'Hellblade 2' Director Doesn't Get The Magic Of Indie Games
You should play Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice for many reasons, one of them being its depiction of paranoia and psychosis. Okay, that probably doesn't sound very fun, but it's pretty surprising coming from a game that looks just like every
hack n' slash Dark Souls clone you had on the market at that time. Hellblade sent such shockwaves that it captured not just many BAFTAs but also the attention of Microsoft, which promptly bought Ninja Theory, its dev team. Hellblade's sequel, the big money-backed Hellblade 2: Senua's Saga, drops this year and looks just as amazing as you'd expect. Too bad that for the sequel, director Tameem Antoniades threw the original game, as well as indies in general, under the bus.
He stated that the sequel would make the first game “look like an indie game”, which sounds pretty innocuous, but is actually a pretty big whoopsie.
I'm well aware that Antoniades just wanted to praise his new game, not make indie titles look bad – but that's the inevitable result. This is a man who sure does know how to make all sorts of games, even indie ones. You should know one of his indie titles because it's goddamn Hellblade.
Yeah, what the hell, man? One of the reasons why the first game was revolutionary was because it looked like a big-budget title despite being a cheap one made by a small company. People need to realize that “indie” does not mean “inferior” and, just as importantly, that both kinds of games don't exist to battle it out. They both occupy an important commercial and artistic space.
I'm pretty sure that Hellblade was a labor of love for Antoniades and his team, but his words may inadvertently lead others to fall for the dumb belief that indie games are anything other than the least diluted form of interactive expression one can find today. In a world where everything follows gets standardized to maximize profit, their existence is nothing short of a miracle. Seeing smaller games as but a means of getting to make a big game one day is as dumb as Hollywood's quest to turn every successful game into a big blockbuster. Games, regardless of their scope, should never try to become something that they aren't.
Also, if you look at stuff like Undertale, Disco Elysium, Stardew Valley, or Paratopic and think you should convince the audience that your game is less like them and more like that year's iteration of Call Of Duty, then you probably should rethink your marketing strategy.
Top Image: Microsoft Game Studios