Indika review: Video game explores religion and philosophy for an unusual experience

Set in a Russian convent, it follows a reluctant protagonist as she navigates her beliefs

Not a particularly long game, Indika still delivers a diverse experience while telling a gripping story Photo: 11 Bit Studio
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Location and setting are important for video games. They set the tone and guide choices like language and music. While some of the biggest and most popular are set in a dystopian future or feudal Japan, not many are set in a Russian convent in the late 18th century.

Indika, developed by Odd Meter and published by 11 Bit Studios, was released on the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S on May 2. It is primarily narrative driven, meaning the player follows the flow of the story, rather than deciding what to do his or herself.

The lead character is the titular Indika, a young nun who has inner monologues and conversations with a voice inside her head. When the game starts, it is not clear who or what the voice is, or whether it’s inside her head or a malevolent power.

After playing for some time, here’s a breakdown of the experience and why Indika might be worth trying.

Arthouse gaming

On first impression, the most intriguing element is the artwork chosen for the cover and promotional materials. The poster shows veiled old women laughing maniacally at a young lady, accented with a yellow background.

The artwork is interesting because it seems to come straight out of Russian or Eastern European films from the 1950s or 60s. That would most certainly have been the intention from the makers.

Gaming covers and poster art usually quite straightforward. If the game is set in space, you can expect to see a spaceship battle or a man floating in zero gravity. If a game is set in on the streets of a metropolitan city, then the expectation is to see cars and guns and all manner of eccentric characters.

Indika’s artwork fits with the experience of playing the game. There are a number of left-field choices, like how the camera is utilised and what it’s focused on – techniques tried and true in cinema but rarely seen in gaming. These, as well as the eerie setting mixed with engrossing conversations on religion and the meaning of life, create a dense storytelling adventure.

Conventionally unconventional

It is narrative-driven, so the gameplay is about enjoying the story rather than having much impact. That doesn’t mean you’re just watching a film play out while you input commands every now and then. Quite the contrary.

Indika does not contain one form of gameplay, it switches around from pixelated old-school-style levels to chore simulations. Some levels involve shifting into an alternate fractured universe with the only means to return to the real-world being prayer.

That being said, the different style changes are fun and keep things fresh, but none is particularly revolutionary. They are there to serve the main purpose – moving the story forward. Experienced on their own, they’re not special, but put together to form one game they result in a cool and singular experience.

Verdict

There’s so much innovation in gaming and it’s always nice to play a new and ground-breaking game that is making leaps in graphics or mechanics. Strength of story is what always keeps players coming back to though.

Indika

Developer: 11 Bit Studios
Publisher: Odd Meter
Console: PlayStation 5, PC and Xbox series X/S
Rating: 4/5

Games with great stories don’t always have to come from triple A studios either. Some of the best narrative game experiences have come from indie studios over the years. What Indika does well is mix up methods to service an interesting story.

It’s a mature game with mature themes. There are conversations and encounters that result in death and other that questioning the purpose in life. For adult gamers who want to play a game that doesn’t require too much input but still manages to be a fun and unusual experience, give Indika a try.

Updated: May 31, 2024, 6:02 PM
Indika

Developer: 11 Bit Studios
Publisher: Odd Meter
Console: PlayStation 5, PC and Xbox series X/S
Rating: 4/5