Soulcaster I & II: The best indie-action-retraux-Tower Defenses you've never heard of
I got Soulcaster and Soulcaster II in the Indie Royale Valentine's Bundle and decided to give them a try. I'm writing this just after finishing the sequel. I came in cold, with no idea at all what it would be like. As it turns out, I liked it a lot and I'mma give it a solid thumbs-up. It's like top-down The Legend Of Zelda action, except instead of actually fighting, your character is basically helpless and summons allies to do a Tower Defense schtick. You can place them wherever you like and move them around freely, and they attack the bad guys while you run around trying to avoid damage and grabbing power-ups when they appear, and every couple rounds you find a shop where you can upgrade your dudes...it's hard to do it justice in words, so you should check out some random gameplay video on YouTube or something. Anyway, the folks at MagicalTimeBean have managed to blend the different genres very effectively, because the end result is a Genre Buster that has elements of an action game while feeling nothing like any action game you've ever played, and elements of a Tower Defense while feeling nothing like any Tower Defense you've ever played. The gameplay is smooth, challenging, and engaging, and it's all wrapped up in a charming 8-bit retraux aesthetic with totally badass soundtracks (which, incidentally, are available for download and streaming at the official website). It's well-paced, with a solid learning curve; you'll gradually get better at tactics as the story progresses. On the downside, it's fairly short—I finished the Soulcaster II campaign in 2 hrs, 15 min. But on the upside, you can unlock bonus challenges and hard mode after you beat the game, and then try again, putting those tactics you've learned to the test, or, y'know, whatever. Look, the point I'm trying to make here is I like this game. Two games. Whatever. They're great. And fun. And stuff. And only $3, so the price is right. So yeah. Thumbs-up.