Indies Did This: Pretty Pixel Art is Pretty

Our Indies Did This column is back and we've got gorgeous-looking games to spare.

Article by Cassandra Khaw, .

Watercolor-based 2D point & click adventure games with a Studio Ghibli-like feel being made by French comic artists? What is the world coming to? Awesomeness. That's what. Flying Spaghetti Monster bless globalization. The Coral Cave is up-and-coming work of a two-man team known to the world as Atelier Sonto and something you probably should be bookmarking right this instant - if you like cool ideas, that is and are not weird.

The underlining plot in The Coral Cave definitely sounds like something the legendary Japanese animation studio would have conceived: a little girl on an island in the Okinawa archipelago must, after a curious dream, find her way into the spirit world to rescue her landmass-challenged home. There's a thread on TIGsource that'd allow you to stay posted on the development on the game. Alternatively, you could also just follow their tumblr. Whichever works better for you. No one is going to judge.

(If you're not convinced that you should be excited, here's the inaugural gameplay video. Say squee, folks. Say holy-Magikarp-squee.)

Continuing on, here's something else that is supremely appealing but in a completely different way. Nadia Was Here is an RPG about a 'world that keeps forgeting' and people who would much rather be remembered. The palette is deliciously off-kilter, the art happily retro, the characters potentially memorable; we've got all the ingredients for success right here. There's something about the idea of people fighting to stop time from resetting itself so as to be able to prevent their own erasure that just does it for me. What I really like, however, in spite of my fascination with the story, is the amount of focus that is being put into the combat system:

The game will have a set amount of battles. The only way to increase stats permanently is by using equipment, but even then stat growth is very limited. The main way to defeat more difficult enemies is to learn new skills and use those tactically. Not a single skill will ever be useless or outclassed by another, and not every skill will be useful for every battle. Character development happens mostly during battles.


Hello, gorgeous. While webcomics-turned-video-games are generally more miss than hit, Trent Kaniuga's Twilight Monk looks absolutely fantastic. And it's not just the art style I'm talking about though I'm immediately okay with anything that even remotely reminds me of Valdis Story (which is, I might add, now released). Animations look as smooth as a tad-too-refrigerated butter; still in need of some polish, but certainly moving in a good direction. More importantly, it's an episodic RPG (they're calling it an ERPG, an acronym I don't think will stick too well) intended for drop in/drop out co-operative play capable of supporting anywhere between one to four players. Many of the features you've come to expect from sidescrolling action-RPGs are here, of course: skill trees, upgradable weapons, boss battles (the video mentions enemies that may be 'four screens tall', NPCs and so on. All there.

Like I said before: so, so okay with this.

On a somewhat darker note, Leviathan: The Last Day of the Decade, which is currently on Steam Greenlight, looks rather promising - if you're willing to deal with the 18 + content, that is. (Sadly, for those whose interest may have been piqued by the prospect of exposed ladybits, the adult content is going to be primarily focused on stuff like politics, repression, identity crisis, complicated human relationships and so on. Explicit sexual scenes will not be a thing here. Sorry.) As for the game itself, the developers have chosen to not burden it with specific labels. At most, they're willing to call it a 'visual novel, adventure/quest and interactive fiction'. Leviathan: The Last Day tells the story of a world brimming with cyberpunk and alien technologies. Set on the first day of the Decade and made to end on the last, it has noble families, grotesque monsters, a Plague King and a free demo you should really, really check out. The localization efforts aren't the best I've seen but the world that they've authored is still intriguing enough to warrant, at the very least, a brief visit.

(If you enjoyed what you say, go vote for them on Steam Greenlight, eh?)

My first glimpse of Prisonscape came in the form of a GIF. Orange-suited prisoners, none of which seemed particularly amiable, were being driven off to their place of punishment. Though attractive-looking, it wasn't terribly impressive, at first. However, I'm delighted to report that the the game has progressed tremendously since the time I first laid eyes on it. What generic RPG material could be found in Prisonscape is slowly being sloughed off, replaced instead by a swarm of good ideas. Their most recent revamp of existing mechanics? An update to their combat system. Where before it was just two people slowly duking it out, PrisonScape may soon feature henchmen, dirty tricks, more makeshift weapons and a variety of other elegant little nuances.

A warning to those looking to dive headfirst into a thorough read-up. Prisonscape is all but rife with derogatory terminology and a questionable amount of political correctness. Of course, it's also set in a somewhat unpleasant environment..

Woof. I said. Woof.

And to end it all on a happy note, here's an absolutely splendid GIF from Dog Sled Saga. As the name implies, it involves you leading a train of huskies through the snow and, it would appear, that they are, indeed, of the tongue-wagging, biscuit-loving variety. Faceless automatons these puppies will not be. Further details can be found on the official website. (According to the Twitter, a preview build is imminent.)

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Comments 8

  • Avatar for pupuzuken #1 pupuzuken 4 years ago
    I'm less impressed with The Coral Cave and more impressed by the fact that I recognized from the style that these people made a (great) back up comic in an issue of Prophet.

    Actually probably the Coral Cave trailer was a bit more impressive
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  • Avatar for cassandrakhaw #2 cassandrakhaw 4 years ago
    @pupuzuken What sold it for me, I think, is the whole 'assembling bones to make a pathway' bit in that trailer. So happily reminiscent of Papo & Yo, in some ways. :D
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  • Avatar for Exhuminator #3 Exhuminator 4 years ago
    The best looking indie game I've seen in forever is Ghost Song.
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  • Avatar for cassandrakhaw #4 cassandrakhaw 4 years ago
    @Exhuminator <3 We did an interview with 'em not too long ago!
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  • Avatar for WillowWolf #5 WillowWolf 4 years ago
    Indie art is gorgeous, usually. Even the 8-bit inspired stuff. I think most Indy games realize that they need to look pretty/have an interesting art-style at the least for people to really look into it (not always, but a lot of the times).
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