As much as we love indie games and 2D platformers, even we admit the indie scene is oversaturated with them. You have to pick which ones to play carefully. We like to think we can help there as we’re indie game connoisseurs! Thusly, we have The Messenger, which is a great fun classic NES-style romp. Hiiya!
The Messenger is a straight up NES homage, riffing off the likes of Ninja Gaiden and Mega Man II. It’s styled most like the former, but with dollops of Yacht Club Game’s modern indie classic Shovel Knight. After half an hour of play, we had reservations as it’s so similar to the shovel-based game… but then it goes on to defy all expectations.
Quebec-based indie team Sabotage Studio is behind it. Canada’s indie scene is increasingly on the up since Cuphead took the world by storm in 2017 and it’s great to see. Whilst The Messenger doesn’t boast the same eye-catching visual experience as Cuphead, it does deliver big time on one all-important aspect: gameplay.
It’s a proper platforming-fest. A pretty intense, but great fun, romp of old that celebrates the finest elements of 2D games of yesteryear – running, jumping, slashing, and upgrading your ninja warrior around inspired level designs.
Unlike many NES and indie games – *sigh of relief* – this one isn’t a mind crushingly difficult experience. Reffering back to Cuphead again, if that title has any flaw it’s just how tough it is. From the word go, it’s hardly accessible – it is, in fact, something of a nightmare. The first level whoops your butt and, unfortunately, it’s an indie game trope many indie devs are guilty of.
But Sabotage Studio provides a steady learning curve with The Messenger. That complements its levels magnificently, as you quickly ascend through stages, gear up your hero, and get some new skills (yes, plenty of Metroidvania elements here).
And it’s a surprisingly vast experience! There are many levels, some fantastic boss battles, and copious dollops of witty humour and funny asides. What’s not to love? It’s a hit with us! It’s out now on the Nintendo Switch and Steam.