Game Review: Merek’s Market

Have you ever wanted to run and work in your very own medieval crafting store? A place where you can supply local villagers with various wares, daring knights with ceramic pots and so on? Well, now you can thanks to developer and publisher Big Village Games Limited and their new game, Merek’s Market.

“We’ve all been that adventurer throwing down bags of gold to buy swords and shields, but what about the poor souls rushing around behind the shop counter? Strange customers? Yes. Over the top crafting challenges? You bet. A shop cat? Absolutely! Take ownership of Merek’s Market as you haggle, barter and craft your way through a comical single player campaign or team up with friends to supply the whole town.”

You play as the titular Merek and have to please the customers that enter your shop by crafting the items that they request. The customers come in, tell you what they want and you go off and craft it for them. Example: someone comes in and asks for a chair. You grab a piece of wood and a cowhide and make a chair on the crafting table, to then deliver it to the awaiting customer before they leave. Different resources make different items and combining not just individual resources, but also fully made items can make new and different wares for your customers before time runs out and they leave.


Forgotten what resources make what items? Don’t worry as there’s a handy ‘recipe book’ that keeps all of your items and just how to make them. But you will waste valuable time stopping to read up on what items needed what resources. Need to make a staff? Just take a piece of wood to your workstation and away you go. But other items will need other and more resources. As you progress through the game, more recipes and resources become available to make more elaborate items. Every tenth level sees you having to take part in a ‘boss build’. These are massively large items that require much more work, all while you still try to manage the normal running of your shop at the same time. When you do finish one of these boss builds, your shop is upgraded. More workstations, more resources and so on. This really is basically Team 17’s Overcooked, but set in a medieval shop.

Occasionally, a customer will come in and instead of having to build an item for them, they will want one of your already made items, This begins a little mini-game where you haggle with the customer for the best price. Demand too high a price for your wares and the customer will get upset and even leave. Give a too low price and the customer will leave very happy, but you’ll be out of pocket. There’s also a 4-player couch co-op mode for some multiplayer mayhem where you all have to work together to keep the local villagers happy.


I have to be honest and finish the review by saying how I don’t much like these types of games. I tried to get into the aforementioned Overcooked, but it just didn’t do anything for me. I’m much of a fan of being rushed to play games, so titles that use time constraints as a gameplay mechanic are just an instant turn off for me. Still, I always try to be objective when I do my reviews and I always look at the cost of the game too. Merek’s Market is being sold for around £15 and despite this really not being my bag at all, I do think that’s a very fair price for what you get.


If you do enjoy these time and resource management, run around a shop-type games, you might really enjoy this one. There’s a good amount of content here, plenty of items to craft for your customers. The haggling mini-game helps to breaks up the continual crafting and the ‘boss builds’ can actually be quite entertaining and amusing. Speaking of which, Merek’s Market had a fantastic sense of humour and I admit to getting a few laughs out of it several times. It may not be my type of game, but it is a solid game nevertheless and worth a play if you’re into the likes of Overcooked.

Sir Clive Sinclair: The Man Who Shaped British Gaming

Yesterday, it came up on my newsfeed that Sir Clive Sinclair had died aged 81. The news spread over the various gaming groups that I’m a part of pretty damn fast. I went to sleep last night with no strong feelings about his passing. Perhaps that sounds a little callous on my part? I mean, yeah, Sinclair dying is a massive blow to the gaming world. Yet to me, last night, it really didn’t hit me. This morning? It’s a very different story.

Last night, I thought I should write something about Clive Sinclair’s death, even if I didn’t really want to. Today, there’s a massive desire to write something after sleeping on the news and reflecting on all he and his ZX Spectrum did for gaming. Before I get to that though, I need to explain why my initial feelings yesterday over Sinclair’s death were ‘lax’, for want of a better word…

Growing up, I didn’t have a ZX Spectrum. We (as a family) had a Commodore 64 and before the whole Sega vs Nintendo war, there was Commodore 64 vs ZX Spectrum… with the Amstrad CPC 464 in there somewhere. Still, there was massive rivalry between the American import and the very British made microcomputers back then. It was our generation’s The Beatles vs The Rolling Stones. Or perhaps more apt, The Monkees vs The Beatles, and you had to be on one side or the other. I was very firmly on the side of the beige breadbin, that was the C64 over the rubber-keyed wafer that was the Speccy.

