Samir Alajmovic - somewhat coherent ramblings

Review of Some Recently Played Indie Games

Occasionally it’s nice to get away from the mentally challenging and at times mundane aspect of programming and venture into the creative and adventerous world of indie games. Luckily, the last few years have produced interesting and well thought out indie games, both story and gameplay wise. There won’t be any spoilers in this post, it’s just my general opinion of the games and how well they entertained me. I usually measure the effect of the story by how much it affected me personally, and if it’s the kind of story that even after I complete the game, it gets me to research in how others interpreted the ending and the meaning of the game.

Table of Contents

So let’s begin:

Thomas was alone

Thomas Was Alone is an indie minimalist 2D platformer about friendship and jumping and floating and anti-gravity. Guide a group of rectangles through a series of obstacles, using their different skills together to get to the end of each environment. Listen to awesome music by David Housden. Jump over rectangles meticulously placed by Mike Bithell. Listen to voiceover read wistfully and a bit amusingly by Danny Wallace.

A simple but surprisingly entertaining game. It goes to show you how much a story can affect the quality of a game. Overall, the buildup during the game was brilliant but the ending somewhat lacking. When it comes to the gameplay, it was rather pleasant. Some levels take about 10-20 seconds to solve whereas others take at most a couple of minutes, so don’t expect to be challenged in any way. Overall, a fun little game that I didn’t expect much from but that surprised me pleasantly.

Axiom Verge

A failed scientist dies in an accident, only to awaken in a mysterious, alien world. Where is he? How did he get here? And why do the fundamental laws of reality appear broken? Life. Afterlife. Real. Virtual. Dream. Nightmare. It’s a thin line. It’s Axiom Verge.

Think Metroid in terms of gameplay. The game is really well done, paces brilliantly, has an exciting story you can spend some time with after you’ve finished the game. Somewhat lacking in the gun variaty and skills, as there are more than 10 weapons in the game but you only use 2-3 at most, rendering the other useless. Also had great soundtrack, the only game so far where I’ve looked up a song to listen to. Not that much replay value (unless you like to do speed runs or attempt to find all achievements), as I spent more time researching the story afterwards than replaying it. A perfect throwback if you enoyed games like Metroid.

Hyper Light Drifter

Hyper Light Drifter is a 2D Action RPG in the vein of the best 8-bit and 16-bit classics, with modernized mechanics and designs on a much grander scale.

In the same genre as Axiom Verge but somewhat lacks in the story department. It didn’t make you as committed to the story as Axiom Verge did, in the sense the I felt story wasn’t the main drive for finishing the game. However, it offers great gameplay, just the right amount of difficulty and player choice when it comes to weapons and skills. The art is unqiue and retro like in its design.

Night in the Woods

NIGHT IN THE WOODS is an adventure game focused on exploration, story, and character, featuring dozens of characters to meet and lots to do across a lush, vibrant world.

My personal favorite. An adventure game where you follow a rebellious cat in her journey through early adulthood, displaying the struggles of simply being. It was easy to get attached to the story and the characters and what’s brilliant about the game is we get to experience two tracks, the main characters personal development as well a riveting story that keeps you guessing till the end.

Firewatch

Firewatch is a single-player first-person mystery set in the Wyoming wilderness, where your only emotional lifeline is the person on the other end of a handheld radio.

A brilliant first person story telling with vivid visualisations. The story and exploration of personal growth in the event of human loss is the main driving point of the game. I won’t say anything else since I believe talking about “lessons learned” will spoil it. One of the joys with these types of games is experiencing the emotions and suspense of what happened, what may happened and what one wanted to happen. It’s almost a movie like game, in that it has a clear beginning, middle and end.

Inside

Hunted and alone, a boy finds himself drawn into the center of a dark project.

A game where the ending brings more questions than answers. I liked it, both as platform game and its story. The art is beautiful, easy on the eye and quite addicting. Not the hardest game to finish, so enjoy the scenery while you play it, as the game doesn’t have any replay value.

Oxenfree

Oxenfree is a supernatural thriller about a group of friends who unwittingly open a ghostly rift. You are Alex, and you’ve just brought your new stepbrother Jonas to an overnight island party gone horribly wrong.

If you’re a fan of old highschool movies and adventour games with a bit of sci-fi in them, then this is your dream game. Everything about it felt authentic and well done, from the conversations to the problem solving aspect of the game. The game has high replay value if you’re into exploring different endings. It is because you are an active participants of the conversations, and it is more like a gradient rather than there existing only 2-3 situations where you determine the outcome.

Superhot

SUPERHOT is the first person shooter where time moves only when you move. No regenerating health bars. No conveniently placed ammo drops. It’s just you, outnumbered and outgunned, grabbing the weapons of fallen enemies to shoot, slice, and maneuver through a hurricane of slow-motion bullets.

First of all, I’m a fan of FPS games and I have to say this game has a nice feel to it. Sometimes less is more and I feel this game is an embodiment of said phrase. It shares a common theme with Thomas was alone in that it employs a simple game design and graphics alongside a somewhat original and enthralling plot. In the end, it’s more about the gameplay but I feel that if it was the old kill the bad guy revenge tale, I wouldn’t have finished the game.

Cat Lady

The Cat Lady follows Susan Ashworth, a lonely 40-year old on the verge of suicide. She has no family, no friends and no hope for a better future. One day she discovers that five strangers will come along and change everything…

A strange game with strange graphics in a strange environment following a normal human being. Yes, the main characters thoughts might be the only sane part of this game. I have to say that I enjoyed this game more than I thought I would. The puzzles aren’t too hard and for once it felt logical when solving them. It’s not like some games which go out of their way to make the puzzles nonintuitive.