10 More Indie Games You Need to Play
I have a confession to make, folks: I'm a video game hipster.
See, I make no secret of the fact that I've genuinely begun to enjoy independent games far more than anything a triple-A developer's put out in the past several years. Mainstream gaming (how I hate that term) has become stale, repetitive, and overrun by an ocean of brown and bloom. Many independent games are, by contrast, creative, unique, and…
You know what, I'm going to stop right there. I'm certain your opinion of me has dropped low enough as it is. If I'm not careful, I'm going to wake up one morning with a horrible moustache, too-large glasses and several cans of Pabst.
Independent gaming is fantastic because it gives creative individuals a chance to explore ideas which might never fly in AAA development. While there's plenty of offal (sturgeon's law does apply) in the indie market, that just makes the gems shine even brighter. I've come across a few of these games in my time. Many of them you've heard of. Some of them, you probably haven't.
All of them should be played, and by as many people as possible.
There was a time when I foolishly boycotted Fez because I bore a strong degree of dislike for the developer, Phil Fish. I found him abrasive, arrogant, and ignorant- and that's putting it lightly. After a time, though, I realized something: most of my favorite authors were jerks. H.P. Lovecraft was a bigoted shut-in, Lewis Carroll might have been a pedophile, and Edgar Allen Poe was a drunken necrophiliac who married his cousin.
And you know what? None of that matters, because their work is fantastic. So is Fez. Those of you who haven't tried it due to some dislike of Fish…seriously, set aside your misgivings for a few moments and pick it up. Maybe then you'll see why everyone's so sad that Fish has left gaming and has no intention of returning.
Gone Home is the story of a fragmented family, a splintered home, and a young love that nobody bothered to understand until it was too late. It's also an entirely non-violent title whose entire purpose is exploring the Greenbriar Home as Kate – older sister to Sam, who is arguably the title's main character – and catching continual glimpses into the raw, below-the-surface lives of her family. It's a fairly short experience (only a few hours), but it's still fantastic all the same.
The Bridge is one of the creepier independent games I've played in recent memory. On the surface, it's a physics puzzler which involves the manipulation of gravity and positioning. Beyond that, though, it's a rather dark narrative of grief, loneliness, and confusion. Also, The Menace is somehow one of the scariest villains I've seen in a while, even though it's really only a ball.
An hours-long, in-depth RPG experience? Check. An awesome, cyberpunk-meets-high-fantasy-styled setting? Check. A fantastic, deep, and easy to use campaign editor that allows the creation of one's own campaigns and modules? Oh, yeah. It's definitely got that. If you've ever loved an isometric RPG, you'll love Shadowrun Returns. I can all but promise it.
The Stanley Parable
The Stanley Parable is a weird game. I'm going to say that right out the door. This is probably the strangest game you're going to play this year. It's also a very uncomfortable game. You're going to be confronting some rather unnerving questions (and situations) related to the core of what the gaming experience is. Careful you don't have an existential crisis while playing. It's been known to happen.
Though the golden age of the "god game" has long since passed, Reus is a beautiful reminder of those days. Taking control of nature through the hands of several incredibly powerful giants, you are literally given the ability to decide the development – and ultimate fate – of humanity. Give them too much freedom, and they'll destroy nature for certain. Give them too little freedom, and they might revolt. Of course, you could just kill them all, too.
Hey, no one said nature had to be nice.
Mark of the Ninja
I'll make this simple, so you know why you want to play it. You're a ninja. You're fighting a legion of soldiers trying to destroy your clan. There are actual stealth mechanics, and they're better than almost any stealth game currently in production aside from Dishonored. Mark of the Ninja was developed by the same guys who made Shank, so you can expect incredibly polished gameplay and action sequences.
Sounds pretty good, right?
There's an evil castle on a nearby hillside. There's treasure inside, and something related to a curse placed on your family centuries ago. For centuries, your family has been trying to break into the castle, defeat its occupants, and reclaim what they've lost. At this point, most of you have completely forgotten what that was. All you know is, hey: free loot.
Rogue Legacy is a Roguelike with a very unique mechanic: once you die, a new character "succeeds" your old one, benefitting from all the stat boosts, upgrades, and equipment you had on your previous 'toon. That character is the ‘child' of your previous one. There's a wide array of different classes tossed into the mix here, with a number of different "traits" ranging from flatulence to coprophilia to gigantism to dementia.
Yeah, the game has a bit of a warped sense of humor.
Does anyone here remember the Oregon Trail? You know the game I'm talking about – that horrible, sadistic simulator where your wagon would randomly flip over and/or explode and/or consume its occupants, and everybody got dysentery.
Well, someone decided they'd take Oregon Trail and add zombies.
I've played Organ Trail quite extensively (haven't yet managed to beat it, sadly), and it's an incredible way to kill an afternoon or two. Just so you're aware, though… this is going to be a challenge.
We'll top the list off with what may well be one of the most disturbing pixel-based games ever made. Everything about the experience is designed to be unsettling, and to make you question your thoughts and your memory. You awaken in a dark basement, with no memory of how you got there. All you know is that you desperately want to return home.
As you progress through Home's story and make an array of different choices, your character – and his surroundings – will warp and twist around them, often in a less-than-pleasant fashion.
A gamer at heart, Nick started writing when he was a child. He holds a BA in English, works as a freelancer, and loves every minute of it. One day, he hopes to net himself a career in game design - but that's something for the future.
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