60. Cave Story Plus
It’d be a fair argument to suggest that Cave Story is one of the most well-known indie PC games of all time, to a certain generation at least. First released for PC back in 2014, it became well regarded for its original storyline, personality and fast-paced retro action. It later released on Steam in the form of Cave Story+, a slightly updated version of the classic.
A product of the critically acclaimed developer Daisuke ‘Pixel’ Amaya, Cave Story presented a fascinating world full of strange rabbit-like creatures. You have to explore this cave world packed with charm and personality, and, hopefully, unravel its mysteries. You run, shoot and fly your way around this iconic action adventure that pays homage to 8 and 16-bit classics trying to save the Mimiga from an evil villain.
It’s been a long time since its release but Cave Story remains a game often talked about to this day as a true PC classic. Like many of the great indie games, it made its own legacy by becoming a classic of a new era.
11-bit studios Frostpunk plunges us into a future where all the warnings about climate change were ignored and civilisation is on the brink of extinction. As the next ice age freezes the world as we know it the surviving humans venture forth into the tundra to set up the last city. You’re tasked with managing this last bastion of human survival as you battle against the elements and moral dilemmas leaders face in these uncertain times.
It’s essentially a city management survival game but with a few interesting twists that add an interesting edge to the game. Due to your predicament, there’s a number of moral conundrums that you face as the leader of the last city that will test the bounds of your compassion. Will you allow the few to suffer so the many can survive? Choices such as sending children down into the mines to help raise coal production or turning off the heating to the elderly care infirmaries to survive a particularly harsh snow storm are common.
There’s no easy answer, but there’s more than just the infrastructure and resources of a city to manage. you have to manage the hearts and minds of your people in a constant balancing act of necessary cruelty and genuine compassion. It asks so much more of you than the average city builder, and for that alone, it stands out as a worthwhile title.
58. Trine 2
Trine 2 is a beautiful, side-scrolling adventure game packed full of action and puzzles. Battling your way through a dark fantasy world you take control of one of three heroes each where their own unique traits. Ambitious in its story and complex in its gameplay, Trine 2 presents a vast world of adventure ripe to be enjoyed alone or as a team through online co-op.
Mixing a variety of physics-based puzzles with an in-depth fighting system you’ll have to conquer 20 plus levels of enemies, hazards and contraptions. Working together is the best course of action if you hope to survive this hostile environment and play to your strengths. Each character, unique in their personality, can combine their skills with those of others to create destructive effects. With beautiful environments and a robust progression system, Trine 2 is really something special for fantasy fans.
57. Don’t Starve Together
Don’t Starve Together sits as a separate multiplayer expansion to Klei Entertainment’s sensational Don’t Starve title. If you’re not familiar with Don’t Starve, you’ve got a lot to learn. Your protagonist, a scientist called Wilson, finds himself in a vast and unforgiving open world after tinkering around in his lab one morning. Unfortunately, there’s little on this randomly generated to help you survive so you’ll have to get creative to keep yourself fed, warm, and safe from the hordes of monsters that appear every night. As you progress through the game, and your beard grows steadily more impressive, you’ll discover new technologies and strategies that keep the darkness at bay and have you holding on for a few more days at a time.
Don’t Starve Together is the multiplayer addition that was never meant to be. Designers weren’t convinced of the game’s ability to support multiplayer but soon relented after fan support for the idea built to a feverish height. Now, up to six players can work together, playing as a variety of different characters within the Don’t Starve universe, each with their own skills and strengths. One of the most impressive elements of the experience is how seamless the game feels in multiplayer. Whether you’re playing on your own or with friends, the survival rogue like is perfectly balanced.
Bright, colourful and full of loot, Bastion is an action RPG created by Super Ginat Games. Set in a world shattered to pieces following an event called the Calamity, you’ll have to explore and scavenge to find anything you can as you struggle to understand this world-changing occurrence.
Bastion took an interesting approach to its story featuring an interactive narrator who reacts to your actions and the world around you. There’s plenty to explore in this hand-painted world as well, as the Calamity may have taken a lot, but not everything. With a fantastic range of upgradable weapons to do battle with the beasts of the wilds with and deeply satisfying story Bastion delivers an unforgotten experience with bags of replayability. The world may be over, but in Bastion your story has only just begun.
