Welcome to a brand-new segment on the blog which I’d like to call retr0ials. In these posts, I’ll talk about various topics currently going around the video game industry, and give out my personal thoughts on them. And for my first retr0ial, I felt that it would be necessary to talk about what has possibly become one of the biggest gaming trends in recent years: Indie Games.
(NOTE: I did not make, nor did I draw this picture. The credit goes to Mike Gaboury.)
Twelve years after the release of Cave Story in 2004, the indie game market has slowly but surely become saturated. Many games have come and left their mark, from Shovel Knight to Five Nights at Freddy’s and most recently the critically acclaimed Undertale. All of these games have received massive followings and have been praised for their own respective reasons. Of course, when something becomes widely popular, people will eventually (or quickly, depending on how fast it becomes popular) get sick and tired of it, as evident by videos such as these:
(NOTE: No antagonism, resentment, or hostility is meant towards the creators of these videos. Everyone has their own reasons for disliking something, and that is perfectly acceptable.)
As for what I think…it’s honestly a mixed bag for me. A while back, I said that I “usually love what indie games have to offer”. However, that has changed somewhat. As time progressed, I had begun to notice something: most, if not almost all indie games tend to rely on nostalgic throwbacks. Of course, this is not a bad thing at all: sometimes, it’s nice to see something that harkens back to something that you really enjoyed when you were younger. Games such as the Bit Trip series and Super Meat Boy are great examples of this. But as the old saying goes, “too much of a good thing can be a bad thing”. As of now, the market is being bombarded with games that aim to be “throwbacks” or “tributes” or utilize “8-bit” visuals, with the most common term to be found being “retro”. This is where my personal problem comes in: the misuse of the term “retro”. Now, the term “retro” can be applied to anything that can be considered old-school, not just 8-bit games (yeah, I know that the blog’s name is retr0pia, but we focus on more than just 8-bit games). Unfortunately, because of the oversaturation of these types of games, it’s been associated with nearly every single game that has pixelated graphics.
The “relying solely on nostalgia” issue also ties into another problem: spiritual successors. Now, I am not saying that all spiritual successors are bad. In fact, I’m actually looking forward quite a bit to Yooka-Laylee and Bloodstained, because the people behind those games actually seem passionate and devoted to delivering a game that not only the fans of their previous work can enjoy, but a game that newcomers can enjoy, too. However, when you have games such as Armikrog and Mighty No. 9 (yes, I know that game isn’t out yet, but let’s face it, with all the delays and drama, there’s simply no way it can pull through), there’s the feeling that the developer puts making the game resemble its spiritual predecessor as much as possible first and making the game itself actually worthwhile second. It’s this kind of thinking that makes people believe that indie games have done more harm to the industry than good.
Of course, there are indie games that I do enjoy. As I have said previously, I liked Bit Trip and Super Meat Boy, and although I haven’t played them, I have heard a lot of good things about the Shantae games. What I personally think should happen is that indie developers should focus less on pandering to retro gamers, and instead focus more on original ideas. If they can execute them properly, that is. That’s all I have to say on the matter.
What are your thoughts on indie games? Be sure to post them below in the comment section, and make sure to leave feedback!