I’ve found some of my favourite indie games through Indiepocalypse, and I’ve noticed that they tend to have one thing in common: these games are so specific to the creator’s experiences and artistic tastes that no one else could have made it. Even when I can’t relate to those exact same experiences, it’s hard not to be pulled in by the sheer passion that these creators put into their work. And I guess I just really love how Indiepocalypse has become a place to find those hyper specific games!
If you want a few recommendations to steer your way through Indiepocalypse’s massive library, here are a couple of my faves.
Bianca Delmar is an illustrator, filmmaker, and game dev from Toronto, Canada. Her greatest creative ambition is to make people feel, so her work is hyperfocused on emotion, identity, and disability. You can find her work at biancadelmar.com.
HITME is a visual novel set in Santiago, Chile, where our protagonist, Nam, meets two boys that teach him how to throw a punch, make empanadas, and maybe even how to love.
Putting HITME on this list was an absolute no-brainer. It’s one of my all time favourite games—the art is beautiful, the story is set in Latin America (a big draw for me!), and its atmosphere is just so comforting. That isn’t to say that bad things don’t happen in this game—they definitely do!—but despite it all, there is so much warmth in these three boys’ relationships, and so much love and hope for queer people in the future and present.
Acolyte:Ascend is a Bitsy game set in a post-apocalyptic world. The story follows an acolyte who has dedicated their life to honouring their goddess. One day, the goddess reaches out to the acolyte and offers them a difficult choice.
I really love how the creator works with Bitsy’s limitations as an engine to create hard-hitting narrative moments (I especially recommend playing the game for the second ending). I think that Acolyte:Ascend has such a lovely message about choosing to be kind while the world burns down around you—and for that, it is one of my favourite Indiepocalypse games.
Yuki’s Palpitating, Passionate, Phenomenal, and quite frankly Proficient quest for a (hot) girlfriend!!! (Indiepocalypse #22)
Yuki 4P is a short and sweet visual novel about Yuki Lastname, a high school girl who really wants to find a girlfriend! Will she find one? (Or maybe three???)
This game is so cute! I enjoy light and fun games with WLW protagonists a lot, so Yuki 4P was right up my alley. It has such an adorable art style and characters inspired by romance anime archetypes (Haruka was my favourite!). A super cute and super polished game all around!
In the Hollow of the Valley is a point-and-click adventure that tells a fictionalized story about the origins of Salesforce, a real-life software company.
When I read this game’s description, I knew I had to play it. For context: before the pandemic began, I was an intern at an e-commerce company, where I (regrettably) became well-acquainted with tech companies like Salesforce.
In the Hollow of the Valley captures the soulless tone of corporate marketing so well—not only in its writing, but also in its gameplay. Check it out if you have ever worked a soul-sucking corporate job (or even if you haven’t!).
Children of the Flower is Gameboy-style RPG set in a small town that reveres a giant sunflower as its deity. You play as the high priest’s daughter, who wants to leave town and expose the Godflower as a fake.
I LOVE this game. I’m a big fan of stories about religion, but those stories tend to be pretty depressing and heavy. But that’s not the case with Children of the Flower! I love its sense of humour and how refreshing the game feels. It also has a surprisingly nuanced take on religion and how it can serve different purposes to different people. I highly recommend it!
Digital Soul Data is a top-down bullet hell game where you play as Mia, a hacker trying to save her sister’s digital soul from virtual corporate slavery.
So as it turns out, I’m very bad at bullet hell games! I only found this out after getting hooked on this game—embarrassingly enough, I still haven’t beat the boss, but I just can’t help coming back to it over and over again. The music and art are lovely, and the gameplay is accessible enough for new bullet hell players like me. I also happen to have a big bias for characters with angel motifs, so I love Mia’s character design a lot!
By Rémy Devaux
A short experimental game where you control two floppy arms that reach out to embrace different aspects of life.
I really enjoyed this game’s core mechanic and how intentionally janky it can feel. Whenever I struggled to capture a specific thing in Embrace, such as Feelings or Failure, it made me reflect for a second on what my relationship to those concepts is like in real life. A very cute gameplay experience in general!
By Taylor McCue
Saving You From Yourself is a narrative game that places the player in the role of a therapist who must decide whether or not to prescribe hormone therapy to a young woman named Arle.
Seeing as how Taylor’s game He Fucked the Girl Out of Me was already mentioned in a previous Top 10 Indiepocalypse list (and rightfully so, playing it is an incredible experience), I decided to revisit Taylor’s earlier work for this rec list.
This is my second time playing Saving You From Yourself, but it still hits hard. It does an amazing job at writing about the healthcare system and exposing how callously and pointlessly cruel healthcare workers can be to transgender patients. Needless to say, I really admire Taylor’s work and how skillfully her work utilizes the interactive medium to tell such personal stories. If you are able to check it out, I highly recommend this game!
is it that deep, bro? is a short visual novel where you play as a teenage boy trying to figure out whether he is on a movie theatre date with his friend or not. The pixel art style is super charming, and the mini games scattered throughout the story were such a clever way to replicate the feeling of being an awkward gay teen! As a movie nerd myself, I loved hearing how the two characters talked about the movie they were watching–especially when they try to analyze the colours used in a shot of a cowboy’s rear end.
MIND Psychometry is a work of interactive fiction where the player answers a personality quiz designed by a dystopian HR department. Everything in this game—from its user interface to its use of corporate language—is meant to evoke the feeling of being scrutinized, manipulated, and even coerced by late stage capitalist overlords.
This one had me STRESSED oh lord. It’s one of those pieces of media that, after I finished it, I had to take a long rest to try and recover from what I just experienced.
That’s not meant to be an indictment of the game, though! Quite the opposite: it’s absolutely remarkable that Juniper was able to convey such a strong feeling of alienation through language alone. I find it insane how MIND Psychometry works like a horror film—only that, instead of depicting an abject subject (as horror movies tend to do), it goes one step further and thrusts the player into the role of the abject subject. It’s wild!! If you are able to do so, I really recommend playing it yourself.