BENGALURU: Quoting myself from a previous article, “Indie games will be but a ripple in the ocean of competitive online-multiplayer games”. But really, I want to reverse this dreadful reality. Independent developers should drive mainstream videogames, because I am tired of seeing screenshots of PUBG and Fortnite wins on the internet (amidst my own). So, I ventured into itch.io — a hallowed ground for the weirdest of game ideas; a perfectly competitive gaming market with no entry barriers (but still highly differentiated games). And here’s a short review of three random games from itch.io’s free-to-play list, that may persuade you to stop playing FIFA or DoTA for a short few minutes.
‘Yet Another Exhausted Day’ made me giggle quite a bit. The protagonist is woken up by a persistent knocking on the door and must pass through several rooms in a sleepy stupor, crawling/swimming on the floor and never getting on his feet. We get to maneuver him through the maze of pillows piled in each room, inching closer and closer towards the sound of the knocking. Going close to a pillow would mean he immediately flips over and starts snoring again.
‘Nightkeep’ was a pleasant surprise — it was reliving the sneaky days of emulators, only this time, the SNES-type platformer is meant to be played on the PC. Like other games of that era, this one has an original fantasy story, interesting background music and a lot of text-dialogues interrupting the gameplay.
I once read about a cultivator in a first-world country who played a farming simulator while his tractor was on auto-pilot. I suppose ‘Rusty’s Rail’ would be the train driver’s equivalent of the same. The game has put in minimal effort in pictorial diversity (there’s just a train and a repetitive background, all in black-and-white), but credit is due to the imaginative commentary on the train’s progress. I wouldn’t call it so much a game as much as a mildly participative short story. Overall, itch.io gives us exactly what we’d expect from a platform that discriminates no game and no developer — the unexpected (and the mediocre, and at most times, crazy videogame ideas).