Indie Game: The Movie - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Indie Game: The Movie Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ June 5, 2014
Inspiring, terrifying, and almost deadly to view (to a fault), "Indie Game: The Movie" is a captivating documentary about the lives of three separate independent video game design companies who are all in the process of getting their game into the market. If you ever play a platform game online and say that it sucks, I highly recommend that you watch this film before ever saying such things again. This film will not change the fact that some games out there are dreadfully bad, but it will definitely make you reconsider whether or not you want to just rip it apart. This film has given me more insight to the video game industry than I had ever known throughout my lifetime. Beautifully shot and incredibly displaying these stressful stories, this is one of my favourite documentaries to date. I loved every aspect of it. My only issue with the film is that it may be a little repetitive with it's location shots, and it's editing is great, but it feels quick at times. Every emotional moment that needed to be captured, was, and I really appreciated the time they took to show us that. I love this movie!
Super Reviewer
December 21, 2012
An insightful and obliterating documentary on a subject that many express interest in but know little about the processes of. Game design is such a slow, intricate, and time consuming process, and needs an effort and financial push that seems obscene. The film itself follows three game designers, one of which has already released his award winning and massively popular game "Braid." His commentary flits through the story as someone who has gone through the world of indie games, the publication, and the backlash when the public he thought he would have an open dialogue with shut him down. His story is prevalent for the first third of the film, but he quickly disappears in the fray of the other two designers, blooming in the community as they newly release their games. One designer is French Canadian Phil Fish, who gained notoriety for having a slow game production and not coming out with his highly anticipated "Fez." Fish toils alone in an office in Quebec as he tries to finish the game design for something he both reviles and loves. He swears like a sailor, has panic attacks at every possible junction of the development, and tries to get himself out there once more. Much better off are two designers who are about to launch their game "Super Meat Boy." They seem to be the main emphasis, because each of them is quite interesting and have created success from their indie beginnings. Tommy Refenes is suicidal, depressed, and anxious about the release. He cares about his parents and seriously worries us, the audience, as we watch his life slip into isolation. His partner Edmund McMillen is charismatic, confident, and obviously creative. The contrast between them shows a disconnect from reality most designers go through. The film is beautifully shot, the interviews are always interesting, and the way each designer describes their process and the connection to their audience is eye opening. It drags in the middle and doesn't follow as many game designers as it should, but it's entertaining and insightful about gaming and designing as well as entertaining because the subjects are so flawed and altogether manic and suicidal most of the time. Truly original and groundbreaking in the field of documentaries.
Super Reviewer
½ July 13, 2012
"If you don't see a vulnerability in somebody, you're probably not relating with them on a very personal level."

A documentary that follows the journeys of indie game developers as they create games and release those works, and themselves, to the world.

