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  • Writer's pictureAntal Bokor

Bleak and Provocative, Indika Stands Out with an Absurd, Profound Narrative

Screenshot: Indika

I first played Indika during the Steam Next Fest, and it was one of the standouts for me (along with Children of the Sun). I knew Indika would be strange–but I didn’t realize how strange it was going to get. And its demo only showcased a fraction of Indika’s brilliance. It’s one of those rare pieces of art that makes you step back and reassess your belief system.

In Indika you play as the titular heroine as she grapples with her faith and contests the devil in her ear. Shunned at her convent, she is sent off alone on a task to deliver a letter. Along the way she meets an escaped prisoner with an arm that is rotting off. He takes Indika hostage, as they set off in search of a literal miracle.

Screenshot: Indika

While narrative heavy, Indika uses gameplay elements not only as a way to throw an obstacle in front of the player, but also to disorient the player or give them a different perspective. Therefore, each gameplay segment could almost be classified as a minigame that is self contained and never really repeated. Flashbacks to Indika’s earlier life are creatively told in a warm pixel art style that is in sharp contrast to Indika’s almost photorealistic graphics.

Not much is bright and colorful in Indika, however, as most of it takes place in a bleak, frozen Russia full of rusting industry. Even so, Indika is surprisingly graphically impressive. It’s not just its near photorealism but a superb art style that ties it together. Beyond its graphics, camera angles are utilized in ways that they otherwise often aren’t in video games. 

Screenshot: Indika

Indika herself is smart, but timid. She knows her way around machines, and while she’s often the voice of reason in the story, she inwardly doubts everything she says–and believes. Indika wants so badly to rid herself of the voice in her head–and to just fit in. But the other nuns can see her oddness, and even her outbursts, and she is overtly ostracized. Even so, she takes the absurdities of the world outside of the convent in stride as grisly, horrible things seem to be commonplace in this world.

There is also a strange play on perspective in Indika that makes the world seem like a strange place that is simultaneously familiar and terrifyingly different. Animals are larger than you would expect. Machines are impossibly large, with designs that make no concession for worker safety, and would be absurd in the real world. 

Screenshot: Indika

One of the most brilliant things about Indika is its clever use of gameplay to reinforce the philosophical message of the game moreso than actually bolstering your playing experience. 

There’s an experience meter that is employed in Indika, and you can even choose different abilities once she hits higher levels. But it’s all futile–even the game tells you so.

Indika is obviously trying to be a good, devout nun. But none of the points that Indika is accumulating can ever offer her the salvation that she seeks. And worst of all, it won’t remove the devil on her shoulder–the one that’s literally speaking in her ear, taunting and debating her in a way that makes her doubt everything she believes.

Indika is an amazing accomplishment. I never would have guessed  that a game where you play as a nun would be a game of the year contender for me. Surreal, bleak, absurd and haunting, Indika is easily the best narrative game I’ve played all year. 

Indika will be available for PC via Steam tomorrow.

A Steam key was provided to us for this review



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