Eternal Daughter is the game I would have made when I was 18 if I were Derek Yu. It's Metroidvania with poetry - much like Know, a student project of mine that did not come to fruition because, basically, the programmers wanted to code the whole thing from scratch. ED uses Macromedia Fusion - yeah, there used to be different products aside from Flash back in 2002, and its decked out with sweet pixel art. If you don't know Derek, he's the designer/artist at Bit Blot, maker of the soon-to-be-released IGF winner Aquaria, and he also runs The Independent Game Source.
ED is part of a vein in indie games that tries to innovate in fiction, rather than rules; creating more compelling context for established design patterns, rather than trying to stake wholly unique gameplay. It seems like a lot of mainstream games are just having a party and justifying it with any ol' excuse - "lets blow some shit up and/or level grind - its Tuesday man!" is about on par with "I'll be back with a case... what? Its Ghandi's birthday dude!" ED is more like reveling in a bit of exploratory-upgrade platforming because it's independence day, it's actually trying to explore an interesting psychological and social issue--that of racial oppression--while simultaneously allowing exploration of a 2D world. In other words, it's the freeware, pixel art predecessor to Aquaria.
The game begins with our protagonist, a young girl, working in a forced labor camp--drilled on by her half-brother, the product of a forced union between her mother and the overseer of the camp. The girl is humanoid, while the oppressors are predictably more mechanistic in their appearnce. The brother's name is Hume; you kill his father early on--the first thing you kill actually--and face him as a boss later. Hume is the last name of a philosopher, if that means anything to you.
Gameplay-wise, the game suffers from, I don't want to say "poor"; from an autistic sort of balancing. Playing through a Gauntlet-like section, trying to get to the next save, you'll find yourself cursing--not because of the difficulty itself, but because the reasons for the difficulty is so obtuse and transparent. For chrissakes, a bullet could do a point less of damage... shit like that.
But if you've got the stomach for it, Eternal Daughter will delight you with its poetic rewards of increased ability to explore, in the Metroid tradition, and of increased insight into the valiant struggle of a little girl fighting for her liberty.