Indie Games: The Complete Introduction to Indie Gaming

Book Review by Darren Carle | 12 Apr 2016
  • Indie Games
Book title: Indie Games: The Complete Introduction to Indie Gaming
Author: Mike Diver

Given the fledgling status of what’s considered the modern ‘indie game’, it’s perhaps little surprise that there’s hardly been an abundance of literature on them. Mike Diver’s coffee table intro to the world of ‘small-dev, big-idea’ gaming aims to plug that gap with a robust overview of a once-niche genre that’s now a healthy battleground between the likes of Sony and Microsoft.

As the title suggests, this is not an in-depth, exhaustive look behind the curtains, but more of a manageable two-hour chunk of primer that’ll help you learn your OlliOlli from your Spelunkyi. It’s also incredibly up to date at its time of release, incorporating many upcoming titles such as Cuphead, Below and No Man’s Sky. However, Indie Games feels very much like a companion piece for those who have travelled the road thus far, rather than anyone looking to start a new journey.

Though the ground it covers may be chronologically tight, taking its broader cue from 2006’s Xbox Live Arcade launch, Diver has done a grand job of digging deep into the period to unearth some treasures that may otherwise have passed many gamers by. So while obligatory nods are given to Braid, Fez, Limbo et al, there are plenty of smaller titles vying for attention here; Inkle Studio’s 80 Days, Alto’s Adventure by Snowman Studios and the gloomy hack‘n’slash adventure Eitr by Eneme Entertainment have all been investigated for Indie Games.

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In fact, should you want it to, Indie Games could conceivably keep you in gaming recommendations for the next couple of years. However, it’s equally as useful as a handy, not to mention aesthetically attractive overview of the nebulous genre while making a fair stab at looking towards the future. Diver’s style walks a fine tightrope of explaining some of the nuances to casual gamers while never making those already familiar with the subject matter feel like they are wasting their time.

There are plenty of interview snippets threaded through the 100-plus glossy pages, from behemoths of the industry such as David Braben of Elite fame to new kids on the block such as Thomas Was Not Alone developer Mike Bithell. Most fizz by with a ‘cut to the chase’ ethos that ensures a wide range of views within a relatively short amount of pages.

For what it is, Indie Games seems to have little competition in sewing up a quite remarkable period of gaming. Even so, it does it with an easy panache that makes it welcoming enough for casual onlookers while giving veterans a little something to get their teeth into.

Out now via LOM Art publishing