The 100 Best Indie Games of All Time
50. Rogue Legacy
Roguelites often have a few things in common. Permadeath, randomisation and a selection of playable characters or classes, each with powerful traits to change the way the game is played. All but the last of these apply to Rogue Legacy. In a hilarious twist, characters in Rogue Legacy instead have physical or personal character defects, providing either bonuses or handicaps. Suffering with Alzheimer’s will, for example, remove the mini map, while suffering with hypergonadism improves your… knockback abilities.
Instead of playing the same class when (not if) you die, your character is succeeded by your offspring, and your negative traits may be passed on, as well as whole new ones. Looting weapons, armour and skills provides the replayability often offered in the genre, and combined with the genuinely funny gameplay makes this one stand out above other roguelites – perhaps it suffers from gigantism?
Thatgamecompany put the spotlight over indie games on last generation consoles with this masterpiece that got 10/10s all over the place. Now indie developers aren’t afraid anymore of trying to get their creations to Playstation 4 or Xbox One, let alone Nintendo Switch, which now appears to be the go-to console for indie studios.
Journey changed the rules of what an indie game could be and, most of all, look like. It’s an emotional rollercoaster with spot on gameplay mechanics, beautiful graphics and innovative storytelling techniques. In a sentence: it’s that game you want to tell your dad/mom/girlfriend/boyfriend to try out in order to let them understand what a game can make you feel and that it’s not all about shooting and killing.
It’s been almost a full four years since Super Time Force Ultra blasted its way into this world and became a fascinating example of how video games can handle time manipulation. Capybara Games task you with constantly rewinding precious seconds in their 2D adventure as you blast your way from enemy to enemy.
Death is regular in Super Time Force Ultra but so is cheating it as you continually pull the clock back, sending forth more soldiers to assist your previous lives which continue to complete their predetermined routines. The game allows you to stack combatants’ lives and actions on top of each other, culminating in an experience which acts partly as a solid, side-scrolling shooting game but more so a puzzler. The way Super Time Force Ultra allows you to create layers of itself brings forth a sense of skill, improvisation and tactics rare in other games.
47. Hotline Miami 2
Well, what’s left to say about the second title from an indie franchise that made it all the way to consoles and still grabs players with its fast paced mayhem, amazing soundtrack and mysterious storyline. This top-down shooter from developer Dennaton Games provides endless entertainment and mesmerizing rhythm.
Hotline Miami 2 tells different stories that take place before and after the events of its first entry, shedding some light on the various characters we’ve known in Hotline Miami and introducing new ones to further deepen the plot. Surprisingly for a game of this genre, the narrative quickly becomes gripping and nail bitingly engrossing.
Plus, the masks are hilarious.
46. Child of Light
On all fronts a pint sized-delight, Child of Light was able to perfectly blend whimsical characters, beautiful hand-drawn artwork and tactical turn-based content to make a stylised triumph.
Released in 2014 by Ubisoft Montreal, Child of Light told the story of Aurora, the daughter of a duke in Austria. Waking in the fairytale land of Lemuria, Aurora enlists the help of friends she finds along the way to battle her way back to her Dad and her home.
Child of Light’s simply mechanics made this world an accessible delight, while the depth of narrative and world-building made sure you were never bored.
Weappy Studio delivered not only a highly functional 911 simulator but also a deep storyline and a compelling anti-hero as a main protagonist that raised morality questions all over the place. With unique graphics and a comic book art narrative, This is the Police leaves no detail unassessed in a game that provides so many choices and paths to choose from that really gives players the opportunity of crafting their very own, one-of-a-kind experience.
Amazing voice acting, innovative graphics, deep and believable characters and an intriguing storyline seem to be the same ingredients that will carry on to This is the Police 2, scheduled to be released later this year, counting again with the helping hand of THQ Nordic.
If you’ve ever wondered how well you and your friends would survive in a harsh world full of monsters and danger – who hasn’t – then Don’t Starve Together can answer that for you. Probably not well, is the answer. Sold as a separate, stand-alone multiplayer expansion for the single player Don’t Starve, there’s no single player mode here, but the game arguably feels to be designed with multiplayer in mind. Gathering materials to fortify your camp, finding food and other resources to survive the night feels more achievable and less terrifying with a friend.
Don’t Starve Together has wonderful, dark cartoon style graphics which developer Klei Entertainment has become known for. There’s so much depth that hides behind a simple gameplay loop, ensuring that when (not if) you die, the addicting survival adventure will draw you back in for more.
“Cut the f**king onions!” There are few games which can drive your calmest friends into a frenzied swarm of expletives and panic, invoking a hidden aggression you’ve suspected was always there but never found a situation stressful enough to expose it. Well, Ghost Town’s Overcooked will invoke a frenetic status within minutes.
Don’t be fooled by its delightfully cute aesthetic and charming soundtrack as each level in Overcooked flaunts the creators’ game design ability, presenting a challenge which turns menial kitchen jobs into one of the biggest tests your friendships have ever faced as you try to serve up enough food before time runs out. It would be an easy task if Derek hadn’t decided cutting mushrooms was the priority and Sally thought she should do dishes leaving Jeremy to tackle fire. And bloody hell, there’s still no chopped onions!? Overcooked is pure chaos. Lovely.
42. Yume Nikki
Yume Nikki is perhaps one of the most memorable RPG Maker games ever made. First released in 2004, it rapidly gained a cult following thanks to it’s absurd and sometimes chilling visuals and atmosphere. The gameplay is incredibly simple, and consists of little more than your character going to bed and entering a dream world void of any dialogue, action or combat. The only objective is to explore. That doesn’t mean, however, that there isn’t an incredible amount of depth hidden just below the surface.
You control a hikkomori, Japanese for someone suffering from acute social withdrawal. Never has a mute character inspired such empathy in players, as she gives a simple, sad shake of her head as you try to leave her apartment. Yume Nikki will pull you into the disturbing, chilling dreamscape and keep you there for many hours of shocking wonderment.
With a beautiful artstyle and a plethora of engaging platforming to discover, Owlboy had very little to feel insecure about, although its protagonist Otus was in need of a self-confidence boost.
This spirited adventure saw the Owl protagonist, Otus, facing up to personal daemons and the pirates threatening his hometown, with a little help from the friends that took aim dangling from his talons. The gameplay mixed exploration with extensive dungeon levels, and although these dungeons could become a little repetitive, the joy of navigating through each environment made up for it.