The Independent Gamer is a curated roundup of news from indie gaming, landing here every other Friday.
While the year 2020 has brought many ups and downs in the world at large, video games continue to soar to new heights and offer experiences worthy of an escape.
Among them, indie platformers appear particularly strong, with several games following in the footsteps of THR best-of-the-2010s titles Cuphead and Celeste. But before exploring a new platformer from California-based studio Ukuza, it’s important to acknowledge that great games are made all over the globe.
It’s very easy to focus on the most visible indie titles because they’re easiest to find, but recently, independent digital marketplace Itch.io emerged with an offer of over 1,000 games, including small projects, visual novels and more substantial titles from all genres. If you’re looking for “a satirical game about online interaction” or a “first-person destructive house cat simulator,” a camping story or a narrative racing game, the bundle has you covered and all funds go toward civil human rights organizations.
Explore the bundle and recent indie releases below.
Bundle of Games for Racial Justice and Equality
Itch.io is offering a “Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality,” consisting of over 1,000 games from over 1,300 creators that are available in a “pay-what-you-want” package valued at over $5,700. All proceeds go to the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and the Community Bail Fund.
“We live in a time of racial injustice, inequality and police brutality against black people,” said itch.io on its website. “We hope that everyone takes a stand in any way they can. We’ve partnered with creators from all across our platform to support organizations that are working directly with those affected.”
Included in the pack are popular indie titles Overland and Night in the Woods, as well as platformer Celeste and recent story-driven release Arcade Spirits. There are combat games, survival games, tabletop RPGs — to name a few. There’s even a “dog opera in five acts.” The games offered are typically for Mac, PC and iOS platforms.
Itch.co aimed to raise $5 million with the bundle, and has already surpassed its goal with contributions from over 470,000 people. View the details here and purchase the pack for a minimum of $5 — the offer ends June 15.
Inhabit a Protective Skeleton in Skelattack
Skelattack is a 2D action-platformer developed by California-based studio Ukuza, founded by Shane deLumeau, and published by Japanese giant Konami Digital Entertainment, responsible for Silent Hill, Frogger, Metal Gear Solid and more.
The game invites players into a world populated by deadly inhabitants of the afterlife. Players take on the role of Skully, a skeleton, who — unlike most video game skeletons — simply seeks to protect his home when it is attacked by humans intent on kidnapping the Elder skeleton.
Along the way, there are various puzzles and obstacles to solve and a cast of memorable characters, like Skully’s bat best friend, Imber, who provides a lot of sass. The game includes hand-drawn environments bursting with color.
Skelattack is available on the Nintendo Switch for $19.99 as well as Steam, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC. Also check out Epic Loon, Ukuza’s physics platformer released in 2018.
Save Kidnapped President Blake Orama in Treachery in Beatdown City
Treachery in Beatdown City is exactly what it sounds like: a beat ’em up. But it’s not the ordinary kind — it’s a dark comedy, and one of the characters is U.S. president Blake Orama, who has been kidnapped by ninja dragon terrorists.
The game, which was funded in-part on Kickstarter, hails from New York City-based indie games and culture studio NuChallenger, founded by visual artist, designer and writer Shawn Alexander Allen in 2012. Allen collaborated with Manuel Nico Marcano, of studio Harukan Works, on the title.
“My focus used to be speaking and writing about race and representation in the games industry,” wrote Allen on his website. “Now I work toward getting people of varying backgrounds to continue the conversation, as well as working to get more creators and creations to reflect the diversity of the world that we live in.”
Treachery in Beatdown City includes three fighters: a boxing and MMA expert, a pro-wrestler and a martial arts fighter. Players must take to the streets and use a tactical brawling system to ward off danger, which comes in the form of thugs, disorderly cyclists, joggers with an attitude and unruly drunks.
If Streets of Rage is up your alley, this will be, too. The game was released on Nintendo Switch and Steam on March 31 and costs $19.99.