Each month, the Indie Spotlight highlights a new game that exemplifies the creativity, cleverness, and beauty of today’s independent games market.
This month’s Indie Spotlight is:
STRIKE! The Game of Worker Rebellion
Board games are known for many things. They are known for their creativity of mechanics and flavor. They are known as excellent source of social interaction and group-based entertainment. They are even known for being educational – either directly as the main crux of its theme, or indirectly by fostering skills such as critical thinking and logical reasoning.
The one thing board games are not typically known for, however, is being topical.
Part of that is simply the self-selecting nature of much of the hobby’s thematic choices. On the one hand, it’s difficult to bring up real world issues in an overt way if your game is about fantastical creatures, deep space colonies, interdimensional threats, or esoteric and abstract constructs. On the other hand, when a game does pertain to people and places here on planet Earth, they are almost always removed from the here and now, opting for aggrandized aspects of the source material or so far removed from the present day that it’s treated more as an historical adventure than historical fact. It’s kind of hard to be current when your themes all revolve around Egyptians, Vikings, pirates, and medieval cities. And if you want something directly referencing the even the last 75 years, more often than not, it’s a war game reenactment.
That’s not to say that there aren’t exceptions to this, of course. There are some excellent examples of games that tackle modern era topics. However, they are generally more the exception than the rule.
Today, we’re all about adding one more to that exception pile, with STRIKE! by The TESA Collective. Unlike your typical board game publisher, TESA is one part design studio, one part educational program development organization – with both sides focusing on advancing social issues in the 21st century. And STRIKE! fits right into those efforts.
In this middleweight cooperative title, players find themselves cities and workers in the great Mercury City. Unfortunately for you, the richest company in the world, HappyCorp, has moved into the city and decided that it would be best to turn your municipality into a corporate-run metropolis in true Orwellian fashion.
Honestly now, did you actually expect anything less from a multinational conglomerate known as HappyCorp? Its name is less of a mission statement and more of, well, a subtle threat.
Over the course of the game, HappyCorp will deploy its assets across the city in order to take control of various parts of the city’s infrastructure, crush protests, and lull the citizenry into complacency with its Commercial Breaks – representing its control over media and entertainment.
Standing against that are the players, who must collectively work as a team to, well, strike. Through a mix of familiar and creative mechanics, players must sway parts of the city to their side, recruit allies and other strikers to defend against the company, and ultimately try to keep hard fought worker rights such as public services and unions from being eradicated by HappyCorp’s efforts.
Games about the labor rights movement of the last century are not particularly voluminous, and even fewer tackle the topic from a modern perspective. In an era of unprecedented wealth and social inequality the likes of which we haven’t seen in a century, STRIKE! aims to step into that void with an approachable game that’s one part social awareness, one part classic co-op, and one part dystopian warning.
Though purely coincidental to release in the summer of the decade that is 2020, we can’t help but note its timeliness. So get out there and fight the good fight!
Need more information about any of our previous Spotlight selections? Check out the list below or contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org!
Previous Indie Game Spotlights:
July 2020: Shaolia | Review | Q&A | Developer’s Site
Note: Due to COVID-19, there was no May 2020 Indie Spotlight
March 2020: Chai | Review | Q&A | Developer’s Site
February 2020: Dungeon Drop | Review | Q&A | Developer’s Site