So as I continue to wait for my new games to start rolling in this year I just keep playing catch up and trying out the new indie stuff. You would think eventually there would be a dry period of indie games but there is always at least one thing. This time around it was Ira- Act 1: Pilgrimage. Despite the curious title the game is actually very interesting, a kind if sci-fi point and click adventure game with its hands in space exploration and time travel… kind of. It even has a demo which gives you a good idea about the actual game, for whatever reason the demo caused my broadcasting software to cough up a lung. It plays and feels almost exactly like Broken Age although it seems to take itself a lot more serious and I didn’t really find Broken Age very funny as it progressed either. At some points it kind of reminded me of Portal actually; multiple times during the first scene on the space ship I couldn’t help but feel like the game was almost directly quoting the wake up scene from Portal 2.
I don’t expect much from indie games normally but this game actually impresses me with its graphics and sounds. They clearly took what they had and went all out with it. While simple they look great and really work in the games favor. The world is kind of empty though with large blank sections of just sky and many parts feel oddly solid. I did notice a couple of background pieces moving around in the opening section, like the swing, which was great but they were few and far between. As for the empty feeling I hesitate to fault the game for that because the game is all about space which is mostly empty. I may be giving the developers a little too much credit here but it seems like a kind of metaphor to me. I assume that is why much of the game also takes place at night, to show off the sky boxes. Since most of the demo takes place in a couple of primary locations and rushed past everything else I didn’t really get a sense that the game was that big or diverse. Details on the game make it sound much larger however and have images from a lot of different locations. I also really enjoyed the sounds and music which felt perfectly in place for the most part.
So any time you introduce time and space into a plot it is basically begging for some bizarre twist to occur eventually. I didn’t really get much of the story in the demo though; yes I understand times have been tough and that one evil shady company seems to have a dominant claim to the planet and want to expand to space but there are a lot of stories that are similar or near identical. Then throwing in any level of time travel is just asking for wild times. I did enjoy the section in the ship because it actually felt like I was getting somewhere and the time skip in the house was great but I feel like nothing actually ever happened. Again I realize this is a demo and they can’t give too much away but either way it felt like there was little else to be gained. The game notes also states that what you do will have far reaching consequences; just like most games that can only dream about being The Walking Dead. I have trouble buying this because in the entire 40 something minute demo there was only one real task to do that took all of a minute. Yes there was a couple of other options to make instead of just doing what I was told but it wasn’t any easier or harder to just do what I was supposed to. If my choices have obvious conclusions and take no more effort than the alternative than what real point is there to make the decision? Might as well just roll the dice or role-play as the biggest bastard this side of the Milky Way.
I like what I see and this game has a lot of unseen potential as of yet… I hope. I do question some of the game description on Kickstarter though. I don’t question that the design team has skill but I’m not so sure I believe that they have so much experience; generally gamers with actual design experience like to show off a little… unless the games they made were terrible in which case I know the feeling. There I go being a cynical asshole again though. However, this is not the first time they have tried to get this project funded; it didn’t fail last time though it was canceled; which is better I suppose. So I have to wonder if the scope changed or if something else happened. One thing is for sure, what was one is now many and you kind of have to wonder what motivated that.