Whether it be movies, video games, books, or TV shows, many people will agree that it is difficult to come up with or find new stories. Many recent live-action and animated movies have been remakes and relaunches of old movies, stories, or myths. Not that it’s wrong; it’s obviously profitable and we enjoy them.
Independent video game developers know this just as well. It seems to be that developers are starting to focus not on creating new stories from scratch, but to take existing successful stories or formulas and make creative changes to the details, meanings, implications, morals, and visuals.
A game where 70s, 80s, and 90s, pop culture and ancient German mythology come together. Image from here.
Lichtspeer is an indie game that released on Steam today. The German developer Bart Pieczonka from Lichthund wanted to make a traditional arcade game. Easy to play, difficult to master, and had no point to it but to have fun.
The base story that is used in this game is that the LichtGods are bored so they command a mortal to fight for their amusement. We’ve heard of that premise before. Some of us are also familiar with the visuals of pixels, basic shapes, and sharp edges. However, the meaning and details of the game are what give it that indie game vibe.
In a post from IndieGames.com, the developer grew up in the 90s in post-communist Poland. As a result, he grew up watching movies and shows such as Star Wars. The game reflects his childhood as the game’s enemies are a culture clash of western pop culture and Germanic mythology. In addition to his intentions of just making a fun game, Lichtspeer is defiantly style over story.
More about Lichtspeer here.
Stories are broken and you decide how they are retold. Image from totemteller.com.
This game is announced to come in 2017. It’s an open world game where stories are destroyed and you choose how to retell them.
As with some other indie developers, they have given us just enough information about the game to get us hooked and the rest is a mystery. Without knowing anything about the story, the visuals and animation alone is enough to turn heads.
Take a look for yourself at their website.
A physiological horror game from inside a child’s mind. Image from here.
Fran Bow was developed by Killmonday by two Swedish people armed with creativity. It’s a point-and-click psychological horror game with, literally, many layers to it.
The base story is about an recently orphaned girl who left her mental hospital to find her lost cat. Killmonday took this premise and used it to explore sensitive topics and question what reality really is. They also use an art style similar to a children’s book. Every small detail adds to the environment and helps tell the story.
The game has been long released, but the game’s description on the website leaves Fran Bow just as mysterious as Totem Teller.
You are the only one who can save the forest and its beauty. Image from here.
As a final example, you can nearly forget that Ori and the Blind Forest is a platform game because of its amazing visuals. It also has a basic story at its core: the forest is dying and our hero has to collect powerful elements to restore it. But after 4 years, Moon Studios has created “…memorable characters in an atmospheric world and… a story that players will truly care about, ” as they say.
Read more from the official website.
So what is the trend that these games are following? Making the player question what they know. Show the player something they’ve never seen before. Take stories they have heard before and change them beyond recognition. The basic stories behind all of these games have been told before and you likely didn’t realize it. It’s a good trend for developers to follow and one players can appreciate.