Every week, Fanbase Press Contributor Phillip Kelly plays and reviews a handful of brand new independent video games, all costing no more than $25. Why? There are a lot of indie games out there, and if he can help you, curious reader, to parse through the selection with even a little more knowledge, then, by god, he’ll die content.
Note: The price tags listed are at time of purchase which may have been during a limited sale.
The Great Perhaps
I like to scrub my mind of expectations before partaking in a piece of entertainment or art, but the trailer for The Great Perhaps came with a lot of praise behind it, so it was difficult not to come to it without a raised bar that it had to meet.
It starts off great. The story that is set up is atmospheric and full of melancholy. In a sort of Red Dwarf scenario, you are an astronaut and, while orbiting Earth, something terrible happens on the surface. You go into a hyper sleep and wake up a great deal later with an Earth that is devastated. You upload your trusty AI into your suit and make your way down to the planet to discover what happened. You immediately find a device that shotputs you for brief times into the past. Now to move along through the game, you must go back and forth in time.
I almost quit out of impatience. It might have been because I’ve been sick for the last couple of weeks and the weariness still affects me, but there are some elements in the game that I found bothersome. You can only hold one item at a time, so there’s a lot of going back and forth. Sometimes, you can’t tell what you’re picking up, so it’s impossible to know exactly what to do with it. I found myself in a hospital, with someone asking me to take them to the 11th Ward. I literally had no idea where the 11th ward is, and I had no idea what the item I had was. There was a locked door and a key that I didn’t know how to get to. The next step was not clear to me at all. I went back to it today, and there was only one spot that had a flashing point, so I threw the one item I had. I guess it worked, because I just sort of stumbled my way through the next few moments until I got to where I needed to be. It required no thought on my end, just put the thing that’s blinking where the other thing that’s blinking is.
Final word: Once I made it through this moment of what felt like unending frustration (I still don’t know what I was supposed to do with the guy that wanted to go to the 11th Ward.), something happened within the game. It started focusing on little moments, human moments that you could affect and change the outcome of. Moments of sadness and fear. Very human moments, coupled with your astronaut facing his own humanity and mortality, and I realized, I think I like this game. For $10, it is especially worth it.
The look and design of the game is extremely cool. I really dug the music. Once you get used to those first couple of speed bumps, it becomes a unique and enjoyable experience.
Price at Time of Purchase: $6.99
Initial Release Date: August 14, 2019
Developer: Caligari Games
Genre: Adventure game
Publishers: Daedalic Entertainment, Drageus Games S.A.
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows, Linux, macOS, Classic Mac OS
Elden: Path of the Forgotten
I didn’t play a lot of SEGA Genesis, but there was one fantasy game that I played and loved and have never been able to remember what it is. Basically, if I remember right, you are a cleric and it’s an open world, so you head in one direction and there’s green as far as the eye can see. You find temples and are mini-dragons. It was essentially the ’90s version of Breath of the Wild.
Elden: Path of the Forgotten reminds me of this forgotten game. The graphics are what Picasso might have drawn in his cubism period – some beautifully lit and rendered pixel art. The sound effects are aggressive at times, so turn down the volume; the crackling of fire falls just short of nails being drawn down a chalkboard. The music is really atmospheric and is the first thing that draws you. Otherwise, you’re given very little context as to why you’re setting out, what the goal is, how the world works, why a bird friend is following you, or what you’re fighting for or against. If you die, you go all the way back to the last save…but I didn’t even know what a save point looked like at first. Heck, any text you’re showing is in a language that is indecipherable. You just kind of go and hope to make sense of it. If you’ve ever played a video game, you ultimately will. Instructions? Who needs’em!
There are so many things about this that made me impatient at first. I asked myself multiple times before I started settling into an experience from bygone eras: Can we bring back retro-style games and leave behind the retro elements that haven’t aged well? But something happens once you start finding your way…
Final word: I was enjoying myself, just as I had with that old SEGA game. As I went, I was discovering how everything worked. The bird? Oh, it DOES have a purpose. It’s combat heavy, but you have different meters that start to run low if you don’t give them time to replenish. I’m still figuring out the combat and magic system. It might be that this is a game for a select audience. If you want that full ’90s experience from top to bottom, this is it. It almost plays like a re-release of a game from that era, so if that’s what they were going for, they nailed it and they did it by fully embracing all the good and charmingly awkward elements from those games. Purchasing and playing this game (and I’ll continue to play) is fulfilling the need of a long-lost memory. A good one and adding to it.
Price at Time of Purchase: $15.99
Initial Release Date: 2019
Publisher: Another Indie
Developer: Onerat Pty Ltd
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows