Fictorum

Fictorum

While there are plenty of games that allow you to play as a magic user, Fictorum is one of the few that makes you feel truly powerful right from the start. With an impressive arsenal of spells at your disposal and the ability to shatter buildings, it is definitely not lacking in excitement initially. Unfortunately, once the novelty wears off the game can become quite repetitive and doesn’t offer you much to do beyond blowing up the same enemies and buildings. The game also lacks some polish in terms of visuals and audio, but as long as you don’t expect too much there is still fun to be had.

Gameplay: Fictorum is quite exciting initially, but once the novelty of blowing up buildings wears off it can become a little repetitive.

Graphics: The destruction is impressive, but the overall visual style a little bland.

Sound: Decent enough sound effects, but repetitive music and no voice acting

Graze Counter

Graze Counter

Hop into the cockpit of your fighter and take down a virtual network that has evolved a little too much for its own good in this shoot ‘em up from Bikkuri Software. It offers non-stop action and a bullet grazing mechanic that forces you to risk life and limb to boost your score while unleashing devastating attacks. The 16-bit style of the visuals and audio offers a nice blast from the past for fans of the genre, but even newcomers can ease into the action thanks to a practice mode and selectable difficulty settings. The game is a little short for our liking and the style might not appeal to everyone, but if you enjoy a good shoot ‘em up you can do far worse than this one.

Gameplay: Being forced to skirt dangerously close to bullets instead of simply avoiding them makes for a frantic experience.

Graphics: The 16-bit visual style is charming, but might not appeal to those who didn’t grow up with the genre.

Sound: The soundtrack is good, but the sound effects lack a little punch

Solstice Chronicles: MIA

Solstice Chronicles: MIA

Solstice Chronicles: MIA is a twin stick shooter where the odds are very much against you. Faced with waves of deadly enemies, your only chance for survival is to play a bit more tactical than what is expected from you in most of these types of games. Using your drone companion to manage your threat level is essential and sometimes knowing when to make a run for it is just as useful as standing your ground. With four character classes, different skill trees, a story mode and survival mode, this is the type of game that can keep you busy for ages. The lack of online co-op sucks, but nothing beats setting up two controllers and playing with a friend next to you on the couch.

Gameplay: The game is intense,even on lower skill levels, and requires you to do more than just spray and pray.

Graphics: Not a very colorful game, but the top down visuals packs plenty of detail.

Sound: Surprisingly good voice acting even if the background music is nothing to write home about

Lode Runner Legacy

Lode Runner Legacy

Lode Runner Legacy takes the addictive gameplay of the classic title and spruces it up with some brand new Voxel visuals. In addition to the 150 original levels, the game also includes brand new adventure as well as puzzle levels along with leaderboards. Best of all, Lode Runner Legacy features editors for creating everything from your own levels to custom characters, enemies and items. Fans expecting the newer features that were introduced in later Lode Runner titles might find the game a little too simple for their taste, but everyone who loved the original are in for a treat.

Gameplay: Adventure, Puzzle and Classic game modes along with leaderboards and editors to get creative with.

Graphics: The Voxel visuals are a perfect match for the game.

Sound: Nothing spectacular, but not too obtrusive either

Lode Runner Legacy (Tozai Games, Inc.)

Lode Runner Legacy (Tozai Games, Inc.)

From Donkey Kong and Dig Dug to Gauntlet and Gradius, the 1980s were a golden era for classic video-game franchises. One of these franchises is Lode Runner, which was first released for the Apple II in 1983 and quickly moved on to other platforms. Its action-packed, yet puzzle-oriented gameplay made it an instant hit and even people like Alexey Pajitnov counted it amongst their favorite puzzle titles. Although there hasn’t been a shortage of new releases over the years, the last appearance of Lode Runner was back in 2012 on Android and iOS. Thankfully, this is about to change with the upcoming release of Lode Runner Legacy for PC

Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap

Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap

Whether you fondly remember the original 1989 Master System version or simply enjoy good platform games, Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap should not be missed. This updated version is a true labor of love and features great artwork, brilliant re-orchestrated versions of the classic tunes as well as the ability to switch to the original audio and visuals on the fly. The gameplay is also still every bit as addictive as it was back in the day and can now be taken up or down a notch depending on your skill level. It is definitely no exaggeration to say that Lizardcube has pulled off one of the most impressive remakes of a retro classic that we have seen to date.

Gameplay: Still plays great and showcases why this game is widely regarded as a classic of its time.

Graphics: The new hand-drawn visuals look great and are also beautifully animated.

Sound: The original soundtrack is catchy, but the re-orchestrated version sounds even better

Drifting Lands

Drifting Lands

From big bosses and swarms of enemies to screens filled with bullets and explosions, Drifting Lands offers everything fans expect from the side scrolling shooter genre. However, it goes one step further by also merging it with some action-RPG elements that will keep you coming back for more in a bid to customize your ship to the max. It starts out a little slow, but thanks to multiple difficulty grades, the intensity of the action quickly ramps up. Anyone with an itchy trigger finger looking for a shooter that has a bit more replay value than usual shouldn’t at the very least try out the free demo.

Gameplay: A little overwhelming at times, but at least you are eased into things quite gently.

Graphics: Detailed and colorful, especially for a side scrolling shooter, but very few truly jaw-dropping set pieces.

Sound: The sound effects lack a little punch, but the soundtrack is as varied as it is rocking

Rocking Pilot

Rocking Pilot

Rocking Pilot enables players to live out their Airwolf fantasies by taking control of a helicopter and laying waste to enemy armies. The game takes the form of a 2D, top down shooter with colorful visuals and arcade style gameplay. Plenty of mission variety and addictive online leaderboards make up for the relatively short campaign mode and the game is addictive enough that you’ll keep coming back until you’ve earned every collectible. Add to this the low price of the game and you have a title that is essential for fans of the genre.

Gameplay: Fast, frantic and very, very addictive.

Graphics: Bright and colorful, albeit a little cramped.

Sound: Features a suitable rocking soundtrack

Empathy: Path of Whispers

Empathy: Path of Whispers

Empathy: Path of Whispers might look like a typical walking simulator, but it isn’t afraid to test the boundaries of the genre. The surreal gameworld isn’t just pretty to look at, but also offers players more freedom to explore than similar titles. It is up to players to piece together the fragmented story by finding and listening to the memories of the missing people who once inhabited the lonely landscapes. This means that some players will love the act of tracking down all the memories and connecting the clues while others will find it needlessly repetitive and obtuse.

Gameplay: A mixture of exploration, listening to audio memories, solving minor puzzles and unraveling the story.

Graphics: The surreal landscapes look great from a distance, but loses some splendor when viewed up close.

Sound: The soundtrack is good and the game features a large cast of diverse character voices

TankBlitz

TankBlitz

If you have a hankering for jumping into a tank and blasting everything in your path to smithereens then TankBlitz has got you covered. This 2D, top down shooter looks and feels like an arcade game from the nineties, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s got nonstop action, tons of different enemies to shoot at and enough upgrades to keep you coming back for more. Three difficulty levels and plenty of achievements add to the replay value, but we would have loved to see more than 12 levels. Nevertheless, the game is entertaining from start to finish and we had a blast with it.

Gameplay: Shoot things to earn cash for upgrades so you can do it all again with even more powerful weapons.

Graphics: Not as sharp as we would have liked in high resolution, but packed with detailed.

Sound: No speech, but the effects sound like they’ve been plucked straight from an arcade