The Best Games You Aren’t Playing: Orbital Bullet and More

Check out these titles that might have flown under your radar!

Previously:

Blob Omelette

Blob Omelette

Free in browser (Itch) | Jérémy Bouin

Sure, a quick Google search for “Blob Omelette” might give you the location for the nearest breakfast joint, but don’t be fooled. This is a tight sorta-platformer impressively realized with only two buttons and, per 2022’s LOWREZJAM rules, a resolution that doesn’t exceed 64 x 64.

You play a green blob capable of compressing its mass vertically or horizontally. That’s how you move, propelling yourself off walls and ceilings and any other obstacles. But your shape also affects how you keep going once you’re in motion, like whether you’ll skip across water like a stone or whether wind from a fan blows you clear of the jittery white gunk that forces you to restart a challenge.

For a just-finished jam entry, the game is surprisingly robust, ramping up in complexity by slowly teaching you new variables. Even the limited screen space fits like a glove. As you navigate bite-sized rooms without being able to see more than a few spaces in front of you, adapting to the sudden terrain changes becomes part of the overall challenge.

Orbital Bullet

Orbital Bullet

Paid (Steam) | SmokeStab

Orbital Bullet drops a pixelated side-scrolling shooterman into a three-dimensional space with circular levels that loop back on themselves in the background so that you can see what you’re walking into. Think Resogun, but roguelike. It’s more or less the opposite of the LOWREZJAM games because it’s designed to slyly give you as much information as possible, even if that means circumventing the traditional boundaries of this sort of shooter.

And it very much is that sort of shooter. Orbital Bullet hardly reinvents the wheel (the loop?), but considering how many games I’ve played lately that take pages from the roguelike playbook to no real benefit, it’s nice to see a straightforward one done so well. It knows what it is and what the format does best, using an onslaught of potential powerups and upgrades to nudge you toward giving things one more go. Plus, once you clear out the enemies, it absolutely never gets old to push the trigger to zoom around the loop and toward the next section, blasting apart any terrain in your way.

Madness in Square Garden

Madness in Square Garden

Free in browser (Itch) | Bálint Magyar

Admittedly, the title was initially what caught my eye with this other LOWREZJAM entry. What I found, though, was a pleasant little block puzzler that you’re encouraged to figure out by experimentation, like an arcade game that’s a little obtuse not because it wants to eat your quarters but because it’s fun to discover things. You learn by doing, mixing the gardening tiles together to learn how they interact while you harvest flowers, mushrooms, and maybe snakes.

Loplight

Loplight

Paid (Itch, Steam) | Scumhead

As good a place as any to start with the grotesqueries of indie dev Scumhead, Loplight is a top-down, twin-stick action-adventure about a rabbit girl in a ruined alchemic world. Luckily, she came prepared: her guns have unlimited ammo, and hitting enemies will recharge her powerful sword strikes. It’s a little rough in spots (you’ll probably need to crank the sound effects waaaay down), but it moves along quickly enough to persuasively showcase a world dripping with dour atmosphere and gnarly creature design.

Handshakes

Handshakes

Free in browser (Itch) | Pet Pumpkin, Trumpetguy, Damaskino

The Itch page for Handshakes notes that an enhanced follow-up is in the works. In the meantime, though, the original jam version has been beefed up in its own right with some brand-new levels. It looks simple: you’ve got two yellow fellows who can stretch their arms a set number of spaces. They’re absolute fiends for mashing their palms and fingers together, so it’s up to you to guide them toward a meeting in the middle by throwing switches and pushing objects. But beyond their stretchy arms and their bizarre enthusiasm for social norms, our boys share one other quality that makes the later puzzles a bit… well, you’ll see.