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TFI Friday: 3 indie games about dead monsters, kinda

Skeleton army, you say?

I've come to regret trying to theme these posts, reader, but this week I have been listening to the audio book of Rotherweird as my bedtime listen. I keep falling asleep at "man is interviewed for weird teaching job" and waking up at 3am to "the weasel-man spoke to the hideous spider-woman in the magical mixing garden". So I wanted to find some horrible hybrid monsters for you this week. Alas, it seems that is a niche concern (either that or games about hybrid monsters are not tagged correctly on Itch, where I thought I'd find them).

Instead I found some games about dead monsters, more or less. I found some of them suprisingly cathartic, and at least one of them surprisingly difficult.

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Skeleton Wave

Who's it by? FunnyKids
Where can I get it? Steam
How much is it? £0.80/€0.80/$1

This is a pretty simple concept: your village is being attacked by wave of animated skeletons (who make surprisingly different sartorial choices, if we are to assume they come from the same graveyard). You shoot the skeletons.

New ground isn't being broken here but I actually ended up playing this the longest of any of the games, because of the simple joy of emptying an unlimited number of bullets into ambulating targets. The repetition of the shooting noise. The way the skeletons eventually crumble into dust, and there is no way to know how long it will take.

They're real bullet sponges, these skellies. Which makes sense, because it's not like they have any blood or flesh. It sort of feels like you're just gradually battering them into pieces with bullets. It gave me the same feeling of peace that I get from stirring pasta sauce for like half an hour. Also, I was free to invent my own story about what was happening: who I was, where the skeletons were coming from, and why I was locked in a purgatory of shooting them. That's a lot of entertainment for 80p, tbh.

Happy Z-Day

Who's it by? ImagiT Games
Where can I get it? Steam
How much is it? £2/€2/$3

Being totally honest, reader, this game is verging on shoddy and I nearly replaced it with one about mummies escaping very slowly from a pyramid. But I put it in here for a couple of reasons.

One is that it actually has a bunch of stuff I like. Your goal is to survive for 12 nights of zombie attacks, which, given how fast the day and night cycle is, sounds pretty easy. But it isn't. Zombies are your basic shamblers, but they have a way of sneaking up on your stronghold. Guns and ammo also end up feeling kind of fun and frantic to use compared to blunt objects (see: the game footage). And the fast day/night cycle means it's hard to get stuff built or rummage for more supplies. There are also three settings, the creepiest, but hardest, of which is the barn.

The other thing is that the premise made me laugh a lot. Like, an unimaginable amount. If anyone had seen or heard my reaction, they would have been concerned for my wellbeing. I am concerned for my wellbeing. Basically, you are a single dad, and today (or possibly in a week??) is your daughter's birthday. You need to survive to throw her a party, so she's huddling under a real cheap looking green plastic table in your stronghold. What a world. Imagine Mark Wahlberg turning to a blonde child and saying "Happy Z-Day, baby!" at the closing moments of the film adaptation.

Crime Reaper

Who's it by? Potato Interactive
Where can I get it? Steam
How much is it? £6/€7/$9

Eurogamer's review called Return Of The Obra Dinn "nautical murder sudoku", and it feels like the devs of Crime Reaper heard murder sudoku and tried to make it way more literal. Your job is to reconstruct supernatural muders on a kind of sudoku board, where the different quadrants of it represent different rooms.

But it's also like one of those "Sarah is wearing green sunglasses. She will not wear any colour that Mark is wearing. She will not use a beach towel in a primary colour" weird logic puzzles. So you have to place different weapons and items around the grid, without colours or types overlapping, and conforming to the clues you're given (like, the cleaver is to the North of the oven, that kind of thing).

I breezed into this and selected normal difficulty, and then had to restart and kick it down to beginner immediately. It's good! Also, the narrator/tutorial character is Mx Death the grim reaper, and they seem really cool - they make a lot of puns. I'd like to be friends with them.

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Alice Bell avatar

Alice Bell

Deputy Editor

Small person powered by tea and books; RPS's dep ed since 2018. Send her etymological facts and cool horror or puzzle games.