Opinion by Chris I.
Rewind back a few years and tell most anyone that indie games would be earning the same respect and attention as the biggest blockbusters, and they would most likely laugh in your face. Yet, the unthinkable happened and titles like Braid, Limbo, and Bastion are well-known titles by almost anyone with an Internet connection. Indie games have always been a haven of sorts for the retro, creative and the experimental side of gaming that’s often times atypical of the mainstream games found on retail shelves.
Here at Digitally Downloaded, many of us are quite the fans of all things indie, and our Reviews Database is filled with reviews of hundreds of indie game reviews across numerous platforms, but with our new feature, Freeware Focus, we will highlight games that perhaps represent the indie spirit most of all: freeware video games which don’t usually qualify for the typical game review format. These kinds of games are popping up on all kinds of platforms, from PC to console to mobile, and they are very much a wild west of innovation and creative thinking… so here you’ll find the truly weird and wonderful experiences that only games can offer.
Krillbrite Studio’s homepage for The Plan reads: “Every word you read of this useless print is another second of your life.” If that doesn’t intrigue you, then feel free to move along. There’s truth in those words – how much time in our short and fragile lives do we merely waste to nonsensical ‘filler’? We think that our lives will be long and fruitful, but there is never any guarantee, really. It poses the question – Is there something else that I should be doing right this very second? Something, well, more important than this?
The Plan is a side project from the same team that’s bringing the psychological first-person thriller that puts you in a terrifying world as a mere two year old child: Among the Sleep – it’s quickly apparent that this isn’t your typical development team. From start to finish, The Plan took me six short minutes to complete. Within that small time frame, it created a multitude of emotions within me, and is yet another argument for why people would be more concerned with the quality rather the length of games.
Set in a gloomy, yet strikingly beautiful environment filled with ambient lighting as the sun’s powerful rays penetrate deep within what seems to be the onset of an approaching thunderstorm, we find a common fruit fly perched on a branch in a forest. No instructional is to be found here – possibly a reference to life itself – and experimentation will find that the “W” key sets to small fly into flight. To refrain from spoilers, I’ll be brief, but in this small and linear journey there will be trials that need to be overcome as the weight of the world stands in your way and the journey’s end is well, best left for you to experience for yourself.
There’s a level of polish here that’s not often found in freeware titles: the lighting and shadow work alone are right up there in quality with the likes of Playdead’s Limbo, but from the realistic sounds of the flies buzzing wings to the orchestral soundtrack that slowly builds to a crescendo to offset the mood of the journey’s conclusion, the auditory work here firmly seals the package together; bundling together a title that’s a free gift to anyone who is willing to experience it.
Deliberate, emotional, beautiful, practical and even a touch philosophical, The Plan strives to be something more than the rest, right there with the likes of Dear Esther and Journey. It’s a game that speaks to the bettering of one’s life, much like another fantastic indie title, Papo and Yo. It’s yet again another wonderful example of how video games can indeed be art and it’s one that I highly recommend setting a few ‘useful’ minutes of your life aside for.
– Chris I.
Find me at Twitter: @Slapshot82
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