By Madelyn Jones
For people who love being whisked away into fantastical, fictional worlds, there are few things better than getting lost in a book or film. However, if story-based indie video games are not in your escapism queue, maybe they should be. There are many inexpensive and accessible games out there that are ready to let their emotional, complex and riveting plots unfurl, if you give them a chance.
Video games can sometimes be intimidating to people who do not have a history with them, however, there are games that are strong in story and low in their skill requirement, “Night in the Woods” is a perfect example. This game is mostly dialogue and choice based, your actions influence the outcome. Therefore, all you need is curiosity to be good at this game. The unique art style and mystery of the plot keeps the player enticed. You can do the bare minimum and still get an interesting story, but you will be rewarded with interesting details and fun secrets if you look further than necessary.
If you are ready for more of a challenge, give one of Supergiant’s games a try: “Transistor,” “Bastion” or “Pyre.” Each game has an intricate and complex art style, that when paired with the expertly composed, music has moved me to tears. “Transistor” and “Bastion” are both combat based, the latter being more typical and fast-paced, while the former introduces a unique style.
“Transistor’s” combat is a mix of real time dodging and paused deliberation. When you attack, you pause the enemies and get to plan out your attack, making it accessible to those who are not used to fast-paced, high stress battle. While these games are more skill based, the games ease you in, getting you comfortable with the controls before it gets difficult. For experienced players, there are many in-game ways to make it more of a challenge.
Many of these games include comments on hard-hitting topics. Supergiant’s games always challenge you to make important and hard decisions, while having inherently political plots. “Undertale” is a two-bit game that at its surface level is charming, and at its foundation makes a strong point to holding people accountable and choosing the moral option over the easy. You get punished and rewarded for your actions. If you have any choice in the matter, you do not want any part of this game spoiled, it is such a special and unique experience to come to with little knowledge of what is about to appear.
All of these games are $20 or less, and with the exception of the Supergiant games, can run on most laptops. All of the games are also designed to be played multiple times. “Undertale” has four endings, the Supergiant games can be made more challenging and you can figure out how the story plays out if you choose the opposite possibilities in “Night in the Woods.” No matter which of these games you are playing, you will realize something you missed with another play through.
It could be argued that these games are the most immersive fictional experiences. There is something poignantly emotional about making decisions that directly affect the plot, and often times there are multiple endings that are decided based of off how you decide to play the game. It’s easy to forget the world around you and be sucked into these diverse worlds.
All of the games mentioned have stuck in my mind since I finished playing them. For “Undertale,” I watched hours of theory videos after completing the endings that I wanted. I have had multiple conversations with friends about the meaning of “Night in the Woods” and why we made our choices.