Expectations are a burden.

Try as I might to keep myself aside from envisioning what a game might be like before I buy it I can’t seem but help to make assumptions based on the few tidbits of information I grant myself. Initially I did this to not get swept up in hype cycles, lest I set the bar too high or write something off before I’d given it the chance to show itself to me. But, of course, the mind works to create information to fill in the void and so I find myself gravitating to games that manage to show echoes of other titles I’ve enjoyed or found intriguing. Indika grabbed my attention for just how unusual it looked: a game about a nun who travels with the devil, the world shifting in surreal ways around her. Whilst that is a part of it the game ends up being a far more traditional experience than you’d expect, following more tropes of the casual indie puzzlers or walking simulators than it tries to put to one side.

You are Indika, a nun in a monastery in Russia who has struggled hard to live the life that the church demands of you. Your world seems haunted by visions of the devil, unreal images constantly popping into your head making it impossible to get through the day’s work without being chided by the other sisters. This has led you to be an outcast, set aside from everyone else because you don’t fit the mold of what a nun should be. This could all change for the better though as the leader of the church has a task for you beyond the church’s walls; a chance to show them that you can be the resolute and devote nun that they want you to be.

There’s a lot of little details in Indika that, on the surface, seem trivial but are really the kinds of things that take an inordinate amount of effort to get right. Things like how the you leave footprints in the snow, the way the cloth of the nun’s hoods drapes over their heads and the heavy investment in the facial animations of all the characters. Then there’s the fact that the game shifts between a 2D pixel art arcade style game and it’s usual 3rd person puzzle solving perspective every so often, doubling up on the amount of artwork and engineering required. It is unusual for an indie studio to focus so heavily on visuals but, given they’re a deep part of the overall experience I can see why they spent the effort where they did.

The developers jokingly ask you in one of the game trailers which style of game Indika is before then rolling off a cheeky over-pretentious string of descriptions in a decidedly Wes Anderson fashion. At its core though it truly is a walking simulator, having you (mostly) walk through areas whilst doing some light puzzle solving in order to progress to the next section. Every chapter starts with some kind of pixel art based mini game, usually involving some kind of platforming or other retro experience to set it apart from the main game. The focus then is on Indika and her interactions with the world around her, the various artefacts you can pick up all being related to the church, its history and various philosophical musings. This kind of mish-mash of different art styles, game mechanics and surrealism isn’t exactly a new idea and, if I’m honest, I was expecting this game to be a whole lot more out there then it actually ends up being.

Which, if I’m honest, is probably my fault for getting swept up a bit in the game’s trailers. The kinds of games that usually market themselves in this way are really out there, usually leaning so heavily into the surrealism aspect that you’re never quite sure if you’re actually playing the game as intended. Indika on the other hand starts off in that way but swiftly transitions itself into a much more tame and direct experience, the surrealism fading into the background as the game shifts it’s focus towards Indika and her conversations with those around her.

There are collectibles and points to be had and you’d be forgiven for not believing the game when they say that the points don’t matter (I mean, the game doesn’t exactly set itself up to be reliable in anyway). This is, of course, a little bit of reverse psychology to trick you into thinking they do matter so you’ll spend more time hunting down all the collectibles that they’ve scattered around the map. I’ll be honest, it worked on me, that big rotating star they show if you get to Level 10 poking that obsessive part of my brain enough to want to get there.


Of course, for those who’ve played it, will know that the points are 100% meaningless and unless you have at least a passing interest in religion the collectibles aren’t worth chasing at all. I did have some fun at the end though, busting out my auto-clicker script to generate an inordinate amount of points just to see if anything would happen should I take it to the extreme. Sadly nothing happens but it was kind of fun to muck around with it for a bit.


Maybe I’m getting too old and cynical for these kinds of experiences as whilst the game dips its toes in some deeper philosophical thoughts (What does it mean to have choice?) it’s all pretty surface level stuff. The imagery and metaphors are all pretty straightforward representations, not really requiring any deep thought to uncover the truth behind them. I certainly didn’t hate it, but I’m not walking away from this thinking more deeply about those topics than I did beforehand.

INDIKA wants you to think it’s bucking the norm more than it is. Whilst my hats go off to them for the level of craftsmanship they’ve put into all aspects of the game the actual experience is fairly par for the course for similar titles in the genre. Being overtly self-aware about it isn’t new either and, admittedly, whilst that was enough to draw me in I don’t feel like it’s an accurate portrayal of what it actually is. Ah ha! I hear the devs say, we subverted your expectations, fuckin gotcha! No, not really, you did what all marketing intends to do: sell me something that I might not otherwise buy. There is little subversion in that.

Rating: 7.0/10

INDIKA is available on PC, PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S right now for $36.50. Game was played on the PC with a total of 3.7 hours playtime and 31% of the achievements unlocked.

About the Author

David Klemke

David is an avid gamer and technology enthusiast in Australia. He got his first taste for both of those passions when his father, a radio engineer from the University of Melbourne, gave him an old DOS box to play games on.

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