Back in September, we asked you lovely readers to tell us what hidden gems slipped through our fingers. You championed them, and our backlog (both personal and professional) is feeling even more daunting.
We're not kidding when we say we had tons of nominations, and as a result, whittling down the list was no easy feat. Even so, this is our biggest list of 'Reader Recommendations' yet, with 24 titles piquing our interest. But don't worry, even if your recommendation didn't make it onto the list, it's still staring at us wistfully. Perhaps part 6 will come to pass very soon — this is the first one we've done this year and the first in over a year. And we love to hear from you all! So if you still think we're missing something, or you have another recommendation, follow the instructions at the end of the article to nominate more!
As always, thank you so much for responding to our rallying cry. As always, we've discounted nominations for games we have already reviewed and assembled the following list of games we missed. Each entry features a brief user comment or two (lightly edited in some cases for spelling and brevity), plus a trailer to give you some highlights from the game. And, right at the end, you can vote in our poll and check out what games others have been playing. Perhaps your next favourite is right here on this list — and maybe ours is, too.
And with that all out of the way, in no particular order, here are twenty-four NL reader recommendations you should look out for:
Need more playable mice in your video games? And not just the cute variety? Ross Farrey has a Metroidvania for you (and us) in Tails of Iron:
"Tails of Iron is a deeply satisfying 2D Metroidvania set in a kingdom of rats devastated by grotesque frog-like creatures. The game is tough, yet accessible, and combat has a deliberate tactical feel, much like Dark Souls — but the twist is that every enemy attack is telegraphed. Your job is to react quickly with the correct action. Blows, blocks and parries have a weighty thump giving each encounter a delightfully visceral feel. As you explore the kingdom, smash beasties, and die a lot, the once dilapidated land comes back to life with song, colour and changing scenery. It's lovely."
The beautiful, blocky 3D pixels in Bonfire Peaks make it eye-catching, but there is so much more beyond the flames, as Raymond Benson points out:
"My pick is Bonfire Peaks. It's a challenging puzzle game about moving boxes to a fireplace. The vibe of the game is very relaxing and its puzzles are endlessly clever, full of 'you could do that the entire time?' moments. The overworld itself is also a grander puzzle that involves using the rewards from the completed puzzles to progress forward."
Everyone deserves some love in their lives, and Speed Dating for Ghosts shows us that even the undead can find love in the afterlife. McGloomy explains this game's charm:
"Speed Dating for Ghosts doesn’t disappoint because it’s exactly what it says on the tin, and more. I expected a quirky dating sim, but to my surprise, the game also deals with the darker and more melancholic sides of death and the afterlife. Its scribbled art style, little use of color and subtle soundtrack create a minimalistic atmosphere that allows your imagination to fill in the gaps – while the player gets to know the ghosts they’re dating better."
"Juicy personal drama" on the go? Mutazione's lovely minimalist style and mutant characters hide a heartfelt story, as McGloomy reveals:
"Mutazione was released a year ago and always felt a bit overlooked on the Switch to me. Inspired by everything from Studio Ghibli films to soap operas, the game tells the story of a girl visiting an island inhabited by a community of (mostly) friendly mutants. Its slice-of-life narrative is built around bigger mysteries and the game's interesting characters make it a great option for fans of games like Night in the Woods. In the months since Mutazione's release, there have been two updates full of fanservice that show how much the developers care about this game and its world."
Sumire's critical acclaim is attributed to more than just its stunning graphics, as Pramath vouches for:
"I don't remember the last time a game took so much out of me emotionally — Sumire is incredible on so many levels. It's a very sad game, but it's also extremely hopeful. The themes and core message resonate and are universally identifiable. The writing is remarkably straightforward but very, VERY strong. The characters are all fleshed out and the dialog is authentic and makes the cast feel real. And, as well as the gorgeous art style and beautiful music, unlike so many indie games of this nature, the gameplay is great too, featuring some well thought out puzzles and legitimately fun gameplay loops."
Akysys Games has a pretty unique library of games, and Tobias Ayling things we've missed a gem in dungeon-crawler Undernauts: Labyrinth of Yomi:
"This game simply oozes character and subtle menace. Take an old-school turn-based first-person dungeon-crawler, file off the fantasy trappings and layer it in '70s Japanese pulp horror. Insert a subtext around the capitalist exploitation of workers, some wry nods to Japanese game staples, and mix in absolutely impeccable sound, graphics and system design, and it all gels into a beautifully sinister whole. Finally, use thumbnail character biographies and brief conversations to elucidate the grinding depths of horror and anguish that choke the world and you'll have reached Yomi. Your job is to make it out alive."
Rhythm games are few and far between nowadays, but Ilya Zverev has one that's both short and also pays tribute to some of our favourite games from the '90s in Old School Musical:
"I'd suggest Old School Musical. It's short, easy to get into, and an absolute blast of a rhythm game. You travel across various '90s game homages, but you do not play them: instead, you press buttons to the rhythm of the music while characters are playing the game for you. Miss a button press, and they get hit. Replayability is good, there's an infinite chicken world, and you can try beating the game at higher difficulty levels."
Tired of playing against 5+ people? Pico Park lets you work together with bigger teams of friends, and is full of cute, pixelated cats! Ilya Zverev thinks this is one that we'll love:
"Pico Park is a marvel of co-op multiplayer. It's one of the few Switch games that you can play with 5+ players, and not against each other. Instead, you collaborate on solving dozens of platforming puzzles. Each of you has to perform perfectly, which leads to lots of failures and laughs in the process. And all characters are cats!"