Last month was one of the biggest months this year for indie gaming releases on all platforms. With the larger AAA titles coming out towards the end of 2019, July was prime time for indie game launches.
It’s been an absolute joy to play all of these games. But for this post, I’ve cherry-picked my top 5 favorite indie games released in July, and gone into detail about exactly why they’re so special. We have puzzle platformers, cute rhythm games, stunning exploration games, and more to share with you. So without further ado, let’s dig in.
1. Total Party Kill
- Developer: Jussi Simpanen
- Launch date: July 3rd, 2019
- Price: Free, with in-app purchases
- Available on: iOS, Android, PC
In short, Total Party Kill is a puzzle platformer that gives you three different characters to control. A swordsman that can hit people, knocking them back. An archer that can shoot characters. And a wizard that can freeze people into ice blocks.
The aim of the game is to get your characters through the dungeon, but expect to make some sacrifices. What this basically means is that you’ll have to sacrifice some of your own characters to get to the next level. Whether that be by shooting a character with the archer to get to the next platform, freezing the swordsman to push through a hole, or leaving them on top of the spikes so you can’t get hit by them.
It’s hard, but not too hard…
Simpanen made the demo for Total Party Kill during a game jam. He’s done a very good job keeping true to the puzzle genre, while leaving the tutorial short and sweet. It teaches the player the essentials on how each character works and then lets them go free to explore the game. Yes, this does make the game quite challenging as you need to figure out when to use the other characters, but in my experience, too many hints can make a puzzle game repetitive and boring. Total Party Kill strikes a nice balance.
As there are three main characters you have, you’ll find yourself playing one of them more than the others. Personally, I rarely used the knight beyond the beginning tutorial and sacrificed him more than I probably should have! Total Party Kill, overall, is a very clever puzzle platformer that really challenges players to decide exactly what character can be helpful and which one can just be used to get you further.
2. Songbird Symphony
- Developer: Joysteak Studios
- Launch date: July 25th, 2019
- Price: £13.99
- Available on: PC, PS4, and Nintendo Switch
Songbird Symphony is a very adorable rhythm-based puzzle platformer where you play as an orphaned chick called ‘Birb’, and basically help him learn where he came from. Through the power of singing, you’ll be able to help various creatures, learn more about yourself, and further explore the world you live in.What are the top 5 indie games launched in July? @GameAnalytics answers just that. #gamedev #indiedev Click To Tweet
The challenges vary in this title, depending on who you’re trying to help. Some of them are simple and straightforward, while others can be a tad more tedious. All in all, this is a great puzzle game to use as inspiration, as they’ve just found that balance – the variance in puzzles keeps the game fresh and avoids repetition.
Visuals are breathtaking, although level mapping is complex
Everything about Songbird Symphony’s visuals are beautiful. The lovely pixel art graphics and slick animations really make for a wonderful game.
However, when playing through Songbird Symphony, I found myself a bit lost in the world I was trying to discover, looking for the next creature to help or area to make it too. Maybe I was distracted by the beautiful graphics, but sometimes it felt a little frustrating trying to figure out where to go next. Joysteak Studios would really benefit from adding indicators or visual cues to help their players naturally progress, without feeling frustrated.
As a rhythm game, Songbird Symphony does so much right, and really does create something well worth playing and exploring.
3. Sky: Children of the Light
- Developer: thatgamecompany
- Launch date: July 18th, 2019
- Price: Free, with in-app purchases
- Available on: iOS (Android coming soon)
Sky: Children of the Light is a beautiful, social adventure that let’s explore a unique world with other real-life players. The world, simply put, is stunning, with different themed sections aimed at invoking different feelings (from happiness and joy, through to slight fear and dread). thatgamecompany haven’t overlooked any details, either. Each blade of grass, ruin, and bit of sky is just breathtaking. And as you fly through the sky, you’re greeted with the same level of beauty.
The only time little instructions work
Sky: Children of the Light doesn’t give you much of a tutorial, but instead encourages you to explore around and figure things out. Little visuals simply tell you to use candles to light ruins and unlock areas, or to pray by star areas to light them up. Learning the game as you go felt right at home with the world you were exploring; mysterious.
Which is great. Too many instructions, and the game would have little to none value. Letting players use their curiosity to figure things out, combined with beautiful visuals, makes for the perfect exploring game for all ages.
My only issue with Sky: Children of the Light were the controls. At times, the controls felt clunky on your phone, especially when the camera takes control to show you a small cut scene, while you can still control your character and move forward. This is definitely something that takes getting used to.
Knightin’+ is described as a Zelda-lite adventure game full of dungeons to explore, loot to gain, and monsters to fight. But pretty much all of your time is spent exploring the dungeons.
You play as sir Lootalot, where you’ll find yourself fighting mushrooms, flying skulls, what looks like penguin wizards, and much more. As you fight, you’ll gain coins and loot, much like any traditional dungeon crawling adventure. The game contains magical artifacts that you can find or purchase from shops, which allow you to do more damage and destroy everyone faster.
It builds on the puzzle genre
Knightin’+ does look like your average dungeon crawler on the package, but once you get into the game, there is something a bit extra in the form of puzzles. The various dungeons have light puzzles on different floors, hinting at how to solve them by using the environment players walk along.
Muzt Die Studios did a wonderful job of seamlessly combining simple light puzzles into sizable dungeons, forcing the player to look to the environment around them for visual clues on how to solve these puzzles. This addition of puzzles adds a new experience into what is otherwise a simple dungeon game – it keeps things interesting for the player.
5. The Kreator
- Developer: StarRhyme Co., Ltd.
- Launch date: July 11th, 2019
- Price: Free, with in-app purchases
- Available on: iOS
The Kreator is a relaxing, sleek endless runner that sees you trying to collect various light orbs and grow plants along the land. You are a little orb that can jump into the air, jumping higher as you tap. The land below can also be gilded upon, leaving seeds and sprouts for you to use again later. These seeds stay small until you guide along them a second time, then grow to cover the land in the beautiful plants that you have dotted down.
It’s relaxing, but not boring
When it comes to endless runners, it’s very easy to edge on the boring side of gameplay. But with The Kreator, StarRhyme Co has added enough little touches that make the game visually appealing and interesting throughout the gameplay. As you go across the trees a second time, the land actually changes. This, paired with the color pallet changing in the world behind you, keeps the environment from being too same-ish.
There’s also an interesting challenge element there, too. If players miss a yellow orb, it then becomes black, chasing you as you fly forward. One miss doesn’t do much, but after a while, these misses add up. Even though there’s the added threat and thrill in there, the game still feels pretty relaxed. The enemy is just there to remind the player that this is more than a small, interactive experience, and keeps things interesting.
Think we’ve missed anything?
Tweet us here and we’ll make sure to check it out for our next month’s review.