At the beginning of the year, I made a new year’s resolution, only half-meaning it, to play more indie games, as I’d previously played next to none. Nearly eight months later, I’m now writing for an indie game website.
The first indie game I played this year was Owlboy, which coincidentally was the first game I got in for review for KeenGamer. I remember when I got the code in an email during Spanish class. As I had my Switch with me, I started downloading it right away using my phone as a tether, and had started playing the game by lunch. I played for the rest of that day and all of the next, on Saturday, and spent all of Sunday writing and editing together my review.
I of course had to rush through the game in order to get a review out, but it certainly helped that the game was an absolute joy. I was immediately captivated by the personal level of emotion and the gorgeous pixel art style, all set to a unique vertical take on the traditional Zelda formula.
From March until June, I was averaging about one indie game per month, with two, Mulaka and Shadow Bug, both falling within April. The former was a charming 3D Zelda-like with some critical errors, while the latter was a serviceable mobile game inexplicably ported over to the Switch. May saw me review Garage, a relentlessly difficult and grossly irreverent, yet still clever and high-adrenaline twin-sticks shooter, and my review for Light Fall, an enchanting 2D platformer with a unique spin, went up on the same day “SixTAY Days of Writing” started in June.
Up until then, I had played and reviewed five indie games. While not all of them were quite my taste, I loved the generally shorter length, smaller scope, and, yes, how I was more likely to get review copies in from indie developers. I wanted to play more, especially the copies of Shovel Knight and Undertale I have just sitting on my shelf, but it didn’t feel right to ditch the AAA games I had already bought and started to buy and start more games.
That was, until I discovered that Amazon Prime was giving away 21 free games, 18 of which were in some capacity indie-developed. I wrote a 200-word review for every single one after playing only an hour, and really started falling in love with indie games. “Indie” isn’t a genre, so each game had a completely unique feel to it, but most of them (with some exceptions) were condensed experiences, so I usually had a good feel for what the game was about within an hour, sometimes even beating it! As someone starting college next month, time and money are two things I’m going to have a lot less of, and indie games generally respect both much more than AAA titles.
And that’s how I played 23 indie games without paying a cent for any of them. I likely wouldn’t have paid for any of these games, and probably wouldn’t have even played them if I wasn’t writing about them, but I’m so glad that I did.
About a year ago, I’d actually seen a job opening for Cliqist, but felt so unfamiliar with indie games that I didn’t even apply. I’m far from an expert now, and there are a lot of essential indie games that I need to play, but I at least felt prepared enough to apply. When I got the email saying I was hired, it mentioned some of my articles from TAY as part of the reason for hiring me. I think it’s very possible that my “TPG reviews TPG” articles were the ones that landed me the job.
I think writing for Cliqist is going to be very good for me. It’ll introduce me to many more indie games, of course, but their shorter and more focused writing style will force me to be more concise in my writing, something which I’ve struggled with for a long time.
Of course, I’m never leaving TAY. I’ve been very busy writing articles for both places at the same time this past week, but I’ve made it work, and I’m obviously going to write my last three articles for “SixTAY Days of Writing” as well.
I will, however, be leaving KeenGamer. I’m very grateful to them for giving me the opportunity to cover so many games over nearly a year, but Cliqist is frankly a better choice for me. They’re better known, I can already tell they’re more professional in their writing, and, well, they pay better. (which is to say, they pay at all) I’ve sprinkled links for past indie game reviews throughout this article, but I’ll also leave links for the other game reviews here: Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia, Steven Universe: Save the Light, Breath of the Wild - The Champion’s Ballad, Burnout Paradise Remastered, and the longest review I’ve ever written, coming in at 5,703 words and taking me about 20 hours to write after 80 hours of gameplay, Xenoblade Chronicles 2.
As for Cliqist, I’ve already written two articles, the first being a pretty dry but still important list of all the indie games the ESA marathon is speedrunning, and the second being a slightly deeper look into The Bridge, based on my original TAY article about the game. You can also find all future articles written by me for the site right here.
I’ve been very busy recently. I’ve been writing two to four articles most days for the past week. But it’s also been incredibly rewarding, and I feel like I’m spending my last weeks of summer right. But I’ll have more on that in two days from now.