Welcome to another edition of Indie Insights, a fortnightly (not that one) look at indie games, demos, and new releases.
Yes, I will make that Fortnite joke every two weeks until I forget.
It’s been a busy two weeks in the world of indie games, but unfortunately, I spent most of that time playing Hokko Life. In summation, I did not care for it and its petulant residents, but if you want to know more, check out the full review.
We’re well and truly into 2023 now, and as with every new year, it is precisely the same as last year. The last two weeks have seen the supposedly most depressing day of the year come and go. Dubbed Blue Monday, I suspect the focus on it every year perpetuates it. So why mention Blue Monday in an indie game column? Well, because how else do you escape the neverending news cycle? Weird little games filled with strange, fun, and frightening ideas. A colorful or colorless world inhabited by strange creatures or puzzles or simply making your own little fake garden. It’s good to take a break from what’s going on and make pretend for a while.
Now it’s time to look at the short free games and demos I checked out recently!
Demos and Free Games
Video World – Free Game
This short and spooky Halloween-themed experience has you play as a bored video rental store worker who has been left alone to work the night shift and set up the store Halloween party. You must clean up the store, process returns, and help the cursed Jill O’Lantern in the restricted section to free herself. You accomplish this while grooving around the store and setting up the Halloween party.
To blow up balloons, set up lanterns, and place candles, you have to walk around the store while pressing the arrow keys in time to the song that’s playing. The music is catchy, the plot is silly, and the actual rhythm part of the experience isn’t too hard.
That’s great for me, an uncoordinated woman with arthritis.
The game is only around 18 minutes long, but the developer Things for Humans has an upcoming game called A Halloween Valentine that looks like it will expand on this idea. There is no release date yet, but I am keeping my beady eye closely on that one. Video World is available on Steam for free.
Tracks of Thought – Demo
In Tracks of Thought, you play as a cute little ladybug who has just boarded a train that is going nowhere. After a conversation with a kindly old bug couple, it’s time for you to investigate the carriage, meet fellow passengers and find out what the hold-up is. As you wander around, you meet a flustered ticket inspector and a small floor child who desires only electronic devices and floor candy.
In this short taster, you have to help the ticket inspector find her lost scanner, after which the train goes through a tunnel. Everything in the carriage changes slightly from then on, and no one can remember what happened. The carriage is now full of stars, and a new passenger is near the locked door to the next carriage.
To solve the mystery, you must befriend the new passenger and come to a consensus on tackling the weirdness through a turn-based card battle. These battles are about inspiring your “opponent” and creating collaboration with approach, action, and bonus cards.
Tracks of Thought is a personality-based game; outcomes and allies could potentially be different depending on your choices. No concrete release date has been revealed, but the game will soon go live on Backerkit. The demo is available on Steam.
Silt – Demo
This creepy underwater puzzler is reminiscent of a few other gaming experiences I’ve had. It’s reminiscent of Limbo and Inside while also bringing to mind the horrific frog-based nightmare game They Breathe from 2014.
In this atmospheric black-and-white game, you are a deep-sea diver, waking tethered to the ocean floor. Not an ideal situation but have no fear because you can possess the creatures of the deep and have them do your bidding.
To possess other creatures, you must project tendrils of what I assume is your soul out into the world until the white-hot branches of your inner being curl around the closest unsuspecting fishy friend. Once you possess your unwilling helper, you can use them to help you solve puzzles in the environment. Possession also leaves your lank form empty and aimlessly floating like a corpse. Different creatures have different benefits. Some have chompy teeth, and some are good for bashing in obstacles. It’s all about figuring out what to use and when. A visually stunning and genuinely skin-crawling experience, the full game is out now for Nintendo Switch and Steam.
Here’s a sample of what to look for in the next two weeks. We’ll be back in a fortnight on the next edition of Indie Insights!
- A Space for the Unbound – Coming to all major platforms on January 19th.
- Clunky Hero – Coming to all major platforms on January 25th.
- Whalien – Coming to Steam on January 25th.
- The Excavation of Hob’s Barrow – Coming to Nintendo Switch on January 25th.
- Garden In – Coming to Steam on January 26th.
- Rhythm Sprout – Coming to Epic, Steam, and Xbox on February 1st.