pattern. Even in the early going, the shotgun isn’t terribly effective at dispatching enemies, as only a few foes are killed with a single shot. Most enemies require between two and four blasts to destroy.


A game by Fully Illustrated and Darkwind Media for PC, Switch, PS4, and Xbox One, originally released in 2017.
The story of Wulverblade centers around the Roman seizure of the south of Britannia in 120 A.D. with intentions toward taking the whole of the land in their northward march. But one family stands against the Roman advancement… Caradoc, Brennus, and Guinevere aren’t prepared to let their lands fall so easily. They fight their way through the Romans and their treasonous allies within Britannia, fighting for the northern clans and rallying them to action as they take blade to flesh from the northern encampments to the more fortified structures to the south.

Beat ‘em ups are notorious for their throwaway stories that act as an excuse for a handful of musclebound martial artists to take to the streets and beat the ass of every person they encounter. However, you’ll not find a more well-researched beat ‘em up than that of Wulverblade. While it’s not a historically accurate tale, insofar as three warriors laying waste to hundreds of Roman soldiers, it is inspired by historical events and locales of ancient Britain, researched over a period of five years by the game’s creative director. In fact, the game is positively loaded with supplemental material showcasing these inspirations, with written text, photographs, and even drone footage of ancient ruins and stone circles.

Death’s Hangover

A game by Retro Army Limited for PC, originally released in 2017.
There are very few entries in the fantasy-themed Arkanoidlike sub-subgenre, with Wizorb and Strikey Sisters standing as two of the finest examples. Death’s Hangover takes this already absurd premise and ratchets it up a notch by featuring Death – freshly awoken and nursing a terrible hangover – who has taken it upon himself to pick a fight with Bastard Dracula, who has stolen a number of souls. Death decides to resurrect a pair of dimwitted warriors to aid him in his cause, upon threat of a second death should they fail, and sends them off to Bastard Dracula’s castle… but before doing so, he transforms them into women, as there is apparently some prophecy about women being able to defeat the lord of bastard vampires.

The entirety of the game is filled with crass humor, mostly coming from between-level conversations between the men-turned-women, including boob jokes, several poop jokes, actual poop monsters, and a poop boss at the end of one of the levels. (Freud might have something to say about all of this.)

Heads Run

A game by kass-stwa for PC and Mac, originally released in 2018.
Heads Run is a precision platformer starring an unusual protagonist who is essentially just a little green head that bops quickly along the ground. The game is a follow-up and a refinement of the developer’s previous release, Porter, which starred the same platforming hero. As before, the game is displayed in multi-shade “greenscale” with a grainy CRT-style filter and curved edges.

Where the original game offered 20 short levels, Heads Run offers 50. Every level is designed to allow completion in a matter of seconds, with some of the opening areas offering completion times below 20 seconds. Later levels get longer – and more challenging – requiring that players make efficient use of their full moveset just to survive, let alone make it through quickly.


A game by Paris Stalker for PC, originally released in 2017.
Ersatz is a rhythm-based action platformer featuring a monochromatic protagonist jumping, dashing, and slamming his way through hazy musically-supported environments. The representative music genres – including house, trance, synthwave, DnB, and techno – tend to be beat-heavy, giving the player some insight into world around him, as each level features a bpm measurement, and enemies and objects move, act, and change in accordance with these beat patterns – and build upon the music with sounds of their own – allowing the player to use the timing to dash between waves of projectiles or escape a platform before it suddenly becomes electrified.

The player has a small array of moves with which to tackle a number of challenging environments. First off, he can move to the left or right, and his movement speed is quite slow compared to other platforming heroes. He can also jump, and when pressing DOWN in midair, he can slam downward, allowing him to attack enemies from above, activate switches, and break destructible objects (although playing with a game pad means occasionally pressing DOWN by accident). He can slide under low-hanging obstacles, and he can dash while ducking, standing, or jumping.

