GUNCHO

by Arnold Rauers and Terri Vellmann.

GUNCHO is another excellent tiny-grid-roguelike from this year’s seven day roguelike jam. You play as a little wild west bandit who can shoot in any direction on a hex grid, with your shots restricted by what bullets you currently have loaded in your six shooter.

It’s a pretty clever concept, but I think what really makes it special is its pacing. Your constantly spinning revolver adds an element of chaos to your moves, and you have a large moveset which includes reloading, kicking things around, and firing all bullets at once randomly. Plus, each round is just a couple of moves long, which encourages playing fast and loose and just seeing how far you can get without overthinking it. For me, that results in a game that feels a lot more relaxing than other games in the genre.

[Play online (itch.io)]

Mosaic

by sunil and Corey Hardt.

It’s hard to write about a broughlike without getting into the weeds of what defines a broughlike, but basically: they’re a modern offshoot of roguelikes, with mechanics that make you think hard about your position on a small board. This one is particularly great.

This is one of those games where, really, it’s easier to just jump in and play – but let me summarise the rules:

  • The game has two 5×5 grids – a combat grid above, and a match-3 grid below.
  • You move your green hero tile around the combat board.
  • If you bump into an enemy, they’re removed from the combat board, and then placed down in the match 3 game.
  • If they bump into you, however – now, this is the really clever bit – it places a little broken heart tile in the match 3 grid.
  • Your goal is to score as much as possible in the match 3 game by carefully placing enemies on the match 3 board, within the constraints of your limited movement in the combat grid.
  • You lose if you place things in the wrong place, and overflow the board.
  • There are some powerups later as you progress to make things more interesting, but – that’s the entire game!

It’s a real accomplishment, to figure out an elegant ruleset like this. As a designer, once you’ve got that, it’s almost like the rest of the game makes itself – it’s constantly generating fascinating little tactical puzzles to think through and plan around as you play. This is fantastic.

[Play online (itch.io)]

DUNGEON!

by deklaswas.

DUNGEON!, all caps, exclamation mark, is a tiny PICO-8 platformer with randomly arranged bite-sized levels, and a catchy little soundtrack! Adorable.

The detail I really like here is the way this game uses expressive little textboxes above the player’s head, just big enough for just one word. SPIKES?, our hero wonders aloud, when they encounter spikes for the first time. BOP!, when we jump on an enemy’s head. OUCH!, as we fall into a pit of spikes.

[Play Online (itch.io)]

Abandoned_64

by Nikolas Räuber, Carlo Frühauf, Ilya Volkov, Simeon Walker, Oliver Meyer, and Lando Magunia.

In general, I prefer to pick games by individual creators to feature here – but I’m happy to make an exception when I come across something I really like. Like this game, which is by a team of six students from Hochschule Darmstadt. I had no idea they let you make things like this as a student project! I hope they got an A.

Abandoned_64 is a fictional abandoned game for the N64, in the vein of Zelda: Ocarina of Time – complete with dev messages left in game, and a debug mode that’s needed to reach the end. The metaphor can get a little strained, but it’s worth sticking with it for the bits that really land, the final boss fight in particular.

[Download for Windows/Mac (itch.io)]

(via FreeGamePlanet, thanks!)