Pharaoh Rebirth+

A game by Krobon Station for PC, originally released episodically in Japan in 2015, and released in the US in 2016.
Pharaoh Rebirth+ is a level-based action adventure with some metroidvania elements, starring Dr. Jonathan Banfield, a treasure hunter of some renown. But unlike the traditional Indiana Jones knockoffs featured in archaeological adventure games over the years, Jonathan is actually a humanoid bunny. As it turns out, he and his friend Andre were cursed when stealing artefacts from a tomb. Jonathan was turned into a bunny and Andre was turned into a turtle. Since then, Jonathan and Andre have parted ways, with Andre continuing his plundering ways, and Jonathan turning to the straight and narrow.


In the game’s playable prologue, Jonathan has just discovered an archeological site filled with artefacts, including an ancient and mysterious sarcophagus. But his explorations are interrupted by Andre who shows up in an attack helicopter to stop him. Fortunately, military-grade equipment is no match for Jonathan’s spinning bunny ears, and he attacks the chopper until it crashes down. However, just as he reaches the sarcophagus, Andre reappears and opens it, cursing the pair once again.

Metagal

A game by RetroRevolution for PC, originally released in 2016.
Metagal is an action platformer heavily inspired by the Mega Man series. You take on the role of a cyborg girl named Meta (a.k.a. GAL.00), who is on a quest to defeat General Creeper and rescue her maker, Dr. Ray, along with her cyborg sisters. Unfortunately, her sisters have been turned into battle androids and are now fighting on the side of General Creeper. However, by defeating each of her sisters, Meta can copy their abilities and use these powers to infiltrate Creeper’s fortress and take him down.


Meta has a 1.5x variable jump and the ability to dash along the ground for a short distance by double-tapping forward. Each press of the SHOOT button sends out 3 rapid-fire buster shots, and her special move is a cluster of blue and pink energy – very similar to the charge shot seen in later Mega Man titles – which draws from a secondary meter. In the game’s original release, the basic buster shot drained energy from the secondary meter as well, but this was removed in order to make the game more accessible.

Adventure Lamp

A game by Ryan Davis for PC, Mac, and Wii U, originally released in 2016.
Adventure Lamp is a puzzle platforming tale of a plucky archaeologist named Simon who has been dispatched on a mission to study an ancient temple. Unfortunately, just as Simon is setting out on his expedition, a cave in cuts him off from his equipment, leaving him with nothing but his trusty headlamp to see him through the mysterious structure, and possibly dashing his hopes of ever receiving a promotion.


Simon’s adventure takes him across five themed areas, from the ancient temple, to fungi-filled caves, across blustery mountaintops, and eventually into darker and more dangerous territory. There are more than 100 levels in all, although they are each meant to be completed in under 30 seconds (and some far less). Still, there is a good deal of variety with new challenges introduced every few levels.

Song of the Deep

A game by Insomniac Games for PC, PS4, and Xbox One, originally released in 2016.
Song of the Deep tells the tale of a girl named Merryn whose father is a fisherman of limited means. Every day, he sets out on his fishing boat, and every night he returns home to Merryn – who comes to greet him on a cliff overlooking the sea – and he tells her grand tales about giant sea creatures and great underwater cities, which she believes to be fairy tales.


But one night, her father fails to return home. After waiting a full day for his return, and dreaming of him in peril beneath the waves, she decides to take matters into her own hands. Using scraps of wood and metal found by her father during his fishing expeditions, Merryn manages to cobble together a functional submarine. She climbs inside and sets out to sea, diving below the surface to seek out her lost father and uncover the mysteries of the deep.

Super Mutant Alien Assault

A game by Cybernate for PC, PS4, and Xbox One, originally released in 2016.
Super Mutant Alien Assault is a sidescrolling arena shooter inspired by Super Crate Box. At the start of the game, alien vessels suddenly appear in Earth’s orbit and lay waste to the entire planet. Only three fleets of ships manage to escape, carrying the last remnants of humanity in cryo-sleep capsules. For some reason, the humans decide that they need to flee to an extremely great distance in order to escape this alien threat, so the fleets are on their way to three different galaxies. Unfortunately, the aliens are in pursuit, leaving the fate of the humans up to their ships’ defense droids.


You take on the role of one such droid, or a pair of them in local 2P co-op. Players may select between two robot types at the start of the game, with two additional designs that must be unlocked, although each of the droids plays in the same fashion. Unfortunately, the defense droids don’t come equipped with any weapons from the start and instead must rely on random pickups from weapon-dispensing machines to collect their armaments.

Bot Vice

A game by DYA Games for PC, Mac, and Linux, originally released in 2016.
Bot Vice is a gallery shooter inspired by a number of classic games, most notably Wild Guns. You take on the role of Erin Saver, a police officer who lost her partner and her right arm when facing off against a criminal organization known as the Wildbots. Her arm has since been replaced with a bionic version that allows her to fire projectiles from her palm and swap between weapon types, and she is out for revenge.

The Wildbots have returned and have taken over Tominaka Plaza – an anagram for Nakatomi Plaza – and Erin has taken it upon herself to infiltrate their defenses… but her time is limited.


