Indie Watch – An Introduction.

Indie titles, and therefore our new series Indie Watch, are quite important to me as a gamer. I rarely have the time in my life for long 60+ hour epics, and completing those types of AAA games in anything vaguely representing a timely fashion actually requires real planning. This can be seen in my Red Dead Redemption 2 Review. I had to sit down and forego everything else, for a week no less, in order to get it finished. 

Indies are different. Usually they’re short, although not always, and more often than not the limited budget behind them can give you a clearer look into the developer and people behind that title. This shorter length, combined with often unique visuals and storytelling methods, regularly make Indies far more accessible to me in a pinch than the next Assassin’s Creed open world slog. 

Celeste stands as one of the most emotionally driven platformers I’ve played

Unfortunately not all Indies are made equal. There are the games that sit right at the top of the pile, like Dead Cells, Celeste, Firewatch, What Remains of Edith Finch, and Katana Zero. Indies that hit these heights are few and far between, and it’s why if you search for “best indies” on Google, nearly every list by every game publication website will comprise of many of the same games.

But just one look at Steam’s Indie section will show you how many Indie titles are churned out almost on a daily basis. Not all of them are good, in fact a great deal of them probably aren’t, but they always represent the same thing. The developers creativity and vision. Indies are much more personal in that fashion. It’s common for an Indie to focus on artistic representation, instead of visual fidelity, due to restricted resources. This leads you to games with beautifully unique visuals, like Firewatch. 

Firewatch managed to make fantastical graphics seem almost realistic.

Indies are also a gateway to bringing back styles of old, with pixel art stylings like the ones found in Dead Cells and Celeste becoming steadily more and more popular, and they often step into genres that are rarely trodden by AAA or even AA games. Be it roguelikes, platformers, walking simulators, point and clicks, and text based RPGs, the list goes on. 

This level of variety just isn’t seen in AAA titles, and it’s why the more popular Indie titles get so much recognition these days. Not only are they fighting against the other tens of thousands of Indie titles, they’re also competing for headspace with the heavy hitters. Which is why, when you see a Hellblade, Bright Memory, or Cuphead stepping it up, they’re worth some attention.

So as you can tell, I quite like Indie titles and what they represent. Now I’m not going to pretend that I’m some hipster that regularly dives into the barrel of Steams <£5 Indie section. I’m not, but I appreciate something that’s presented in an artistically different manner from those around it. Hence my idea for Indie Watch, a place on SeriouslyAverageGamers where we can talk about these less famous titles.

Take “The First Tree” for example. It’s a game that most of you won’t have heard of, and it’s available for £7.99 on Steam. Playing as a fox (ironic given the first entry into this series), inside a man’s dreams, you take part in simple platforming and exploration while the two voice actors talk to each other about the man’s frayed relationship with his father.

It didn’t look great, and the voice acting was sketchy early on, but for £7.99 I got a heartfelt narrative, and an experience I still haven’t forgotten 4 years later.

This is why, at SeriouslyAverageGamers, Kyle and I decided that talking about these Indie experiences, good OR bad would grant us a content stream not often seen on other publication websites. It would also allow me to dive into some of these Indies headfirst and see what I think. 

These articles will be classed as reviews, but won’t delve into the same 10 categories seen in our other reviews, as we don’t think it’s fair to judge Indies to the same standards as AA or AAA games. Instead we’ll be providing a simple recommendation as to whether we think you should:

  • Avoid it
  • Buy it on sale
  • Buy it
  • Must Play it

Lastly, before I let you all go about your business, there are so many Indies already out there in the wild that covering them all off the top of my head will be damn near impossible. Please don’t hesitate to recommend any, no matter how old, or how popular they are. I always appreciate new things.

I hope you enjoy the first article in this series, where I talk about Spirit of the North, another fox driven title where you explore the developers reimagining of the Icelandic wilds, and try to stem the poison that spreads throughout the lands!

Don’t forget to check out our first article in Indie Watch, and until next time, we’ve been SeriouslyAverageGamers!

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