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Critical Reflex: On Releasing Critical Hits In Indie Games

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Freaked Fleapit_Critical Reflex

Independent game studios and publishers are on the rise, much to the delight of gamers searching for titles that are a little different to the usual AAA offerings. As a result it can be difficult to stand out, unless your name is Critical Reflex. This Cyprus-based publisher has a net cast wide, over a unique array of developers, and is on a mission to let the world know about how great their games are.

What’s In The Critical Sauce
As far as indie publishing goes, Critical Reflex is a fairly new entrant, having started their operations in late 2020. The team is female-led and fully remote, with members hailing from Berlin to Tbilisi and everywhere else across the globe. Critical Reflex has a simple mission – find kick-ass games, support indie developers, and do everything they can to help them reach their goals. The publishing company professes to having a young team, and it’s their sense of youthfulness that has spurred on the team in their mission to help game developers. 

Not much else is known about the company. This feels like a deliberate tactic to keep the games under their belt as the primary focus. Of their released titles, Aeon Drive and ORX, were both published in October 2021 and August 2022 respectively. The former is an action-platformer by 2Awesome Studio with a speedrunning twist that will see players rushing through the cyberpunk landscapes of Neo Barcelona solo, or up to four players in co-op mode. A unique time-warping feature helps players get ahead and also keeps the game fresh. The latter is a tower defense game by johnbell that incorporates deck building and tabletop mechanics to create an experience with depth. 

Rose and Locket_Critical Reflex

Playable Pixels

Despite this success, the Critical Reflex momentum is only continuing to grow. Currently at least six upcoming games have been made known to the public with hotly anticipated release dates. Rose and Locket by New Zealand-based Whistling Wizard is a single-player platformer about wandering through the spirit realm as a retired outlaw. From the trailer revealed so far, we can expect a beautiful soundtrack and stunning visuals. Altered Alma, also by 2Awesome Studio is an action adventure that’s also set in Neo Barcelona but this time includes RPG elements, dating sim features and a gripping story. Described as a ‘space opera metroidvania’ this is certainly not one to miss if you’re a fan of narrative-driven games as the writing team includes industry legends Antony Johnston (Resident Evil Village, Dead Space) and Emma Beeby (Tails of Iron, F1 23).

Freaked Fleapit by Finch Bird Studio is a rhythm-based dungeon rogue-like set in hell that will also give players the opportunity to romance cute waifus who can escape purgatory with you. The fun and chaotic nature of the game has already won Freaked Fleapit a horde of fans on social media and some truly stunning fan art. Being and Becoming by Ichthys is another atmospheric metroidvania set within a kingdom warped by dreams. Players must explore a pixel art world and defeat spirits in order to free the world from its endless slumber. Flawless Abbey by Bed Head Games is a hand-painted fairytale about being lost inside a Labyrinth Tower and unlocking your way through the power of music. It’s reminiscent of mystery visual novels with a pop-up book charm thanks to the three-dimensional elements. Last but certainly not least is Complex SKY by Thailand-based Complex Blue Studio. This futuristic city building game comes with a unique architecture system that will allow players to build their cities facing upwards and downwards. There are strong environmental themes throughout this game as the goal is to create a self-sustainable city in the wake of heavy pollution. 

Complex SKY_Critical Reflex

The Reflex Revolution

2023 has been a great year so far for Critical Reflex, as far as their games are concerned. At BitSummit, Japan’s industry-leading independent game development festival in Kyoto, Freaked Fleapit was awarded both Excellence in Sound Design and the Media Highlight Award, as chosen by Japanese gaming news site, Game*Spark. There’s also talk about producing a Japanese dub of this incredibly popular game. More recently, Critical Reflex have been showcasing their titles at other global conventions such as Gamescom in Cologne and PAX West in Seattle. More events however are certainly on the cards. Follow their publishing journey over on Twitter or visit their website to keep up to date on all of their upcoming games.

Critical Reflex exhibited at BitSummit, Gamescom and PAX West via Ukiyo Studios. To find out more about how your game can be featured at the next big gaming event, contact them via their website.

Rino
WRITTEN BY

Rino

Rino is a Tokyo-based writer, covering the local and international indie games scene.

Their favourite indie game is A Short Hike.