This month, the focus across the internet seems to be on colorful and vibrant games, all full of humor in order to distract us humans from the noise happening outside the world of video games. And with the release of Apple Arcade, there have been tons of new titles on mobile, as well as a bundle of awesome console games to keep us distracted.

I’ve been having a great time exploring the new games through Apple Arcade, as well as the new releases on the Apple Store. I’ve also turned my attention back to my Nintendo Switch as well this month, so there is definitely a lot to cover in this post. But as always, I’ve cherry-picked my top 5 favorite indie games from September, and took the time to explain what the developers did so well.

1. Untitled Goose Game

If you haven’t seen or heard of Untitled Goose Game, chances are you haven’t been on Twitter lately. It seems like literally everyone I know has heard of this peculiarly titled game, but in case you haven’t, the concept is pretty simple.

Untitled Goose Game is a sandbox-ish puzzle game that sees you playing a goose who gets up to all sorts of trouble. Untitled Goose Game doesn’t have a bunch of instructions, or even a long tutorial. Beyond the controls, each player is just left alone in a world to wander around and figure out how to cause chaos.

A prompt is sometimes all that’s needed

The best part of this game is that the only clues you have are your quests, written on a sheet of paper that you can look at whenever you need to. Simple quests, like stealing specific items, are pretty obvious (although sometimes tricky), but more challenging quests, like gathering loads of items to one specific spot, need a bit more time, skill, and patience. This open gameplay with no hint system really makes Untitled Goose Game stand out as a puzzler, as the puzzles are displayed in an open world, can be done in any order, and do not have any hints or way to help the player.

What I loved about this title is that it just shows how games don’t need to rely on hints or linear design in order for it to be fun. The fact that this game is open-world means you can travel around and take on whatever challenge you want, whenever you want. This means you can come back to the trickier quests later, rather than get stuck and rage quitting.

2. What the Golf?

What the Golf? is another highly anticipated game that has just released on Apple Arcade. A not-so-serious golf game full of fun moves and surprises, What the Golf? lets you putt people, houses, and much more around silly golf courses (yes, I actually mean ‘putt a house’).

A simple golf mechanic can be twisted

After a few levels, the primary mechanic is turned on its head, and when you pull back to hit the ball, a random object instead flies towards it. This idea of taking a basic concept and mechanic (pulling back and letting go), and then applying it to various objects on the level, keeps the entire game feeling fresh and sometimes downright hilarious.

It’s such an unexpected use of the golf mechanic, yet one that works perfectly and is fun to share. Looking at simple controls and finding ways to make them stand out in a unique way is something that Triband really succeeded at.

3. Dead End Job

Inspired by 90s cartoons, Dead End Job sees you taking on the job of ghost removal service, moving through various offices, parks, etc, and shooting up all the ghosts you find. You also get to suck them into your vacuum, before finding small power-ups and continuing on your hunt to save humans.

Often, when you have finally done enough of your job to get a promotion (not a Dead End job after all) you’ll then get to choose from three different permanent upgrades. These upgrades, much like the skill trees for Borderlands 3, can wildly change your experience as you build up a bunch of upgrades that give you lots of unique playthroughs.

Great use of permanent upgrades

Apart from the humor and colorful graphics, the best part of Dead End Job is the way Ant Workshop uses permanent upgrades. Whenever you’ve earned enough points and done enough jobs to be promoted, you’re given a choice of one of three upgrades, which then stick around with you for the rest of your run.

These different choices really play a major role in how the player continues the game, yet feels fair as the player gets to choose exactly what they want, depending on their playstyle. This type of upgrade keeps each run different and new, letting players get to know the upgrades and develop their own playstyle.

4. Dungeon Drop

  • Developer: Retro Dreamer
  • Launch date: September 16th, 2019
  • Price: Free, with in-app purchases
  • Available on: iOS

Dungeon Drop is another simplistic, colorful game complete with a unique movement system. You see, instead of moving the character left or right to go down a bunch of floors, you’ll need to move the floors to get your character caught in a gap. But before you match up with the hole below the floor you’re moving you’ll want to take your time and look around for items. It’s also worth noting that you can actually move the floor below you (unless this is locked).

Forcing players to think ahead

The best aspect of Dungeon Drop is the hidden items on various floors that you’re moving down. Instinct, for me, was to get to the bottom of the screen as fast as possible. But be warned, I found out very quickly that there are a ton of traps on each level. Many of these traps can be disarmed with an object that you find before you get to them – you just need to find them. So this game isn’t just a time trial – it has a sprinkle of strategy inside, combining skill, thinking, and muscle memory.

This balance of needing to find new items and thinking ahead is super engaging and keeps players tempted to try one more time, which is something Retro Dreamer has done brilliantly.

5. Mini Motorway

Dinosaur Polo Club has released a new game, Mini Motorway, which gives a zen-like experience where you take on the role of a city planner. With limited resources and road lengths, players need to connect houses to various buildings, so that everyone can get around the city smoothly.

No ‘correct’ way to design a city

Despite aiming for efficiency, Mini Motorway is a truly creative game, and has tons of different ways to build the cities around the player. With the resources you have, designing the city doesn’t ever look the same from one player to the next, once the first few houses have popped into the map and things start filling up.

Sure, you can be more efficient and get a better score, but the brilliant thing about Mini Motorway is just how creative you can be when designing your city. With such an open space, the player truly is the master of their world, something that I think more games should really experiment with.

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