I was very fortunate as a kid because I had friends who owned one of the other machines. So while I had a C64, I still got to play on pretty much every other machine back then. One of our neighbours had a Speccy and I got to play plenty of games on it. Sometimes, we would even swap computers for a weekend or longer. So I really got to grow up with the best of everything back then. While I was very much in the Commodore 64 camp when it came to the microcomputer wars of the early eighties, I never disliked the ZX Spectrum. Still, it was Jack Tramiel’s American import that captured my heart as a kid and not Clive Sinclair’s very British computer. I think that was why my initial reaction to Clive Sinclair’s death wasn’t all that big, because the ZX Spectrum was more of a background thing for me and not my main computer as a child.

But, as I said, after sleeping on the news and thinking back to the ‘good old days’, Sinclair’s Speccy was a revelation. I wrote a rather in-depth book on the British gaming industry and my absolute favourite era of gaming ever was the early to mid-eighties, bedroom coders age that shaped the entire British gaming industry. When I look back on that era of gaming, it really was the ZX Spectrum that paved the way for the gaming pioneers of the day. That’s what this article is going to be looking at, the games and names that were launched on the ZX Spectrum, the computer that Clive Sinclair brought to the masses and pretty much created the British gaming industry.

Just where do you start with the games and names from the Speccy years? I think I’ll begin with the fella that became a mascot (of sorts) for the computer itself. Horace made his debut in Hungry Horace, which was nothing more than a Pac-Man clone. Still, the character went on to star in several other games and he became the unofficial mascot of the ZX Spectrum. 1983’s Horace Goes Skiing was perhaps the most popular and best-remembered game in Horace’s career, it was the one game that every Speccy owner had… even if it wasn’t very British, it still defined British gaming.

Jet Pac was the game that launched one of the most popular gaming companies ever. A very simple, single-screen shooter with a wonderful arcade-feel. Jet Pac was the first Speccy game that the Stamper brothers (Chris and Tim) released under their new company, Ultimate Play The Game in 1983. Ultimate made some corking Speccy games back then and Jet Pac was one of them. Of course, Ultimate also made Knight Lore in 1984. For me, Knight Lore is one of the most important British video games ever made, right behind Elite (originally on the BBC Micro, but ported to the Speccy) That isometric game engine that Ultimate used for Knight Lore was revolutionary at the time. In fact, there’s a story that Ultimate Play The Game delayed the release of Knight Lore as it was so advanced that it made other games (including some of their own) look dated by comparison. I could sit here and namecheck other Ultimate games on the Speccy, but I have others to cover. Still, when the Stamper brothers became a bit jaded with their company, they created a new studio called Rare… and well, you all know how that turned out.

I don’t think you’re legally allowed to talk about the ZX Spectrum and not bring up Matt Smith’s Manic Miner. This was another one of those games that shaped and even changed the whole British gaming landscape. I’m not going to harp on about the genius that was Matt Smith as a coder (he was an utter genius though), but Manic Miner was and still is one of the most fondly remembered Speccy titles. A single-screen platformer famed for its Pythonesque humour and rather tricky-dicky difficulty. It would go on to spawn sequels with the likes of Jet Set Willy, another Speccy classic. Matt Smith became one of the first bedroom coding superstars thanks to his games and Clive Sinclair’s ZX Spectrum.

The breaker of many a joystick in 1984 was Daley Thompson’s Decathlon. Really, nothing more than a clone of the arcade hit, Track & Field from Konami. This was released when Daley Thompson became a British sporting hero thanks to his success at the 1984 Olympic Games. It was one of the first celebrity-endorsed video games too. A lot of fun and frustration was to be had with Daley Thompson’s Decathlon and it was a stone-cold Speccy classic. 

