Three Indie Games You Should Check Out

I continue to forge ahead through more games that have been crowding my inbox.  This week I bring you Lost Castle, Poly Bridge, and Solitairica.
Lost Castle
I'll be honest.  At first blush I thought Lost Castle was going to be a Castle Crashers clone, boy was I wrong.  On one hand, it does share a cutesy art style and it's a dungeon beat ‘em up, but that is about all they have in common.  From there Lost Castle becomes its own thing.  First off the character you play and your starting weapon will be random, no choice here. Secondly, you will also die a lot, but I’m getting a bit ahead of myself.  
Lost Castle is a melee game that in some respects is a callback to the hard games of an earlier console era.  It is hard, but rewarding for patient players.  In doing a little research on the game, I found that it is from developers in China who wanted to create a Dark Souls type game only cute.  Their story of creating the game and even getting it outside of China is pretty interesting.
Castle Harwood used to be the center of harmony and goodness in the lands.  But one misstep in casting a summons brought forth demons and monsters that have taken a liking to Castle Harwood and its riches.  So they have made it their new home.  Tales of the riches contained within the castle have brought many a treasure hunter to its gates, only for them to succumb to the beasts contained within the walls.  You are one of the many treasure hunters.  You awaken in Castle Harwood's prison and are determined to find a way out and take as much treasure with you as you can.
The layout is randomly generated at the start of each game.  So is your character's look and primary weapon.  As you defeat monsters you gather things like gold, food, potions, weapons, armor, etc. but the most important thing you gather are souls.  Souls are the key to getting further and further through the castle.  When you die and there is no "if" you will die (trust me), you will be taken to a screen where you can spend the souls you gathered on upgrades: more health, better-starting weapons, improved critical hit chances and more.  Early on in the game will be tough, especially since you start with a different style of weapon every time.  Some weapons are slow but cause a lot of damage.  Some are distance weapons, while others are close up.  I personally found things easier for me with magic staves, but to each their own.
One thing I did wish for was the ability to bank souls in some way.  Upgrades go up in cost as you buy them.  Early on you are quickly unable to buy more upgrades unless you manage a really good run.  Souls don't automatically drop from defeated monsters, so you don't always have enough to buy any upgrade and in turn, you end up losing those souls when you start again.
Lost Castle has a lot of replay value simply for the random aspect.  If you like hard punishing games that require a little strategy but lots of combat to play then Lost Castle is the game for you.  I give Lost Castle a 4 out of 5.
For more information see the official Lost Castle website
Poly Bridge
Did you ever want to be an engineer building bridges spanning rivers and chasms throughout the land?  If so, Poly Bridge is your game.  Poly Bridge is a simple game where you are given the task of building a bridge to support one or more vehicles as they cross a gap.
How you build these bridges is left you to you.  You are given access to materials and a budget; the rest is up to you.  Build smart, build absurdly, as long as all the vehicles get to where they need to go then you pass the level.
There is more to it than that, though.  You have to try to stay within the budget, but you are given a certain amount of overage.  A working bridge can be built within the budget limits of each level; you just need to figure it out.  Some levels you will also have to deal with a boat going under the bridge, others you will have traffic going both ways.  On one of the first levels the game tells you that you don't have the budget to complete the bridge, so build a ramp that the vehicle can use to jump across.
There are over 100 levels in the game.  When you’ve had your fill of them there is a sandbox mode where you can create your own levels to share with the Poly Bridge community.  Poly Bridge also has Steam Workshop support for even more things to do.  Poly Bridge is one of those deceptively fun sim games.  The kind where you sit down to play and the next thing you know hours have passed in a blink of an eye.  I really enjoy it.  I give Poly Bridge a 5 out of 5.
For more information see the official Poly Bridge website
Solitairica is a one of the games I previewed from PAX West 2016.  I explained in my preview it is a role-playing game fantasy take on solitaire that adds in spells as you can use to help fight your way through the armies of Stuck.
A quick reminder of the gameplay begins with a simple form of solitaire.  You are given a board of five stacks, your draw pile, and your flipped play pile.  You can take a card from your board that is one higher or one lower than your current flipped card and add that to your flipped pile.  This card is now your new base for your next play.  Continue to do this until you run out of cards on your board or you do not have a card one higher or lower than your flipped play card.  When you can't make a play, take a card from your draw pile until you can make a play.   
Solitairica adds a layer of new rules to this.  Each game you fight an opponent.   You have a heart with life points.  Each draw from your draw pile allows your opponent to attack you.  Lose all your life points and you are done.  The card suits also give you magical spells to use, but you have to collect enough of them to fill the power meter to activate these spells.
To be quite frank my first few plays were underwhelming and I didn’t think I was going to like the game, but I stuck with it.  It eventually hit me.  
One, I wasn't really thinking of the fact that at its core it is a game of solitaire.  How often do you really complete a hand in that?  Whether you do a plain three card pull or bend the rules and do a shuffled three card pull from your draw deck, real world solitaire often ends with the card you need stuck under a stack on your play board.  Two, I wasn't really using spells and items to my advantage.  Almost all of my first plays were just with the starting spells.  I forgot to even look at the upgrades offered to me.
Once I realized the potential in the spells and upgrades, the game really opened up and things started happening.  I started getting farther up the line. I started strategizing which spells and items to use. I started looking at what I would need against the foes I fought.  Solitairica started to be fun.
It has roguelike elements, which means there is a lot of death followed by many upgrades just to get further in the game.  The enemies will be different every time you start a new run through.  You will earn special coins to upgrade your deck or to buy other decks.  You start with a warrior deck, but there are other deck classes, such as wizard, you can eventually buy.  Once you start your run and in between battles, you can buy spells and items with the regular coins you earn for defeating monsters.  One such spell I really liked was shield bash.  It came in very handy by stunning the enemy for two turns, giving me a chance to run through the cards on my board.
What started badly became a wonderful game experience.  I give Solitairica a 4 out of 5.  It was quite enjoyable, once you get the hang of it.


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