We’re showing our love for indies this week, with a couple of absolute corkers. Here’s what we’ve been playing.
Joe – Editor & Lead Writer
Playing on PC
If my GCSE German still serves me well, Dorfromantik translates as something like ‘village romance’. But don’t be fooled into thinking this is some kind of dating sim. In fact, this game is all about the beauty of the countryside and our relationship in shaping it.
At its heart, Dorfromantik is a peaceful building and strategy game. You begin with a deck of around 100 unique tiles and a blank hexagonal playing board. Each turn, you place a tile onto the board to earn points. If your tile’s edge matches with another – for example, you line up a forest with another – you gain extra points.
Some tiles have a little speech bubble pop up when you place them which give you a mini quest to complete. This is usually a challenge to build up an area by surrounding it with more tiles of the same type. The game rewards beauty, so you need to think carefully about your placement. This is where the strategy comes in. For example, if you surround a group of houses with fields, the village becomes closed off and you’re unable to earn any more points from it.
Dorfromantik is a super-chill game where it’s quite easy to lose track of time. It’s not dissimilar to Islanderswhich we enjoyed playing at the end of last year. Although, with Islanders, it’s easy to create an ugly looking town where buildings are stacked against each other for maximum point scores. Dorfromantik feels more like a pastoral jigsaw puzzle that grows and evolves with each new placement.
To call it a casual game is to do ita disservice, but it is great to pick-up when you need a bit of down-time. If you fancy checking it out, Dorfromantik is currently 30% off on Steam at only £7.69/$9.79.
In Other Waters
Playing on PC
After reviewing the fantastic Citizen Sleeper this week, I just had to check out the developer’s debut game, In Other Waters. What’s abundantly clear to me now, is their ability to conjure whole worlds through evocative text alone.
Stranded below the dappled seas of Gliese 677Cc is Xenobiologist, Dr Ellery Vas. Ellery has been called to the planet by a colleague, only to find their research bases abandoned. She finds herself adrift in the ocean, with no more than a diving suit and an AI system to guide her. You are her AI.
As you guide Ellery to safety, you dive deeper and discover the wonders of an underwater alien landscape. But each organism is nothing more than a point of interest you can click on the navigation screen. The real magic is in the game’s beautifully detailed description of your discoveries, played out through dialogue exchanges and field notes captured by Ellery.
I’m only a couple of hours in, but I’m already spotting a common theme that preoccupies the developer. As an AI, you experience the game purely through screens of data, gauges and vector numbers. It’s only through the text-based descriptions that you understand the true sense of wonder that Ellery is experiencing. As with Citizen Sleeper,In Other Waters asks questions about the nature of natural versus artificial life, and what it means to be alive. I thoroughly recommend you give it a go, whether you’re human, AI or sea-dwelling alien microbe.