Indies for the weekend

2022-09-09 by Callum Andrews

A Wolf in Autumn

This week we have delved into some games that come from a developer that possibly doesn't need an introduction. Now being a somewhat familiar name in the indies FPS circle. He's the person behind the hit FPS Dusk and the newly released Early Access game Gloomwood. We're of course talking about David Szymanski (I would love to know how his last name is pronounced). If you're anything like us you probably believe that Dusk was Mr. Szymanski first game because, like us, that was probably the first time you had heard of him. However, this would be far from the truth as Mr. Szymanski has produced a few games prior. They are the ones that will be covered here and although not as many people have played them as they have played Dusk. We think that all of them deserve the same kind of attention that his more popular games have gotten, maybe even more so.

Let me start by stating that none of the games here will leave you unaffected by them in any way. Maybe one will scare you another one will have you in disbelief and maybe another one will make you sad. This one struck a chord with me maybe more than the others though. I can't say too much since the somewhat shock of who you are playing as will be lost in case I mention anything. The subject matter at hand though is pretty heavy and it will make you sit and think about the situation your protagonist is in and at least for my part feel sorry for them. Usually, we don't think about the actions we make in games, take for example an FPS. You will run around and shoot and obliterate anything in your path without usually questioning why. Here, on the other hand, it's not that you will be questioning your actions, but you will be questioning why you are in the situation you are in and why this is happening to you. The art style looks like something that could have been taken from someone's dream as Mr. Szymanski makes very good use of color and shadowing to make a foreboding atmosphere even though it isn't necessarily dark outside. By the end of it, you will either feel relieved or drained maybe even happy.
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the moon sliver

This one takes place on a remote island. An island that didn't use to be an island, it's just that the surrounding landscape has been flooded to such an extent that it turned the landmass you find yourself on into an island. You start in a cabin without really understanding why you are there. Once you step out of the cabin, however, random text prompts will appear on the screen. These are probably memories that the player is remembering while exploring the island. After some time you come to realize that you are a long-time resident of the island and that you and three other people have been living there for quite a while. What happened to the other three is unknown and while you are exploring the island various prompts of text will appear letting you know what might have transpired. The game's atmosphere is bleak and I mean bleak. The dark/grey/brown coloring palette further enhances the feeling on bleakness and it never let's up. There is also the constant fear of an omnipresence that might be watching you at all times as there is mention of a threat that might be lurking in the dark somwhere. The sound design here is something else adding further tension to the already heavy atmosphere that you find. At times I had a hard time deciding whether I should continue just because I was afraid something would get me out in the dark. Going forth however you must and in the end, it will have been worth it.
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Probably saving the best for last here, since this is the one that got to me the most and also because it has the best ending. The ending is on the level as the first Saw movie. Anyone who's seen it knows what I'm talking about. This one continues on the same theme as the previous games, with a heavy and dark atmosphere. You find yourself in a house which you start exploring. During your exploration, you will find notes that explain that the world has ended existing as we know it today and that the only survivors left after the world ended were the inhabitants of that house. The notes will also tell you something about these inhabitants and who they were and especially for one inhabitant, their way of thinking. While once again Mr. Szymanski makes great use of the sound design and lightning to set a spooky atmosphere I would say that it was the writing that sold this one for me. Reading about the last days of the inhabitants of this house and what their thoughts might have been after everything ended gave me chills. But like I said it's the ending that sells the entire thing for me because you never see it coming. Not in a million years.
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