On a week where AAA imploded, I’m so thankful for indies

On a week where AAA imploded, I’m so thankful for indies
Image via Double Dagger Studio | Bigmode

Written by 

Joseph Kime

Published 

10th May 2024 17:30

A lot can change in a week. We certainly don't mean to imply that the gaming industry was in a particularly tidy place beforehand, but the last seven days have given way to total horror for gaming fans.

Xbox led a fresh charge on team members, and after it laid off 1,900 people following its purchase of Activision Blizzard King, closed four game companies. What's fascinating is that each team exemplifies how no area of the spectrum is safe - quiet upholders of live services, mobile devs, AAA studios creating critically maligned games, and another making critically beloved ones.

Microsoft has killed four groups of talent, and not even it can reasonably explain why. But in the face of this, hope springs. The outcome of the last few days has shown that hope can't lie in the hands of the conglomerates but the passionate and dedicated who have lived and breathed video games for their whole lives.

Animal Well is here, and it's proof that we don’t need the titans

Your character navigating a platforming puzzle in Animal Well.
Click to enlarge
Image via Bigmode

Though it's been in the works for some time, Animal Well has crawled out from hiding at just the right time. This is the debut game from Bigmode, the production company headed up by YouTube gaming champion videogamedunkey.

Animal Well has instantly proved that it's earned its accolades, standing as a Metroidvania with intrigue and fascination, not just with its own world, but how it operates to propel it into critical adoration. There are few games on the market that strip combat away in favour of intrigue and comfortable exploration that actually catapults its player forward, but Animal Well manages it flawlessly. 

It makes for a game that, after only a day on the market, has already made huge waves that have made Bigmode much more than the "YouTuber passion project" moniker.

It doesn't end here, as massively anticipated cat-themed adventure Little Kitty, Big City has finally touched down this week, giving players yet another slow-paced place to relax. And I simply couldn't be happier to see games like this launch in a week like this.

We needed games like Animal Well and Little Kitty, Big City this week

The titular kitty steals a phone in Little Kitty, Big City.
Click to enlarge
Image via Double Dagger Studio

Above all else, this week has proved that the future of video games doesn't have to sit in the hands of the giants. Xbox and PlayStation might be making the consoles we use, but the spirit of gaming has always been carried by those who care about it - especially those who care so deeply that they're willing to dedicate years to bringing new titles to life.

Even though they've grown substantially since the release of Hades, Supergiant Games proves this by leaping to the top of Steam charts with Hades 2, brilliantly expanding the original game's world and gameplay.

In an industry that feels shaky and as though everything can fall apart at any moment, it's crucial to remember that we could have the opportunity to create the next big game if we choose to take the mouse into our hands.

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After all, the era of brilliant innovations isn't over yet, and it's not like we can't have another Five Nights at Freddy's, Super Meat Boy, or Stardew Valley. These games exist because of a love for the medium, and it's these same creators who are still getting the flowers they deserve even in times of incredible sorrow for the industry.

This week, Xbox showed us the worst of the gaming world, but Bigmode, Double Dagger Studio, and even Crow Country's SFB Games are showing us the very best. Small though they may be, these games are the light at the end of the tunnel and proof that games won't die until we’re ready to allow them to. And we're not there just yet.

Joseph Kime
About the author
Joseph Kime
Joseph Kime is the Senior Trending News Journalist for GGRecon from Devon, UK. Before graduating from MarJon University with a degree in Journalism, he started writing music reviews for his own website before writing for the likes of FANDOM, Zavvi and The Digital Fix. He is host of the Big Screen Book Club podcast, and author of Building A Universe, a book that chronicles the history of superhero movies. His favourite games include DOOM (2016), Celeste and Pokemon Emerald.
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