A quick Google search for ‘indie games’ gives this definition,
‘Games typically created by individuals or smaller development teams without the financial support of a large game publisher, in contrast to most AAA games’.
They’re often shorter experiences that wouldn’t instantly be seen as financially viable, but because they’re developed by a handful of people they can be incredibly personal. That could explain why many indie titles hark back to the developers childhood, their virtual ‘happy place’ that they’re brave enough to let others into.
And many have been incredibly successful – I’m looking at you Cuphead, Dead Cells and Stardew Valley, and don’t think I don’t see you there either Hollow Knight!
But what if you’re just getting going? You’ve got your concept, you’ve tested ideas, and you’re working on a playable demo. How do you get some exposure and create a bit of excitement beyond the four walls that make up your workspace?
I’ve been fortunate enough to catch up with one such developer – who couldn’t be more indie if he tried, on account of him working on his own – Pete Brisbourne, also known as Temmy (twitter @Hi_ImTemmy).
Temmy is currently developing a unique take on the classic point and click adventure formula with Tobin’s Tale. I’ll let him explain more:
“Tobin’s Tale is about a thieving fox who discovers that words have more power than just stealing riches and tasty apples. They have the power to hurt, and to help. Words can change the world”
He went on to sum up the game, cocktail style,
“Take 1 part Monkey Island, add 1 part first person 3D, shake well, and serve
over chilled verbs – slice of apple.”
In the game, rather than selecting an action like ‘use’, ‘grab’ or ‘talk to’ from a menu and then clicking on something in the environment, you’ll physically hurl those actions into the world, with potentially hilarious results.
“So if you wanted to open a door, you would throw USE at the door but then it might bounce off the frame and – OH NO – it’s landed on the yak trebuchet instead. And now you have one very angry yak.”
Visually Tobin’s Tale draws in a classic 2D pixel style for the world’s residents (who are anthropomorphic animals), and puts them into a 3D environment. At the time of writing, Temmy is currently composing the games soundtrack and sharing snippets on social media for feedback. His aim is to share a playable demo as soon as possible. I for one am very excited by this game and because I’ve been following the development journey, I’m already invested. You can find out more about the game at happyfox.games/tobins-tale.
And perhaps that’s the key – exposure through social media can be an indie developers biggest (and cheapest) tool, giving them the opportunity to share progress updates, ask for feedback on concepts or designs, make announcements, and wet your appetite as they head towards a release date. The more people that see the games being worked on, the better chance they have of landing with an audience already hungry for the title.
That’s why I’m telling you about Tobin’s Tale, so you can get excited too. But what else is out there right now?
I’ve pulled together some upcoming titles you may want to champion. Their twitter accounts and website links are listed so you can check them out, and I’ll be sharing more details on these games in the future.
Tails of Iron
Tails of Iron is an Adventure RPG-lite game set in a charmingly dark world. Playing as Redgi the Rat, you are the heir to the throne when the Iron Frog raids your kingdom. Players face a challenging quest full of tactical and stunning encounters in order to rebuild the Rat Kingdom.
The combat in this game looks brutal. Put aside the fact you’re controlling a rat – this furry king-in-waiting knows how to wield a sword (amongst other things) and you’ll soon be decapitating stag beetles and gutting frogs in this Redwall meets Game of Thrones side-scroller.
Release Date: TBC
Lost in Play
Lost in Play sees you lead a brother and sister on their journey back home having lost their way in an imaginary world. On their quest they’ll meet a horned beast, a giant stork, magical seaweed, friendly frogs, travelling goblins and more.
The game is delivered through a beautiful cartoon visual that befits the youthful protagonists. Only snippets of gameplay have been shared so far. In one clip a helpful frog distracts an angry bear. This allows you to poke your head into a tree stump and play a quick game of draughts with an impish spirit. It’s zany and looks like it will be a game full of laughs and surprises.
Platforms: Windows, Switch, Google Play, Apple App Store
Release Date: TBC
If you’re a little prudish prepare to blush as you lead Bowner, the demon, and Nugget, his captive cherub sidekick on a quest to gather the disgusting ingredients you need for Satan’s birthday pie.
It may look cute but Hell Pie doesn’t pull its comedy punches and you’ll find yourself in locations like the jungle sex plant disco – complete with phallic and yonic mushrooms all gyrating for your entertainment.
The developers describe it as being full of ‘violence, illicit drugs, sodomy and disgusting pie
Gameplay-wise think Banjo-Kazooie – if they both regularly smoked crack. You’ll swing around colourful 3D environments using Nugget as both a tool to get to higher points on the map, and also as a deadly flail to beat back enemies.
It looks fun and if crude humour is your thing, you’ll definitely get your fix here.
Platforms: Windows, Switch
Release Date: End of 2020
The Wild at Heart
In this beautiful adventure game set in a mysterious hidden realm, two precocious kids learn to control Spritelings (think Pikmin). Use them to break stuff, collect loot, fight enemies, build new paths, and more. You’ll do all this while wearing your trusty vacuum, the Gutbuster.
From the snippets I’ve seen this looks absolutely gorgeous and filled with interesting characters to interact with. Looking forward to seeing more about the control systems and general gameplay, but early impressions look very promising.
Platforms: Windows, Xbox One
Release Date: 2021
And that rounds up this spotlight on indie games. Special thanks go to Temmy for taking the time to chat to me and for being so open about Tobin’s Tale.
Are you also excited about these games? What titles should BG4GHub have on our radar? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
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