Screenshot of Bird of Passage, which depicts the ghost standing, preparing to enter a taxi, on a Tokyo street.

Bird of Passage, by SpaceBackyard, is an atmospheric narrative puzzle, set in taxi cabs traveling the streets of Tokyo.

You play as a low-poly ghost-bird-eye-thing (a technical term, of course), and you travel at night in taxis, recounting your stories to the drivers who take you around. It turns out that the ghost you embody died in the 1923 Great Kantō Earthquake, and is seeking answers as they continue along their path.

The atmosphere and vibrancy of the deconstructed Tokyo are lovely. The game boils down its vision of Tokyo to just the bare essentials to deliver its view of Tokyo—a taxi cab, various taxi stops, bright lights, and road markings all serve to give you the feel of a big city without actually rendering a big city.

Screenshot showing the dialogue options in Bird of Passage, while traveling in a taxi.

This is a perfect game for a pensive dark rainy day. It’s not quite the same, but I found myself getting lost in thoughts in this game—like when you’re a passenger in a long car ride and your mind starts to drift.

Gameplay Tip:

It’s not necessarily easy to intuit the best choices to progress the story. For the best route to the end of the game, and to avoid repetition, keep track of your dialogue choices. One of the taxis you enter will give you a hint for what you’re looking for—once you heed their tip, the route to get to the end of the game will be clear enough with a little bit more trial and error.

My playtime of Bird of Passage was about 30 minutes—but yours can be a bit shorter with the non-spoiler gameplay tip above. It is available on itch.io for macOS and Windows.

Welcome to The Missing Quests

We're a website that profiles indie games from small creators.
New posts twice weekly.
Follow us on Twitter Learn More
The title card of Speak Easy, showing the characters, and art deco style.

Speak Easy, by Shots on Sunday, is a prohibition-era bartending game set in a 1920s-era Chicago.

You take the role of Ruth Moran, bartender, and proprietor of an illicit speakeasy, named “The Straight and Narrow.” Set over three nights, you serve drinks to a revolving cast of characters dropping into your speakeasy. You prepare them a spread of drinks, at their request, from your elegantly drawn and well-used recipe book.

“The Straight and Narrow,” your speakeasy, is set in a smoky Art Deco style as you’d find in the world of BioShock. Inter-day story exposition in Speak Easy is told through slides depicting a vignette of Ruth’s world and inner thoughts, but the biggest story beats come through your interactions with patrons.

Ruth’s Recipe Book in Speak Easy, featuring elegant hand-drawn art

You see unrequited love between two patrons—a doctor and his patient. Sapphire Riviera, another patron, is far too drunk and is claiming to be a star that you should already know. Pearl is an intoxicated police officer, and realistically, a patron you’re perhaps too friendly with—considering the prohibition, y’know. Of course, you also have the occasional drop-ins of the heavy fist of the mob supplying your speakeasy.

The interactivity of the bartending in Speak Easy is well considered, and is easily the best part of the game. Yes, Speak Easy certainly shares mechanical similarities with VA-11 HALL-A, the highly acclaimed cyberpunk visual novel, but the bartending in VA-11 HALL-A is more “click to mix.” Speak Easy’s bartending feels more real—you’re grabbing bottles from the shelves, picking up and squeezing the fruit, and shaking up drinks (with your mouse!) while preparing drinks for customers.

The Art Deco atmosphere of Speak Easy, as Ruth prepares a drink for a patron.

In terms of polish, I’d like for the ability to increase dialogue print speed. Also, even though it’s not necessarily a “choices-matter” style game, I felt like there was inflexibility to some dialogue—I wound up sternly kicking out a customer, where I’d have preferred an option to ask them to leave more politely.

This is an excellent showing from a student team of ten. It’s worth dropping in to chat with a few patrons, make a few drinks, and learn a bit about Ruth’s story. My playtime in Speak Easy was about an hour, and the game is available for Windows on itch.io.

One of the main characters of Jamsterdam, crossing a bridge over a canal in Amsterdam.

Jamsterdam is an adorable mini-game about trying to be a jazz musician in Amsterdam.

As a struggling musician in Amsterdam trying to make ends meet, you pick up a singing gig alongside a canal, as passersby throw coins for you to collect. Your cap, full of coins, slowly depletes as bills come in. Dwindling on your last coins, your world slowly turns to gray, and your music moves from freeform jazz to something more of a funeral dirge. All until you can’t pay your last bills—ending your gameplay.

The game brings whimsy and spirit to the act of feeding the capitalist machine. The vibrancy of colors is tied to how much cash you have on hand. It also seems that, in Amsterdam, no one has a sense of aim, so the denizens throw their coins everywhere, including nonsensical places, like the canal. When you’re short on cash, your dash for coins becomes even more hectic.

Was I a good singer in Jamsterdam? Well, let’s say I really embraced freeform jazz.

Jamsterdam is short, adorable, and gets its point across quickly. You’ll enjoy the few minutes you spend in it. Jamsterdam was made by nothke and Ferran, with procedural music from YenTing Lo. It is available on itch for Windows, macOS, and web.

A cave level in Flux Caves, featuring the vibrant colors and blur.

Flux Caves is a puzzle game by Fubenalvo, inspired by The Witness and shrines in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Flux Caves is about solving puzzles, to push pipe blocks around to connect them to allow balls to flow from the start to the end of the puzzle unimpeded.

In Flux Caves, you’re solving puzzles in two distinct environments. Some puzzles take place in caves, placing you in a “classic” puzzle chamber environment. Outdoor environment puzzles invert the puzzle chamber expectation and present a new challenge by spreading out and using more of the world—such as a puzzle built in the top of a radio tower. The world of Flux Caves is colorful and well made—the vibrancy of the puzzle elements mesh well the outdoor aspects of the world.

The beautiful backgrounds of Flux Caves.

Flux Caves has a gentle difficulty ramp—you won’t find yourself getting trapped on a puzzle for too long. New mechanics are introduced and have accompanying puzzles to you understand and include them in your repertoire. Take care not to overthink your puzzle solutions, though. I wound up having to restart some puzzles because I tried to outsmart the puzzle design in attempting to anticipate problems. Instead, I should have spent more time looking around just to understand the puzzle a bit more.

Polish wise, some later puzzles need you to move so many blocks that it may feel tedious to execute on your vision, and some block and player movement lacks smoothness. Also, if you’re an environment explorer, the game offers surprisingly few invisible walls to prevent you from hopping off-path—perhaps more player clips will appear in a later version. Despite this, the game is playable, and you will enjoy your time solving the puzzles.

If you enjoy puzzle games, Flux Caves offers several invigorating puzzles and is perhaps worth a bit of your time. Flux Caves is available on itch for Windows, Mac, and Linux, and will be available on Steam later this year. I played Flux Caves version v0.93 on a modern Windows gaming PC. It took me about three hours to complete the game.

There's more to be seen!