Indietail – Iris and the Giant

While it has been a bit of a taboo to talk about Mental Health publicly in the past, the world is slowly opening up to the destigmatization of these rather important topics, such as Burnout, Anxieties, Depression, and other issues and emotions that humans tend to feel when they aren’t at their best. I think it’s important for the media to tackle these topics head-on and to spread awareness on how to identify them or how to deal with it. What do you do when one of your family members or friends is depressed or is experiencing a panic attack? How can you help them? Questions like these tend to remain unanswered since it’s rather hard to find a universal approach to all individuals’ issues. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution to this kind of stuff but by sharing experiences and talking about these things, we actually can understand each other better and potentially help each other out. 

Games are a great medium to do this. By introducing these topics into the world of games, you can make them more approachable and interesting, in a way, while also sharing experiences or letting players experience these situations, thoughts and emotions, even if it’s only a little. Games like Night in the WoodsFlorence, and GRIS, to name a few, are really good at this. They share stories about grief, depression, loss, and other topics, and do so in a way that is more approachable for people that aren’t necessarily experienced in that area. Today’s review is about another title that is doing an amazing job with the destigmatization of Mental Health topics, Iris and the Giant.

Developer: Louis Rigaud 
Publisher: Goblinz Publishing, Maple Whispering Limited, Mugen Creations 
Genre: Roguelite, Strategy, Card Battler, Deckbuilding, Indie 
Release Date: February 27th, 2020 
Reviewed on: PC 
Available on: PC, Switch, Android 
Copy was purchased. 

Iris and the Giant tells the story of a girl named Iris who is struggling with anxieties and depression and who suddenly finds herself on the river Styx, which inside of her mind links the imaginary world and reality. There she has to face her inner demons, fears and sorrows in order to climb a mountain and overcome them.

In its heart, this game is a roguelike deck builder with some CCG and RPG mechanics. It’s an interesting mix with a cute art style and melancholic and crippling topics. Your will is the only thing that is guiding you through this world and thus, it is your lifeline. To protect your will from the demons you’re facing, you’ve got to use a plethora of melee weapons, ranged weapons, shields, heals, and spells in turn-based combat to protect yourself and march forward. The game itself is set up in a bunch of lanes from where enemies and objects come from. Hovering over anything tells you everything you need to know immediately and due to the turn-based nature of the game, you’ve got all the time in the world to overthink your strategy and the potential next move. Your deck can be customised along the journey by adding cards and upgrades as you move on. If you end up dying, you can start a new run with the new cards you unlocked, the skills you selected, and imaginary friends that function as a handicap.

What I really like about Iris and the Giant is the customization aspect of the decks and runs. You can opt-in for a lot of different builds and use the skills that you unlock along the way to further specialise in different aspects. What cards do you want to see more of? The choice is yours to make, no matter what you do and whether or not you decide to rely on these “memories” or to go in completely naked! In a way, it is very intuitive and beginner-friendly but then it also has a big learning curve and some real challenge to it, which is to be expected.

It’s a roguelike after all, so it is supposed to be challenging. While the tutorial actually explains a lot of things rather well, it took me ages to fully grasp everything. The game’s principle is easy to understand but hard to master and offers a lot of skill expression, in a way. 

The demons you’re fighting represent fears and issues that Iris has and struggles with and are inspired by creatures from Greek mythology, which is really cool. The story is told through the eyes of Iris in a rather sophisticated way, which is quite nice to see. I don’t think you’d expect a game that looks this cute to talk about some heavier topics so eloquently while portraying inner demons as actual enemies that you need to battle. The story is melancholic and grim at first but eventually becomes rather heartwarming and wholesome, which is incredible, and while the issues presented here are rather real, it all still is quite a lot of fun, which is important to me. In case you’re not up for an emotional ride, you can just skip the cutscenes and play the game, but if you like the story, the game offers you decreased difficulty and lots of handicaps to make it easier for you to see the ending of it. On top of that, there is also a harder difficulty for fans of the game as well as different game modes and challenges to complete, so overall, it’s quite accessible to different types of players.

And I haven’t even touched on the minimalistic style and the great soundtrack as well as the fabulous voice acting. I love the colours and the art style that the game has going for it. There are some colder areas with more blue-ish colours as well as some brighter ones representing hell, for instance, where you have fiery enemies and warm colours. The atmosphere changes as you go on, and I really like what direction the developer took the game in. It’s lovely to see a game this polished, although I’ve also got some minor issues with it.

For starters, the isometric style is quite interesting but could’ve been handled differently. Sometimes, you don’t see what’s behind certain enemies, which can lead to you potentially missing out on loot or maybe even not seeing an enemy that has been lurking there… On top of that, there is also the issue of the sound settings not being that well-designed. You can turn the game sound and the music on or off but there isn’t much of a menu here. Luckily, the graphics settings aren’t needed here since this should run on even the oldest laptop… but I still would have liked to see more options, especially in regards to the colours used in the game and so on.

But overall, I don’t think that the cons outweigh the pros of this game. I really enjoyed it and liked the approach the developer took in regards to describing depression and anxiety while also creating a fun game. If you’re into card battlers/roguelikes, I can highly recommend Iris and the Giant to you. Even if you’re new to the genre, you may still like this game for the lovely soundtrack, the cute art style, the amazing story and the well-made strategy elements.


This post was first published on Indiecator by Dan Indiecator aka MagiWasTaken.

