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Indika screenshot

Indika Might Be The Weirdest Steam Next Fest Demo We’ve Played

Set to release in Q2 this year, I went into Indika‘s Steam Next Fest demo with zero expectations. I’d seen very little of the game, other than a brief synopsis that made this third-person story-driven adventure sound pretty interesting. And it is. It’s also incredibly strange and… I think that makes me like it more.

Indika is set in the late 19th century and casts you as a nun. I’m not sure how far into the game the demo picks up, but it’s a little way in: you find yourself accompanied by an injured young man who needs your help. Or so it seems. Can you trust him? Honestly, I’m not sure. But he’s not the problem. The titular Indika seems to be able to converse with the devil which, for a nun, seems less than ideal. She also finds herself getting chased, repeatedly, by a giant black dog – and she’s prone to hallucinations fuelled by the devil himself.

Well, that’s the gist I’ve managed to pick up from Indika’s 30-minute long Steam Next Fest demo which provides a tasty snippet of the type of gameplay you can expect. At times, Indika feels like a typical third-person adventure: you explore, you climb, you move boxes to reach new areas, and you solve basic environmental puzzles. So far, so ordinary, and it’s gameplay segments like this which lure you into a false sense of security.

Indika screenshot
Image: Odd Meter

I get the impression that Indika is a game which never really lets you put your guard down. It wasn’t even a second after I’d made my way across a beam high in the air, having to walk oh-so-slowly and balance every step of the way, that the afore-mentioned giant black dog jumped out from behind a pile of boxes to begin chasing with me.

It doesn’t let up: you will need to run like your life depends on it, dodging out of the way of obstacles and vaulting over others, without making a single mistake. That dog is right behind you all the way, and the game won’t hesitate to send you back to the beginning if you fail.

But it’s not really the big black dog that gives Indika its biggest “WTF” moment. That would be Indika’s inner monologue with the devil, and the hallucinations she sees as a result of his presence. Well, I’m assuming they’re hallucinations. Here, I ran through an abandoned mill, which was glowing red, splintered and broken.

By holding down the “pray” button – because of course a nun protagonist has one of those – I was able to see how the mill looked in “reality”, and make my way through it accordingly. But with ominous music and the perpetual voice of the devil in my ear, it was much more intense (and freaky) than it sounds.

Praise also needs to be given to Indika’s visuals. To say it comes from a small team – it’s the first game from Kazakhstan-based studio Odd Meter – it’s an impressive-looking game. Yes, I could nitpick by saying the lip syncing could do with some work, but those niggles are easy to overlook when you’re embraced in a world that looks almost photorealistic, enhanced with excellent light and shadows. I’ve only seen a fraction of the world, and I can’t wait to see more.

The demo isn’t perfect. It doesn’t fully support a controller which, for a third-person adventure game, is a real shame. It means that controlling Indika is a little trickier than it should be and when some sections – such as balancing on beams – requires precise inputs, it’s a pain. Still, I’d hope that controller support will be coming to the game for launch, particularly as a console version is also in the works.

Indika screenshot
Image: Odd Meter

There’s also a strangely over-gamified points system in Indika that doesn’t quite seem to gel with the rest of the game. Find certain items in the world and you’ll get points. Reach a milestone number of points and you can “level up”, getting your choice of perk. The first offered in the demo allows you to either get 70 points right there and then, or have a chance to gain 35 bonus points each time you get points naturally while playing.

Does it have a bigger role to play in the game? I’m not sure, but in the demo it feels rather superfluous. Perhaps more will be revealed in the full game. It’s possible, because I’m very sure Indika has many more secrets up its sleeves that the demo has purposefully not revealed. This is an intriguing game for sure, and for all its faults, I can’t help but be invested in Indika’s journey and where it’s going to take her.

Indika is set to release later this year on PC and consoles. Give the Steam Next Fest demo a try by clicking here.

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