Video games are a huge part of my life and have been for many years. It wasn’t until the past few years when I made a concerted effort to look outside of the usual places and big developers to see what was being made behind the scenes, often for less money. There are many indie games that I have loved and have been released to critical claim. I’ve picked my personal top ten of those games that hopefully will bring you as much enjoyment as they have for me.
The Binding of Issac (and The Binding of Issac: Rebirth)
The Binding Of Issac, and its recent expansion Rebirth, puts you in the shoes of a small child named Issac who descends into a basement to escape from his overly-religious mother. A roguelike, the game has constant replay value, especially when playing the expanded rebirth edition. A new DLC for the game is being released at the end of October as well, giving players yet another reason to return to the darkly comic game.
The artistic child of a single man, Cave Story starts like many other forms of popular media. Waking with no memory of your past, you start to explore the area you find yourself in, being thrown into an adventure which starts to reveal what’s been erased from your mind.
From the developers of the great Shank and the even better Mark of The Ninja, Don’t Starve is another roguelike that tasks you with one simple task: survive. Trekking the area around you, collecting items, inventing machines and not starving, this game is different every time you die, once again giving an incentive to return and play.
Despite being a fun and interesting game, Fez is also insanely beautiful. For an insight into how much effort went into the visuals of this game, you should watch Indie Game: The Movie. In Fez, you play a character in a 2D world who suddenly realises there’s much more beyond his life so far. With inventive mechanics and the already mentioned graphics, there’s no reason not to pick this one up.
Guacamelee! (or Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition)
I was originally attracted to Guacamelee because of its art direction which uses imagery borrowed from Mexican wrestlers and Dias De La Muertos imagery. A metroidvania style game, this is one for those who enjoy searching a game world and utilising new powers to get further as you go.
This is a game that I was immediately impressed by, and I have been back to enjoy it more than once now. Gunpoint starts with a detective accidentally stumbling on a murder while trying out his new pants that allow him to leap great heights without taking damage. While keeping this sense of humour throughout, the game is a complex stealth puzzler that takes you on a journey through corporate espionage.
I played and finished through Hotline Miami over the course of two free days about three years ago during a constant daze I found myself in during a more youthful period. The visuals popped, the music penetrated my brain, the violence kept my blood pumping and the story was intriguing. Beyond a fairly disappointing ending, I actually can’t think of a negative for this game. If you like games that require high levels of skill and are incredibly trippy, buy this game.
Limbo is one of the most bleak games I have ever played. While there’s no dialogue, the aesthetics are a constant foggy grey and you’re forced to watch a child die in increasingly gruesome way. As physics/puzzle platformer, this is a fun, but short, game that uses simple mechanics to keep you interested.
Lone Survivor (and Lone Survivor: The Director’s Cut)
Heavily inspired by the Silent Hill series, to the point where some of the sound effects are the same, Lone Survivor has you play as a man after some form of unnamed apocalypse, attempting to move from his apartment and see what else is going on outside his building. This game proves even with highly pixelated graphics, the use of sound and spooky/atmospheric art direction can scare a gamer.
This game was unanimously adored by every player and critic. Harking back to the best days of the NES, the game has a unique sense of humour, colourful graphics, phenomenal music and unbelievably tight gameplay. If you play games, you owe it to yourself to buy this game. I cannot recommend it enough.