Kurt Kalata is an ardent video gamer from New Jersey. He has founded websites such as The Castlevania Dungeon, which focuses on Konami's long running, vampire slaying series, and Hardcore Gaming 101, which gives comprehensive reviews focusing on the history of gaming. His most recent book is Bitmap Books' A Guide to Japanese Role-Playing Games. In addition to his own sites and books, his writings have appeared in Retro Gamer magazine, Time Extension and at 1up, Siliconera, and Gamasutra.

The Guide to Retro Indie Games Vol. 2 by Kurt Kalata

For fans of retro gaming, the independent game scene is a garden of delights, with hundreds of brilliant titles that not only recall the classic era of video games, but also evolve. This second entry in the HG101 Retro Indie Game series covers a variety of genres, including Metroidvanias (Hollow Knight, Blasphemous, Deedlit in Wonder Labyrinth), action-platformers (Cuphead, Blazing Chrome, Celeste), first person shooters (Dusk, Project Warlock), adventure games (Unavowed, Lamplight City), visual novels (Coffee Talk, Katawa Shoujo), and other modern classics like Cave Story, Into the Breach, Return of the Obra Dinn, Stardew Valley, Papers, Please, and many others!


The boom of retro-style games seems endless, and that's a good thing for players who cherish pixel art, chiptune soundtracks, and finely crafted 2D gameplay. Kurt Kalata digs into what makes these new takes on classic formulas work with more in-depth analyses. -David L. Craddock, curator




If you thought we were stretching it with the term "retro indie" last book, boy oh boy. The indie scene has evolved at a rapid pace in the last few years, to the point the middle market has come back to life through it and the term is slowly losing meaning.

This has been written towards the end of 2021 and a lot has happened since the last book. The retro FPS trend has exploded and is now working its way out with a plunder of new games in early access, some sticking to the roots, and others exploring new concepts and arguably transcending genre. The Souls-like phase has turned into a new type of action RPG all its own. VA-11 Hall-A has created an entire subgenre of laid back cooking/serving VN sims. The lo-fi movement has melded into the survival horror and exploration genres to create new surreal experiences. The term rogue-like has been used on so many things that it's hard to keep track of even what the base concepts of the genre are. If we get lucky enough to make this successful and get a third volume made, you can expect all sorts of weird stuff to make an appearance like the "Devil May Quake"-like ULTRAKILL, the Junji Ito inspired World of Horror, and the sheer amount of Touhou fan games ...woof.

Hardcore Gaming 101 has been good to me, even helping me pay my power bill in a rough patch, and getting to edit this collection has been a delight. A lot of amazing work had to be cut, but I aimed to get as many voices and interesting titles in as possible. All the articles written by me are entirely because I write too much, and I apologize. There is reason, though. I love indie games. They were there for me when I was stuck with an eight year old laptop, when I could barely run X360 games on my cheaply bought Toshiba, and helped me expand my horizons in just not what games could do, but even help me work through a few personal issues.

I hope you try the many games we've lined out here. Along with all the amazing stuff in this volume, I'd also throw out Viscerafest if you want a fast paced shooter that puts your skills to the test. Disco Elysium is a must recommend for CRPG fans who prefer the story over combat, and in that mind, you should also check out The Forgotten City, the RPG about always telling the truth and time travel shenanigans. Quest for Glory fans need to go check out Mage's Initiation, and the beautiful Detective Grimoire sequel Tangle Tower is just a feast for the eyes. Viola is a charming Paper Mario style RPG that tackles some mature subject matter with pep in its step, while Greyhat is a brilliant hacker simulator with a great thriller plot. I could go on and on. We are spoiled for fantastic and inventive games, and these passionate devs deserve all the praise and sales possible for it.

Thank you for buying this book and helping me save up money to re-pipe my attic. That's not a joke, my ceiling is not doing great. More importantly, I hope you remember to buy any game in here that looks in any way interesting, and we won't get more of these unique games without everyone supporting them.