Editorial

Indie Roundup 3.20 – Need to Know, Hiraeth, Purgatory: Echoes from the Void, and Fringe Theory

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Happy spring, single players! We’re back with yet another Indie Roundup this week with four great titles for you to keep your eyes on.

As I find projects to focus on for the Indie Roundup, I feel like they become a little more monotonous. Not that I feature boring or somehow-uninteresting games, but I feel like there’s definitely a glut of a certain type of game – usually rogue-likes of some sort – in indie gaming. Not that there’s anything wrong with this type of game, but sometimes it can seem like there’s nothing unique under the sun.

Well this week, I’ve gone out of my way to bring you a few unique projects that are unlike the things that are usually featured in the Indie Roundup. So, without further ado, I give you: Need to Know, a spiritual successor to the surprise smash-hit Papers Please; The unique spectacle platformer, Hiraeth; Purgatory: Echoes from the Void, an RPG/puzzle/platformer that hearkens back, both aesthetically and mechanically, to games from the 90’s; and Fringe Theory, a different kind of war game.

Need to Know (Monomyth Games)

Website/Twitter/Facebook

Reaching almost 500% of its modest Kickstarter goal, Need to Know is a game that follows in the footsteps of the surprise hit Papers Please. Aptly called a “surveillance thriller sim,” in Need to Know you play a cog in the machine that is the “Department of Liberty,” a government agency that is charged with monitoring private citizens’ lives in order to determine whether or not they are threats to the nation.

Hits a little close to home in this day and age, huh? Surprisingly, the game was not developed by a cynical Apple as a jab towards the NSA.

Need to Know emphasises story, and will sculpt the crushing growth of our real-world surveillance society into a meaningful, gripping journey. It critiques the system by passing the uncomfortable (or too comfortable?) mantle of power onto your shoulders, to test which choices you’ll make. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll sweat bullets under the searing blaze of an interrogation lamp.

As you play, your character will “level up” in the form of gaining access to more clearance levels, which grants you access to “cooler (and creepier) powers, classified information, and prestige.” As you gain clearance levels, you’ll be able to get closer and closer to each monitored citizen’s life, eventually even be able to use drone tracking to watch them even more closely. You’ll also be able to build up your own personal reputation and life outside work at the Department of Liberty.

As you play through the game’s campaign, making moral choices over the course of the game, it’ll be up to you to either strengthen the oppressive regime that puts food on your table…or overthrow it altogether.

Hiraeth(Slingshot and Satchel)

Website/Devlog/Twitter/Facebook

If you’re looking for a stylish and interesting platformer, Hiraeth might be a good game to keep your eyes on. Under development by Australian-based Slingshot and Satchel, Hiraeth is described by the team as “Dustforce meets Journey.”

Hiraeth is a minimalist platformer with a heavy emphasis on art, music and tight mechanics. We want to make something that is as much an experience as it is a game. Players run, jump, float and dash their way through the universe to collect scattered shards in defiance of their creator. Restore the world to the way it once was.

The game will be able to be played single player, co-op, or even versus. You’ll utilize special abilities, including the ability to dash, jump, and float, to make it through the beautiful levels of the game, all while contending with a constantly-moving camera (which paces each level based on the music), traps and enemies to create an “unrelenting challenge.”  The game will tell its story through a wordless narrative as you progress through the levels.

Purgatory: Echoes from the Void (Abstract Games)

Website/Twitter

Being developed by a two-man team, Purgatory: Echoes from the Void is billing itself as a heavily story-focused RPG with a retro 90’s aesthetic. The game features a large cast of unique character, each of which has a role to play in the game’s narrative.

Purgatory is set in a series of interconnected realms, occupied by a unique cast of characters. These characters will feature heavily in an intricate story, through which the player will be faced with ethical and philosophical dilemmas and eventually learn the true nature of their surroundings. Purgatory’s story will be compelling and lengthy, involving multiple endings and branching questlines, the conclusions of which are subject to the player’s own choices.

Despite labeling itself as an RPG, Purgatory is promising other genres’ mechanics will play a role as well, including puzzle-solving and even platforming as you progress through each of the various realms of the game’s world, “ranging from the abstract to the hellish.”

Perhaps the most unique is that, according to the developer, you won’t get a “game over” screen in the way you’re used to.

The games does away with traditional fail states, and the player will never be faced with a traditional death or restart, instead the environment, characters and story will evolve dynamically to accommodate the player’s choices.

 

Fringe Theory (Lion Roar)

Website/Twitter

“Our entire focus is completely centered on making a beautiful game that we all enjoy playing,” says Lion Roar, the developer of the game Fringe Theory, a beautiful first-person game that focuses on telling a story about soldiers. But unlike the typical war game we’re used to seeing, Fringe Theory seems to focus on the often-untold consequences of being a soldier. The website, which tells little about the game, displays the following quote from New York Times writer David Brooks:

Insurgents used women and children as shields, and soldiers and Marines feel a totalistic black stain on themselves because of an innocent child’s face, killed in the firefight. The self-condemnation can be crippling.

So chances are this game will definitely not be your ordinary wartime power fantasy.

Lion Roar are creating the game with inspiration from numerous places, both indie and mainstream, and are focusing on delivering a powerful, hard-hitting narrative that “not only hits you hard the first time you play, but keeps you coming back for more.”

Keep an eye on the website above as Fringe Theory is expected to hit Kickstarter “soon.”

 

Reid Gacke
Writer, journalist, teacher, pedant. Reid's done just about anything and everything involving words and now he's hoping to use them for something he's passionate about: video games. He's been gaming since the onset of the NES era and has never looked back.

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