The 100 Best Free Indie Games of All Time
Passage was an experimental little indie game from developer Jason Rohrer in which the player spends a few minutes walking through the entirety of a person’s lifespan. The rudimentary graphics and letterbox style aspect ratio might seem quite simplistic, but it was this novel approach that gave the game room to explore more metaphorical approaches to communicating with the player. At first glance, it’s a very basic side scroller, but as an abstract piece of art, it could convey a multitude of meanings.
You guessed it, Passage was another one of those games that reignited the age-old ‘are video games art?’ debate. Its creator, Jason Rohrer described it as an abstract metaphor for the human condition and has been outspoken about video games as a form of artistic expression. The game progresses allowing the player to fall in love or remain forever alone as the inevitable shadow of death approaches. And, unfortunately, you can’t respawn this time. You can play it more than once though, unlike real life, as far as we know.
Exhaustlands is a fantasy driving exploration game about smashing fascists through the power of teamwork and faith. Made in the space of 72 hours for the 42nd Ludum Dare this experimental title offers us a glimpse into the dark, abstract universe created by developers, The Sand Gardners.
As one of the last survivors of the resistance holding up in an abandoned power station you’ll have to scour the exhaustlands for supplies. With a fascist army at your back, it’s no easy task to bring faith back to the remnants of Brownie Cove. But, you’re their only hope.
78. Depression Quest
Depression Quest is a text-based fiction game which explores the challenges someone living with depression faces on a day to day basis. You are presented with a range of life situations and a selection of options related to activities or tasks to pick from. To reflect your illness, some of the options that could help you are crossed out making each choice more difficult if you don’t try to find help.
The game seeks to illustrate the feelings of hopelessness someone suffering from depression goes through and the difficult choices they face managing not only their condition but their relationships, job and social life as well. This game aims to show people dealing with depression that they are not alone and tries to and communicate to a wider audience what this illness can do to you and your life.
77. Morse Cod
Morse Cod is a World War 2 hybrid tower defence game that tasks you with defending the Mother England from the ultimate foe. No, it’s not the Germans, but an equally as terrifying aquatic menace sent to send your good old boys to a watery grave.
You’re not on the front line though with a rifle in hand. It’s your job to send morse code messages to the turrets on the seafront to tapping in the corresponding letters to match the slippery for emerging from the depths. It’s all quite tongue in cheek as you can imagine, but underneath all the tomfoolery is a genuinely fun and entertaining game, especially given the non-existent entry price. So, what you waiting for, go unleash hell on our briney foe.
76. Bound Together
Bound Together is a top-down narrative adventure made using the Bitsy game editor. In it, you explore a pixelated fantasy world of forests and swamps. You play as the bounty hunter Corsair who, by way of his profession, has become bound by rope to a thief named Dill. In a bid to bring your bounty to quarry you’ll have to travel across the treacherous lands to bring Dill to justice for his crimes at Black Tower Prison.
The graphics might not be much to look at, but this is a heavily narrative focussed game. The story explores the connection of two people on a long and arduous journey getting to know each other. As the bounty hunter Corsair finds out more about his captive he begins to doubt his inevitable goal and is faced with the difficult choice of turning in a man he has grown close to in their journey together.
If you’ve ever had a Spongebob induced fever dream then you’ll really get where this game is coming from. Spongebob is for many a fond childhood memory but 3:00 AM at The Krusty Krab aims to change that. After Mr Crab decides to stay up late counting money not expecting The Hash Slinging Slasher to return seeking bloody revenge in the early hours of the morning. looks like it’s time for a hasty escape.
It’s the Krusty Krab as you remember it albeit quite a lot darker as no doubt Mr Krab has turned all the lights off to save electricity. To get out with your life you’ll have to scour the legendary burger joint with a torch finding the items you need and completing the objectives. It’s all a bit weird as to be expected but also manages to create a strangely similar yet tense atmosphere full of sacres.
Critters For Sale is like exploring the world through the grainy, monochromatic lens of a Game Boy Camera. It’s comprised of five short stories all of which occur in different eras and locations across a broad range of bizarre themes. The game isn’t quite finished as of the time of writing but there’s still enough there to suck you into this strange and surreal world.
The final game will be broken up into five parts presumably titled after animals from the Chinese calendar: Snake, Goat, Monkey, Dragon, and Spider. Snake begins with you receiving text messages from Micheal Jackson – yes the Micheal Jackson. You explore various areas on your way to meet him experiencing what can only be described as a series of images. It’s an extremely unsettling game firmly rooted in the uncanny valley. Either way the universe you experience in Snake is interesting enough to want to explore more, so here’s to hoping we see further chapters of Critters For Sale release in due time.
73. Where Is 2019?
Where is 2019, is a wonderfully cute platformer by Mateusz Skutnik presented in a beautiful pencil drawn art style. In this short, but relatively challenging game you play Santa as he approaches the new year only to realise he has lost 2019. So, with a cheerful little soundtrack in the background, you set off to find the New Year.
This game was created by Mateusz Skutnik as somewhat of a thank you to his fans for continuing to play his games and support the worlds he creates. The locations are wonderfully designed in the unique art-style distinctive of Skutnik’s games and unusual enough to encourage further exploration. So, if you like 2D platformers, chill music and artistic games then this might just be for you.
72. Happy World
Everyone just wants to be happy right? It’s all about cutting out that negativity and focussing on the positives. Well, Happy World is a story about doing just that. Under the promise of a ‘reward’, you set off on a quest across this colourful world to restore positive energy back to three worlds infested with the opposite.
It’s got that whole ’90s Nickelodeon surreal vibe when abstract colours and loud joyful music seems the hallmark of every children’s cartoon. It plays like a 3D platformer and has its fair share of weirdness. Don’t mistake it for an actual kids game, it gets pretty dark at some points. So dance, explore, and remember, think happy thoughts.
I can’t think of a better person to teach you typing than David Lynch. I mean he has written some of the best movies and tv shows of our generation. Just to set the record straight this game isn’t voiced by the actual David Lynch, although that would be pretty cool. The voice is just an impression although I’m also not sure how exactly you’d do a David Lynch impression. He sounds pretty normal all things being said.
Real or fictional David Lynch aside this game promises to make you a typing wizard in a few easy to follow steps. It’s not just a standard typing game either it also gets pretty weird in parts. In fact, without spoiling anything the game gets about as surreal as some of Lynch’s own works towards the end. So, if you want to raise your words per minute and have your mind blown at the same time then go check this out.