Are Homegrown Indie Games & Developers Finally Getting Their Due?

Are Homegrown Indie Games & Developers Finally Getting Their Due?

Video games have the ability to teleport us into whole different realms. As a 90s kid who has spent countless hours drawing the curtains so no sunlight enters, and gaming away on my computer, I look back on those days as sweet nostalgia. Back then, having a personal computer in an Indian household was a luxury item and not an essential, as it is today. On my prized possession, the first game I played was Captain Claw, a 2D puzzle-solving adventure game. You have to play as a pirate captain, resembling a human body with a cat’s face, solve intricate puzzles, and kill monsters with your sword or pistol, where your bullets are limited. Each level is trickier than the last. After that, I was introduced to the wonderful world of strategy games through the Age of Empires trilogy. Age of Empires lets you take the helm of unique civilizations from history, command armies, build defenses and conquer lands. It simulates medieval war-time strategy and has been the forefather of strategy games like Civilization, Rise of Nations, Stronghold, and others. 

I witnessed the massive change in technology from the 90s and the amazing improvement in the graphics of the games over the years. When you play a game like Far Cry 6 or Elden Ring today in Ultra settings, you feel like you are inside those fantasy worlds, and one must tip their hats to the talented creators and game developers. The cost of gaming has thus significantly increased with more graphics requirements. Although I can now only spend a fraction of the time compared to my childhood on gaming, I would quote John Lennon— "Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.” Whenever we talk of video games, there is a lot of reliance on the Western world and the discussion heavily revolves around giants of the gaming world like Ubisoft, Electronic Arts, Bethesda, and others.

Let us also explore some Indian games and the developers behind them:

I. Asura

The home screen of Asura: Vengeance Expansion
The home screen of Asura: Vengeance ExpansionSteam

Released in 2017, Asura is the work of Ogre Head Studio. It is an independent game development company, based out of Hyderabad and specializing in games with themes of Indian myth and culture. Ausra is a rogue-lite game set in a fantasy world, where the players’ skill tree, changes each time they die. Inspired by Indian mythology, as the name suggests, the gamer is reincarnated as Asura, or a demon, who fights against the god-king, Hasirama. Its expansion pack, “Vengeance” adds unending hordes of enemies, new bosses, and a more intricate difficulty system. Ogre Head Studio is already working on a new RPG game, based again on Indian mythology, called Yodha. Asura is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux and can be purchased from Steam.

II. Miner’s Mettle

The home screen of Miners Mettle
The home screen of Miners MettleSteam

Miner’s Mettle is a mix of an artillery game and a real-time strategy game. Like No Man’s Sky, the game is set in the future, where the gamer discovers an alien planet that has a magical mineral known as Pentum. In this survivalist-base-building game, you are at war with other factions, who are trying to colonize the planet and gain control of the Pentum deposits. In your base, you can build new weapons to fit into your artillery train and strategize how much space you allocate to carry the mineral. Miner’s Mettle is available in both single-player games and online multiplayer modes. It has been developed by Singular Scheme and it is their debut project. Currently, the game is available as Early Access on Steam and is set to release this year.

III. Raji

The cover screen of Raji
The cover screen of RajiEpic Games

Developed by Nodding Heads Game, Raji is an action-adventure game where the protagonist is a young girl called Raji. Set in a beautiful landscape of ancient India, Raji is on a mission to save her brother, Golu, from nefarious demons and defeat the demon-king Mahabalasura. On her journey, Raji must complete various tasks and each level grants exciting weapons, blessed by various Indian Gods. As Mahabalasura seeks to destroy the world, Raji must solve several puzzles, battle through dungeons and save her brother, and the world. The game smartly uses various facets of Indian mythology, like Mandala paintings, Carnatic music, temples, and idols in those temples, immersing the player in the intricacies of ancient Hindu mythology. Raji was released this October and is available on Switch and Steam.

IV. Rainswept

A frame from the game Rainswept
A frame from the game RainsweptSteam

This game has been developed by Frostwood Interactive in 2017, which is run by Armaan Sandhu and focuses on telling cathartic stories through video games. Rainswept takes the gamer on an emotional adventure in a small town devastated by a double shooting. You must Detective Stone and unravel tangles of love, relationships, and unresolved trauma in this character-driven murder mystery game. It is a 2D game and your job is to assist the local police in finding out the killer of a young couple in Pineview town. If you are a fan of games like Disco Elysium, you will simply adore Rainswept. The game is available for purchase on Steam.

V. The Bonfire: Forsaken Lands

The cover screen of The Bonfire
The cover screen of The BonfireYouTube

The Bonfire is a unique game that has been out in the world since 2018 and has been developed by Xigma Games. The developers are an indie gaming studio consisting of a passionate group of gamers from Bangalore. The game is a survival-strategy game that helps the player build a settlement. It has five-minute cycles of day and night where one builds their settlements, gather resources, manages them during the day, crafts weapons, and at night, must fight monsters to save the settlements. It has a minimalist design and easy controls to complement it. The game can be purchased on Steam and is available on both PC Console and iOs devices.

India is a place with innovation and amazing game developers. However, to compete with Western companies, there must be more infrastructural development in the Indian gaming industry. In the not-so-distant future, I am hopeful that Indian games and developers will play a much larger role in the gaming world.