At the start of the game, Erin has less than 40 minutes to reach Tominaka Plaza before it is destroyed, and each level has a timer that clicks upward. If she is not able to complete the first 23 levels in time, the 24th and final level will remain locked. Fortunately, she can revisit any previously-visited level in order shave off a few seconds and earn a better cumulative time, allowing her to access the final showdown. The player is ranked on completion time, and level indicators are color-coded to make it easier to tell which have the most room for improvement.

Boxboy / Boxboxboy

Games by HAL Laboratory for 3DS, originally released in 2015 and 2016, respectively.
Boxboy and Boxboxboy – which are technically named BOXBOY! and BOXBOXBOY! – are a pair of puzzle platformers starring a little square fellow named Qbby. There’s not much to the little guy, as he is made up of a rounded box with two legs and two eyes and nothing else, although he does exude a bit of personality in his smooth movements and cute idle animations. The games are presented with similarly minimal visuals consisting of simple black and white designs with occasional grey highlights in the original game, with the addition of bits of green in the sequel.


There’s also not much to the story, which involves the player unlocking a series of doors across a largely featureless corridor, overcoming the challenges within, and then clearing paths that allow him to reach the next set of doors. At certain points, the player interacts with some mysterious machinery that triggers wordless cutscenes, revealing a square planet being restored and the occasional rescue of one of Qbby’s friends.

Hyper Light Drifter

A game by Heart Machine for PC, Mac, Linux, PS4, Xbox One, Vita, and Wii U, originally released in 2016.
Hyper Light Drifter is an action-adventure where Drifters search the world for ancient technology and artifacts, slashing through roaming beasts and still-active machines. You take on the role of one such Drifter who is haunted by visions of what the world once was, finding himself under attack by some unknown creeping darkness, and following a black dog that seems to be guiding him. Something has happened to the world… A once great civilization has been destroyed, its people long dead, their bodies strewn across the landscape, and their towering sentinels now rusting into nothingness.


After a strange introductory cutscene – filled with chaotic imagery and rivers of blood – you gain control of the Drifter. His body is weak, however, and he struggles to rise. Oftentimes, he doubles over and coughs up blood, during which time the screen is covered in static, offering only questions about the nature of the world.

Systematic Immunity

A game by Felix Wunderlich for PC, originally released in 2016.
In Systematic Immunity, you take control of a cluster of white blood cells as they traverse a human body, moving from organ to organ to take down a nasty germ that is propagating a huge infection across its host. You must lead your army of cells through the stomach, lungs, and brain – each offering a unique set of precision platforming challenges – as you try to keep your cells alive long enough to reach the pestilence and snuff it out.


Players are equipped with the standard walk, run, and jump controls seen in other precision platformers, as well as the ability to wall jump up certain surfaces. The white blood cells have a floaty jump and a great deal of midair direction control, offering tools to the player who must maneuver them through tight spike-lined corridors, past rows of spiked enemies, and across huge chasms.

Porter / Jump Porter

A game by Shin Izumi for PC, Mac, and iOS, originally released in 2016.
Porter is a precision platformer starring a green circular fellow who must make his way through 20 increasingly dangerous environments as quickly as possible. The game offers a no-frills presentation, with only a pulsating title screen and a quick explanation of the controls before the player is sent into action. The visuals are presented in a multi-shade “greenscale” with a grainy CRT-style filter and curved edges, whereas the mobile version – which is known as Jump Porter – has a crisp presentation.

Porter (assuming this is the character’s name) comes equipped with a 3x variable jump and a high running speed. In addition, he sticks to any walls that he runs into, making it quite challenging to control the character in tight quarters, since his inertia-driven run is hard to stop and he gets stuck when coming in contact with most vertical surfaces. The only way to disconnect from a wall is to jump away from it.

1917 - The Alien Invasion

A game by Andrade Games for PC, originally released in 2016.
1917 - The Alien Invasion is a shmup that takes place during the days of World War I, in an alternate history where aliens have invaded Earth, their ships suddenly appearing in the skies and laying waste to everything, killing soldier and civilian alike. As a result, the war comes to a swift end as Axis and Allied powers begin working together to face this new threat, which is led by a villainous creature calling itself the Chessmaster.


You take on the role of Dr. Brunhield Stahlmüller, a “weapon scientist” who outfits a Raumdecker Red Beezlebub triplane with alien technology and takes to the skies to face down the alien onslaught herself, despite having no flight combat experience. Fortunately, this upgraded aircraft is also capable of interstellar travel, as the new pilot’s mission takes her from the German city of Verdun into the void of space, and eventually to the homeworld of the alien menace.

The Way

A game by Puzzling Dream for PC, Mac, and Linux, originally released in 2016.
The Way is an adventure platformer inspired by the likes of Érick Chahi’s Another World (a.k.a. Out of This World) and Heart of Darkness, featuring a protagonist in a mysterious world who must use his wits to overcome enemies, obstacles, and puzzles. The world around him is as beautiful as it is dangerous, with detailed spritework representing the deadly creatures that inhabit the lush yet hostile landscape. Intricate backgrounds offer a wide range of colors and tones, supported by an atmospheric soundtrack and ambient sound effects, helping to set the mood as the player explores many vastly different areas.


As the game begins, Major Tom (the developers are apparently Bowie fans) is standing over the grave of his wife holding a flower. As the rain pours, he kneels and sets the flower down, and then he does something truly unexpected… he picks up a shovel and begins digging up her grave. Then he pulls his wife’s dead body out of the ground in a player-controlled sequence.