Humble Choice – February, 2021

Another month passes and therefore, it’s time for another post on Humble Choice. This month’s choice is causing some mixed feelings for me. On the one hand, there are some amazing games in the top-5 for me… on the other hand, you also have a lot of games in there that I frankly don’t like. Let’s get into it…

1Iris and the GiantLouis RigaudRoguelike, Card-Battler
2The Wild EightFNTASTICOpen-World Survival RPG, Indie
3Outward + The Soroboreans + Outward OSTNine Dots StudioOpen-World Survival RPG, Fantasy
4Endless Space 2 – Digital Deluxe EditionAMPLITUDE Studios4X, Sci-Fi, Strategy, Multiplayer
5Valkyria Chronicles 4: Complete EditionSEGATurn-based, Strategy, RPG
6Trine 4: The Nightmare PrinceFrozenbyteAction-Adventure, Puzzle Platformer
12Werewolf: The Apocalypse – Heart of the ForestDifferent TalesGothic RPG/Visual Novel, Horror
12Train Station RenovationLive Motion GamesSimulation
12ValfarisSteel MantisAction, Platformer, Gore
12Moving OutSMG Studio, Devm GamesLocal Co-Op, Simulation
12Boomerang FuCranky WatermelonParty Game, Fighting
19Lovecraft’s Untold StoriesLLC Blini GamesAction Roguelike, RPG

Rank 1 is occupied by Iris and the Giant. Iris is a game I’ve been following since around March 2020, I think. It looked adorable, it seems like it’s right up my alley and I’m just a sucker for roguelikes. Since I’m looking forward to that title the most, I’ve put it up there. The Wild Eight was a game that initially came out… ages ago… and I followed it on YouTube on several channels and it apparently was fully released in 2019 and I just didn’t notice as I hadn’t followed it in the last two years at all. Generally speaking, it looks like it’s up my alley and I was quite excited about it a while back, so glad to see it here again. Just seeing it is already making me somewhat nostalgic, but since it has gotten mixed reviews recently, I placed it on Rank 2.

I already own Endless Space 2 but if I hadn’t owned it already, I would have placed on Rank 2. The Digital Deluxe Edition comes with two cosmetics and the soundtrack… the latter is amazing, although I don’t care about the cosmetics at all. I think I’ll gift the game to a friend and see if we can play it together some time. Regardless of that, though, it’s a great game. I’ve seen a few streams of it and it’s by Amplitude. Right before Endless Space 2, however, is Outward which looks… interesting. I don’t know much about the game but it certainly looks cool and intriguing. I’ll have to see about that.

Alas, there’s also Valkyria Chronicles 4: Complete Edition… I haven’t followed the Valkyria Chronicles franchise at all, so I don’t know if I’ll need knowledge on the previous games to understand anything – but I know a few people that would like this game and/or that could answer any questions that I may have to me in a matter of seconds, so I’ll have to see if this is gift-material or backlog-material. Oh well. As far as Trine goes, I know a few of my friends like the series but I personally am not a fan of it.

And then,… after Rank 6, it only gets worse, in my opinion. For starters, I’m not a fan of werewolves or vampires or anything like that and it’s always a bummer that Choice seems to always include some sorta game in that direction, but since it’s kind of based on DnD from what I’ve heard (maybe I’m mistaking this for a different title), I may know someone who may like this game. Train Station Renovation is probably the best title out of these last few games, although I don’t personally like it either. May gift it to someone. Valfaris doesn’t look like it’s up my alley. Moving Out? Don’t really like it. Boomerang Fu? Not really up my alley either.

At last, I’m a sucker for Roguelikes but I very much dislike Lovecraft’s Untold Stories. It’s supposed to be an Action Roguelike with RPG mechanics but without the store’s description telling me so, I wouldn’t have guessed. While I do enjoy pixel art in games, something’s bothering me about Lovecraft’s Untold Stories’ art style… maybe the colours? At the same time, I don’t like how every single game set in the Lovecraftian universe is all about Cthulhu. “Oh, you like Lovecraft?” – “Yeah, Cthulhu is pretty cool!” – “Oh, what other stories do you like?” – “There’s more?!”

And I guess I could rant on and on about how uncreative some people are when it comes to Eldritch Horror or Cosmic Horror but in the end, it doesn’t matter really because I’m not a story-writer nor am I a game developer and maybe I’m the weird one here, idk.

Anyways, Humble Choice this month has a lot of games that seem great and that grant you a lot of value out of your twelve bucks… but there are also a lot of mediocre titles there, including a game that comes at three bucks. Maybe this bundle just isn’t my type of bundle… Maybe there aren’t enough management games in there or games about base-building or whatever… Maybe it’s just me… I just wasn’t a fan of a lot of these titles. In the end, though, I may actually grab this title later on, this month, as well, since Iris, Outward, The Wild Eight, and Valkyria Chronicles 4 offer a lot of value. At the same time, I’ll get codes for those cosmetics and the soundtrack of Endless Space 2 and I’ll be able to give away some games to other people, I guess.

I hope you enjoyed this post! Will you grab this one or will you pause it? I feel like I’m missing out on these offers if I don’t grab them, which is kind of rough sometimes… The backlog keeps getting bigger. Oh no… Anyways, if you want to grab it yourself you can grab all of the games as a Classic or Premium subscriber (“for this month only”) and you could even use this following link for it to support me and what I do. This is an affiliate-link, so uh,… disclaimer. Apart from that, you may also want to check out Naithin’s post on this month’s Humble Choice! His ranking is completely different and he has more insights on Outward.

Hope you have a lovely day! Stay hydrated and take care of yourself!


This post was first published on Indiecator by Dan Indiecator aka MagiWasTaken.