Indie games are an interesting breed within the world of gaming. They can be anything from fighting games to racing games to bullet hell games. Many indie games have become instant hits among gamers and heralded as the best of their kind. So what is an indie game?
An Indie game is a game that is created, produced, and released by an independent party of one or more people. I've played a few in my time and I want to showcase the ones I thought were the best. Unfortunately, only games I've played will be on this list, so the odds are good that I'll be missing a few titles that would probably be on the list otherwise. Leave your suggestions in the comments below!
There isn't much to this game. You're in an arena against a singular opponent. The goal is to get to the opposite end of the arena while your opponent tries to stop you. Your reward for reaching the goal is being eaten by a giant worm monster. The graphics are equal parts simplistic and stylized. Your only weapon is a sword but the combat system gives you a number of options when it comes to dispatching your foe whether you're armed or not. There are a variety of different stages and they each have their own gimmick. This ranges from conveyor belts to tall grass. If you have a buddy and you're both bored, this game is a good time killer.
9. One Finger Death Punch
You wouldn't think a game where you only control your character using the mouse buttons would be all that fun, but this game pulls it off. You're a stick figure in the middle of the screen while enemies flank you. You're only means of defence is to hit your enemies before they hit you. You attack them with the mouse buttons. The point of this game is to survive the onslaught of enemies and complete whatever objective the level gives you. Despite the simple premise, this game does a lot with it. There are several different stages with different rules and objectives. You get powerups and weapons as the game goes on. The enemies also change as you progress, requiring more and more intricate button combos in order to take down. This is one game where button mashing will not help you, you have to make every hit count.
I like games with some good lore, but a game with a lore that reveals itself as you go is just as good. Bastion is a top-down action-adventure game set in a world that is slowly falling apart due to an unnamed cataclysm. You play as a white haired youth called “The Kid”. With the world's most awesome narrator as your only companion, you work to restore a device called the Bastion and put things right.
The game has a lot of artistic quirks, such as the level piecing itself together as you go and a narrative that contains more than a few twists and turns for the player. You start off with only a hammer as your weapon. However, as you progress, you'll eventually find yourself with a wide arsenal of weapons that you can swap out to fit your play style. If you fancy a lone journey to a land in need of saving, Bastion is for you.
7. Castle Crashers
Beat-em-ups are a genre I don't hear much about these days. This is a shame, as there is a certain primal satisfaction that comes from pounding hoards of enemies into submission with your bare hands. Luckily there's a game the proves that the genre has some life in it yet. Castle Crashers is a game starring four coloured knights on a quest to kick ass, take names, and rescue princesses. During the quest, you will be assaulted by waves of barbarians, trolls, thieves, imps, bats, demons, brutes, ninjas, aliens, skeletons, and much much more.
The gameplay is simple beat-em-up fun. You move to the right and slaughter anything that gets in your way. When you start, you can pick from any of the four knights. However, as you progress, you will unlock more and more characters to play as. Each has it's own magic, though some are clearly better than others ( *cough* Red Knight *cough*). The level up system also allows players to upgrade whatever stat they want in order to create a warrior that fits the style of the player. Each level is bright and colourful, the soundtrack is awesome, and the splashes of humour with definitely get a giggle here and there. This is definitely one of the best Beat-em-ups I've played in a long time.
6. Binding Of Issac: Rebirth
I have a hard time talking about roguelike games like this one. Since the final outcome of the game is almost solely dependent on the will of the random number generator gods, it's hard to say whether or not you'll have a fun time with this one. Binding of Issac: Rebirth is a top-down shooter/bullet hell roguelike game designed to resemble the old dungeon style of Legend of Zelda. The game stars a little naked boy named Issac. Issac has dropped through a trap door in his room in order to escape the righteous bloodlust of his mother, who has been given a task from “God” to kill him. Issac must traverse the many levels of his home's basement, fighting all sorts of unholy abominations along the way.
There really isn't much else I can say about the game because everything else about it is entirely up to chance. The powerups you find, the weapons you get, the items enemies drop, the enemies you encounter, the bosses you encounter, and even they layout of the levels are all completely random. While this does mean that every single playthrough of the game will be different, it also means you can easily go from having a really great run to having a really dismal one. It's all about chance, and I’m not much of a gambler. So as fun as this game is, it's staying at number 6.
I'm a pretty big fan of anime. I like anime that depicts mecha, sword fights, drama, action, and big pretty explosions. A couple of years ago, I happened upon a game on Steam that had all of those things. It's called Astebreed and this game is pure awesome. The fact you pilot a mech is cool enough, but it's the things you can do with this mech. Since this game is a bullet hell, you obviously have some projectile attacks. You have a spread shot as well as a more focused stream of bullets. You can also lock on to enemies and send out little energy spheres to blast them to bits for you. This also has a wide and focused variation so the way you use it is up to you. However, the games biggest selling point for me is the sword. You would think that a short range melee weapons would be disastrous to use in a bullet hell, but the developers pulled it off spectacularly. You can move around quickly with the sword and aside from making bad guy sushi, you can also use it to swat away certain projectiles, making it both cool and practical as an offensive and defensive weapon.
