Hey folks! Welcome to the 2nd edition of The Indie Buzz, a Charlotte-based collaborative bi-weekly set of reviews, with games chosen in part by Potions & Pixels and reviewed by us at RF20XX!
January 2021 for the RF20XX was made about exploring Indie titles, both off the itch.io titles suggested and with games previously bought, only to gather dust and never see the light of gameplay till recently. What this month has brought more to our attention is the amount of varied experiences not taken outside of many of the games that are heavily advertised, either on main-stream game sites or in the gaming magazines that still exist today. You’d think that’d be obvious with what we do week-to-week with talking about local-to-regional music, but even still, with the same type of thoughts in mind, giving titles like these a fair shake is a cool way to see what might be around the bend for these young groups of developers.
This week, it’s a 3-part flavoring of games between the mystery-hunting Conspiracy, the really quick Strategic Shooter Tactical Crisis, and the cute but incredibly deep My Hidden Things! Click each of the titles to check the games out on their sites, and see if you can imagine the same view of the future as us!
In the many ways the world might seem off, or wrong, often we as a people wonder why certain events occur and how bad things happen. Some of us take those questions a step further, looking for the clues in our own lives and that of the things we see, drawing lines to link what is most particular into its own narrative, like Charley from It’s Always Sunny. Conspiracy, a puzzle game by Tim Sheinman (Owl_Skip), simulates how one might be drawn deep into finding the “truth” at the heart of the Deep State by way of newspapers, audio, and crafting what if’s for an audience that might not understand this phenomenon.
Roughly playing at 2-to-3 hours, it’s easy to get stumped early on, but eventually as players move through the puzzles, picking up the “process” becomes much smoother. Even with access to the audio and newspaper clips, certain events will also need to be searched outside the game. For instance, in one of the first of 4 event sets, not enough detail was given about geese suddenly falling out of the air, so we had to use Google in order to see the exact date in order to link it in the “correct” chain of events.
While confusing as to how a person could jump to such conclusions, in this detective game, you may find yourself dazzled by the experience, and with this tool in hand, Sheinman shows the enticement of his subject matter smartly and almost has us asking if it’s this easy to be caught up in The Matrix.
Homages to iconic game franchises have always been in style. No matter what arcade you’ve been to in your life, you’re bound to have come across Time Crisis, the light gun rail-shooter which poses you as a pair of agents faced with taking down threats around the world. Few iterations of the game have appeared outside the cabinets, and maybe that’s part of the inspiration behind this very quick take, turning the series into a top-down strategic experience with 3D segments. Creator Tom Elliot might call this change-up a “Tactical Crisis” to manage.
Played purely on the browser and incorporating the Unity Engine, the game gives players a certain amount of steps, positioning themselves to move toward an exit or eliminate combatants with limited ammo provided. The moment an enemy is in view, the game goes right into a FPS-view, putting the pixelated enemies in the face of our heroes just long enough to rattle the shots off and clear the floor.
It took us about 7 minutes to clear in between rescuing 2 teammates and going through 9 separate areas, making the Game Jam 2020 title a memorable yet short experience. The inclusion of exploding barrels to make quick work of groups, adding a few layers in providing more than one way to tackle a stage, all the way up to the final fight with a seemingly familiar foe. Take a little time out of your day for this action-tactics title you’re sure to want more of!
What are our dreams for? After our long days in the real world, we go to our homes to rest, think on the things we’ve experienced, and wander off to sleep. This is a place where our memories meet the fantastical, intermixing realities into something new and episodic each night. What if those places between were an area to sort out issues? Six Dots queries this as players take on the role of Xary, the dream keeper, in order to help guide a variety of people through their challenges in life, featuring a format both visual novel and hidden object adventure.
For a cute-looking game, the stories intertwined within each scenario are often dealing with harsh realities, some of which reach beyond into situations not often experienced in this format. Through gameplay mechanics in spotting and putting together the hidden objects, dressed up to look like a design straight out of a Highlights book, players will go from helping a child through experiencing a parent in the hospital, to getting a girl out of a domestic abuse situation, and even putting on the role of a in-patient with dementia.
There is something amazing about making such heavy topics not only accessible to all audiences, but crafting a narrative that through the moving stories could also serve to explain the darker tones with a light touch. In the 2-to-3 hours it takes to complete the entire journey, It’s easy to come away from the multiple stories of love, tragedy, and challenge more refreshed and introspective, as if waking to the morning light from a good night’s dreams.
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