Shorter Indie Games Are Becoming More Appealing Than AAA

Journey

Gaming’s just for fun, right? But with the limited amount of time we have and budgets spiraling out of control with huge open worlds, it’s becoming more of a checklist than an engrossing gameplay experience. Take Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey. It’s 40 hour or so campaign and huge world is daunting, but a small indie that you can play in one sitting has a beginning, middle, and an end in a satisfying manner. Shorter indie games are one, solid experience without side missions up the ying yang.

Journey takes you on an emotional adventure from the beginnings of life to the end through beautiful landscapes and fascinating 1-to-1 interactions with a stranger. It’s about a three hour experience that takes you through all the emotions with body language and environmental storytelling. For example, the rich and yellow deserts weave as you bound and surf on the sand, engrossing you in a child-like sense of wonder, and the cold chilling embrace of death surrounds you as you reach the mountain; this is all complimented with a wonderful soundtrack by Austin Wintory. And as you go on, you will say goodbye to friends you meet through the online functionality or stay with them until the very end. There’s no voice acting, no side missions, no big budget action, just a journeyman reaching to the top of the mountain, and it left me balling my eyes out.

What Remains of Edith Finch is another short indie title that is able to tell an impactful story within a short playthrough. It grips with the powerful theme of death and how it is handled within a family. It tells us that life is thin, and that we should enjoy what we spend of it. The game is imaginative and manages to surprise you at every turn as it flips the style of gameplay and tone constantly. Each part revolves around a certain family member whose life is cut short. While morbid in nature, What Remains of Edith Finch is a fascinating blend of gameplay and storytelling that you can’t do in other mediums. I don’t want to spoil it for you, but you should check this one out.

And that’s the main hook for me. It’s so easy to check out these games because of the lack of time commitment needed. It’s not a Final Fantasy, or an Assassin’s Creed, or a live service game like Destiny or Diablo; these indie games are a short experience you can divulge into for a few hours and you can get a lot out of, in terms of storytelling or an emotional impact. There’s no distractions or open worlds to trudge through; it’s you and the storytelling.

A few others I would recommend are Firewatch, Coffee Talk, The Park, Celeste, Florence, and so much more. AAA games are incredibly fun, but like a full-time job, it’s nice to take a break every once in a while and have a breather from the checklist-nature of these huge titles. Unlike previous generations, we now have a choice.

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