Another cool feature this game has is the camera. At certain points in a given level, the camera will seamlessly switch to either a sideways, top-down, or third person view. The controls adjust themselves accordingly as the camera moves, so the transition is smooth for the player. Anime fans will also appreciate the dialogue that happens in the game. As you progress, characters will talk to one another. This is your only source of exposition in the game aside from cutscenes. Unfortunately, the dialogue text is on the bottom of the screen during the game. You can't pause the game to read what the characters are saying. You may end up missing entire sections of the plot because of all the other stuff going on at the time. My recommendation would be to just play the game and then watch it on YouTube so that you don't have to worry about getting shot down while reading up on the plot. Other than that, this is a decent bullet hell with interesting mechanics and a cool concept. Check this one out if you're a fan of mecha and/or bullet hell games.
4. Shovel Knight
The NES played host to some pretty good games during its lifespan. One of those games was Duck Tales (WOOoo). The game had you play as Scrooge McDuck as you pogo jump your way through various platforming levels. Why is this relevant? Well. If you took Duck Tales, swap Scrooge out with a knight, throw in some elements of MegaMan and give the guy a shovel, you'd get Shovel Knight. You play as Shovel Knight, who has come out of retirement to free the land from the grip of the Enchantress. To this end, Shovel knight must fight his way through the Enchantress' “Order of No Quarter” and make his way to the tower of fate to stop her.
This was one of the most talked about games of 2014 and for good reason. Just by looking at it, it's obvious that this game is a throwback to the 8-bit games of old, from the graphics to the music. However, the makers of this game made full use of what is capable with 8-bit today to create beautiful environments with bright colours and good decor. Each stage in the game has it's own aesthetic and no two levels look even remotely alike. The soundtrack of this game also has that NES feel to it. Shovel Knight also carries that old school nostalgia in its gameplay. Armed with only a shovel, Shovel Knight can pogo jump off enemies, dig up treasure, and remove obstacles. The overworld is structured similarly to games like Super Mario Bros 3. Anyone who enjoys games with an 8-bit old school style should play this game.
3. Cave Story
It just wouldn't be a list of indie games without cave Story. As far as I'm concerned, this is the game that defined indie games and laid the foundation for other indie developers to follow. Cave story is a platforming shooter similar to Metroid. You are a robot who has awakened in the caverns of a floating island. The island is populated by adorable rabbit/dog things called Mimigas. The mimigas are being hunted by the game's antagonist, the Doctor. His plan is to feed them the island's red flowers to turn them into monsters so he can use them to take over the world, of course.
Cave Story was first released in 2004 and was created almost solely by Daisuke Amaya. I'm talking about the programming, the design, the music, the whole shebang. The original game uses simplistic yet very stylised graphics to create a look that has helped make Cave Story the unforgettable game that it is. Another good aspect of the game is its story. Your character does have amnesia, however, the game has little to do with you piecing together the events of your past. Instead, the game's story centers on you getting caught up in the Doctor's plan for world domination and having to stop him. The game presents almost all of it's story through the dialogue that the characters have with you as well as each other. Some will tell you what's going on with the island and the doctor while others will tell you about who you are and how you came to be on this island in the sky.
One of my favourite aspects of Cavestory's gameplay is how the weapons are handled. Enemies will drop EXP that you use to level up your weapons. Each weapon has up to three levels and you lose EXP when you take a hit. This way, the game rewards you for skilled play and punishes you for going in recklessly. I could go on and on about this game (Maybe I will in a future review) but I have two more games on this list.
2. Dust: An Elysian tale
I'm just going to start this one off by saying that this is by far one of the most beautiful games I have ever played. This game puts you in control of Dust. A warrior who awakens in a clearing with no memory of how he got there or who he is. He is soon approached by Ahrah, the talking sword and Fidget, a small flying creature called a nimbat. Together, they set off for the nearest village in search of answers for dust. From there, Dust gets drawn into a conflict that will change the land forever and bring Dust's past to light. I'll say no more about the plot because I don't want to spoil anything.
I said earlier that this was one of the most beautiful games I ever played, let me showcase why that is. First of all, The world itself is just gorgeous to look at. Not only is this a bright and colourful world, it's also well designed and well animated. Every character has their own distinct look. This includes normal citizens and people you may well never interact with.
“Speaking” of characters, this game actually has voice acting, decent voice acting.
None of this
The voices of the characters sounds natural and doesn't sound out of place. While we're on the subject of sound. The soundtrack of this game is amazing. Hyperduck Soundworks is behind the soundtrack for this game and they created a soundtrack that will make you feel those feels like you've never felt them before. I haven’t even mentioned the gameplay yet. The game is a sidescrolling brawler with some RPG elements thrown in. You'll want to pull off the biggest combos possible in order to get the most out of your foes and every blow strikes a musical note. You also earn money you can use in the shops to buy healing items as well as materials for crafting and equipment for both Dust and Ahrah.
So, with all this praise I've heaped onto this game, you're probably wondering why this game isn't number one. Well...
...This is why. Undertale has taken the indie gaming scene by storm in late 2015 and the fandom only grows stronger with time. So what is it about this game that's made such a massive impact? Is it the graphical style that is similar to Earthbound? Is it the awesome soundtrack that has been mixed and remixed over and over on YouTube? Is it the memorable characters that pull you in and get you invested in the plot? Is it Sans and his puns? It's the puns, isn't it? Well, if you want to see my thoughts on this game, take a look at my spoiler-free review of the game.
And these are my top 10 indie games. Please leave a like and a comment sharing your thoughts and opinions.