It's been a good few months for Pac-Man, the aging arcade mascot who appears to be undergoing something of a revival of late – or someone who looks very similar to Pac-Man, at any rate. He turns up in this week's clever Pakkuman's Defense, while keeping his dotty mitts off a Wild West poker game, a cyberpunk puzzler, a cute dungeon crawler and Bump!, a game that thoroughly earns that exclamation mark. Enjoy!
Westerado Poker by Ostrich Banditos
Remember Westerado? It's an ace open world Western (opens in new tab) where you can shoot anyone at any time, and in authentic John Wayne style you're forced to unholster and cock your gun first. As the name suggests, Westerado Poker has you slaying your opponents via cards and poker chips rather than via nice honest murder; as the coward that killed Wild Bill Hickock would probably tell you, this can be far more humiliating than merely being shot in the face. The pixelly art style can make the interface a little difficult to parse at times, but this Westerado spin-off is worth it for the awesome soundtrack alone.
Pakkuman's Defense by Tametick(opens in new tab)
As part of the indie community's great conspiracy to turn every game ever into some variant of Pac-Man, developer Tametick (AKA Ido Vehieli) has married Pac-Man with tower defence, and the result is... well, it appears to be pretty good. Not to mention pretty damned hard. In addition to chomping dots and avoiding ghosts, you're also placing turrets at intersections. It's a combination that works, but I seem to lack the genome that lets you survive longer than a couple of levels, so I can't tell you how this stacks up against the other tower defences. All I know is that Pac-Man + Anything seems to be a formula for success, and I can't wait to see what Namco's mascot gets himself embroiled in next time. (Via Free Indie Games (opens in new tab) )
Bump! by Aaron Steed(opens in new tab)
Well, this is something. I don't think I've ever seen a turn-based platformer before, at least not one as defiantly turn-based as this. Bump's hook – and it's a good one – is its staccato jumping; the act of leaping is broken up into around four or five separate turns, a design choice that causes you to approach platforming from a new, unfamiliar angle. I wasn't convinced its randomly generated levels were actually solvable – admittedly, some of them still aren't – before I realised you could walk past spike pits without incurring damage. Bump is a minimalist, mechanical little treasure of a game, which does one thing, and does it really well. (Via Free Indie Games (opens in new tab) )
Grow Maze by Eyemaze(opens in new tab)
A really quite lovely dungeon crawler/puzzle game that's as charming as it is utterly devious. The wordless maze you find yourself in needs to be poked, prodded, rotated and collected if you're going to make any progress, and it's worth persevering so that you can witness the visual treats Grow Maze frequently throws your way. (Via IndieGames (opens in new tab) )
Neuro-Hack by The Circle Machine(opens in new tab)
Cyberpunk is my favourite genre of punk (narrowly pipping ciderpunk to the post), so I'm very glad that Neuro-Hack exists. That it's blindingly clever is the cyber-icing on the cybercake. It's a top-down indie Syndicate, essentially; a puzzle game where you hack civilians, computer terminals and law enforcement agents to gain access to the level exit. Hacking 'proles' lets you see through their eyes, expanding your narrow FOV; hacking terminals opens laser barriers; hacking the fuzz, meanwhile, doesn't appear to have much effect, so they're best left avoided – unless you want to end up as a pavement splat. There are a few rough edges to be (hopefully) hacked off at a later date, but Neuro-Hack is largely excellent nonetheless. (Via Free Indie Games (opens in new tab) )