Make it indie! Review – Avant-garde in the Extreme, for Better or Worse

4.5

Make it indie! is the brainchild of Sometimes You, and purports to be exactly what it sounds like – an experiment in the making of an indie game. You control the developer, and decide how he will spend his time for seven days. Will the game get finished? Will he have a social life? Where’s the cat?

After an opening cutscene describing the developer’s lifelong desire to be, well, a developer, we watch him wake up and move to his computer. From there, a list of possible activities is provided at the right side of the screen, and you can select up to seven of them. Only one, “Work on the game,” can be done more than once, should you decide to actually get something accomplished; all the others disappear from the menu once they’ve been completed. Each activity takes up one entire day. At the end of the day, the developer crosses a date off of his calendar, goes to sleep, and we are shown an abstract video which I’m assuming is meant to be his dreams. He wakes in the morning and the process repeats.

“Work on the game” doesn’t really seem like the work that would be done on an indie game, although I’ve never made one so maybe I’m wrong. First, the game provides you with a “useless tip,” which is pretty much exactly that. Next, you are shown a group of quartered circles, some with pieces missing or of different sizes. You must quickly figure out which piece all of the images have in common, and click on that segment of your own quartered circle at the bottom of the screen. You can do this once or you can do it every day, or anything in between. The puzzle gets increasingly more difficult each time, although eventually the game itself will start wondering why you’re doing this.

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This isn’t a bad game necessarily, but it’s by no means an exciting one. The dream sequences are not only increasingly abstract, they also drag on entirely too long, and there’s no way to skip them. Gamers who are sensitive to rapidly-moving images may find these parts of the game somewhat nauseating as well.

The puzzle provided in “Work on the game” is the only way to earn points. At the end of the week, you are presented with your score (out of a possible 100) and then treated to the brief ending sequence. If you have enough points, you develop a game. If you don’t, you’re invited to try it again because you’re not putting out a game this week.

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I am legitimately unclear as to what the point of the game is, insofar as it can even be called a game. “Work on the game” is the only part of Make it indie! that requires player input beyond the choice of activity. Everything else is literally just watching video footage of things the developers thought were interesting enough to include. It’s like the game was inspired by YouTube. Truthfully, I spent more time while “playing” this game waiting for video footage to end than anything else. I appreciated the fact that the game is windowed, so I can access other things while it’s running; unfortunately, switching to my web browser or any other program causes Make it indie! to pause, so I couldn’t check my email while the developer had another inexplicable dream sequence.

The controls handle well, at those moments when you actually have something to do. The music is variable; I found the instrumental portions, such as during the dream sequences, to be quite pleasing. On the other hand, the music played during many of the activity portions is loud and harsh. I was especially put off by the activity “Go to the exhibition,” which combined this less enjoyable music with footage of old, strange, and occasionally disturbing toys. “Watch for the cat” was my favorite of the optional leisure activities.

In the words of the developers, Make it indie! is coming soon to “PC, Mac, Linux, Android, pocket calculators, microwaves, ZX Spectrum and maybe even iOS.” It’s expected to be available from Desura and a part of Steam Greenlight soon. If you like watching things happen in a game, give Make it indie! a try; however, if you prefer games that require you to actually play them, this might be one for you to skip.

Good Things

  • There's a cat
  • Enjoyable instrumentals
  • High-definition video footage

Bad Things

  • Very little actual gameplay
  • "Cutscenes" are entirely too long
  • Jarring imagery in the dream sequences

The Breakdown


Gameplay
4
Visuals
6
Soundtrack
5
Replayability
3