This movie is a fascinating look into the lives of people who are putting everything on the line for the purpose of developing a game, and it gives due respect to a craft that really gets none from the average person. "Indie Game" displays the passion that these developers have - on more than one occasion, more than one of them contemplates suicide, with Phil Fish coming off as particularly passionate and psychotic. One problem that I have, though, is that the movie follows three games to begin with: "Super Meat Boy" (Edmund McMillen and Tommy Refenes), "Fez" (Phil Fish ), and "Braid" (Jonathan Blow), but since "Braid" had already been released, it is basically dropped from the second half of the movie as it focuses more on the deadline pressures of the other two games. Having recently read a fascinating interview with Jonathan Blow, the themes and tropes in this games are incredibly interesting, and the movie makes no effort to discuss them in anyway (though, funnily, it does display his frustration at the fact that nobody understood "Braid" upon release). Mr. Blow also has an interesting take on the video game industry, and I would have liked to see his, as well as the other developers' opinions on it, further than "Call of Duty sucks". Still a good movie that video-game lovers will eat up and that non-video game fans should watch to get a little insight into how games are made, the pressures that are felt, etc.
Super Reviewer
July 18, 2012
Man. This movie came out of left-field. I had never heard of it before until a friend recommended that I check it out. Boy am I glad that I did. Indie Game is a fantastic look at the independent world of game development.
Directors Lisanne Pajot and James Swirsky expertly establish the characters and what is at stake in this world that I frankly knew nothing about. The production value is top-notch as well and the interview footage is mixed with meditative shots of the world beyond the developer's screen. Most importantly, it puts a face to this art form. In this world of instant digital gratification, with millions of videos and games all vying for our short attention spans, it is an important reminder that there are still those out there who still put their souls into these products. In short, it is the best anti-piracy add ever created.
Akin to the desire to shoot to the last page of a great thriller in order to find out the identity of the killer, it took everything in me not to google the names of these people I was seeing on screen. For that, I salute the filmmakers for making me care so much for a craft that I originally thought I cared so little for.
Super Reviewer
½ November 2, 2012
An excellent look at the life of a video game developer. In this case, particularly the smaller-manned teams of the recently rising downloadable games known as "indie games." This is reminiscent to indie movies, being privately made with a very small budget. Being a person who has played video games for my entire life, I was surprised at how much stress these developers were put under. One of them was depressed, the other was talking about killing himself, and the last was badly struggling with finances. When you hear the profession "video game maker" or "developer," you immediately assume big money. This is not the case with these guys; they struggle like any other citizen with a fixed budget and its definitely interesting to see them make a game with little money. This documentary has an incredible style of filming, and echoes the likes of David Fincher's The Social Network because of the very clean-cut photography and modern electronic music. Indie Game: The Movie brings the average gamer into the life of a developer with style, focus, and emotion.
Super Reviewer
May 31, 2012
This one was really fascinating. Here are the artisans who create video games of their dreams without studio interference but with a clear sense that they are controlled by the big name distributors in as far as they really need a paycheque to keep operating. Excellent test subjects were chosen. Each had a unique story and enough quirks to keep it entertaining.
Super Reviewer
June 22, 2012
An interesting look at the one of the most passionate minorities in the video game industry, independent game developers. The documentary is very well-made, and might even interest those without any knowledge of video games.
September 5, 2013
If you're a fan of video games at any level, this is a really interesting documentary as you get an inside look at independent video game makers and all the struggle, frustration and long hours that go into making a video game. In the end, I really want to play the games so I can get the full experience.
½ August 3, 2013
Very well-made documentary that unobtrusively chronicles the lives of three video game developers and is highly inspiring to anyone with a creative drive.
April 1, 2013
An excellent documentary following a handful of (indie) video game designers, showing how they put their passion -- and indeed, their whole _lives_ into the stuff that they work so hard to create. Makes you appreciate the games even more. Super Meat Boy, Fez, and Braid are the focus.
January 2, 2013
"Indie Game: The Movie" is a fascinating look inside the world of video game design and beyond. Rather than give a history of the video game industry, this documentary focuses on the circle of independent video game designers, treating the games as an art form and trying to turn a profit simply to help them design another. The film follows Phil Fish and the frustrations of his 5-year development of "Fez" through four redesigns, a potential lawsuit, and hostile gamers anxious for the game to be released. This two-dimensional character in a three-dimensional world is really cool (especially once you've seen the intricacies of the program but is major artistic eye candy. It also focuses on Tommy Refenes and Edmund McMillen as they sacrifice their personal lives to create something very original with "Super Meat Boy." Jonathan Blow also makes an appearance to discuss his game "Braid" and his depression from positive game reviews that couldn't see past the gameplay to appreciate the depth of the story. There is a lot more to a video game than a joystick and Mario running across the screen. "Indie Game: The Movie" explores the painstaking details put into these games by one or two people (as opposed to a thousand people working on Call of Duty), the stress of the release date, and the satisfaction of designing a game enjoyed by millions. You need to at least have a small video game nerd hiding inside of you to enjoy this one and, despite the profanity, it is a really enjoyable watch!
December 9, 2012
"Indie Game: The Movie" is a documentary about current (2011) indie game. The documentary is showing three different steps in the process of 3 different indie games - an already proclaimed and finished indie game with Braid from Jonathan Blow, an indie game that is just coming out with Super Meat Boy from Edmund McMillen and Tommy Refenes and at last an indie game that is in its early stage with Fez from Phil Fish and Renaud Bedard. I think it was a smart move to do this movie into those three different perspectives, even if I guess most of the movie is definitely about Super Meat Boy and Fez creators. Except a lot of curses :p, the documentary feels very human and I was sometimes ashamed of watching the various teams working on their games and their struggles with it. In that documentary, I definitely felt the stress, the passion, the effort and the need to express itself through the media that is video game.
Now, it is very hard to perceive those 3 games without thinking of the efforts behind it - this movie is showing the canvas of what I knew as finalized products and it makes you wonder: why didn't you see all the crafting of those games when you played them? Am I dumb and doesn't care about the vision of the game? Is it fair to not care about the details?
A very smart movie that I hope would allow some indie developers to continue their passions despites the struggle and the stress to not being understand... There is always a hope, just go ahead and try your best!
½ October 30, 2012
An entertaining, thoughtful look into the creative process and the struggles involved with independent game development.
½ June 30, 2012
(Note: After the last three months of sparse reviews, we should be getting back on track for July, and moving onward. However, the reviews might become slightly shorter. Hopefully there're still a couple readers left, right?)

