INDIKA Review | PC

INDIKA is an unforgettable adventure, and the personal story poking through is a very interesting one.

By MariDead, Posted 10 May 2024

To describe a horror-style title as a walking sim would normally be the biggest insult one can hurl at such a game, leading people to think it is boring, and that the gameplay and scares are lacking. INDIKA, however, is a horror walking style that is anything but boring. While there is no combat, that is not to say the gameplay is dull. INDIKA was developed by Odd Meter Studios, with Dmitry Svetlov taking on the role of Creative Director and Writer.

In many interviews, particularly those he gave in the lead-up to the release of this game, Svetlov has described his difficult relationship with religion and how he had become disillusioned with God at a fairly young age. These themes are clearly expressed through the eponymous character Indika, who questions her belief in God throughout the game.


INDIKA, Review, PC, Gameplay, Screenshots, Horror Game, Beautiful Nun
 

When the demo for INDIKA was released earlier this year there were many that showed excitement for the upcoming release. The gameplay was clearly simple but moving into another world to help with certain puzzles added a lot of intrigue for those waiting to play. This, along with the fantastic realism of the graphics promised a well-polished game for us to enjoy.

INDIKA follows the story of a young nun in a strict religious convent. She is having issues with her relationship with God due to a voice that she can hear in her head, one that tells her to question the will of God. This voice is implemented in a very interesting way, the player will think that it is just a narrator to start with, not realizing the voice is also the one Indika can hear until it starts haunting her. Indika is clearly not well-liked in the convent, this is shown to you through the cutscenes as they play, however, you can start to discover this sooner through the gameplay.

While walking to the first objective there is a piano you can climb on, if you do this you can then climb a ladder up to a nun who is on the rafters doing some repairs. However, as you move towards the ladder Indika will accidentally drop the ladder. Despite her apologies and the fact the ladder falling is an obvious mistake, the nun will nastily scold Anika even as she tries to say how sorry she is. While this is just a small moment many will miss, it is a wonderful spot of storytelling that is a classic example of showing, rather than telling, how a character feels.

The story continues with Indika performing dull chores. While this part of the game can be boring for some from a gameplay point of view, it is there to tell a story. Having to gather water from the well five times isn’t fun for the player, or Indika, and is an excellent way to demonstrate the frustration she feels being trapped in the convent. Having one of the nuns then spill the water once you have finished collecting just adds insult to injury.


INDIKA, Review, PC, Gameplay, Screenshots, Horror Game, Nun
 

After a very strange cutscene that proves Indika is getting visual as well as auditory hallucinations, our protagonist is allowed to leave the convent for a chore she has been instructed to do. While not in the convent Indika’s relationship with her faith becomes more strained than before. Moving into a whole other plane of existence while tangling with what seems to be the devil himself. Beyond this Indika also has to deal with those she meets along her way as she explores the landscape of Russia.

Much later in the game Indika’s relationship with the devil becomes more explicit. She sees visions of him, he even helps her out as she escapes a church later in the game as she leaves to avoid a priest who is far from godly in his intentions. In this moment you can see the influence of Svetlov’s own personal history with leaving his religion, in a speech from the devil about good and bad being flip sides of the same coin, and the version of good that exists to Indika was taught to her by other people who aren’t necessarily that good themselves.

The story is engaging and immersive. While there are some comedic moments, and some truly wild hallucinations, there are also some tragic events that shape Indika making a fantastic story to take part in. INDIKA has a very surprising opening to the gameplay. The opening cutscene is an 8-bit image of a woman falling. This becomes playable with you needing to collect the hexagonal coins to create a small song that triggers the real opening cutscene. This next scene is a very realistic one and demonstrates the future of the cutscenes and gameplay, which are all beautifully crafted hyper-realism. The switch between these two styles is a little jarring but it allows for a story to be told on two distinct levels. 

The 8-bit games reflect on Indika’s past and relate to the present-day events she is going through. These games are so much fun, the motorbike one especially, and they add a nice break to the somewhat relentless bleakness of the rest of the game. The aim is to collect coins in most of these games, and these actually affect the world outside the games as they seem to symbolize Indika’s relationship with God, or her HP, depending on how you view the story being told.


INDIKA, Review, PC, Gameplay, Screenshots, Horror Game, Nun
 

The gameplay itself starts very simple, it is a third-person walking sim that allows you to walk around the story. Rather than witnessing what is happening, though, you take part and you are able to directly influence the world. Like in the example before, where you can push a ladder down and upset a nun who is working in the rafters above.

The gameplay quickly changes, however. Once you leave the monastery the voices from the devil become far more intrusive, to a point where you are transported to a hellish landscape. You can move in and out of this plane by praying as you move through the space. The ground around you moves as you do this, meaning you can move in and out of the hellish state in order to work your way through the area. This type of puzzle-solving is really interesting and is a great addition to the gameplay. 

As you move on to new areas the puzzles become harder with more complicated solutions. The level at which these get harder is a fantastic pace, meaning you will continue to feel challenged as you move on through INDIKA. The gameplay outside of these sections is fairly simple. There are moments of finding objects and solving basic puzzles in which you have to pull levers and push buttons, and these again add to the gameplay. None of the puzzles are hard enough to get you really stuck, which is an excellent thing in this game as the narrative is the real selling point of the game. If the story was broken up by constant puzzles so hard you can’t progress it would be a detriment to the game as a whole. 

The graphics in INDIKA are fantastic. The realism of the faces is amazing, and many of the faces are not left in the uncanny valley. There are some characters who are only in shot for a few moments and do not have the best graphical detail, although they are on screen for such a small amount of time that it is not a huge issue. The best part of the art design comes from the hallucinations Indika has throughout the game. The devil’s face that haunted her is well and truly in the uncanny valley, with a too-round face and too-sharp features. This is a great addition as it adds a horror element to the game that is introduced very subtly in the early part of the game. The 8-bit sections of the game are also really well stylized and add a great pop of color to the fairly bleak world in which the main game takes place.


INDIKA, Review, PC, Gameplay, Screenshots, Horror Game, Nun
 

The sound in INDIKA is very well done. The voice acting is all really good, the voices Indika hears in her head are particularly good as the mocking tone perfectly toes the line of fun and sinister with every jab he makes towards Indika during her downward spiral. The sound effects also add to the immersion, perfectly recreating the muffled sounds that are present in the snow.

INDIKA is a fantastic experience. It is, ultimately, a walking sim, however there is a great deal you can do to interact with the world around you. The story is a lot of fun, and the personal story poking through is a very interesting one. The ending is simple, some have described it as underwhelming, although I found it a fitting end to a great story. The graphics and gameplay are great methods with which to tell the story that is being expressed. The voice acting brings the characters to life in a way that makes the world come to life. 
 

Mariella Deadman (@MariellaDead)
Editor, NoobFeed

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General Information

INDIKA

82/100

Platform(s): PC, PS5, XBSX
Publisher(s): 11 Bit Studios
Developer(s): Odd Meter
Genres: Puzzle
Themes: Horror, Adventure
Release Date: 2024-05-02

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