Take A Walk On the Wild Side with These New Villainous Indies
By Alex Orona
In the average video game fantasy, you are the hero, the protagonist, the one everyone is rooting for. Who doesn’t want to play the video game that rewards your actions with accolades and a feeling of righteousness? That being said, there is something to say for some charismatic villains. Historically, there have been several instances where the spotlight shines on them. Some notable examples are Bowser’s Inside Story, Wario Ware, The Darkness 2 and even the Saints Row series to a certain extent but at the end of 2019 going into 2020, there’s a new wave of indie games incoming that really stand out as making that heel turn seem so fun, entertaining, quirky and downright cool. Let’s shed a light on some of these games shall we?
The first highpoint is Carrion by Phobia Game Studios, published by Devolver Digital, with a release date set ambiguously in 2020. Carron has you playing an amorphous creature imprisoned in a lab on a space station. The environments are reminiscent of Alien, and Carrion plays like you are in fact the titular threat, except with a unique twist. This one is a giant red mass filled with tentacles. The gameplay has you moving from room to room in the station, slaying all that fight or flee from your mass while attempting to establish growth points in the shave for further assimilation and spreading of your kind. The mechanics leads to interesting physics with bodies and objects, while also trying to avoid potentially hazardous humans. Seriously, this game is rad, top to bottom the design and flow of movement feels snappy and responsive in a way that a giant mass of tentacles shouldn’t. It’s something to watch out for in 2020, and I bet you never realized you wanted to be the alien in your favorite space horror did you?
Developed by YCJY Games back in October, Sea Salt is an interesting thing to witness. Upon first viewing, you’d think you were playing a pixelated Pikmin and you’d be right! Across the gothic countryside you find a land that worships the old sea god Dagon, who requests a sacrifice that the head of the church is not so keen to fulfill. Thus, the game begins with you as a follower of Dagon controlling hordes of demonic sea minions out for revenge. You gain new minions and can spawn more at points throughout the level, but your job is to send them out and wreak havoc and wreak havoc you do. Controlling and sending out minions in a Pikmin like fashion in a 2D pixel art frame to finally get the sacrifice promised to you is exciting but also very difficult because those villagers fight back. It’s your job as a follower of Dagon to control the horde and solve each scenario. Do what you must but make them pay! It’s an invitation worth accepting.
The last game worth checking out in this cavalcade of terror is oozing with charm, but not literally. I present to you, Felix the Reaper. Also, a game released in October by Kong Orange. You play the ho hum job of being a grim reaper named Felix, but as Felix, you have a song in your heart, so with headphones blasting funky disco beats, you groove yourself into taking the souls of set bystanders. This game play takes form in a diorama-esque format, moving Felix like a puzzle piece which cannot be in sunlight, moving the clock back and forth to essentially progress the sun’s movement, creating shadows to traverse and then simply move people or objects to cause someone’s untimely death. Ahh the life of a reaper. The overall plot has Felix pining for the love of a female grim reaper, while being told to “put his head down and do his job” when really all he wants to do is dance and love. While this differentiates itself from the rest by not initially making you a villain, the missions still lead to death. Felix is charismatic, charming and someone we can all identify with, and that soundtrack is something I will be bumping for a long time to come.
Most video games will tell you that being evil is bad. Be the hero of time, the savior of kingdoms, the vanquisher of evil. These indies challenge the status quo. Sure, maybe you didn’t grow up trying to be the alien from Aliens stalking Ripley or wanting to be the grim reaper taking souls but these games ask you to try it out. Maybe you’ll find something special, maybe you’ll find something devilishly fun. Take a walk on the wild side because being bad, never felt so good.