7 Of The Best Back To School Indie Games
Risk detention with some of the best homework deterrents on the market.
It’s that time again, with the final day of August comes the last ounce of freedom for under 18s everywhere as schools open their doors and start dragging kids in by the ear again. Indie games seem to have a troubled relationship with education, with many of our top picks for the best back to school titles this month settling in the horror genre. Nevertheless, if it’s a game based on a school, it counts as homework so tap away!
7. Dangerous High School Girls In Trouble
Mousechief’s interesting take on schoolgirl hijinks in their board game-inspired RPG Dangerous High School Girls in Trouble is woefully underappreciated. Exploring a small 1920s town with your gang of girls your goal is to misbehave as much as possible and maybe find the town’s dark secrets.
The gameplay is divided up into a diverse range of wacky mini-games played out through a board game style UI with a cast of character cards filled with playful satire. In a system similar to that of Monkey Island’s insult based fights you’ll face-off against the increasingly more powerful faculty and townsfolk as you strive to uncover the truth. It’s all quite tongue and cheek with a keen sense of humour. So, if you like mischief and flirting mini-games then this might serve as a welcome distraction.
6. The Coma: Cutting Class
From Devespresso Games comes The Coma: Cutting Class, a survival horror corridor scroller initially released in 2015. Best played with headphones, protagonist Youngho’s escape from a psychotic killer through the darkened hallways of his school is devastatingly terrifying. Outpacing your mystery stalker proves increasingly difficult the further into the school you venture, and with shadows playing tricks across every locker and abandoned textbook, any unopened door presents a threat. School at night is terrifying enough, add in a demonic presence and you’ve got yourself a scare game.
With an atmosphere that could kill a man and an intriguing mystery to back it up, The Coma: Cutting Class is guaranteed to top any nightmare in which you turn up to an exam naked.
Horror fiction can be terrifying, but arguably there’s nothing scarier than the real horrors of our human history. Detention is far from biographical, yet this psychological school thriller is rooted in the genuine terrors of the White Terror of 1960s Taiwan, a dark time under Chinese dictatorial rule.
Every child wants to escape their school at one time or another, but Wei Chung Ting and Fang Ray Shin have a particularly good reason to do so – it’s been seemingly deserted by every living human except themselves, and flooded with monsters and ghosts. Their environment around them twists and warps into different scenes, many harkening back to the cruelly detained and executed victims of The White Terror.
4. Don’t Take It Personally, Babe, It Just Ain’t Your Story
Christine Love takes us through the social networks in 2027 to tell us a story of seven high school students and one teacher who can read everything they post. A visual novel, Don’t Take It Personally, Babe gives the player a ride, rather than seating them at the driver’s seat. As hitchhikers on this teacher’s revelations we can take charge of key moments and certain decisions, but generally, the hour it takes to play through this experience is spent being tricked into your own agency.
Nevertheless, Love’s title provides an opinionated discussion surrounding the future of digital privacy and relationships in a beautifully decorated setting.
3. White Day: A Labyrinth Named School
In many ways school is like playing a survival horror, so why not prepare yourself by playing White Day: A Labyrinth Named School by SONNORI Corp. If you’re a fan of classic Korean horror films and survival games such as the Resident Evil series then this will be right up your hallway.
Trapped in his new school overnight, student Hee-Min Lee must brave the night whilst at the mercy of a killer janitor. It’s a stealth based affair with plenty of puzzles to solve as combat takes a back seat – you have no weapons. Originally released in 2001 and remade in 2015 the notorious Korean horror game has a legacy as long as detention. If you’re looking for something scary to get you in the mood for Halloween this might just be your sort of homework.
At first look, Kindergarten’s pixel graphics and cutesy art style could suggest a relaxing management sim where adorable toddlers run circles around your mouse and milk rations are a top priority. What actually goes down in SmashGames’ puzzle adventure is bizarrely, and hilariously, violent. Death and mystery overshadow any semblance of learning at this ill-fated institution, where the janitor is regularly seen lugging strange bags of blood through the school halls and there’s a real fear of being clubbed to death.
Once one of your friends goes missing, it’s your job to go beyond playtime and seek the truth regarding this unique place of learning.
1. Academia: School Simulator
Schools are kind of like prisons, well, more so than usual in Academia: School Simulator due to its striking resemblance to Prison Architect. That might be in part because developer Squeaky Wheel’s co-founder, Ryan Sumo was the artist on the authoritarian incarceration sim.
Much like most sim games, you have complete control over the construction of all facilities and the exciting job of managing the finances. So, if you ever felt your school could have been a lot better, then this is your opportunity to create the paradise you always dreamed of. Well motivated teachers, exciting and creative classes with a cafeteria menu that would make Jamie Oliver weep. Or, you could always take a more disciplined approach and take what you’ve learnt in Prison Simulator to create a detention camp. The choice is yours.
Whether you’re tip-toeing through your school corridors or dodging detention, these back to school indie games are sure to get you in the spirit of education! If you’re looking for something to take your mind off school for a bit, check out our Top 7 Most Anticipated Indie Games of September!