This week’s Indie Freebies are The Autumn Glen, a surreal interactive story and exploration game; and Anhedonia, a squad-based 2D puzzle platformer.
The Autumn Glen
It seems that low poly is all the rage these days on the indie scene, and I’ve seen few better looking examples than Black Parable’s The Autumn Glen. Sometimes less really is more. I dare you not to fall in love with its simple yet sumptuously intricate and picturesque environments, brought to life by vibrant autumnal colours, slick lighting and particle effects, dynamic shadows, fabulous reflections, and silhouetted horizons. Capping it off is a delightfully evocative piano/orchestral soundtrack that calls to mind Angelo Badalamenti, who I happen to be a huge fan of.
Set in first person, The Autumn Glen places you in the shoes of a novelist struggling with writer’s block and apparent memory loss. Following a strange dream, you find yourself in a deserted camping site. It seems your brother has gone off to buy a new axe and everyone else has disappeared as well, leaving all their picnic gear behind. The gameplay revolves around exploring the locations, interacting with objects, and talking to the occasional NPC. The narrative is imparted through reading notes, environmental details, inspecting objects, and scripted self-musings.
It’s surreal, mysterious, and non-linear. Unfortunately, it’s tainted by a rather impenetrable and confusing storyline. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all up for ambiguity and minimal exposition, but this is bafflingly arcane even by David Lynch standards, whose influence can be felt throughout the game. However, this doesn’t detract too much from a thoroughly worthwhile experience. Taking in the idyllic views and investigating your surroundings is an absolute joy and well rewarded by all manner of mini-Easter eggs in the form of gentle humour and film and TV references, which somewhat predictably includes Twin Peaks.
The Autumn Glen is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux and can be downloaded from Game Jolt for free here.
Misfit Village’s Anhedonia is a sweet little game and a story of love and compassion. David is lost in the world of Anhedonia (literally “without pleasure”), a dark underworld populated by an all consuming monster and presumably a metaphorical representation of depression. Margaret is the only person who can help him get back to reality.
It’s a horizontally split-screen 2D puzzle platformer in which you control both characters simultaneously – WASD for Margaret and the arrow keys for David. David needs to outrun the monster and find a passage back up to the upper level. To bypass the randomly generated obstacles, the two need to work together. Margaret needs to jump on special cubes to create a lift on David’s side. In turn, he needs to stand on buttons that activate portals on Margaret’s side.
Anhedonia is fun, challenging, and another great example of how low poly graphics can be used to great effect. Though controlling two characters can feel like trying to pat your head and rub your belly at the same time. Still, nothing to stop you getting a friend to help out. Ah, remember the days of local co-op!
Tragically it’s rather short and can be completed in just a few minutes, but it really does have potential for expansion. It did win the People’s Choice Award for the Nordeus Hackathon game (incredibly, it was made in just 24 hours), so maybe that will inspire a lengthier sequel or remake.
Anhedonia is available for Windows and can be downloaded for free from itch.io here.