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Mini Review: Indiecalypse – A Deeply Unpleasant Game About Games

Humour is highly subjective, so we’re quite willing to concede that you might – might – find Indiecalypse hilarious. We only wish we could say that you’ll find it fun to play with the same level of confidence.

This bawdy adventure sees you taking control of three nerds as they bid to make a video game. It’s a loose premise that sets up a string of knock-about cartoon set pieces, off-colour jokes, and quick fire mini-games that parody established indie titles and gaming classics. Early examples include nods to Enter The Gungeon, Super Punch-Out!!, and Papers, Please. ‘Great,’ you might be thinking. ‘I love those games!’ We do too. But Indiecalypse’s tributes are shallow facsimiles of the real thing, calling to mind the cheap Flash games of yesteryear.

Many of them amount to little more than clunky QTE scenes, while ostensibly meatier shooter sections like the aforementioned Enter The Gungeon tribute possess precisely none of the pep or finesse of the source material. We suppose there’s something to be said for the sheer breathless variety on offer here, but the general brevity becomes more a source of relief given how downright bad many of these games are.

Some provide nothing but frustration due to clunky movement, laggy controls or unhelpfully vague instructions. There’s a Bit Trip-aping auto runner section that was genuinely difficult to get through because of poor performance, with a stuttering frame rate that made it tricky to see and react to the incoming rubbish bins and piles of poo in time.

Which brings us to the game’s sense of humour. Like we said in the intro, we fully accept that humour is subjective. You might well find Indiecalypse’s jokes about casual murder, abuse, obesity and vomiting amusingly dark and ‘edgy’. All we can say is that we (or at least, this particular writer) did not. We found it to be painfully unfunny – not in an offensive way, but rather in a tiresomely puerile way.

We get it. The bar for entry is pretty low. Dropping multiple F-bombs and masturbation references in a video game is guaranteed to raise a few cheap laughs. And being cynical about the games industry and wider gaming culture – biting the hand that feeds, if you will – is all very daring. But Indiecalypse offers precious little insight into the indie development process it so casually dismisses, and even less wit.

There’s some pleasure to be found in the game’s crisp cartoon art style, and a certain level of flair to the animated interludes. But then you encounter an atrocious auto-save system and a couple of loading screen freezes, and you’re back to being miserable. Indiecalypse just isn’t any fun to play. Maybe the very act of making these gaming parodies play so badly is a deep meta joke in and of itself. In which case, you got us. But we think the real joke is on the person who drops good money on this game.

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