Game Reviews – Indie Round-Up
Life Is Strange
PS4 • XB1 • PC
Life Is Strange is a choose-your-own-adventure style game in a similar format to the Telltale Games Walking Dead episodic series. It came out in five episodes over the course of 2015 and is now available as a boxed set for your complete digestion.
You take the role of 12th grade student Max Caulfield at a point where she is manifesting time manipulation powers and coming to terms with controlling them. These eventually give you the option of reviewing the choices you make as far as responding to key moments in the story, be they character interactions, puzzle elements or movement in the game world and each choice will have a lasting effect on the narrative going forward.
The atmosphere throughout the series is lush, but often awkwardly written dialogue produces a few odd moments. The time manipulation component is a fresh addition to the interactive narrative style, and allows an exploration of cause and effect that games typically can’t manage and deals with a range of themes that games usually don’t or can’t tackle.
It’s a slow burn and not exactly the most action packed game going, so for that reason it’s probably better to look at this one as an alternative to starting a new TV series than starting a new game. Either way it’s a refreshing take on the style that’s definitely worth a look.
PS4 • PC • iOS (soon)
Indie game fans might remember the 2008 breakout hit Braid. It was a Mario-style platformer that gave you the ability to manipulate the passage of time in order to figure out and complete each level on your way to a pretty crazy climax that we won’t ruin here.
The creator of Braid is back in full and super colourful 3D here in the The Witness. It’s a puzzle game in many layers. Most every interaction is through maze puzzles that wouldn’t be out of place as single screens on a mobile game. Fans of ’90s PC relic Myst will know what’s up here but those new to the setting can expect an abandoned island networked with nondescript puzzle panels ready to be figured out. There’s no signage or hand holding, you’re presented with the simple maze mechanic and as the game progresses it’s up to you and your grey matter to suss it all out.
While there’s very little action, those “eureka” moments are what keep the game so compelling. It will seem lifeless and weird at first but this game is a real curveball, especially as a first person game without any weapons. If you’re prepared to use your noodle and plow through without playguides doing the puzzles for you it’s a lot of eerie fun.
iOS • Android
Adult Swim Games
If you’re not a Rick and Morty fan, there’s not going to be a lot for you here. So we’ll wait while you go and find a totally legitimate way to watch the first two seasons.
Now that you’re a huge fan of the show, you should grab the free-to-play tie-in game, Pocket Mortys. You play Rick, of course. The council of Ricks is out for him again and has taken custody of his portal gun and the only way to get it back is to best the councillors in the galaxy’s hottest pastime, collecting and battling Mortys.
A deep list of scissors, paper and rock type parallel Mortys are available to catch and train so that you can battle other Morty Trainers and trainer-Ricks to become the best Morty trainer around. And if all this is sounding exactly like Pokémon, that’s because it is. Just without all of that less-hilarious Pokémon universe.
The freemium component is happily tucked into one ticket machine mechanic that mostly just bypasses some of the grind, but is easily ignored for most players. Pokémon fans will be incensed with the level of ripoff going on here, Rick and Morty fans will be stoked with the amount of fan service packed into the game, and fans of both will miss their stop every trip due to close fought Morty battles. What a great sentence to be able to write. What a time to be alive.