Indie Game Round-Up

Cleaned out by the Steam sale? Our writers had a look at a few indie games you can pick up for cheap or free. Check them out.


Dinner Date

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Joseph Brennan

Before you begin, Dinner Date lets you know that you do not play main character Julian Luxembourg. Instead, you play his subconscious while he waits for his date to arrive. Looking through his eyes and listening to his thoughts, the player gets to know Julian, who comes to realise that he has been stood up.

The writing and voice acting can be patchy, but the game does an admirable job of making Julian human. Frequently see-sawing between despondency and bitterness, Julian reflects on his fears of ageing, about being stuck in a rut, and dying alone. Meanwhile, the sound of the kitchen clock gradually amplifies these feelings with each merciless tick.

Some have criticised Dinner Date for not giving the player much control over Julian’s actions, arguing that it barely qualifies as a game. The player can only make Julian perform unconscious actions, like glancing at the camera, or taking a bite of bread. However, the purpose of the gameplay is not to give the player agency over Julian, but to enter his emotional state. The actions have no effect on the situation, and are only performed for their own sake, similar to how a nervous guest at a party might sip their drink every few moments.

Through its exploration of the player-character relationship, as well as its use of gameplay to inhabit, rather than elicit feeling, Dinner Date is an intriguing experiment that’s well worth playing.

Available from: Steam

Oh…Sir!

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Sian Bradley

Insulting your closest friends seems to be a mandatory part of life and now it can be done in the virtual world too. Although Oh… Sir! can only be played using local multiplayer, it’s still a great few minutes of entertainment.

The game is played by taking turns choosing phrases from the shared board or your personal collection to create the best insult you possibly can. Don’t expect anything that makes a great
deal of sense though, as the majority of the time you’ll be talking about how your friend’s dad is a dead dog and has never seen Star Wars… mate!

A score is then calculated (though how that works we’ll never know) and the winner is the person who empties the others’ life bar. It’s like Street Fighter if you were stood in a British pub, and similarly would be a lot more entertaining after a few drinks.

Available from: Steam

5 Days

5 Days

James Pettegrow

5 Days takes the interactive story-telling and text-based adventure genres and makes from them a highly personal experience.

Most text-based adventure games have a choose-your-own adventure style which tends to lead to more fictional settings than otherwise. 5 Days is the opposite, and the story is something that can easily affect the audience in the same way it affects its characters.

The overwhelming emotion throughout the game’s titular five days is despondence. The game is depressing to such a degree because the story is so relatable to many people. It explores themes of death and grief as you play through the five days leading up to your best friend’s funeral.

The decisions in the beginning of the story feel truly like your own. Slowly, however, the plot is driven in a certain direction and the control is taken away. Although by the end of it you’ll feel like you’ve been reading a book rather than writing one, fans can look at this title as the potential origin point for more immersive adventures.

Available from: Gamejolt

Salmon Claus: Rooftop Rescue

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Jack Denisov

Salmon Claus Rooftop Rescue is a simple free indie platformer created by Neon Deity Games. In the spirit of Christmas, you play as Salmon Claus chasing after Santa to pick up the presents that keep spilling out of Santa’s ripped bag.

But why is he even called Salmon Claus? How did he commandeer Santa’s sleigh in order to make his rooftop rescue? There are so many questions, but this game isn’t about details. It’s about saving Christmas, dammit.

The simple controls of the game let you hop into it straight away. You either jump over chimneys and from roof to roof, or stoop under flying ducks. Collect as many presents as you can, but hit something and it’s game over.

The music is very festive and fits the holiday mood. It’s joined by an art style that is at once colourful, pixelated and gives the game a certain charm. While repetitive, this game is a decent way to kill five minutes.

Available from: Gamejolt

Want to read more indie reviews? These and far more in this month’s issue of Cubed Magazine – out now.

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