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TFI Friday: three indie games that make you want to message your family

Reconnect with League Of Enthusiastic Losers, In My Shadow, and Mango

I'd say call your family, but do we not all view phonecalls as deeply suspicious now? My phone is a glass-and-silicon brick for displaying text that makes me unhappy.

It's been a while since we've found ourselves here, looking at some indie games, and once again I have been drawn to some that are a little melancholy, but in a sort of healing, wholesome way. I'm not sure if that says anything great about my state of mind right now, but hey - the nights are drawing in, there's a bit of a nip in the chip, and it's the time of year when we're encouraged to think about family, found or otherwise. And who in their 30s doesn't get sad thinking about that.

League Of Enthusiastic Losers

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Who's it by? yookond
Where can I get it? Steam
How much is it? £9/€10/$12

This is a 2D story game where you play as Volodya and Vitya (alternately controlling both/either), two flatmates who have known each other a long time. They sleep in bunkbeds in a charmingly begrimed flat, where they also have a resident spider whose name is Arkady and lives in the hall. Volodya and Vitya aren't doing as subjectively well as some of their peers. They're a copywriter and a plumber - or an author and a handyman, as they say at a party that they're sort of embarrassed to be at. They're learning how to be happy with being happy. Volodya and Vitya are the sort of people who help a puppy out of a tree and immediately decide to keep it, or name the spider who lives in their hall instead of putting it outside.

The art in League Of Enthusiastic Losers is really delicate and lovely, like a children's story book. It adds an air of fragility to the whole game - not just in how it looks, but how Volodya and Vitya feel. They leave the party early because they're just kind of not up to it. But also because going home is what would make them happy. Same, my dudes. Same.

In My Shadow

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Who's it by? Playbae, Alcon Interactive Group
Where can I get it? Steam
How much is it? £8/€10/$10

I'll admit I'm really asking you to stretch your credulity with this one, not in the sense that it's indie or a game, but in the sense of it being new, because it came out in April. Look, it's new to me, alright? Plus it did get a major update just the other day, adding new levels with a demonic train. Honestly, the toys you can buy these days.

In My Shadow is a puzzle platformer in which you, a girl, think back about growing up in your family home, and things that caused you to grow distant from your family unit. This becomes metaphor personified as you tackle a series of levels in each room of the house, where a little childlike shadow of yourself crosses from one end of a wall to another, navigating shadow-hazards to collect fragments of memory. But In My Shadow is sort of a combined 2D/3D platformer because at any time you can switch to moving around the furniture in the room that is casting the shadows for your platforms. It's harder than you might think, and I often had to feel rather than logic my way through levels.

As you go, collecting these memories will unlock cutscenes and thoughts about the main character's childhood, and the reasons she hasn't spoken to her family in a couple of years - and it's not because she doesn't love them, I promise.


Watch on YouTube

Who's it by? Sad Mask Party, Nilware
Where can I get it? Steam
How much is it? £7/€8/$10

This is one of those games that's almost aggressively weird. You're an artist (big deal buddy) who makes weird, slightly surreal things, and you live in a weird, slightly surreal city. But when you go home and eat a mango out of your rainbow fridge, stuff really starts popping off. You're trapped in an increasingly horrifying hellscape of animals, food and mouths. A lot of mouths. Something of an oral fixation, in fact. It's a proper assault of colour and sound, a walking-nightmare simulator.

It's also surprisingly funny at times. When I say this will make you want to message your family, I mean in the sense that either you'll realise you've got some lurking emotional baggage to offload (not particularly subtle in its heft, either) or that you feel like you've had a bad dream and need reassurance and a glass of milk.

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