Indie Game: The Movie is one of the best films I’ve seen this year and an extremely fascinating documentary on video games. The video game industry has dramatically changed over the last few years and what was once a small casual hobby for boys and girls is now a world wide phenomenon that yields billions of dollars every year. This documentary by Lisanne Pajot and James Swirsky focuses on three different developers, that offer unique insights into independent game development. Edmund McMillen and Tommy Refenes, that created Super Meat Boy on the PC, are in the process of getting their game on Xbox Live Arcade within a short amount of time. Phil Fish, creating his major game release, Fez, is also in the process of getting his game on Xbox Live Arcade, that has been in development since 2007. The last is Jonathan Blow, that created 2008’s Braid, that was an overnight success and is in the midst of his next game, The Witness. Each of their hurdles are different, but the film shows how much these underdogs must endure and makes us care every step of the way.
The film does a wonderful job of illuminating on how far independent video game development has come and what makes it such a big deal. It then eases into the story of the three developers, within the period of about seven months. With Phil, Ed and Tommy, we get to see the demanding tasks it takes to fully realize a game with such few people. The story of Jonathan Blow, gives insight to the ethos and spirit of what it means to make a video game at that level, as well as the negative aspect of fame and fortune when making a hit game. One of the key elements that links all three of their stories is the means of communication through their games and reach a mass audience. All of them utilize their ideas and try to convey them through the lens of this interactive media that we call gaming.
Indie Game: The Movie shows off some of the most incredible cinematography in a documentary ever made and shows off the power of Cannon 5D. All of the B-Roll and establishing shots of various locations look ethereal, which makes the developers journeys seem all the more important. These flow between shots of their games and various talking heads that just make Indy Game: The Movie a delight to behold. The score made by Jim Guthrie, who also made the music for the indie game Superbrothers: Sword and Sorcery EP, brings forward the sensibilities, vulnerabilities and achievements through his music that becomes another highlight of Indie Game. Every single technical aspect of the film is realized with a potential that no other independent documentary has every achieved and places all of its well earned Kickstarter funding on display for its entire duration.
Indie Game: The Movie is placed right next to The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters as my favorite documentary of all time. With its focus on one of my favorite past times that has been with me since a child, Indie Game succeeds extremely well as a doc on video games and the people that make them. It does such a great job at telling these stories, it’ll make you pick up all of these games once you finish. Highly Recommended!
Indie Game: The Movie is now playing in NY and LA.