Wednesday, May 22, 2024
HomeRunning a studioLosing your Religion with arthouse adventure Indika by Odd Meter

Losing your Religion with arthouse adventure Indika by Odd Meter

If Triple-A games are the equivalent of Hollywood blockbuster movies and indie games are comparable to independent films, then you could call Indika by Odd Meter an arthouse experience. The game, centered on a nun grappling with the voice of the devil within her, deviates from the standard in almost every aspect. This is very intentional, according to Founder and Game Director Dmitry Svetlow. “I feel we have approached many aspects much more seriously and deeply than is usual in games.”

Indika deals with themes like self-discovery, religion and authority and is set in the harsh snowy landscapes of an alternative Russia in the 19th century. The game, at its core a third-person adventure with exploration and platforming, uses dramatic camerawork that strengthens its cinematic ambitions. “I am particularly proud of our overall approach to dramaturgy and narrative delivery”, says Svetlow. “Personally, I was a bit tired of the traditional style seen in games and wanted to create something more refined and stylish.”

When the nun Indika, protagonist of the game, attempts to live a humble, God-serving life in the monastery, she finds herself conversing with Satan. Venturing beyond the safe walls, she discovers a world that can only be described as a wild combination of comedy and tragedy. “Indika is a very authorial project, with all the flaws and strengths that this entails”, explains Svetlow. “The theme of religion has always fascinated me because I grew up in a very religious family and often stayed for weeks at a time in a women’s monastery as a pilgrim. Thus, the story is fundamentally based on my personal experience and my journey of moving away from religion.”

Team of Architects

Svetlow mentions that the most challenging part of development was figuring out how the game should work from a game design perspective. “No one on the team had ever made a game in this genre before. Many had not made any games at all! So, we spent a lot of time prototyping, researching, and testing until we found our formula. We really are an indie studio in the classical sense. There are no managers, and everyone often has to perform multiple roles. I really like this format, because if you find the right people, the result can exceed all expectations.”

Indie game studio Odd Meter has been around since 2009, initially focusing on architectural computer graphics. Even now, the core team consists of architects. “Around 2016 we began working with VR and two years later released our first game, Sacralith: The Archer’s Tale. Before the war in Ukraine, we were based in Moscow, but now we are in Kazakhstan. The largest number of developers we’ve had at the studio was fourteen. Currently, there are fewer of us.”

Meticulously researched

With so many architects on board, it’s no wonder that the team has a distinctive understanding of the style and aesthetics that are central to the game. “Indika is more of a fairy tale than a documentary-like realistic reproduction. While we meticulously researched certain styles of architecture and church heritage and understanding the specific events taking place in a given year, many details are exaggerated and rendered grotesque.”

The themes, the characters, the setting, the sober color palette. It’s clear that Indika won’t be everyone’s cup of tea when it releases on PC on 2 May and later that month on PlayStation and Xbox. But Svetlow is realistic. “I don’t expect a resounding success. We wanted to make a game not for everyone and did not aim for a mass audience,. But if even a few people play it and say, ‘Wow, I did not expect this’ I will be satisfied.”

Eric Bartelson
Eric Bartelson
Editor-in-Chief of PreMortem.Games. Veteran game journalist for over 20 years. Started out in 1999 for game magazines (yes the ones made of paper) such as PC Zone Benelux, PlayNation and GameQuest, before co-founding Dutch industry paper Control Magazine.

Most Popular

Recent Comments