Not just a great British developed ZX Spectrum game but a damn amazing game in its own right. Skool Daze from Microsphere was a very early example of an open-world title. The freedom the game games you was amazing at the time, there was a plot to follow, but you didn’t have to. As a C64 owner, this was the one game that made me envious that I didn’t have a ZX Spectrum. I know a Commodore 64 port came later… but it just wasn’t the same. The C64 version felt clunkier and slower. Skool Daze, and its sequel, Back to Skool were defining games for the Speccy and true British gaming classics. 

I think I’ll finish with an egg. Dizzy was the first game in the very popular Dizzy franchise. Codemasters were the publisher, and they’re still going today too… now owned by the evil devil spawn that is EA. Anyway, Dizzy wasn’t a Speccy exclusive as it was ported to pretty much every microcomputer back then. But the first time I played it was on the ZX spectrum. There have been a tonne of Dizzy games released since the first title in 1987 too. I mean, Wonderful Dizzy was released in 2020. There have been numerous sequels, fan-games and remakes of the Dizzy games over the last thirty-odd years. But that first title, the original Dizzy created by the Oliver Twins is where it all started and the ZX Spectrum original is a game that many fans still praise today.

Well, that’s about it. Yeah I know I’m missing some absolute Speccy classics, but I do have to end this article sometime. Still, looking back over the years, the games I have played and just how massively important some of these titles were to the British gaming industry. You really do have to pause, say ‘thank you’ and show some deep respect to Sir Clive Sinclair and his ZX Spectrum…


Game Review: Crown Trick

I do love a good roguelike/lite game and it’s a sub-genre that is massively popular in the indie game scene right now. I’ve actually lost count of how many I have played and reviewed this year already and yet, I still have a major weakness for the sub-genre. Here’s another one too, Crown Trick from developer NExT Studios and publisher Team 17.  

The first thing that struck me about Crown Trick was its bold and vibrant art style. The opening animation really was a joy to watch and one that perfectly sets up the rich and beautiful world the game takes place in. A lot of the charm and personality of the intro finds its way into the game itself too. But I don’t want to bore you with the animation and graphics of the game, I need to look at how it plays.

As already mentioned, Crown Trick is a roguelite game, a sub-genre born from 1980’s Rogue. A very quick history lesson for you here. Rogue was a (what we now call) dungeon crawler where the main gameplay mechanic was that you die (a lot) but when you restart, the dungeon is randomly generated, so you get to experience a new game every time. Rogue was also turn-based and in that regard, Crown Trick is a wonderful homage to those roots. Yup, Crown Trick uses the old turn-based mechanic here too. Thinking about it, Crown Trick is probably the most Rogue-like roguelite that I have played in a long while. 


You play as Elle who finds herself trapped in a dream/nightmare. Early in the game, Elle finds a talking crown (stay with me) and this crown becomes her guide and helper. Right from the off, you are thrown into the action, exploring the dungeon-like dream you find yourself in and killing enemies and finding loot. At first, this all seems very button-mashy and rather shallow. However, there’s much more going on than just wandering around a dungeon and smacking enemies in the face.

Just going back to the whole turn-based thing for a second. Every step you make, the enemies move. This leads to some rather interesting strategy opportunities as you can lead enemies into traps and lure them to their doom. You could just pick up the controller and run around like a fool, bashing the attack button until the bad guys are dead. Yet, this would be a terrible idea for two reasons. First, you’ll end up dying a lot more than necessary. Second, you’re really going to miss out on a lot of the intricacies that Crown Trick’s gameplay has to offer. Everything is played on a grid, so you can move one square at a time. As it’s turn-based, you can really stop and think about your next move before you make it. It almost becomes a game of chess between you and whatever the dungeon has to throw at you, the game feels very tactical over action-based gameplay.


Like any roguelite game, you will die, die, die and die again. Upon your many deaths, you will be transported to the ‘Hall of Reincarnation’. This is your main hub and as you further explore the dungeon, you’ll find and recruit NPCs. These NPCs really work as upgrade shops for you various skills and items. As you kill enemies, you’ll earn Soul Shards, which act as your main currency in the game to unlock and buy upgrades. Kill more enemies, get more Soul Shards, die, upgrade, get further in the game, earn more Soul Shards, die, upgrade and repeat. 

