Obscure Game Alert: Eleusis and the Advancement of Indie Games

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It seems a trend with indie games on PC recently has been first person survival horror games. I finally tried one that wasn’t developed by Frictional Games.

The game in question is Eleusis, seemingly the debut work of developer Nocturnal Works. I saw some nice screenshots of the game somewhere and found that it had a demo. The demo is pretty short but it gives me hope for a genre that a lot of people lament has largely exited the console market.

Resident Evil 6 and Dead Space 3 have been the latest games to get people upset about their respective franchises’ transformations from survival horror to action shooters with some horror themes. Anyone willing to look at independent games on the PC however might notice that developers there seem to have taken it upon themselves to make “real” survival horror games.

Of course one of the most famous examples is Frictional’s Amnesia: the Dark Descent (along with their previous Penumbra games), but if I didn’t know any better I’d say that game has started something. Similar first person adventure games include Miasma, Anna, Haunt, Dear Esther, and most famously Slender Man, as well as upcoming games like Routine.

Eleusis is a particularly beautiful example of the genre which is what initially attracted me to it — running on the Unreal Development Kit with Direct X 11. The textures and lighting effects were especially impressive for an indie game in a genre where creating a visual mood is very important. Just from the nature of the platform, to be honest, from a pure technology standpoint it probably beats the AAA-budget Dead Space 3 handily.

The demo itself is really just large enough to incorporate one puzzle, but it shows that the developers definitely have a grasp on how survival horror, or at least adventure gaming, works. From the way you interact with the environment, the puzzle, and the cut scene at the end, Nocturnal Works seems to understand the themes and feel of games like the older Resident Evil or Silent Hill games.

Eleusis and other games have pleased me with how advanced independent games can really be. For a while I was worried that the indie space would be dominated by deliberately artsy 2D platformers about characters with large heads running around the ruins of lost civilizations. Nothing against those games. It’s kind of amazing what accessible development tools have made possible. The problem though is that as far as I know none of the indie games I mentioned above is available on a console.

All these new first person horror adventure games are PC-only so far. The same goes for other relatively advanced indie games like Strike Suit Zero. I don’t know if it’s hardware constraints or the fact that most of these games are sold at price points slightly higher than the $15 limit you see for indie games on consoles, but from what I can see there’s a whole level of indie game development that current generation consoles are missing out on.

I’m hoping that this will change come new consoles. Maybe Sony really will allow more price variance with PlayStatoin Network games and allow indie developers to self-publish on the PS4.

Ultimately I’d like indie game design to reach a point similar to what medium-sized studios were doing on the PS2. Right now most indie stuff I see on consoles is equivalent to a really good Super NES game in terms of gameplay.

BULLETS:

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2 thoughts on “Obscure Game Alert: Eleusis and the Advancement of Indie Games

  1. Lacsativ says:

    What are some other indie games like this? I mean, simillar to Amnesia, with a strong atmosphere. Any advice? I heard about Dear Esther and Anna, are there any more games like this?

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