There’s a certain kind of indie game that’s all about chill. You explore a slice of the natural world at your own pace, with a little bit of puzzle solving, but rarely anything that can interrupt your meditative flow. the archetype is Flowerwhere you are a gentle breeze that blows across the fields rustling the plants like some sort of invisible petal sorcerer, but there are many others – games like Proteus, Feather or Koi.
Naiad (opens in new tab), which was shown during the Developers Day broadcast today, looks like a perfect example of the form. You play a water nymph straight from Greek myth who is born at the source of a river and grows up as it travels along it. You swim, dive and do an underwater frog run as you help fish and other animals overcome obstacles like fallen logs, garbage and traps. Apparently, you’ll be able to make friends with ducks, butterflies, turtles, rabbits and even snakes and crocodiles, plus a talking cloud that acts as a guide.
Our water nymph protagonist collects vitality from the leaves and flowers that fall into the river and collects sunlight to make her hair grow. She can sing to call animals, make plants along the bank grow again, discover secrets including the “essences” of the river as well as hidden poems, and restore color to this bright world where it darkens.
It’s not all about putting flowers in your hair and playing with frogs, of course. As in Flower, there is a darkness that spreads whenever humans intrude on their world. Pipes pump pollution into the water, and highways surround it with noisy, smoky traffic. Restoring nature by making flowers grow back along the riverbank seems like a way we’ll have to gently push back, but presumably there are others. I don’t expect the endgame to be full-blown ecoterrorism, just a gentle rebuke of civilization’s intrusion into this world of green lilies and blue water.
Naiad is the work of Spanish independent developer HiWarp. The final game will be a journey through 16 areas including a fountain, lake and forest, as well as dark caves, rapids and swamps, ending when you flow into the sea. It is scheduled to be released this year.