Weapons and items come in a wide range of varieties too. Do you go for a long-range gun weapon to kill bad guys from a distance? If so, you need to remember that they need reloading and that’ll take up one of your precious turns. Or do you go for a melee weapon, you’ll have to get in closer to the enemy and risk taking a hit or seven. I think what separates Crown Trick from a lot of other roguelites is that element of strategy and thought. You enter a room and instead of just rushing in, you try to read the room, look at what enemies are about and keeping in mind what you have learned from previous runs, you try to anticipate their moves. This is where the whole turn-based gameplay really comes into strength. You seriously do need to just slow things down and make a plan of attack before you do actually attack. 


I have to admit that at first, Crown Trick really rubbed me up the wrong way. It all felt rather cumbersome and stiff to play, I was dying a lot more than I usually would with a roguelite. But that was all my own fault because I was playing it like your average dungeon crawler, like Diablo or something similar. I’d just rush in and start attacking enemies without even thinking… and that was the main issue, I wasn’t thinking. Once I slowed myself down and played the game correctly, once I got to grasps with the turn-based gameplay and more strategic elements that Crown Trick has to offer, everything just fell into place and clicked with me. Suddenly, I found myself really enjoying the game more and more.

Playing the Xbox version (it is available on Game Pass), I learned to really love and appreciate Crown Trick once I understood how to play it. This is not a game you put on for a quick blast, to kill half an hour. This is a game you really do need to invest some time and effort into. A game that is far more rewarding the more you stop and think. Most definitely a recommendation from me and as I said, it is on Game Pass for Xbox owners, so you can try it out for ‘free’ (so to speak). For everyone else, you’re looking at spending around £16 and at that price, you get plenty of game for your money. A real gem of a roguelite and one that is deeply rewarding… if you play it correctly. 

Game Review: Lake

Some games are easy to categorise and put into a specific genre. Beat ’em up, shoot ’em up, adventure game, FPS, etc. Some are not, just like Lake from developer Gamious. Honestly, I really don’t know how to define this game at all. It’s an adventure game… I guess, kind of. But not really at the same time. Here, take a look at the trailer, then I’ll do my best to explain what it’s all about.

So, the game is set in 1986 and you play as Meredith Weiss. Meredith takes a break from her job in the big city at a software company to return to her small hometown of Providence Oaks, where she works as a mail carrier… and that’s about it. You deliver mail. During your mail delivering duties, you’ll meet friends old and new, have conversations to then unwind after work. There’s no right or wrong way to play Lake at all, you just play it. And it’s a ‘strange’ experience too, not a bad strange at all, but more of an interesting and intriguing strange.

The main gameplay has you driving around Providence Oaks in your delivery van and handing out letters and parcels to the various residents. At the start of every day, you are given a list of the residents who’ll be needing their post. There’s a handy list with the addresses of everyone you need to make a delivery to. Thankfully, you don’t need to memorise the names of people or their addresses. In fact, you don’t even need the list itself as everything is displayed on the in-game map. Bring up the map, place a waypoint to your next delivery location and away you go. Technically you don’t even need to drive yourself either. The game features both a fast travel system to key locations and even an auto-drive option. So you can just pick a house, let the auto-drive do its thing, then just sit back and relax.


The driving of the postal truck in the game is really basic too. There’s the usual accelerate and reverse, of course. You can’t even crash so to speak. You can bump into roadside obstacles and even other vehicles driving around town, but those crashes don’t really affect you other than make you stop. There’s no GTA style road rage here. Anyway, get to your delivery location and you’ll either have to post some mail into the roadside mailboxes, which is done with a simple press of a button. Or, in the case of delivering a parcel, you’ll have to go to the back of your truck, open it and grab the correct parcel for the address you are at. Again, this is simple as each parcel is individually addressed and the address that you are at is displayed in the bottom corner of the screen. Everything about this game is foolproof and devilishly simple too.

