Indie Game: The Movie (Movie Review by Aaron Mills)

Thank you yet again to our good friend Aaron Mills who sent us this review of the 2012 movie Indie Game: The Movie. He has previously submitted a review of the PS3 game Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch, which you can view here. If you want to submit a guest review to Alt:Mag just drop us a line via our Facebook page or our Twitter page!

On the night of writing this, I just finished watching the frankly fantastic Indie Game: The Movie, and as a gamer who occasionally plays some indie games, but certainly not someone clued up on the indie scene, this documentary seriously opened my eyes to just how much indie games mean to the industry (and more importantly to us gamers), as well an an interesting glance in to the harrowing life of the indie developer.
Indie Game: The Movie follows Tommy Renefes and Edmund McMillen (who is becoming one of, if not my favourite people in the game industry) of Team Meat, creators of Super Meat Boy, Phil Fish, creator of Fez, and Jon Blow, creator of the highest rated Xbox Live game ever released, Braid.

I'd played Super Meat Boy and Braid, and enjoyed both. Currently most of my spare time is being sunk into a game McMillen made away from Team Meat, The Binding of Isaac. As of writing I am nowhere near beating the game and it's ridiculously challenging, but I can't stop playing. I'm yet to check out Fez, though the documentary makes me really want to play it sometime soon. That's not why I'm writing this though.
Why I'm writing this article is because the film made me realise just how great indie developers are, and how they really are so much more deserving of our appreciation than they receive, especially in a game market plagued by anti-consumer bullshit like DRM, day-one DLC and all the scummy systems that are becoming common practice to take as much money from us as possible. Binding of Isaac cost me 99 pence. The DLC which adds over 100 new items, new characters, new bosses, new music, new levels? 49p. To give you an example of how much re-playability this game has, check out Northernlion on YouTube; he has so far uploaded 457 Binding of Isaac videos.

Indie Game: The Movie shows you just how much these people pour in to games that we don't even think about past “yeah that was fun”. They care so much about the game that, in all honesty, Tommy and Jon both come off as real douches, Tommy for being such a melodramatic and Jon for getting angry at people adoring his game because they “didn't like it for the reasons he liked it”. Edmund, fortunately, came off as a great guy, and it was a really uplifting moment watching him with tears of joy as he watches YouTube videos of people playing Super Meat Boy and reacting with pure rage. My favourite of these moments was one of the videos of someone raging at the game, which featured a second voice asking the player “If you could say something to the guy who designed this level, what would you say?” to which the first replies with a laugh “I'd say 'Fuck you!'”. Seeing Edmund (who was the designer in question) grinning with ecstasy at that moment really made me see just how much these games mean to the developers.

Phil Fish redesigned the entirety of Fez three times because he was so obsessed about the game. I don't want to go in to spoilers here because I recommend you all watch the documentary (and saying people liked Super Meat Boy is obviously not a spoiler) but it really is amazing thinking that these indie titles we're so willing to disregard often have the developers awake all day and all night slaving away and putting everything they have into this one game. They're running off their own money, and failure for them really is game over.
The best part of all is they try so hard to make these games as good as possible, and then sell them for such a cheap sum in comparison to the £40 standard for “big budget” games that are often total shit. That is something that boggles the mind. Look at the recently released Aliens: Colonial Marines, or The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct. Both these games came out at £40 and all respect to whoever somehow enjoyed them but they're both broken messes. There is of course no such thing as an objectively good or bad game, but when a game is mechanically broken, such as these 2 that are both full of glitches and bugs. I'm tired of moaning about Survival Instinct but I feel I have to say that when playing the Xbox version of the game, in the opening cinematic you can see a PC cursor in the corner of the screen. £40 price tag, guys.

So next time you feel bored and want a new game to play, I urge you to check out the indie market. Guacamelee comes out in a couple of weeks, and that looks awesome if you're a PS3 player. If not, pick up Braid, Super Meat Boy, Binding of Isaac, Fez, even the “classic” indie titles like Castle Crashers. These guys deserve our respect.

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