Want a break from the complex AAA titles? You can't go wrong with indie games!
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Most of us are on top of the newest game trends and releases, taking special care to know everything about the newest AAA titles. AAA titles are the “best of the best” in a way because they have such a high budget and massive teams of developers who make sure that every blade of grass is in the right place. However, indie games do not have that luxury since they are usually developed by an individual or a small team of ambitious people who have a dream and want to make it a reality.
We’re gonna give you an idea of the best indie games available at the moment. These games are fantastic and they also stand as a testament to how much one person or a small team can accomplish, as well as how much content you can pack into a simple game.
Let’s start with a very popular game that has gained notoriety as being quite difficult, as well as being one of the best indie games ever. Hollow Knight is a Metroidvania-style game where you control a nameless Knight of obscure origin. Your goal is to explore the subterranean world, coming across various NPCs, enemies, and bosses who will try to kill you. The gameplay is fairly straightforward as you have your starting weapons/skills, with the option of exploring the underground tunnels to find different improvements for your existing gear. When it comes to the story, it’s quite immersive and there is a considerable amount of lore to consume, so you can find yourself playing it for hours, constantly finding new things to enjoy and challenge yourself with.
Here we have a simulation game developed by a single creator — Lucas Pope. Papers, Please has an amazing premise where you assume the role of a border control officer who has to review the documents of various individuals who want to cross the border. To check the validity of documents, you have to use a wide array of tools and references to see if the person in question is even allowed inside the border. As you progress through the game the checking options will become more rigorous and complex, with the option of even doing x-rays on people to check for contraband. The story does not end there, however, as you also have some government conspiracies that take place on either side of the border, so you have to make difficult decisions regarding who you answer to. From the first glance, you can tell that this is one of the best indie games simply because it doesn’t need fancy graphics to tell a fantastic story.
The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth
Moving on, we have The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth, one of the best indie games with many religious connotations strewn through it. In the game, you play as Issac, a boy with a Christian extremist mother who is convinced that she has to sacrifice her son so he can be saved. The game is set in a top-down 2D perspective where you traverse various rooms in a procedurally generated dungeon, eventually coming to a boss. When it comes to combat, you use your own tears (yes, that’s a core gameplay mechanic) to shoot enemies until they’re dead. Some areas and enemies can be quite difficult to clear, so you have to carefully monitor your health which is displayed in the form of hearts. Issac, the main protagonist is not the only character you can play, since there are many different ones to choose from. Should you want to ditch other game styles and indulge in this bullet hell masterpiece, you won’t be disappointed!
Crypt of the NecroDancer
Another top-down roguelike game, Crypt of the NecroDancer is an excellent rhythm game where you control Cadence, the daughter of a treasure hunter who has fallen into a crypt ruled by an entity called the NecroDancer. As you pass the many rooms in the crypt, you will be assaulted by many different monsters. You’ll notice that the game has an extremely pleasing groovy soundtrack. Conveniently, all of your gameplay is going to be centered around the soundtrack, as all of the actions you take are going to be amplified if they are timed perfectly with the beat of the song playing at the moment. Following the standard roguelike thematic of other games, you’ll be discovering new armor, weapons, gear, and lore the longer you play the game, so there’s a lot of content to unlock before you eventually finish it. The ingenuity and creativity of this game make sure that it truly is one of the best indie games around.
This vibrant and colorful game is actually set in a post-apocalyptic world where most of the population has evacuated and fled for the Bastion, a stronghold that guarantees safety. However, your character, named “The Kid” is not fortunate enough to have been included in the Bastion, so he has to make his own way there. On the way, you encounter many enemies and puzzles that you need to solve. The world is very well-designed and isometric, so there is an extra element of immersion where you can see the world twisting and changing as you go through it. A key characteristic of the best indie games is introducing new gameplay mechanics that are innovative. Of course, encountering a lot of enemies means that there is going to be a solid amount of combat, so you can use one of the two weapons available to kill your enemies and progress. In general, Bastion is a fantastic game that warrants multiple playthroughs because of its sense of adventure, wonder, and fantastic worldbuilding.
