Indie games are awesome. Games made by a group of fifty people, or a dozen, or five, or a single person that wanted to bring a creative vision into reality with the resources they had. Art that, for several reasons, couldn’t be made by a multibillion-dollar company, at least today. That’s what this column is supposed to be: A celebration of all those projects made by people that, on their own, went and did whatever they wanted. We’re gonna be telling you in a monthly format about any games not made by an AAA company, to shed some light on those projects, gush about them, and maybe even to help you find a new favorite game!
Tails of Iron – $24.99 on Microsoft Windows, Nintendo Switch, Xbox Series X and S, Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5.
Tails of Iron is the video game adaptation of the old Redwall book series. Or at least, that’s what I assume because the main character is a mouse guy, and it’s a high fantasy world. I’ve never actually read Redwall. Tails of Iron does not have complex mechanics. Most quests feel like fetch quests, or “clear out this area” which really amounts to fetch quests. The combat doesn’t feel as fantastic as other “Check out our Soulslike combat!” games. All of these things are bad, but I gotta say, I love this game a lot.
The story is so dang good, with all of its little nuances (The characters talk in little chirps, and their intentions are depicted in pictures within the thought/word bubbles) that make this devilishly charming yet abhorrently violent that it’s easy to overlook the flaws. Heck, I’d even say these push the flaws out of flawed territory. I’m doing another fetch quest? That makes sense; the protagonist needs to be on the ground, getting in touch with the people! There’s a base-building mechanic that amounts to…more fetch quests, but hey, I’m gonna fetch real hard because I can’t wait to see the base get built up. The combat is a bit sluggish, but it works within itself, making sure to never jump the shark into “unfairly difficult” territory. It can serve as a nice change of pace from the usual “pixel perfect” combat you find in these sorts of games.
So if my assumption was correct and this is the video game adaptation of Redwall, then dang, I need to read Redwall because this game is just oozing with so much charm and fun that it’s got me not just overlooking the flaws but somehow praising them.
Developed by Odd Bug Studio.
Crossing Souls – $14.99 on Microsoft Windows, Nintendo Switch, macOS, PlayStation 4, Linux, PlayStation Vita.
Is Crossing Souls revolutionary? Something never seen before? Not really. More of a recollection of a lot of things seen before, actually. But is it fun? You bet it is. Released in early 2018, Crossing Souls tells the story of a group of friends from California involved in a mystery that would change their lives forever. From the aesthetic to the gameplay, it’s an homage to the 80s pop culture (Or the nostalgia for the 80s pop culture) if there ever was one.
First of all, the pixel art aesthetic is beautiful and truly successful at making you nostalgic for the idea of the 80s we all have in mind. Every map is filled with color, detail, and excellent references that just fill you with joy. The gameplay is a beat ‘em up with some platforming here and there, where you get to change between the five friend protagonists, each with their one special ability. They’re not always useful, and besides very specific scenes, you can get through the game using only one or two. But they’re all so endearing that I always found myself randomly changing between them just to see them.
While I said it’s not the most original game out there, it’s the type of media that, while heavily appealing to nostalgia, it’s not something necessary to the enjoyment. It creates a gripping story, entertaining gameplay, exciting exploration, lovely characters, and as a whole, is the damn definition of fun. It has some slight problems, like losing some of the stakes later in the game (Although still capable enough to make me cry at the end). But I would be lying if I said I didn’t think to myself, ‘’I should replay that’’ every time it pops in my mind.
Developed by Fourattic.
We also have guests today! They are two brothers working on an immersive sim aiming to mix the GTA, Deus Ex, and Metal Gear Solid franchises. Here’s our teaser interview for Without Judgement, developed by Wushin Software:
Gabrielle: How did the project begin?
WS: After coming up with a few game concepts and working on them for some time, we realized that we don’t actually enjoy playing/developing those games, so we decided to make one of our “dream games”. Something that we wanted to really play. Something big, with complex mechanics. Something that has so advanced RPG mechanics and A.I that AAA devs wouldn’t want to spend money to develop it. This gives us another reason to work on the game.
Gabrielle: How would you describe the game?
WS: Without Judgment should be thought of as a Miami Vice/Lethal Weapon buddy cop story with a somber tone set in the near future. The story features a lot of adult themes, such as dealing with PTSD and depression, but It won’t be as abstract and dystopian as the Blade Runner movies.
Gabrielle: What are your influences and how are they implemented in the game?
WS: We were inspired by many different movies and video games. The major inspirations for the gameplay were the Metal Gear Solid series, Bethesda RPG-s, PS2 GTA games, and the original Deus Ex. The game’s story is heavily inspired by 80s-90s cinema (everything from Miami Vice to the X-files). But our goal is to keep the game’s plot relatively grounded. We don’t want to make it too dystopic and art-house-like, and we like to give our own twist to every 80s-90s trope.
One interesting example is the Buddy cop dynamic. Almost every time in movies, the main characters are polar opposites to each other, but people in real life are not that idealistic. What if, in a movie, the cops were two broken, disillusioned men who got into a similar life situation for two different reasons.
Gabrielle: How is it for you to develop this project as two indie developers on your own?
WS: It’s not easy, but most worthwhile things are hard to do.
Gabrielle: What are the objectives for the game and what can we expect?
WS: The main objective is going to be solving a murder mystery case, but there will be a lot of side quests and dynamic random encounters that will take you through different sprawling megacities, deserts, and swamps. The map is huge, both in its scale and size. It’s sort of like GTA SA’s map. The game is very open, and there are a lot of characters and factions in the game that you can join/work for so you can really carve your own path, just like in Bethesda games.
The game is also very systematic, different corporations and gangs have rivals, and they often fight with each other in the game’s open world. Every interaction you make with them will have an effect on the gameplay and on the story. The core gameplay loop is heavily inspired by the MGS games. You can use a lot of different gadgets, tools, and skills to achieve your goals. We want to make the game really open-ended.