As you deliver to the residents of Providence Oaks, you’ll get to know them more and more. Conversations will reveal more about everyone you meet, as well as fill in Meredith’s (your) backstory. The main story is (as already covered) you getting away from your high-paid software company job to work as a mail-person. You are taking the place of your father who has gone to Florida for a break himself with your mother. Anyway, after you finish a day of delivering the post, you get to unwind at home. You’ll also get various phone calls from both your parents letting you know how they are getting on as well as your boss from work asking for favours. After which, it is back to delivering post. You’ll also do side-quests around town such as helping the local cat-lady get one of her cats well after falling ill or even helping out the owner of the local VHS store to drum up some business.


The later side-quest even opens up relationship options in the game that I’ll not spoil here. The VHS shop is also a bit of a hoot to visit anyway. It’s full of parody VHS tapes for you to spot and have a laugh with. At first, I thought the parody films were to get around possible tricky copyright issues. However, the side-quest for the VHS shop has you delivering videotapes of real (non-parody) films to residents. Other side-quests open up all sorts of other issues for you to deal with as the game progresses.

After a little contemplation, I think I have the perfect genre the game fits into. Lake is a cosy ’em up. Everything is just so pleasant, nice, relaxing and, well… cosy. There is no action to speak of, no running around killing enemies, no experience points and levelling up or worrying about your character build. You just drive around, deliver mail and talk to people. It’s all very twee, serene, wholesome and relaxing. You can even go to the local diner and play an arcade game if you like.


I did come across a few negatives in terms of the low budget of the game. I found more than a few graphical issues. Shadows glitching as I was driving around, some very obvious pop-up graphics, questionable character animations. There was even a time when I was using the auto-drive option and my van got stuck in the road. However, I’m not going to sit here and rip this game apart for minor niggles. This is a low budget indie game and you just can’t expect perfection. Hell, a lot of AAA, big-budget titles have similar and even worse issues than this. So I’m more than willing to overlook a few slight niggles that never really ruined the game for me. Even more so when Lake is actually a very pretty game to look at to boot.

This all brings me to my final conclusion. Lake is being sold for £16 and for me, that is just feels a shade too much for what you get. Don’t get me wrong, I really loved my time delivering mail in the small town of Providence Oaks. I loved meeting all the people. I loved the slow pace and freedom the game has with no right or wrong way to play. Lake really chilled me out, to be honest. However, the interactions just feel too restrictive and pedestrian, conversations you have never feel like they’ll have any real impact for the most part (save a couple of instances at the end). Lake is a wonderful concept, it’s just a tad too linear and the choices you have never do really feel like choices in the grand scheme or that they will affect the story… aside from the very end. Still, I think that’s kind of the point.


Lake is a fantastically relaxing and tranquil game, a delightful change of pace if you ever feel like just unwinding and chilling out. It just needed a bit more meat on the bones. More interactions (like the arcade game), more depth, more… just more. Why can’t I pet the cats? Maybe do a spot of fishing? I still do recommend the game, very much so. But I need to just make people aware that Lake is very restrictive and you never really feel as free as I think the game wants you to feel. The gameplay is very light but it was the story and characters that kept me going until the end. I just had to see what was going to happen. Then, as I watched the end credits to the game (after about seven hours of playtime), I have to admit to having a warm and fuzzy feeling though. It really is a cosy ’em up and I do hope to see more from the devs in the future.

How And Why I Became An Indie Gamer

I’ve been playing games, or video games as we used to call them… or game programs if you really want to go way, way back. Anyway, I’ve been playing games for as long as I can remember. From when we as a family had an Atari 2600 in the late seventies, right up to today with modern gaming. It was a hobby that turned into a passion that turned into a semi-career with me not only writing this blog but also gaming books. 

Over the years I have seen the best and worst of gaming. I have been right there and witnessed the evolution of gaming from those early days of Space Invaders to the likes of Red Dead Redemption II today. When I look back on just how far gaming has come over the last forty-odd years, I can’t help but be massively impressed. Single screen games turned into multi-flick-screen ones. Those gave way to full-on side and multi-scrolling games and eventually, 3D maps. Gameplay has evolved from shooting slowing descending aliens or running around mazes eating little dots to massive, gargantuan open-worlds that give us gamers huge amounts of freedom and Hollywood-like production values. In a great many ways, modern gaming has actually gotten too big.


