Her Story, video game, woman, interview, interrogation, police, desk, office

Beginner’s guide to indie: part three

It’s time for the final part of my beginner’s guide to indie and, if you didn’t find something that tickles your fancy in part one or two last week, then hopefully we’ll manage to put that right today. Once again, a big thank you to Dan from Now is Games for suggesting I write this series and being the inspiration behind it.

As mentioned in my last posts: the following list contains only games I’ve actually played myself (except for the final category below) and, as pretty obvious from the content on Later Levels, I tend to favour adventures or games with strong narratives. However, I’ve made a point of not making every entry a point-and-click so hopefully there’s something for everyone here. Without further ado, let’s round this series off!

Typing games

Epistory – Typing Chronicles is a game I’m not sure many people know of but it’s definitely worth checking out if you enjoyed The Typing of the Dead: Overkill (my guilty pleasure). There are no zombies this time however: the world unfolds in front of you like an origami storybook and it tells the story of a writer who’s stuck for inspiration. You defeat your foes by typing words shown on-screen and every element in the title is controlled exclusively with the keyboard.

On the other end of the typing-game-spectrum is Hacknet, a simulator based on UNIX commands and real hacking rather than the Hollywood-version of it. The hacker responsible for creating the most invasive security system on the planet is dead and it’s now up to you to unravel the mystery and ensure that Hacknet-OS doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. If you’re not good under pressure or tend to type with two fingers only, then it’s probably not one for you.

Visual novels

I’m not a huge fan of visual novels and so my knowledge is somewhat lacking, but here’s one I actually enjoyed playing. Cinders is a mature take on the classic Cinderella fairytale and it’s not as cutesy as you’d imagine: this heroine isn’t afraid of taking fate into her own hands, even if it means breaking the rules. There’s plenty of player choice and my Cinders became an independent lone traveller who didn’t need a man by her side – you go, girl.

Next up is one of my favourite video games: To The Moon. It’s been called an adventure and an RPG but its gameplay elements are so light that it’s more like a visual novel with some movement. If you’re looking for action then it won’t be to your taste; but if you want to get drawn into an amazing story then I urge you to pick this up as soon as possible. Just be aware that you’ll be crying like a baby by the time the credits roll and will probably need a hug.

Something different

Looking for something different? Then you’ve come to the right place. First in this section is Her Story, a full-motion video (FMV) game which has you sorting through clips of old police interviews in order to discover what happened to a woman’s missing husband. Viva Seifert plays the protagonist and she does so perfectly; her body language, expressions and tone of voice all come together to make you wonder if she’s lying about what she knows…

Proteus isn’t a title that will appeal to everyone but if you’re in need of a ‘digital holiday’, then here’s your stop. Although the only mechanic is exploration and all you can do is walk, it’s a lovely and calming experience: this procedurally-generated island is home to creatures and ruins with magical properties, and a dynamic soundtrack changes in response to the world around you. A new island is generated each time so you’ll always see something unique and can use the ‘postcard’ feature to capture it.

What’s next?

There are loads of indie titles waiting on my wishlist and here’s what I’m playing next. I’ve heard good things about Night in the Woods, an adventure game focused on exploration, story and character. College-dropout Mae returns home to resume her former life but things aren’t the same: it seems different now and everyone has changed. Leaves are falling, the wind is growing cold, strange things are happening and there’s something in the woods…

Athena from AmbiGaming has been playing RiME recently and she has convinced me to give it a go! You play as a young boy who has awakened on a mysterious island after a torrential storm. Wild animals, long-forgotten ruins and a massive tower beckon you to come closer; and armed with your wits — and the guidance of a helpful fox — you must explore the enigmatic land, reach the tower’s peak and unlock its closely guarded secrets.

It can be an effort to work up the motivation to turn on the console or PC after a long day at work when you have only a spare hour in the evening; and sometimes the thought of jumping into another 100-hour open-world RPG can be a bit daunting. But it doesn’t mean you have to give up gaming completely because that’s where smaller indie titles can fit in nicely. Although huge big-budget games do have a certain appeal, there’s also something nice about being able to make good progress in sixty minutes and complete a title within several sittings.

Hopefully you’ve found an indie release among the 23 I’ve listed in my three-part beginner’s guide that has inspired you to give them a try. If you have any other recommendations, please feel free to leave them in the comments below and give me a few more to add to my wishlist!

12 thoughts on “Beginner’s guide to indie: part three

  1. Another cracking post Kim, so many great recommendations in this series. I’m really looking forward to picking up many of them!

    I tried Speedrunners at the weekend at Jon’s get-together, I was terrible at it but it was great fun!

    I’m currently working my way through a title called Hue, a game about colour, which feels a lot like LIMBO in many ways.

    Although I had dabbled with a few indie titles over the years, without knowing it in some cases, I feel ready to dive in a bit deeper thanks to these posts. Thanks again!

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    1. I’ve heard of Hue, although not yet played it… funnily enough it was at Rezzed earlier this year! See, you and Jon have to go next April now. 😉

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      1. Oh we might very well be there in force! I think the guys I went to EGX with are thinking of going as well.

        Might see if I can drag the wife along too, maybe I can lure her with a long weekend in London 😃

        By the way, have you ever looked at the Curator stuff in Steam? I think anyone with a Steam group can be a curator, I would definitely follow your listings if you did something like that.

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        1. Bring the wife, the more the merrier! Does she play video games too? 🙂

          I thought about the Curator stuff when it first started and it’s something which has sat on the to-do list since then, but I’ve not actually pursued it up to now. It could possibly be fun though… hmm…

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  2. Another ‘typing’ game that I really enjoyed was Duskers. It’s pretty damn difficult but it’s got a really awesome retro Sci-fi feel to it.

    Basically you control drones as the explore derelict space ships and you can completely control them by typing commands.

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  3. Night in the Woods is on my wishlist as well. I really enjoyed Rime. It reminded me a bit of Ico without that game’s problematic combat.

    A couple other indie games that come to mind are Mark of the Ninja and Oxenfree. They don’t necessarily fit into Part 3’s categories but I’d like to give them a shout anyway! MotN is my favorite stealth game. It’s a really cool side scroller with a lot of depth. Oxenfree is one of those story-focused adventure of sorts with a really neat conversation system with great dialogue. (Hopefully these count as indie… sometimes I’m not sure where the line is drawn with them!)

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    1. I started playing Oxenfree… and then got distracted by Horizon Zero Dawn for a hundred hours. I keep meaning to go back and finish it off! Would you say it was scary?

      I get what you mean about not knowing what counts as indie nowadays. I think part of it is that indie developers have gotten so good at what they do, the lines are blurring; and publishers realised a few years back that ‘indie was in’ and started to stick the label on everything. Might need to consider doing some sort of collaboration post on this subject at some point… hmm…

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  4. I really want to try Rime sometime, once it’s on the Switch i definately will.

    If you liked To the Moon, I’d recommend you check out Rakuen. Laura Shigihara who worked on one or more songs in To the Moon created Rakuen and not only composed pretty much all the fantastic music, but created the game from ground up. The description of To the Moon sounds very much like Rakuen in that it plays like an RPG but with very light gameplay. Oh, and it involves crying, I sobbed up at the end. One of my favourites of the year and highly recommend it.

    I still have to come around to To the Moon, but will definitely get on it in the future.

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    1. Ooh ok, Rakuen sounds as though it would be right up my street… I’ll stick it on the wishlist! I’d be interested to hear what you think of To The Moon when you play it and how it compares. 🙂

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