It’s been a fortnight, the 22nd volume of Indie Insights, and it’s time for games. The Game Awards is fast approaching with its litany of big hitters vying for the title of Game of The Year. The ceremony is also courting controversy, as it often does, regarding including Dave the Diver in the Best Indie Game. It’s being contested that it doesn’t really qualify for the indie category due to Nexon’s involvement as a publisher.
You may remember Nexon from such controversies as the alleged asset stealing by the Darker and Darker developers and the ensuing lawsuit. This last week also saw fresh controversy when they released a video featuring a misandrist hand gesture. Anyway, I still classify Dave the Diver as an indie, albeit on a larger scale. Feelings on Nexon notwithstanding, it is a great game. I’m sure this won’t end the controversy surrounding it or The Game Awards because it never is, so let’s forget about it and look at the indie games and demos I played this fortnight.
Loddlenaut – Steam
I played the demo for Loddlenaut months ago and have long awaited its full release. Now it’s here, and I am happy to report that the full game is just as charming as the demo, with some quality-of-life improvements to boot. Developer Moon Lagoon has created a cozy, eco-saving adventure that promotes recycling and has adorable little critters to befriend. You play as a nameless Astronaut/deep sea diver on a mission to clean up the ocean planet of Gup-14 after a mega-conglomerate moved in, messed it all up, and shipped out.
A home base has been established for you. Inside it is your funny-faced spaceship, multiple recycling points for different materials, and a crafting station to make upgrades for your trash-collecting gear. Speaking of which, you are equipped with a little multi-functional zap gun that can zap away the goop on the local flora and suck up any floating trash like bottles, cans, and those pesky plastic can connectors. Any trash you collect can be hauled back to your base, put in the appropriate recycling point, and turned into crafting bits you need to upgrade.
As you clean up areas of the map, you will also uncover a little bit of the story surrounding the mega-corp and meet some new friends – Loddles. Loddles are little blobby axolotl-like creatures that are native to the planet. Sometimes, they will need cleaning up. Sometimes, they will need a temporary home until their environment is clean. Take them back to your home base and feed them different native fruits to see how it will change their growth. There are many different types and colors of Loddles, and my personal favorite was a green wing-finned one I named Onion because it looked like a spring onion.
Since the demo, the accuracy and speed of the zap gun have been improved, making it a much smoother experience obliterating goop. As you advance through the game, you’ll learn a few more cleaning mechanics, including a scrubber that looks like Noo-Noo, the vacuum from the Teletubbies. The areas you have previously cleaned will slowly become re-goopified, meaning you could just bob about in the water, endlessly cleaning and chilling out with weird little beasts. It’s a relaxing, charm-filled experience I will be revisiting.
Loddlenaut is out now on Steam.
Spilled – Demo
Continuing the cleanup theme is the demo for Spilled from solo developer Lente. You play as a little boat cleaning up the oil-slicked surface of the pixelated place that you live in. You drive around the area, soaking up spills and rescuing animals. There’s also floating trash you must scoop up and push to the recycling platform. Once your tank is full, you stop at the recycling platform to empty your tank and get coins. Exchange the coins you earn for upgrades to your speed, scooper size, or oil tank so that you can collect more before stopping off.
The demo is a very short 15-20 minute experience but a great proof of concept and introduction to the game mechanics. The boat controls a bit like a bumper car, but considering smashing into things does no damage, that isn’t a huge issue. The pixel art is nostalgic, and the soundtrack is very mellow and pleasant to zoom around the water too.
I’m looking forward to seeing what a full game could hold.
The Spilled demo is available now on Steam.
Bug & Seek – Demo
Let’s keep this nature train rolling with the demo for Bug & Seek from So Peculiar. Welcome to the town of Buggburg, where you have just bought the abandoned bug museum, The Insectarium. You’re basically Blathers from Animal Crossing, but you like bugs. Unfortunately, The Insectarium is currently empty and consists of one small room, thanks to the perpetrator of the Great Bug Heist! Yes, not only are you collecting bugs, building up your museum, and completing quests for the locals, but there’s a gosh dang bug-based mystery to solve!
Each day, you can interact with plant life and man-made structures to encourage bugs to flee their hiding places so that you can capture them and display them for the world to see. First, you’ll have to sell a load and complete jobs for people around town so that you can afford display cases and furnishings for The Insectarium. Different bugs appear at different times of day, and you can rest at local landmarks to advance time if you have jobs that require gathering bugs that come out at night.
You can buy and sell things at the Trading Post, which is where you also pick up jobs. Talking to the townspeople will also get you quests and clues about the perpetrator of the Great Bug Heist. You even jot down clues in your notebook. Right now, the area open to play is small but enough to get me extremely invested in who stole all the bugs and why. The best thing? This game comes out in less than a week from publication. I’m getting it and bringing the Bug Burglar to justice!
Bug & Seek comes to Steam on December 6.
- RPG adventure Born of Bread stars a golem made of bread and comes to PC, PS5, Nintendo Switch, and Xbox Series X on December 5.
- Bug hunting mystery solver Bug & Seek comes to PC on December 6.
- Narrative space opera A Long Journey to an Uncertain End makes its way to Nintendo Switch on December 5.
- Originally released in 2018 for PC, yokai-filled platformer Rising Dusk finally comes to consoles. It will be released on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, and Nintendo Switch on December 13.
- House Flipper 2 comes to PC on December 14.
- River Tails: Stronger Together leaves early access on PC on December 14.
- Base building card management game Honey Fury comes to PC on December 15.
- Dinosaur-themed cooking game Manitas Kitchen comes to Steam on December 15.