Enter the Gungeon
Something that you’ll notice about most of the best indie games is the recurring 2D top-down style. This is because indie developers always try to pack as much content as they can into a simple medium, and the simpler the graphics and general design, the better the game will flow. This is especially the case with Enter the Gungeon. In this game, you play as a protagonist with a specific skill set who needs to go into the Gungeon and defeat the thousands of enemies inhabiting it. There is a story to be completed, but that takes a lot of time and many runs to complete, so you can expect many replays. You are given a starting weapon, and as you clear rooms full of bullet-themed enemies, you’ll come across chests that contain unique and creative weapons that vary in power. Likewise, you can also get different items, either active or passive, that aid you in fighting. Each level of the Gungeon also has a boss that has to be defeated before you can continue. If you’re a fan of very high-paced, bullet hell gameplay, you can’t go wrong with Enter the Gungeon!
This game is all about creativity and causing as much mayhem as possible. In Goat Simulator, you play as a goat. Duh. You can run around the open world as much as you want, interacting with things by licking them, hitting them, or jumping on them. Licking lets you stick any movable object to your tongue and drag it along with you. What you decide to do with the items you lick, but keep in mind that the more carnage you cause, the better. This is because the game has a scoring system where you get more points the more things you destroy. This is why this is one of the best indie games — giving a goat the freedom to do anything it wants is a hilarious premise and people love it. Usually, games give you a strict goal to keep in mind, but here, there is no such thing. It’s like like Just Cause, but for goats.
Hades has a similar premise to the other best indie games on this list such as The Binding of Issac and Bastion, where the player controls Zagreus, the prince of the underworld on his quest to escape the underworld and reach Mount Olympus. His father Hades is trying to stop him from leaving the underworld so he sends various lackeys to stop him. Luckily, you also have other gods in the underworld who support your cause and want to help you escape, so they give you various gifts that act as powerups. You can expect to see some popular characters from Greek mythology in the underworld, such as Patroclus, Sisyphus, and Eurydice. There are four “worlds” that you have to get through in order to leave this place and join the gods of Mt. Olympus, so there is going to be a lot of combat and intensity.
The Stanley Parable
Now we have a game that is quite unorthodox in its approach to gameplay since there is no combat or anything too complex to it, but being new and innovative is what you want in the best indie games. In The Stanley Parable, you play as Stanley, an office worker who has found himself in a tricky situation. You are pulled away from your job of monitoring statistics as an error pops up. You leave your post to ask someone for help when you notice that there is not a single soul in the giant building you work in. From here, you different things you can do since there is now a disembodied narrator that follows your actions and tells you what to do. You can choose to cooperate with the narrator to complete the story, or you can do your own thing and make your own decisions which will unavoidably irritate the narrator as he tries to force decisions on you. The game is hilarious and has an interesting setting, so it’s definitely worth a playthrough.
Limbo is one of the best indie games with an amazing premise — you play as a little boy who has found himself at the edge of hell. The visuals are very minimalistic, presented in a greyscale palette, adding to the great immersion the game provides. In the beginning, you wander around a little bit before a giant spider tries to kill you. Each enemy encounter has a specific route you need to take to avoid them, so you have to think quickly unless you want to die. As you progress through the game, you’ll come across various puzzles and obstacles that need to be resolved in creative ways. There is a large number of treacherous traps that can kill you instantly if you’re not careful, and the game being a 2D platformer with barely any visual cue for the traps does not help in that regard at all. Nevertheless, Limbo provides you with a fantastic experience that is thoroughly memorable.
We’re done here! Some of the best indie games you can play, all in one convenient list. As you can see, the style of these games is nowhere near the graphical quality of AAA games, but they are so well-designed that the graphics aren’t even that important. The experience is what matters here. We sincerely hope that you have found this helpful and informative, and if you want experiences with more variety, take a look at the best tank games, as well as the best mobile multiplayer games!