INDIKA weaves a mature tale of absurdity, hypocrisy and sexual violence

This story contains discussions of sexual violence.

Multiple scenes INDICA they are mixed in my mind. A palm-sized man crawls out of a nun’s mouth in the middle of a Catholic ritual and runs madly down her arm. A man hangs in the air, his torso impaled on a strip of coiled rebar, while a guitarist encourages him to die slowly. Dozens of bus-sized fish dangle on spinning spits above a flaming silo. The wild dog’s head repeatedly bangs against the gears of the mill, its neck limps and its tongue wags. The sudden appearance of a demon: gray skin, too many arms and joints crooked, bug-like and large. When I move, he moves.

On the way home, my skin breaks out in front of my computer. INDICA elicits visceral reactions effortlessly and always surprisingly. It’s a (mostly) third-person narrative adventure set in an alternate 19th-century Russia, starring Indika, a reclusive nun with the voice of the devil in her head. From this foundation, the game offers whimsical absurdity and raw human suffering, and even as its visual and mechanical styles shift from scene to scene, everything comes together in a cohesive package. INDICA is a master example of maturity in video games.


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Satan is Indika’s constant companion. As he leaves his monastery to deliver a letter to another village, a voice in his head gleefully utters his most brutal thoughts and points out the hypocrisies built into his chosen religion, Catholicism. The devil talks like he’s reading a children’s book, Rumpelstiltskin’s joy dripping from every syllable as he tells Indica how weak, unlovable, and naive he is. Indika argues with him and at several points shatters the surrounding reality, opening deep cracks in the landscape, opening new paths and filling the world with a red glow. Players can hold down the button to pray while being protected from his tricks. In order to progress through these scenes, Indika must switch between the devil’s reality and her own, inviting him to use the platforms of hell. As the game progresses, Indika becomes more comfortable with the devil on her mind, and the “press X to pray” moments are the first examples of their uneasy alliance.

As part of the religious critique, INDICA playing all the hits. His jokes about the manipulation, hypocrisy, and harsh inhumanity of Catholicism are clear and sharp, if not particularly revealing. The tone of Satan’s laughter rings out like a lullaby in every line, and to my ears—an atheist raised Catholic and deeply confused by the obscene, cultural isolation preached every Sunday— INDICA calms the soul. The game never fully explains whether Indika is having a psychotic break or is actually possessed by the devil in this world; everything exists in the gray area where both these states meet. Psychosis or Satan, all are incredibly real to Indica.

INDICA There’s a maddening tension between humility and doom, and at Odd Meter, the developers got the beat right. Indika’s reality is a frozen hellscape of pain, betrayal, and isolation, but it also has laugh-out-loud moments that feel more like a rom-com than a psychodrama about a sad nun. The game also takes a look at its past to a lighter visual style, evoking memories of pixelated platformers in sunny environments. These contrast sharply with the 3D brutality of the main scenes, and they’re incredibly engaging, offering smooth jumps with challenging times.


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It’s a game that calls for an occasional escape, and moments of respite are built into its progression, perfectly placed to ease anxiety when the heat is on.

About a quarter of the way through the game, Indika is faced with a chilling sight: She sees and hears a man trying to rape a woman through a doorway, and the sounds of fighting and screaming spill out into the hallway. Indika freezes, makes a casual noise, and then hides in the closet as the attacker turns his attention to the intruder. Satan teases Indika – “Did you see the size of that thing?” and “Maybe you wanted to join them?” – while the man was looking for her. The danger of the situation crossed the screen, heavy and white-browed.

This is terrible.

Moments later, Indika is riding a steampunk motorcycle with a trailer full of corpses down a winding path, when an unexpected friend lands on top of the corpses behind him and drops a cheeky one-liner. Suddenly, it feels like the beginning of a buddy-cop movie. The change in tone is a great relief, and this extreme balance is just that INDICA with incredible skill, repeatedly. The (first) sexual assault scene is quick and powerful, showing just enough to drive home the depravity of the situation without being gratuitous. After playing it, I took a deep breath, collected myself, and then went back to the game to unlock more of his commentary. Working on this theme increased my confidence in the developers’ artistic instincts and their ability to uncover the essence of true terror; it made me more invested in the rest of the game.


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Of all the memorable images INDICA, one remains particularly vivid in my mind. Indika kneels in her jail cell and the guard walks in alone, his intentions clear. He puts his hand on the back of Indika’s head and reality breaks in, as it often does in this game – but this time, softer, slower, and all-encompassing. The screen fades to a red pool, and in the center, Indika and the devil swim around each other like amoebas in a petri dish, quietly discussing the injustices of human existence. When her body is abused, Indika leaves and the stage remains in her red womb, providing space for the players to perceive the situation from an artistic and philosophical distance. It is original and powerful. It’s strangely soothing.

INDICA It is punctuated by moments of sexual violence, each of which is handled very subtly. The video game industry in particular is built on a foundation of physical violence—guns, war, blood, and murder—but there aren’t many games that address sexual violence. That’s mostly for the best, because sexual violence is still a topic we’re learning how to talk about on a cultural scale. It’s the ugliest side of humanity, the most uncomfortable to deal with, but it’s pervasive. Sexual violence is as worthy of compassionate discussion as gun violence, but for many societal and individual reasons it is more difficult to look at directly.

Interactive media in particular can be a powerful vehicle for immersion and revealing stories. Sexual violence requires empathy if it’s going to be part of any entertainment media, and that’s especially true in video games, where players reenact the events, put themselves in the character’s shoes, and lose it in a split second. events. Telling a story about sexual exploitation in a video game carries high stakes, and not just alienating or offending a segment of the audience. The risk is in the potential to literally re-traumatize the players. Handling a topic like bullying in the wrong way can be damaging and perpetuate harmful messages about power, autonomy and self-worth in the real world.


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For creators who don’t know how to approach a theme, the best outcome is to leave it alone, and that’s often the case with video game developers. The alternative – adding sexual violence to a game without understanding the brutality of the action, using it for shock value or lazily turning it into a motivational point for a separate character – will always be more upsetting.

For example, Immortality. It’s one of the few modern games that uses sexual violence as a plot point, and to me, its lens seems despicable rather than disgusting. Immortality employs real-life actors and puts the abuse itself center stage, allowing the camera to linger on long scenes of softly lit violence in the name of edgy commentary, the woman’s body more the focus than her pain. Sexual exploitation Immortality it feels like a voyeuristic fantasy.

INDICAOn the other hand, it centers the victim of violence and reveals the true horror of the act. INDICA the video demonstrates how a game can tell a weird and wonderful story that includes sexual violence, and proves that it can be done without going overboard with the story or the flow. These scenes add layers of thought and emotional height to Indika’s journey, revealing truths about her psyche and world. It’s encouraging to see these themes explored so masterfully in an interactive piece of art.

INDICA not just about sexual violence. The core of the game is filled with puzzles, platforming, and devilishly witty wordplay, and most of it plays out in a compelling and ridiculous way. Multiple segments INDICA They are absolutely hilarious with a wry sense of humor that reminds me of myself Alice in Wonderland (or more appropriately, American McGee’s Alice). However, it does not shy away from the dark realities of the Indika world, where rape is as prevalent as gun violence, war and religious oppression. Assault scenes—presented alongside themes of death, manipulation, isolation, shame, guilt, and cruelty—reinforce one of these. INDICAkey messages of: With a world like this, how bad could Hell really be?

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