Indie Insights Vol. 20 – Haunting Rhythm Gardens

It’s time for volume 20 of Indie Insights. I was going to make a bigger fanfare about the dizzy new numerical heights this column has achieved, but the world is on fire. So, on to the games for this fortnight!

Headbangers Rhythm Royale – Steam

Headbangers Rhythm Royale
Image Credit: Glee-Cheese.

The trade-in royales aren’t over yet, as a new challenger has appeared in the multiplayer melee genre. From Glee-Cheese Studio Headbangers, Rhythm Royale is a fight to the death, bringing a new aspect to frantic fights to the crown by including music instead of obstacle courses or dances. Before you flap into the game, you have to answer these questions: Do you like Fall Guys? Do you like pigeons? Do you like rhythm games? If the answer to at least two of these is yes, then you will probably like Headbangers.

This is because it is exactly the same as Fall Guys. The pigeons are drawn in the same round, cartoony style as the Fall Guys Beans. You are competing for the crown in an ever-decreasing pool of players in mini-games that are randomized each round, and collecting crumbs in games and leveling up allows you to buy new costumes/taunts/sounds. It’s fine as these games go, although there’s currently not a lot of variety in the mini-games, and one of them is called That 70s Race, which feels like a bit of a mistake considering all the horrible things associated with that show. The team has just announced Season 2 and a new game mode coming in 2024, so I might return to it then.

Headbangers Rhythm Royale is out now on Steam, Nintendo Switch, PS4, PS5, and Xbox X/S.

Garden Galaxy – Steam

Garden Galaxy
Image Credit: Anneka Tran.

Listen, sometimes you just need a calm, semi-passive experience as you wait for the apocalypse, and this fortnight it was Garden Galaxy. Made by Anneka Tran, Garden Galaxy is a semi-sandbox click-and-collect game where you create your garden through random item drops. What appear to be sentient little incense cones will appear, and you click on them to collect coins. The coins can be a variety of different shapes and colors, which relate to different item sets that you can collect.

There are beach-themed items, meadows, urban, classical, curious, and more. Each theme has its own unique set of items to collect and place to create your perfect garden floating in the blank void of space. There are special items that can change the weather and background color and summon animals like frogs, birds, and dragonflies. It’s very chill, and if you have more than one monitor, you can just leave it running while you write about video games or whatever normal people do with their day. The combination of collecting and creating has made Garden Galaxy a surprisingly enjoyable place to visit.

Garden Galaxy is out now on Steam.

Hauntii – Steam Demo

Image Credit: Moonloop Games LLC.

I have been following the artist behind Hauntii on social media for some time. At some point during Screenshot Saturday on Twitter, before it was garbage, some of the art of Hauntii appeared on my feed. The simple but beautiful monochrome art, coupled with the cute sprites and premise, had me hooked right away. In Hauntii, you are a new ghost, freshly dead and in eternity. As a ghost, you can shoot essence and also possess objects in this between world. You can even possess hills, which will then very kindly tell you that possessing them won’t get you anywhere, but possessing other objects will benefit you.

This short demo is an absolutely stunning experience, and very much not enough. The combination of art style and soaring Studio Ghibli-esque score made the short 20 minutes spent in the game very affecting and dreamlike. The landscape is gorgeous and detailed, and I can’t wait to explore areas when the game releases in quarter two of 2024.

Hauntii will be released in 2024.

Landlord of the Woods – Steam

Landlord of the Woods
Image Credit: Madison Karrh.

This bizarre point-and-click puzzle game by Madison Karrh sees you leave your life in the city behind to become the Landlord of the Woods. Before you are awarded your new position, you get a brief tutorial on what you will need to solve to be your best creepy forest overlord. In your home, there is an abstract artwork of a fish that you need to line up correctly; you have to find hidden things on your bookshelf, eat your breakfast, and write down your thoughts for the day. The only hint I will give you is that to do that, you have to solve the fish thing.

The game is about the ennui of the everyday. The themes are strong, asking “Is this all there is?” to life, questioning self-identity and worth, and “If I don’t find this wood-dwelling weirdo’s organs, will it kill me?” Sure, Landlord of the Woods is about the melancholy and existential dread nearly all of us experience at one point or another (or constantly). Still, it is also delightfully strange and tinged with vaguely Pagan imagery. You wear a gigantic facsimile of a bird skull, as do seemingly the rest of the city dwellers. There are bugs to be collected, alchemist imagery, and lots of teeth and bones.

Once you move to the woods, you collect rent from the residents. Your notebook will tell you what each resident owes, and you have to collect it alongside doing something for them. The rent itself is actually random objects that you can find while trying to do puzzles and befriend them. It’s a fun little journey with interesting art and lovely music, and it is quite calming despite the tenants being a bit… weird.

Landlord of the Woods is out now on Steam.

Upcoming Releases

  • Adventure Ebenezer and the Invisible World comes to PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, and Nintendo Switch on November 3.
  • First-person sci-fi thriller The Invincible comes to PC, PS5, and Xbox Series X on November 6.
  • Bizarre-looking, dark RPG Bem Feito comes to PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, and Nintendo Switch on November 9.
  • Visually impressive platformer 9 Years of Shadows comes to Nintendo Switch on November 9.
  • Dungeon crawling cooking game Cuisineer comes to PC on November 9.
  • Self-explanatory Super Crazy Rhythm Castle comes to PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, and Nintendo Switch on November 14.
  • Action-adventure American Arcadia comes to PC on November 15.
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Written by Emma Oakman

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