06 . 24 . 2024


Image. Odd-Meter.

Back in freshman year of college, I was studying Nicomachean Ethics in our Philosophy 101 course. It’s standard fare for philosophy class, and we had gotten to one of the building blocks of Aristotle’s ethics: the quote that “we are what we repeatedly do”. To establish this, our professor asked us who is more virtuous: the person who, with much practice, is resistant to temptation, or the person who, despite struggling and struggling and almost consenting to temptation, decides not to act on it. It’s obvious to me now what the correct answer is, but back then I decided to be pedantic – I said the practiced person was more virtuous, but the one still learning is more morally praiseworthy, because they overcame a larger obstacle. Classic freshman move, but God bless my professor, he entertained the notion and drew out further lessons from it. 

I understand better now, that the practiced person had to overcome those same obstacles as the apprentice. For all they’ve gone through while continuing to remain virtuous, THAT is what makes them more morally praiseworthy. But what about when we fail? Is all our hard work reset, like we had never practiced virtue in the first place? Indika seems to think so. 


Indika is a narratively-driven puzzle game – you are a nun haunted by the devil. He doesn’t possess Indika like in a horror movie, but rather he works insidiously to tempt, intrude, impede and accuse Indika, who is just trying her best to live a holy life. (This is much more similar to how possessions tend to work in real life – less “pea soup”, more “supernaturally intrusive thoughts and hallucinations”.) She is tasked by her superior to deliver a letter that takes Indika outside of the convent for the first time since her novitiate. What follows is absurd and discouraging. 

As Indika travels through the snowy wastes of an alternate-history of Russia, she must solve puzzles and platform through ruins of villages. Occasionally, Satan will ratchet up his attacks on Indika, causing an actual fissure in her surroundings – as if Hell was rising up to pull her down. To silence this attack, you pray – and surprisingly for this game, that works. The rifts close up. But sometimes to advance, you’ll have to allow the devil to speak, so that a rift pushes a ladder within reach, or some such. It’s a clever way to make a platforming puzzle, which is sadly underutilized. 

Game Capture.

Overall, the gameplay is fine enough as a delivery for the narrative – while I wished there was one more hallucinatory set piece in 3-D, it possibly could have overextended the narrative. The acting for the majority of the game is also serviceable, though it never felt like it was plumbing the depths of the writing they were given. Many lines that were clearly written to have anger and venom behind them were not voiced as such, with the exception of the devil, who played his part incredibly accurately. We see flashbacks to Indika’s past in (aptly) some lovely sprite-work. This part of the narrative doesn’t work as well as the 3-D portions, but it serves as an explanation for her past. While the platforming is overly heavy, the sections are short enough so as to not be overly bothersome.

Musically, Indika has a disquieting veneer of peace with a dark undercurrent flowing beneath. This is simply the music biding its time however, until temptation rears its ugly head. Then you’re assaulted with eerie electronic music which feels homeless and wandering, the discord preventing you from getting any release. No orthodox chanting or liturgical music here, which many video games with this setting would be tempted to default to. Considering the rest of the game, it’s a suitable subversion of expectations. Most of it does not make for easy listening, but as that’s the point, I’ll give it credit for being ludonarratively fitting.   

The writing perfectly captures Satan as “The Accuser”, and in that aspect deserves top marks. The devil constantly likes to remind us of our failures and sins, because he wants to distract us from the love of God. He wants to convince us that we are unlovable, because if we give in to that lie, we won’t accept the love God gives us. But God doesn’t love us because of what we can do for Him – after all, He can do everything. He made us so that He could love us. Whatever Satan can do to prevent that acceptance, he will. The devil in Indika is as odious as you can make a facsimile of Satan, constantly dragging Indika down whenever she dares to hope. What saddens me deeply is how much Indika listens to him.


Indika seems to not believe in any possibility of sanctity or redemption. If I’m being charitable, perhaps this is a trauma response, but it is a curious response for a nun who prays this devoutly to have. Why pray if you believe it has no efficacy? Why talk to God if you don’t believe He is listening? Desperation perhaps, but as there’s never any smidge of consolation in this game even desperation comes across as irrational. What I find to be more common is people who struggle to understand mercy. When you can’t comprehend mercy, many deny that anyone can be virtuous. Of course it is true that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23), but that is not the end of the story. That is only the human side of the story -the truth of it is that God has restored our relationship with Him, and with Him we can be who we’re called to be. The very next verse says as much: “They are justified freely by his grace through the redemption in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 3:24, emphasis added.)

This idea that virtue is all-or-nothing is a down-stream result of semi-pelagian thinking. (This is a heresy from the early church, which in part believed that sanctifying grace can be merited by our own efforts, without any divine assistance.) I say that because over and over in Indika, she worries about her past affecting her future, as if her sins were never forgiven. Therefore she thinks the only path forward is to do something worthy of the pearly gates that scrubs away her past, but that’s impossible. This has already been accomplished, and the effects of it have been freely given to us. This forgetfulness of God’s infinite mercy is the keystone central to the despair in Indika. “A saint is a sinner that keeps trying”, as St. Josemaria Escriva tells us. This does not mean we are trying to fudge numbers in our moral calculus or shift the weights on the scales, but that we continue to seek right relationship with God no matter how many times we abrogate that same relationship. We do not enter Heaven on our own merits, but on God’s merits, who paid the price for us. It’s only up to us to accept that gift with our faith, and in that faith good works are concomitant. 


Unfortunately, Indika never rises out of its despair. It ends in a heartbreaking way that left me angry and aching for goodness. It’s an affecting game on reflection, no matter your faith persuasion. But for me it’s more upsetting because it’s moral is a lie. If you don’t know of God’s love for you, I pray you all find it someday. It’s the most important thing that will ever happen to you. 

At CGR, we don’t like to proclaim whether it’s sinful to play a game, because some narratives appearing to be evil can be used to impart deeper truths. But I would not recommend this game to anyone, spiritually advanced or not. Its despair is affecting, and I wouldn’t want to wish that on anyone regardless of a game’s quality.

Scoring: 76% 

Story: 4 / 5

Gameplay: 3.5 / 5 

Design: 3.5 / 5

Art: 4.5 / 5

Music: 3.5 /5

Morality / Parental Warnings

Sex / Nudity: There is a scene in which Indika and her companion fully undress to dry their clothes by a fire. There is a nudity filter in the options which marginally covers things up. In the flashback scenes, there is a depiction of a couple under the sheets. Offscreen, there are two depictions of rape. 

Violence / Blood: there is risk of death in this game surprisingly – a wolf can maul you, among other things. There is the occasional blood splatter on the snow, and people are shot. There is an amputation, as well as a gruesome death of an NPC earlier on.

Drugs: Indika’s companion must be shot up with what I assume to be morphine throughout the game. 

Miscellaneous: there are relics spread throughout the game which increase your “points”. The descriptions of these relics are absurd and contain false stories designed to mimic legends of saints, but with a perverse bent. Additionally, Indika seems to be terribly catechized for someone who claims to have faith in God. She’s supposed to be the religious one, yet she sounds like an agnostic atheist when debating her companion. Perhaps another effect of her possession, or a sign she’s at the end of her faith. Just don’t take any of her words as what the Church (Catholic or Orthodox) actually teaches.

Case in point. Screenshot.

About Matt "PBnJ" Palardy

Video-game lover since I first jumped around in Super Mario 64. Tolkien nerd and music enthusiast to boot. Hope you enjoy long rants about miniscule details!