“Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.” – Edgar Degas
Indiepocalypse is a monthly bundle-zine by PIZZAPRANKS; on the first Friday of every month 10 games and a PDF zine complete with comics, mini-zines, puzzles and more are made available on itch and Patreon for just $15.00. (You can find much more information about the project in our earlier piece ‘Indiepocalypse: Monthly Indie Game bundle and Zine‘).
This review looks at the 11th, 12th and 13th issues of Indiepocalypse and highlights a few top picks from each month. You can also read about our favourite titles from issues #2-4, issues #5-7 and issues #8-10!
Top Picks from Indiepocalypse Issue #11
(Try to) Dress Up
(Try to) Dress Up has players trying to please their conservative parents with the way they dress in order to be allowed out to see friends. It is a semi-autobiographical game based on the developer, Nivetha Kannan’s experience growing up in rural India where social expectation meant her clothing choices were highly censored by her mom and dad.
The game has an adorable comic-book aesthetic with cartoon-style linework, a cute protagonist and a minimal colour palette outside of the wardrobe! Style choices include a range of different makeup, clothes and accessories, many of which will trigger cries of impropriety from the parents and demands that the player changes. It is an exercise in enforced people-pleasing and provides a glimpse of the exasperation that comes with trying to meet somebody else’s standards.
(Try to) Dress up is a brief but eye opening experience and an insightful addition to this issue of Indiepocalypse.
When a guest checks into Hotel Paradise they are given a room key and left to wander labyrinthine corridors filled with almost 1000 nearly identical doors in search of their room number! There is not a maid or porter in sight! It has a clean, 3D aesthetic and the upbeat elevator music that make up its soundtrack really help bring the environment to life.
The process of finding the correct room is a curious mix of relaxing and infuriating, with illogically ordered corridors adding an element of challenge. Upon finding the correct room, players enter and are greeted with a totally unique procedurally generated room and are given a new secret about the game. This means that despite the simple premise there is intrigue and replayability.
Hotel Paradise is an understated experience that is far more gripping than its premise implies and I found myself having several one last go’s before feeling satiated!
Top Picks from Indiepocalypse Issue #12
Meta Form is a surreal point-and-click game that utilises wordplay and word combination as its primary mechanic. This is well implemented, and integrated into the rest of the game’s descriptive text and dialogue and feels in keeping with the overall style of Meta Form. It explores a range of themes, from isolation, confinement and existential dread in subtle ways that tie into the overall narrative, abstract as it is.
The gentle melancholy piano music is a great fit for the game and sits perfectly next to the dreamlike 2D artwork which uses soft but detailed linework and cleverly emotive colour palettes. Overall, Meta Form is a unique and ponderous game that is sure to stir up a bunch of feels!
10 Mississippi is a game about the daily routine that loops indefinitely to really emphasise the repetition inherent in our daily grinds. It is a series of somewhat mundane, interstitial moments, from shaving, to perusing the fridge to reaching out to an old friend, all combined to create an experience rife with uncomfortable intimacy. The little details revealed throughout really help to give a sense of who the character is, their lifestyle and their situation.
The game has a distinctly original feel to it with stop motion visuals and unusual, changing controls that utilise almost the whole keyboard. It is an insightful, poignant and sometimes awkward look at daily life that is well worth a play. A stand out addition to this issue of Indiepocalypse!
Top Picks from Indiepocalypse Issue #13
Flowers for You
Flowers for You is a visual novel centred around ‘flower day’, a day on which it is traditional to give flowers to a crush or loved one. It has a cute, colourful cartoon art style, endearing characters and a jovial, upbeat soundtrack.
Flowers for You has a somewhat linear story but there are a few choices to be made. These are impactful and will help decide which of the multiple endings the player reaches. It is essentially a love story told from the point of view of someone who has been burned by flower day before adding an element of tension to the story. It is well written, with nice narrative design for such a short game and an upbeat and fun experience overall. A great addition to this issue of Indiepocalypse.
Cairn is a ruminant poem and short game in which players go on a ritual pilgrimage with their mother. It is a somewhat abstract and emotive experience with the tangible story being infused with a meta-narrative about the mental state of the protagonist.
The art style consists of low-res blocky pixel art in pinks and yellows that are used with varying degrees of brightness and vibrancy, further adding to the abstract feel of the game. The music is a calming and well-fitting mix of wooden instruments and chimes over a theremin that really helps tie the poetry, story and aesthetic together.
Cairn is a short and unusual experience, ponderous and relaxing and a lovely addition to Indiepocalypse #13!
Indiepocalypse provides a diverse range of games each month for a variety of platforms, and while this means that it’s unlikely a buyer will like everything, it provides a well-rounded overview of indie and solo game development and there is almost always, something for everyone. Additionally, as a lot of the games included are available free or on a ‘name your own price’ basis, purchasing the bundle-zine is a great way to support the developers as well as the writers, comic and cover artists, puzzle-makers and curators that contribute to its production.
The above selection is a list of just 6 of my personal favourites from over 30 games distributed with issues #11, #12 and #13 so I’d definitely recommend taking a closer look at each bundle-zine and deciding which ones you like best!
If you’d like to know more about Indiepocalypse, why not check out this interview with the zine’s creator, Pizza Pranks?
Indie Game Industry: Interview with Indiepocalypse Creator ‘Pizza Pranks’