Shin Megami Tensei: Synchronicity Prologue

A game by Ladybug for PC, originally released in 2017.
Shin Megami Tensei: Synchronicity Prologue (a.k.a. 真・女神転生 SYNCHRONICITY PROLOGUE) is a teaser and prologue to Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Redux, which was released for a limited time alongside that game’s Japanese release date. The narrative of Strange Journey Redux centers around a mysterious portal that has opened at the South Pole and a team of investigators who is sent to examine it, only to be pulled into a demon-filled alternate dimension.

Synchronicity Prologue begins with a faux computer desktop and news browser interface, showing several new articles, including a new posting regarding a computer programmer named Mr. Jones who has fallen into a coma, and an article about a black hole forming at the South Pole. Without warning, an email appears, addressing the user as Human, and there is a computer program attached. Disregarding safe internet practices and running the program (there is no other option) causes additional windows to appear showing a map of Antarctica with the South Pole highlighted, along with text about transferring consciousness.

Super Skelemania

A game by Benal for PC, originally released in 2017.
Super Skelemania is a follow-up to the developer’s previous skeleton-themed metroidvania Skelemania. Once again, you take on the role of a skeleton man who finds himself exploring a subterranean world and acquiring powerups that enhance his movement abilities, allowing him to reach new areas. The narrative of the previous game has been excised completely in favor of a largely wordless adventure on a mysterious planet with no further context as to the skeleton man’s motivations or how he came to be on the planet. Even without these trappings, however, Super Skelemania offers a more tightly-designed experience, with improved controls, more detailed environments, and a map system that aids in exploration.

At the start of the game, the skeleton man has a 1.5x nonvariable jump and a somewhat slow movement speed. In addition, he can whip his skull to the left, right, or upward Castlevania-style by extending his spinal cord, allowing him to bash enemies. This is a departure from the previous game where the player had no offensive abilities whatsoever; even so, bashed enemies aren’t killed, but simply fall unconscious. Some of the previous game’s enemies make a return, but they are more vividly designed with the new game’s expanded color palette, as opposed to the single-color enemies and environments from before.

Tower 57

A game by Pixwerk for PC, Mac, Linux, PS4, Xbox One, and Amiga, originally released in 2017.
Tower 57 takes place in a “dieselpunk” world where people live in tightly-packed urban environments with huge towers jutting up through crowded smoky streets and colorfully-lit establishments offering gambling, drinking, or just a bit of rest. You take on the role of a team of agents hired to investigate a series of tumultuous events within Tower 57 that threaten to disrupt the entire city. You are told that a man called The Supervisor is behind this, so you must sneak into the tower and take him out to put a stop to a potential uprising… but of course, things are not as simple as they first appear.

At the start of the game, you select a team of three characters from a roster of six. Among these are a Tommy gun-wielding mobster, a scientist with an electric rifle, a police officer, a crazy-looking fellow dressed only in his underwear, an flamethrower-packing Abraham Lincoln lookalike, and a spy. The character select screen shows each of the characters and a video of their special attacks, along with a visual representation their weapons and special items, but with no description or details on how they operate. Players may go it alone or team up with a pal for online or offline 2P co-op, with the second player taking the role of the other three characters.

Project Mercury

A game by Raxasoft Games for PC, originally released in 2017.
Most neo-retro games adhere to the 8- or 16-bit era of console gaming, while only a few seek to approximate the DOS era of PC gaming and its limited CGA and EGA graphics, with standout examples including VVVVVV, You Have to Win the Game, and MURI. Project Mercury falls into this category with its 256x224 resolution, 5-channel chiptune soundtrack, miniscule color palette, and 4-color sprites.

The game begins by explaining that an elite commando unit was sent to investigate strange creatures known as Mercury, but contact with the team has been lost. You take on the role of a laser-wielding warrior on a mission to discover what happened to the team and to put an end to the threat of Mercury. You must dash through eight enemy-filled areas, speed across the landscape on a hoverbike, climb skyscrapers, descend into a Mercury-infested cave, and face off against nine boss creatures, picking up weapons from your fallen companions along the way.