Indie Insights Vol. 5 – Cute Creatures and Colony Capers

Spring is in the air, and it’s that time again. That’s right; it’s time for another Indie Insights, my fortnightly (say it with me, “not that one!”) column about indie games and demos I have played.

As always, it’s been an interesting few weeks in the world of video games. First, horror film-producing powerhouse/farm Blumhouse Pictures recently announced its intentions to add a video game studio to its operations. They swiftly followed that up with news that a Dead by Daylight movie adaptation was coming from them.

In smaller studio news, Yogscast games, which both publish and develop games, held a direct event on Twitch announcing a few of their upcoming games. Several of these games have play tests available on Steam right now. I’ve managed to carve out time to play one of the games they announced this week.

We’re a bit light on what I played this fortnight, but let’s get right to it. 

Harmony’s Odyssey

Harmonys Odyssey diorama style puzzle
Photo Credit: Mythic Owl

From developers Mythic Owl, Harmony’s Odyssey is a genuinely delightful and adorable puzzle game. Harmony is a wee witch living in a world that is a mashup of myth and modern day. The city is filled with eccentric mythical creatures. A Hawaiian shirt-wearing Cerberus has a barbecue, Dragonmice are scampering around causing mischief, and a football game featuring Minotaurs and Centaurs is presided over by a penguin and a goat commentating from a hot air balloon.

As for gameplay, you basically solve a variety of different puzzles which stand to advance the story. There are tile-swapping games where you put rooms and entire city sections back in order, spot the difference games, logic puzzles, and much more. Each puzzle is a 3D slice of the world that you can rotate and inspect. Some aspects of the scenes are animated; once you complete a puzzle, a short scene will often play out before you move on.

Aesthetically this game is one of the cutest-looking games I have played. It’s colorful, and the character in the world are all adorable. The bats are little blob bats. Dragonmice are big-eared little beasts with the tails of dragons. The Cerberus has three heads, one that has a mohawk, one that’s mad, and one that has the vacant look and lolling tongue of a pug. The puzzles themselves start easy and gradually advance in difficulty but remain doable. Younger players may struggle with some of the larger interactive dioramas, but that’s what easy mode is for. For those who want more challenge, there’s a hard mode. I played on regular old standard difficulty and found it consistently enjoyable and not overly easy.

The world that Harmony inhabits is the real triumph. I would happily play a full adventure game set in this world with quests and dialogue. However, I think the extent of the detail and character creation here allows for that. Mythic Owl didn’t have to go so hard with the background character design and personality, but they did, and I applaud them for it.

Overall, I highly recommend joining Harmony on her puzzle odyssey, and if you do, make sure to really look at the world around the puzzles.

Time to Morp

Time to Morp
Photo Credit: Yogscast Games

From Team HalfBeard and Yogscast Games publishing comes colony sim Time to Morp. As well as the ever-enticing lure of building a colony and making things work, there are also WEIRD LITTLE GUYS. Morps are creatures you can collect that will aid you in your mission, and each has different abilities that you can utilize in building and automating your colony. By feeding Morps a resource, they will change into a different kind of Morp. The baseline creature is a plain old white Morp, and any Morp can be returned to its base form by feeding it a white fruit.

There are various resources to find and feed to the Morps, and in turn, they will produce different resources. Discovering different plants, ores, and other interesting materials will help you advance your research and learn to create new and useful machines such as stoves, pumps, and extractors. Time to Morp is in the very early stages of development, with feedback collected from playtesters on Steam. The devs have already implemented some updates based on feedback and continue to work on improvements. While the game is currently quite bare-bones, the fact that I kept going back to it is a testament to the kind of game it is and hopefully has the potential to become.

Upcoming Releases:

  • Iris and The Giant is a roguelike card-collecting game that has been out for a while on PC but makes its way to consoles today, March 3, 2023. Look for a full review coming in the next week.
  • Dead Cells: Return to Castlevania may not be a full game, but it is a mashup of Dead Cells and Castlevania and therefore going on this list. The DLC releases for Nintendo Switch, PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Series X on March 6, 2023.
  • Sticking to a similar theme, dating sim Castlevania-like Romacelvania is releasing on March 7, 2023, for PC, PS5, and Xbox Series X.
  • Figment 2: Creed Valley, the sequel to the original action-adventure game, is released on March 9, 2023, on PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox Series X, and Nintendo Switch.
  • Choose your own adventure visual novel The Wreck comes out on March 14, 2023, for PC, PS4, and PS5.
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Written by Emma Oakman

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