I’m not a youngster anymore, I don’t have endless free time to play games like I used to. I can no longer sit in front of my TV, controller in hand, putting in fifty-plus hours into a game these days. I now have bigger and more important responsibilities that take precedence over gaming. My two kids for starters, this blog, my book writing and more. These massive games of today don’t hold my interest like they used to. As an example, as a fan of the Assassin’s Creed franchise, I bought both AC Origins and Odyssey as I got them in a great deal. I played Origins for around twenty hours or so, looked at the in-game map and realised just how big the map is and that I was not even halfway through the main story. Twenty hours and not even halfway through the game… twenty hours! 

I think it’s great if you have the time to invest in a game like that, but I don’t. These games are still getting bigger and bigger too. I didn’t even bother with AC Odyssey, even though I paid for it. As for the new game, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla… I can’t even think about it.

Just looking at the new Saints Row coming early next year. One of the first things the devs are boasting about is that the map is bigger than any of the previous SR games. Not the gameplay or storytelling, the size of the game’s map. Where does this end? Games are just getting bigger and bigger and bigger year after year. Not necessarily better, just  bigger. Why are AAA game developers so obsessed with making ‘the biggest game ever’ instead of the ‘best game ever’?


See this, all this ‘bigger is better’ (it’s not) mentality is exactly why I have been getting more and more into indie games over the last few years. I have always loved the indie game scene, but the last few years have just proven to me that smaller, low budget games are far superior to bigger AAA titles. But before I get into modern-day indies, I need to look at just how I got into smaller games ‘back in the day’.

Truth be told, we didn’t have much choice but to play smaller games back then, all games were small relatively speaking. Being from England, I was there at the heart of the British gaming revolution of the early-mid eighties. While the infamous video game crash of 1983 was doing its thing in North America, here in the UK, we just didn’t care. We didn’t care because we already had our own gaming industry slowly bubbling away. Most of those games came from the bedroom programmers of the day. The indie devs before the term ‘indie gaming’ existed. These bedroom programmers were often one-man (or woman) teams, if one person could be considered a ‘team’ that is.

The likes of Matt Smith, Jonathan ‘Joffa’ Smith (no relation) and Jeff Minter. Real pioneers of the early UK gaming boom creating games, quite literally, alone in their bedrooms. This, this was the era of gaming where I grew up. Not the massive, worldwide gaming corporations and studios of today, but with the indie game developers of the early eighties. I have always been into indie/smaller games, they were my lifeblood as a gamer back then.


Obviously, as the industry grew, so did the teams. The bedroom programmer was a very rare breed by the time the late eighties kicked in as the gaming studio began to rise. One developer/coder became two or six or several dozen. Games got bigger, more expansive and hugely popular. To meet demands, developer teams had to grow and grow. Sega and Nintendo began to rule the roost and the modern gaming industry was born. The bedroom programmer was long dead as no one wanted smaller games, they wanted huge worlds to explore and play around in. Bigger and more open games like The Legend of Zelda paved the way for a bigger and more immersive gameplay experience. That’s not to say we Brits still couldn’t amaze, it was a couple of Brits (David Braben and Ian Bell) who created the mighty Elite and pretty much birthed the entire open-world genre.

Still, those simpler, smaller indie games were long gone as eighties ingenuity gave way to nineties excess and decadence. The simple 2D gaming eventually made way for 3D worlds. Games just kept getting bigger and bigger and bigger. Even though I very much enjoyed playing the likes of Grand Theft Auto III and so on… I still missed those early days of the bedroom programmer and smaller more creative titles. Still, those days were long gone by then and the industry was all about the ‘bigger is better’ mantra.


It was when I got myself an Xbox 360 and Microsoft began the whole Xbox Live Arcade thing when the indie game began to rise once more. Okay yes, XBLA launched before the 360 on the original Xbox, but it was the service’s relaunch on the 360 when it really took off big time. Before the 360 days, XBLA was really a service where gamers could play old arcade games. On the 360 though, Microsoft began to push for smaller/indie developers to make games for the service. It was the summer of 2008 when XBLA Summer of Arcade launched and a little platform game called Braid caught my eye. Just watching the trailer for Braid, I was taken back to those early days of the bedroom programmer.

