Indika Review: The Devil Makes Three

Indika Review: The Devil Makes Three

Indika, developed by Odd Meter, is a visually stunning psychological adventure that delves deep into themes of religion and the accompanying complexities. Although it may look like a horror game, Indika defies conventional definitions, instead offering a nuanced exploration of faith, doubt, and self-discovery set against the backdrop of a nightmarish interpretation of 19th-century Russia.

A Complex Narrative

Indika places players in the shoes of a nun named Indika, who is tormented by a demonic voice as she embarks on a journey to deliver a letter. The narrative is rich with philosophical exchanges and introspective moments, enhanced by remarkable voice acting.

"Rather than pitting a believer against a nonbeliever, Indika explores the space that exists between two interpretations of the same faith."

This exploration is epitomized in Indika's interactions with Ilya, an escaped convict who believes he is guided by God. The relationship between these characters serves as a vehicle to examine the different shades of Christianity, offering a profound look at how identical texts and rituals can yield divergent beliefs.

Visual and Artistic Excellence

Indika stands out as one of the most visually arresting games, utilizing framing, color, and lighting to create an atmosphere that is both eerie and captivating. Wide-angle shots distort features to give a voyeuristic feel, while the use of color and lighting mirrors Indika's internal turmoil.

"Developer Odd Meter uses framing, color, and lighting to achieve a look and feel that is rarely seen in games."

These artistic choices are not merely for show but serve to underscore the game's themes. For example, sections where the world splits in two reflect Indika's mental and spiritual struggles, with players needing to pray to restore order.

Gameplay Mechanics

While Indika excels in storytelling and visual presentation, its gameplay is more of a mixed bag. The puzzles range from simple and mundane to thematically resonant but occasionally feel disconnected from the game's deeper narrative themes.

"Puzzles like these make sense in the early hours, as the game familiarizes you with Indika and her menial life. But as her world expands, these bland puzzles start to feel tonally and narratively incongruous."

A particularly interesting mechanic involves earning points for acts of faith, such as lighting altars and performing the sign of the cross. These points are ultimately meaningless, highlighting the arbitrary nature of measuring faith and adding a layer of meta-commentary to the game.

Performance and Sound Design

Indika's performance is generally smooth, with impressive graphical fidelity and stable frame rates on high-end systems. However, it struggles on lower-spec devices, such as the ROG Ally, indicating a need for optimization.

The sound design is exceptional, with atmospheric effects and a haunting score that elevate the game's eerie tone. The voice acting, particularly from Isabella Inchbald as Indika and Louis Boyer as Ilya, adds depth and authenticity to the characters.

Controversial Themes

Indika does not shy away from controversial and difficult themes, including a scene near the end of the game that touches on sexual assault. While the intention is to test Indika's faith, the execution feels somewhat rushed and underexplored.

"Given the Catholic Church’s long and pockmarked history of sexual abuse, it makes sense that it plays such a critical role in Indika, but it's not examined with the care that is necessary."

This scene stands out as a moment where the game’s otherwise thorough interrogation of sensitive subject matter falters, leaving players with a sense of unresolved tension.

Final Thoughts

Indika is a daring and ambitious game that tackles heavy themes with a bold artistic vision. While its gameplay can sometimes feel repetitive or disconnected from its narrative ambitions, the overall experience is thought-provoking and visually compelling.

"Indika's direct examination of Christianity allows it to better explore the gray areas of religion and faith that are often lost when the recognizable specifics are swapped with allegorical fiction."

Despite its flaws, Indika is one of the most unique and intriguing games of the year, offering a deep dive into the complexities of faith, doubt, and the human condition.

Rating: 8/10

- Stunning visuals and artistic direction
- Deep and engaging narrative
- Excellent voice acting
- Thought-provoking themes

- Repetitive and simplistic puzzles
- Performance issues on lower-spec devices
- Some thematic elements feel underexplored

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