With the industry-leading games being yearly releases, enormous billion-dollar projects, and long-awaited sequels, it is often easy to forget the roots of what makes the video game industry special. Games like A Highland Song are the diamonds in the rough we need to be able to return to the simple yet stunningly beautiful indie developments that sparked the art form in the first place.
There are thousands of games coming out every year. As important as the AAA scene is for keeping people interested in video games as an art form, the innovation of the indie scene cannot be understated. While the big IPs keep making the big sellers, it’s the independent scene that keeps pushing the boundaries.
A Highland Song is a return to artistic storytelling
A number of games I will hold dear to my heart and always recommend are the most simple yet affecting. Firewatch, Oxenfree, and Outer Wilds are all games that take the expected complexity and skill set that is usually associated with games and flip it on its head. Each tells a story and keeps the audience engrossed through immersive and original gameplay.
A Highland Song has taken a step back from violence and lunacy to instead focus on the serene beauty of the Scottish highlands. The simple plot looks to lead our heroine through the rolling mountains and fern-covered glens. Along the way, puzzles must be solved and curiosities uncovered.
Making a game as an indie dev team leaves a lot more freedom of expression. With AAA titles, audience expectation is everything. However, with a title like A Highland Song, risks can be taken.
This is shown to stunning effect in the watercolor landscapes and musical numbers throughout. Without a studio breathing down their neck, inkle ltd can express themselves artistically and without corporate interference. This kind of freedom is the lifeblood of the bigger, richer games industry.
Experimenting with art styles and mechanics is a risk. However, without it, the industry will never evolve. If it wasn’t for the artistic risks taken by thousands of indie developments, we would be stuck with side scrollers and Boomer shooters. Experiments with storytelling push the boundaries of what is adopted in the bigger picture.
Gaming for the alt audience
Their accessibility and engrossing narratives are suited not just for the seasoned gamer but for people completely unfamiliar with the art form. A Highland Song is the gateway drug that can entice new players and remind old ones just how beautiful and meditative gaming can still be. It doesn’t have to be all about world domination and bloody gunfights.
For players that maybe don’t have much time or want to simply unwind with a visual feast, A Highland song is perfect. The narrative plays out almost like a choose-your-own-adventure. Decisions are made, and stunning landscapes are taken in. All this is accompanied by a beautiful soundtrack. For someone looking to discover the magic of video games, these indie titles are essential.
It is important for people to realize that the Videogame industry isn’t just the war-focused, wildly fantastical world plastered on the sides of busses. There is also an entire pocket of developers who are dedicated to bringing the magic of paintings, symphonies, and novels to life.