best indie games of 2019

The Best Indie Games of 2019

Which indie game will take our number one spot this year?best indie games of 2019

What a year for indie games 2019 has been. Smash hit surprises have come out of nowhere and long-awaited instant classics have lived up to the hype.  They’ve taken us from the local pond to the far reaches of space and made us laugh, or even cry along the way.

Indies have flourished this year across the board but there has been a ceratin handful that have stood out from the crowd. In celebration of a great year for indie games, we’ve compiled all our favourite games of the year including our picks for runner-up to Game of the Year, our personal staff picks for Game of the Year, and the much argued over but undoubtable best indie game of 2019. Enjoy indie fans as this is as good as it gets.

Runners up

My Friend Pedro

“Wake up, sleepyhead,” a voice mutters softly. It’s not your mother or significant other disturbing your slumber, however. It’s a talking banana. This is how My Friend Pedro begins, and it doesn’t get any less weird from there.

The banana is your friend, he tells you. In no time, he’s told you to pick up a pistol and groomed you into a killing machine. The reasons given are somewhat flimsy, but you do little to object. Soon you’re effortlessly murdering tens of enemies – and with style and grace, too.

You see, the best bit about My Friend Pedro is the slow-mo action stunts you can pull off. 360 flips in the air. Rolls and pirouettes. Split kills, in which you aim at two enemies at once with your akimbo weapons. It’s self-indulgent and super satisfying, with ragdoll physics that add a nice weight to everything. It may not be the most moralistic action game, but it’s one of the coolest.

Baba Is You

Baba is You

Baba is You took the puzzle genre by storm this year with its experimental design that allows you to bend the rules of the game by manipulating word blocks. This small, unassuming puzzler really mixed things up with its fresh take in a crowded sector. The awards soon came rolling in alongside plenty of critical praise, with many celebrating its innovation in the industry.

At its core, it’s a game of rules, the basis on which all games are created. But, Baba is You doesn’t just set the rules of the game and allow you to explore them – it actively encourages you to break them. Its simple graphics hide a deep and complex challenge that requires some serious out of the box thinking to grasp.

It’s great to see such a radical concept come to fruition and to such critical success. It’s definitely one of this year’s indie game gems.

Slay The Spire

Slay the Spire

Coming out of left-field, Slay the Spire became an indie hit overnight. Mixing a Pokémon-style battle system with the strategy of Hearthstone, this hybrid roguelike deck builder took everyone by surprise. It might not seem like much at first, but it doesn’t take long for its addictive nature to set in as one more run leaves you with 2 hours sleep.

Where Slay the Spire really shines is its unique blend of great features plucked from a variety of genres, bolting them together to create new designs. Its fast-paced gameplay also avoids the 20-hour learning curve of many CCGs and replaces it with a pick-up-and-play mentality. It’s quick, fun, and smart and strategic when it needs to be. What more could you ask for? Oh, yeah, replayability – it also has that.

A Plague Tale: Innocence

Even the children of nobles aren’t immune to the horrors of war and disease. In the Hundred Years’ War, Amicia and Hugo are thrust into a world of desperation and pestilence brought upon by the invasion of The Black Death. As their guiding force, it’s your job to keep them safe from the scavenging rodents as well as the Knights stalking around every corner with murderous intent.

As teenage Amicia, you’ll be fending off the plethora of dangers that befall you while keeping your kid brother safe in the madness. Your only goal is to survive, and A Plague Tale: Innocence seems to throw anything that could threaten that survival straight at you. As a pair of defenceless baby nobles, stealth is often your only weapon, and creeping around grimy streets or the rat infested underworld is an intensely eerie experience. As the scrabbling of the rats starts to bring on a cold sweat, and the clanking of the Knights stops you dead in your careful tracks you’ll soon realise why A Plague Tale: Innocence has been so celebrated this year.


Devotion Review

Red Candle Games’ Devotion didn’t see a review score below 8 from the industry’s top reviewers (including, of course, us). It was praised universally for its atmosphere and attention to detail, the first person horror experience taking its narrative and gameplay beyond the confines of genre definition through a succinct design of terror and morbid curiosity. Then it was removed from Steam.

There’s been plenty of controversy surrounding the February release after an offensive piece of art was found in-game. A reference to a well known Chinese meme that criticised the Chinese leader and general secretary was found adorning the walls of a location, and the game was quickly tanked by its Chinese community. In response, developers took Devotion down with the intention of removing any similar messages that had found their way into the release build. Unfortunately, that’s the last we’ve heard of the fate of Devotion. What was once an extraordinary feat of environmental storytelling is, for the moment, resigned to infamy. Still, it’s one of the best horror games that 2019 has provided so far, so its spot here is reserved.

Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night

Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night was an unsurprising success when it debuted on Kickstarter back in 2015. Led by long-time Castlevania producer Koji Igarashi and hailed as a spiritual successor of sorts to the likes of Symphony of the Night, the odds were stacked in its favour. It’s been a long time coming, but now Bloodstained has released we’re pleased to say it pretty much meets the lofty expectations that preceded it.

The game is set in a parallel universe version of the Industrial Revolution, the main distinction being that alchemists and magic exist. In a misguided sort of protest against society’s focus on technology, the alchemists summon demons through the sacrifice of Shardbinders, people they’ve experimented on with demonic crystals. Needless to say, it doesn’t end well. You play as Miriam, a surviving Shardbinder dealing with the aftermath 10 years later, in which another survivor is enacting their revenge.

Bloodstained really does feel like a trip back in time to the glory days of Castlevania games, with great platforming levels full of secrets and areas that are inaccessible until you obtain certain powers or items. Killing some enemies grant shards that bestow you with new abilities, and there’s a variety of different ranged and melee weapons to collect. All of this benefits from a modern sheen, with its attractive presentation bringing the classic gameplay into the present day.

Void Bastards

Void Bastards

Void Bastards is every bit as cool as the name suggests. It’s bright, cell-shaded graphics pop with a funky comic book style littered with instances of onomatopoeia. Inspired by the likes of BioShock and System Shock 2 this strategy shooter mixes fast-paced action with FTL style strategy.

Leading a group of convict misfits through space, you’ll have to scavenge and scurry through an abandoned graveyard of vessels to survive. If you want to make it in this dead void of space, you’ll have to be prepared to do battle. You know what they say, if you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime.

Katana Zero

Katana Zero

There seems to have been an increase in 80’s-inspired games lately and Katana Zero is a particularly strong example, riffing on 80’s B-movies with style.

You play as an ex-soldier with extreme martial arts training. If that wasn’t enough, you have the cognitive ability to slow your perception of time and rewind on death. Needless to say, these talents come in very handy against the countless armed goons you face as you carry out missions for a shady benefactor. Trigger slow-mo during battles and you’ll see bullets streaking towards you, even blocking them with your blade.

Much of Katana Zero’s story is enigmatic, you never know if you can trust any of the characters you come across, yourself, or even the reality of what you’re seeing. One thing’s for sure though: it’s slick as hell. Beautiful pixel art combines with 80’s sci-fi neon and synth music to deliver a stunning tribute to its classic action forebears.

Outer Wilds

You wouldn’t typically expect to be able to get much done in 22 minutes. You could have a shower, or perhaps squeeze in another rerun of Friends. Outer Wilds, on the other hand, tasks you with exploring a mini solar system, solving the mysteries of an alien race and avoiding the sun going into a full-blown supernova in that time. Better get a move on, then.

Thankfully, you’re not limited to a single 22-minute playthrough. Every time you get caught in the blast of the supernova or die in another manner, you loop right back to where you started like a spaceman Groundhog Day. The clincher is that the puzzles you solve and things you learn in previous playthroughs will steadily help you achieve more and more on future ones.

A strength of Outer Wilds is its excellent level design. The planets are weird and wonderful and often beautiful, rewarding exploration with secrets to uncover. They also change and evolve over those short 22 minutes, so some areas may not be accessible towards the end of a run once they’ve been destroyed or blocked – you’ll have to return earlier next time.

Untitled Goose Game

Untitled Goose Game

Nothing has quite captured the gaming communities interest over the last few years than Untitled Goose Game – a game in which you play a mischievous goose literally on the loose. Your job is to cause as much hassle as possible in the small village you inhabit. Stealing things, annoying people, you know, being a general nuisance.

It finally launched this year and took over Twitter with gifs of terrified villagers fleeing the goose shaped menace flooded social media. It spoke to indie games power to relate something so simple, so primal in all of us – the urge to annoy people for fun.

Honking its way up the charts, its misanthropic energy filled us all with amusement. At its heart, it’s a comedy game, a simple escape from the daily grind. But, there is also a thoroughly enjoyable adventure game hiding behind its cute facade that’s easy to pick-up and hard to put down.