Other than maybe in my tweens, never in my life have I considered myself to be a huge fan of video games. Sure, certain games such as Yoshi's Island and the Mario Party and Pokemon will always bring back happy nostalgic memories, which I'm always grateful for, but not once have I obsessed over an existing game, or watched G4 in mad anticipation for an upcoming one. It's not that I dislike video games in general; even less nostalgic programmed diversions such as Call of Duty or Ratchet & Clank still provide enjoyable entertainment, and could, if on an extremely dull day, be played endlessly. From my own personal experience, they're usually engrossing for a couple of hours or even days, but as time gradually passes, so does the enjoyment. Unless you have an almost unhealthy love for the game, or an aspiring designer studying how it works, it's difficult to imagine playing the same thing for an extended period. However, as I watched the captivating documentary by first time joint directors Lisanne Pajot and James Swirsky, Indie Game: The Movie, I realized that perhaps my opinions toward video games have been incorrect the entire time.

The doc focuses on three separate independent game designers as they reflect on the processes, and sacrifices, involved in developing these complex operations almost entirely alone. Like the ancient samurai of old, these brave men are willing to squander their entire existence to perfect their craft of game engineering, while obeying the aggressive demands of both business partners and cruel online "fans". Though the film also serves as a delicious piece of geek porn for those interested in seeing the video games themselves while still in development, the two directors make the excellent choice to focus on the men behind the games, rather than the games themselves. They're choosing to, in great detail, examine the samurai and his cause, instead of broadly showing multiple samurais fighting.

What ensues is a compelling, thought provoking tale of the successes and failures involved in following your dreams without a safety net. Suspenseful and, at certain points, fairly intense, more credit goes to the film's duo directors for engrossing the audience in a story we already know the ending to. Indie Game: The Movie is an almost masterfully crafting directorial debut that makes me curious to see what subject matter these documentarians capture next. When the film inevitably comes to G4 later this year, check it out. This is a film that, if a large enough audience was reached, could far exceed its indie ambitions and become as popular as the video games featured.

Grade: A-

Note: Yes, between the video games and samurais, that was easily the nerdiest review I've ever written. However, this will undoubtably be broken when Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Rises is released.
October 2, 2015
Indie Game works very well as a documentary about what it takes and costs psychologically to do your own thing and get it done. The movie has a nice, clean "professional indie" look reminiscent of Helvetica (the movie). The subjects are not easily likable but that makes them much more interesting and real than the boring bios network television typically puts out of, say, Olympic athletes. The main knock against it is the lack of time spent documenting what the creative process involves. There is a bit of that, but still the film could have used more. Overall, however, Indie Game is a good film for dreamers thinking about doing and entrepreneurs working at it.
½ September 15, 2015
An inspiring and educational look at the psyche and inner workings of popular indie devs and their success stories.
August 15, 2015
An incredible documentary for anyone, that is brimming full of real passion and emotion; the only film that's ever made me cry.
September 12, 2014
Centered around the trials, tribulations, failures and successes of video game projects that independent developers face, Indie Game: The Movie is an overall involving, interesting and insightful documentary. Like most films seem to struggle with, Indie Game drags a little at times but I was overall satisfied when it was over. I found the Fez segment to be the most interesting and artistic, but all three were engaging in their own right, and provided a glimpse of the stressful and at times agonizing process of developing video games. I definitely recommend Indie Game for anyone looking for an informative documentary.
January 29, 2015
Documentário sobre o processo criativo dos jogos indie. Interessante o esforço enlouquecedor dos designers em se expressar por esse meio.
½ January 25, 2015
A thoroughly well-directed and edited documentary that can be watched by all, not just the fans with Super Nintendo's gathering dust in a display cabinet.
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