It was such a massive change from the endless open-world games that were everywhere back then. Braid was small, simple but very unique too. On the surface, it was a simple puzzle-platformer but it threw in time manipulation and gameplay mechanics that nobody else was doing at the time. While the big studios were trying to one-up each other, trying to make ‘bigger’ games with even bigger teams, here was a small team (one man actually) making a highly original game that harked back to the good old days of gaming. I bought Braid, played it, loved it and I was suddenly into indie gaming once more, just like back in the early eighties. 

It was buying and playing Braid, thanks to Microsoft’s XBLA service, that really got me back into smaller games once more. I still enjoyed the bigger AAA games sure. But every now and then, I would dip into XBLA and download a cheeky little game. My game’s library began to fill up with smaller/indie games. ‘Splosion Man, Shadow Complex, Limbo, Trials HD, Fez and more. Smaller games with some very interesting and unique gameplay features began to take over my gaming. My love for Indie gaming was reborn. Microsoft discontinued their XBLA service, but the indie game scene had already exploded by then and instead of having indie games be in their own, separate service, they just became games.


If you look at my reviews from this year, pretty much all of them have been indie games… I think all of them have, in fact. I do get AAA titles up for review now and then, but more often than not, I’m just not interested in them. I really don’t think I could ever review the latest Call of Duty title or the next GTA (not that there will ever be one) because they are all too ‘samey’ now. Yet, with indie games, you often find something rather unique about them, even if they are using some old school gameplay, they give it a new twist. The likes of the absolutely awesome HyperParasite (my favourite game of 2020 buy it!) is a very simple top-down, twin-stick shooter. At first, it all looks very ‘meh’, but it is the use of the brilliant rogue-lite gameplay mechanic that comes from 1980’s Rogue that really makes the game pop and stand out. 


I’m currently reviewing an indie game called Lake (coming soon) where you deliver post… and that’s about it. It’s devilishly simple and very twee… but it also feels very different and refreshing compared to other big AAA games on the market right now. I firmly believe that indie gaming is the future of gaming. Indie games have the freedom to push new and exciting ideas, they don’t have the pressure of publishers forcing ideas onto the developers. Indie games can be far more creative than the next Assassin’s Creed will ever be.

It is almost as if there is a big video gaming reset on the horizon, a video game crash on 1983 part II if you will. The ever-increasing cost of AAA games can not be sustained in the industry without pushing that cost onto the consumer. When a game is costing over $200 million to make and increasing… how much further can developers go, how much would you be willing to pay for a game that’s nothing more than a slight update from the previous title?

The big-name studios are becoming stagnant and oversaturating the market with the same old content over and over. Never really improving the game itself outside of the visuals, never experimenting with new and exciting gameplay features because they can’t risk messing it up when the budget is so high. So we get ‘safe’ games with the same old mechanics and gameplay. The bubble has to burst sometime, just as it did back in 1983. But the indie game scene is where the fresh and unique ideas are coming from.

Indie games are cheaper to make and cheaper to buy in comparison to AAA titles. Yes, there is an awful lot of crap out there in terms of indie games… but let’s not be coy here… there’s an awful lot of crap AAA titles too. Indie games can be played through in a few hours and be massively entertaining (some even offer months of inventive gameplay), instead of boring the player with fifty+ hour campaigns and endless grinding. You can buy and play several good quality indie games for the price of one AAA title these days. Even more so, indie devs are FAR more grateful for your support over AAA studios that only care about money.

Let me put it this way, I’d rather spend £10-£20 on a 7 hour indie game that I’ve really enjoyed, than £60 on a AAA game that bored me long before I saw the end credits. 


Indie games are a serious business right now and for me, a far superior alternative to the bigger AAA games released today. I’ll continue to champion the indie game scene and review indie games on my blog because they actually deserve the support and give me so much entertainment. Keep them indie games coming guys and gals, cos I’m lapping them up.