Join us as we run through some of our favourite indie games out there right now.
Whether you’ve been on the hunt for a new game to try out or you’d just like a refreshing palette cleanser after the madness that was E3, there are always lots of great indie games out there for you to get your grubby mitts on.
Since we’re a kindly old bunch here at the Indie Game Website, we’ve decided to put together a few of our current favourite indie games and we’ll be telling you exactly why you should most definitely be playing them right now.
Let’s dig in shall we?
1. Stardew Valley
After launching way back in early 2016, the incredibly popular farming sim RPG is finally getting an open beta multiplayer mode. The long sought after update is available to all players now by enabling the beta options in your Steam library settings.
Working together with other players in Stardew Valley will require a somewhat different approach than the main singleplayer mode. Space on the farm is shared by all players, each of whom will need to have their own cabin. Gold will also be shared amongst everyone, making communication important.
Players will also need to agree upon a bedtime (thankfully you do have your own bed) in order to end the day and recover energy. There’s also no pausing in co-op mode, which can make it feel as though the days pass very quickly. Though only in beta, and not available on consoles yet, the multiplayer mode for Stardew Valley is certainly worth playing if you enjoyed the solo experience and feels though it should have been there from the start.
2. The Forest
Following more than a few years in early access, The Forest finally released as a completed product in April. One of the few survivors of the original wave of survival sim games following the sudden success of DayZ, The Forest managed to do what so many of its contemporaries couldn’t and completed its time on the early access circuit.
After surviving a plane crash on a mysterious island your son is kidnapped by the island’s mutant inhabitants, The Forest sees you set off to find your son and uncover the island’s mysteries while you struggle to survive both the elements and mutant onslaughts. With fairly robust building and trap mechanics, The Forest remains at its best when the stakes are high and the mysteries have not been explained.
Unfortunately, The Forest could maybe have done with a little longer in the early access oven and it continues to be plagued by some bugs and performance issues. However, despite these technical problems, you’ll struggle to find a similar survival experience out there that manages to strike the same feelings of horror and desperation as The Forest.
3. House Flipper
Every now and then a game will come along and challenge the industry’s preconceptions of what is fun and what audiences will like. Viscera Cleanup Detail proved that plenty of people can find enjoyment in taking on the role of a janitor clearing up after a bloody video game battle and now House Flipper has shown us that home improvement is more than just a terrible sitcom from the 90s.
In House Flipper you pretty much do exactly what the name entails: you buy a rundown property, tidy and fancy it up, and then try to sell it on for a profit. It’s in the same vein as half the programmes that you’ll find on reality TV channels or daytime TV, but it is a surprisingly engaging experience.
House Flipper scratches the same sort of itch as other sims like Truck Simulator and Farm Simulator, but it has the added bonus of the clear sense of progress that comes with turning a dilapidated house into an attractive property. Sure, the satisfaction of tearing down walls with a sledgehammer might be an attraction all in itself, but it is that sense of making something better through your own hard work that really shines through in House Flipper.
Moonlighter is an action RPG with a difference. Playing like a Zelda-esque dungeon crawler, you’ll explore procedurally generated levels in a rogue-lite formula. But there’s more to your agenda than reaching a dungeon’s depths and conquering its boss. As Will, the shopkeeper of the village, you’ll be keeping a beady eye out for valuable wares you can peddle the next day.
There are some neat little mechanics in Moonlighter that keep it challenging. Your inventory is limited in size, which when compounded with item curses that impact how and where they can be stored makes for a mini-puzzle of sorts. Likewise, running the shop is less than straightforward. Pricing your stock is a trial-and-error affair of guessing its value and watching the ensuing customer reactions.
What really makes Moonlighter a must-play, however, is its scrounging and selling gameplay loop. Mo’ money means mo’ upgrades, which means even mo’ money. Whether you’re sucked in for hours at a time or just tackle a brief dungeon excursion every now and then, there’s a rewarding feeling of progress with each session.
5. Into the Breach
Into the Breach is Subset Games follow-up to their seminal roguelike, FTL and returned fans to the turn-based strategy they loved with the added pace of action-packed mech battles. In what could be described as Pacific Rim themed chess, players leave the stars behind to battle subterranean creatures emerging from the depths of the Earth to destroy mankind.
Travelling through time with knowledge of the dark future, you’re the planet’s last chance of survival. A simple UI coupled with deep, strategic gameplay leads to the ability to have complex battles in short, satisfying bursts that make it the perfect game to drop in and out of. Like FTL, it suits a busy lifestyle, with a clean pick up and play style that can easily coerce you into losing a few hours if a particular run grabs your attention.
Into the Breach’s real value though lies in its infinite replayability. Similar to FTL, every run has the potential to be completely different. Crucially here though, failure is not the end, with your time travel abilities granting you the option to send a lone pilot back through time to take another shot at the Vek menace.
Frostpunk is a city survival game where heat means the difference between life and death. Coming from the creators of This War of Mine it brings a more emotional aspect to the strategy genre that puts you in the position of ruler of the last city on Earth. It’s up to you to make the difficult decisions that may save the human race from imminent extinction or doom it to a frozen grave.
After climate change has devastated the planet you’re left we the task of the managing the last cities’ people and economics. It here that Frostpunk really shines, offering an interesting fusion of modern day city building mechanics with the added introspection of managing Earth’s last survivors. You often face the choice of sacrificing the few to save the many.
The political decisions you make also mix up the gameplay from the usual fare that sees you passing controversial laws to ensure the city continues to function in the harsh conditions. It is these emotion heavy choices and engrossing story options that set it apart from the average city sim and deliver a challenging and atmospheric experience.
7. Quarantine Circular
Too many games, not enough time? Is your infinitely expanding Steam library a source of barely-played embarrassment? If the prospect of starting another 50+ hour RPG or never-ending survival sim fills you with dread, you’d do well to check out Bithell’s latest experiments: first, last year’s Subsurface Circular, and then the more recent Quarantine Circular. These bitesize science fiction stories offer self-contained experiences that you can complete in a single sitting.
Quarantine Circular is a modern twist on the classic text adventure game. Eschewing any form of action, it laser-focuses the experience on conversations between a group of scientists and a surprisingly witty alien. You’ll make first contact with this extra-terrestrial, and it’s up to you to determine their motives and how much threat they pose to the human race. Through your dialogue options you’ll significantly shape the outcome of the story, for better or worse.
If Quarantine Circular grips you the first time round, there’s plenty of scope to replay chapters – or the entire game – to try out other dialogue options and discover the different avenues they lead you down. Regardless, this is a satisfying 2-hour adventure for the time-impoverished gamer.
If you’re after even more recommendations of great indie games to try out, then why not take a peek at our 7 Most Anticipated Games for June or our definitive-not-at-all-subjective 100 Best Indie Games of All Time.