They say that good things come to those who wait. And while an overly protracted development cycle doesn’t always pay off for video games, in the case of Owlboy it absolutely did. After initially starting development in 2007, Owlboy didn’t see the light of day until 2016, with the devs going back to the drawing board more than once. But what we eventually got was a wonderfully nostalgic platformer that really shouldn’t be missed.
The introduction to Owlboy will be familiar to players of classic RPG and adventure games. You’re something of an outcast in your home village, a mute who’s looked down on by the other residents. When pirates attack however, it’s down to you and your only friend, Geddy, to save the day in a redemptive, coming-of-age aventure.
Owlboy has a feel of classic platforms, but by virtue of being the titular owlboy Otus, you can fly. This provides more open-ended level exploration, as well as the ability to carry Otus and the other friends you meet on your journey for combat and puzzle-solving.
54. Baba Is You
It’s not often that a new puzzle game comes along that’s nothing like anything ever seen before, but Baba Is You meets that rare criteria. Featuring light coding mechanics, you can change the rules of the game on the fly by pushing around blocks of different variables and effects. Change “rock is wall” to “rock is push,” and just like that, the boulders blocking your path can be freely shoved out of the way.
Whereas that explanation may sound pretty straightforward, however, Baba Is You is anything but. It’s fiendishly tricky in places, requiring you to think so far outside of the box, the box is just a tiny blip on the horizon. But with a cute lo-fi aesthetic it’s hard to be mad at this inventive puzzler for too long. Just be prepared for your brain cells to be stretched to their limits.
53. The Witness
Indie darling Jonathan Blow’s follow up to Braid saw no reduction in success over its predecessor, with IGN describing the puzzle adventure a “masterpiece” to back up its 10/10 rating. The Witness takes players on a journey across a strange island riddled with ingenious puzzles nestled within the natural beauty. While the storyline itself is left vague, and has as a result been widely debated across the industry, your path across the island will be informed by the puzzle slabs you illuminate with every successful puzzle solution.
Each puzzle takes the player out of the lush scenery of the island and presents them with a simple map. It’s your goal to draw a path through this map that succeeds in a number of different ways. The rules for puzzle completion vary across the game world and build in complexity as you unlock more and more. While they’re certainly not frustratingly difficult to solve, and generally feel quite accessible, there’s a definite learning curve at work here. Easing you in with snappy, fun little brain teasers, The Witness gradually ramps up its efforts to confound significantly. But the beauty of the experience is your own matching of this escalation; you’ll soon find yourself thinking in the exact manner the game wants you to, all through the subtle lessons you’ve learned along the way.
52. Darkest Dungeon
Dungeons are not exactly nice places, as you would expect, but this gothic RPG takes things to a place even the most hardened dungeon crawler will struggle to endure. In Darkest Dungeon you explore the horror beneath the Manor with your chosen team of brave yet flawed heroes. Through a mixy=ture of turn-based strategy and roguelike mechanics, you’ll have to face the twisted horrors below that face as well as your own deepest fears.
Utilising an Affliction System, the creatures of that dark place might be the least of your troubles, as your own sanity is on the line. Pivoting on the psychological stresses such an adventure entails you’ll have to manage your band’s emotions as they face monstrous creatures, famine, diseases and the ever-encroaching darkness. Tactical on every level, Darkest Dungeon throws the worst horrors imaginable at your team of adventures as you’re forced to adapt or die with the finality of permadeath hanging over your characters. Each foray into that hell is a new challenge each getting progressively harder as you go on. It’s certainly not for the faint of heart but if you’ve got the mettle than you might just reclaim your family’s long-lost ancestral estate.
The humble point-and-click adventure genre has a lot of history amongst PC gaming, and has always been a natural fit for the platform due to all the ‘pointing and clicking’ required. Despite having been around for decades, however, the formula has rarely changed all that much. Machinarium, the first full-length game from point-and-click masters Amanita Design, bucks that trend.
First of all, you can only point and click on objects within the close vicinity of your character. This limitation gives a more grounded feel than the usual omnipotence of being able to click anything and everything on the screen. Secondly, whereas the genre usually leans heavily on its writing, Machinarium has absolutely none. All dialogue and exposition is communicated through animation and thought and speech bubbles. It’s surprising how much it still manages to get across to the player using this primitive method.
It’s a charming tale of a robot called Josef abandoned on a scrapheap, and the misadventures he goes on in a Steampunk-ish world, including becoming embroiled in apprehending a criminal gang. Machinarium is a must for point-and-click fans.