Indie games have exploded in popularity since the early 2000s. Thanks to ever more accessible development and distribution tools, innovative creators worldwide have been gifted the tools necessary to create their own masterpieces.
Let’s take a look at seven oddball examples of excellent indie games which you can get your hands on today.
Hotline Miami shook up the indie game scene, spawning a new genre of frantic, ultra-violent indies to flood the space. One of the best, and most underrated, of this cohort is Post Void.
Just like it’s bizarrely alluring title, Post Void is off-beat, chaotic and a marvel unto its own.
You play a gun wielding maniac who must rocket through levels before the accursed idol in your left hand runs out of juice—and the only way to refill that juice is to pop heads. This results in a hypnotic scramble through abstract, old-school environments. All the while blasting you with an intoxicating soundtrack.
Post Void is a real rush, especially for fans of shooters.
Cry of Fear
Be warned, this one’s not for the faint of heart.
Perhaps one of the most chilling indie games out there, Cry of Fear was developed by Team Psykskallar, starting its life as a Half-Life 1 mod. Four years in the making, and many dark ideas later, Cry of Fear released for free featuring a sprawling story with multiple endings and a terrifying atmosphere.
You play as a young man, desperately searching for answers about a chaotic madness that seems to have taken a hold of the cold, Scandinavian town you find yourself in.
With incredibly strong set pieces, an iconic style and some seriously chilling moments, Cry of Fear is a must play for horror fans. Oh, and did we mention it’s totally free on Steam?
Absurd, endlessly funny and filled with espionage, Jazzpunk is game which defies standard classification. It’s story-rich presentation is matched with pure absurdism in presentation, interaction and gameplay, leading to a truly memorable experience you’ll never quite be able to put your finger on.
Chock-full with memorable characters, a simple but effective art style and tonnes of jokes, Jazzpunk is a unique take on spoof—a genre we rarely find in gaming.
Lorded as one of, if not the, best puzzle game of all time The Witness is the second homerun from indie developer Jonathan Blow (the first being Braid).
You play a nameless person on a strange island filled with puzzles that take place on small monitors strangely dotted around the island. While, at first, The Witness may appear repetitive in its puzzle design is true genius—epitomising the concept of continuously iterating on a simple idea in fascinating ways.
Without spoiling anything, as your eyes grow accustomed to the puzzles you will also find the world holds much more than you initially saw. Really, when you start noticing patterns it turns out you notice them everywhere.
The Witness is a masterpiece of puzzle gaming.
If you want more puzzles, Superliminal is an exciting brain-teasing puzzler which takes cues from Portal. The gimmick here is perspective; with puzzles being solved through manipulating objects through bizarre, abstract rules which the developers make feel insanely intuitive.
It is another game which will make you look at the world anew.
Just like Superliminal, Gorogoa is a puzzler about perspective. This time manipulating your environment and traversal options through elegantly crafted puzzle pieces you manipulate on a 2×2 grid.
Touted as “an elegant evolution of the puzzle game” Jason Roberts’ game design, quietly emotional storytelling and gorgeous visual design won the game best Debut at the 2018 BAFTA Games Awards, alongside Best Mobile Game and the Innovation Award at GDC 2018.
Available for both PC and mobile, Gorogoa’s unique take on what it means to be a puzzle game will have you hooked for its whole play time.
The Beginner’s Guide
You may have heard of The Stanley Parable, but Davey Wreden’s follow-up, The Beginner’s Guide, goes even further.
Untraditional in almost every sense—providing the player with no traditional mechanics, no objectives and no “characters” as such, The Beginner’s Guide is the quintessential game about game making.
The experience lasts around an hour and a half, telling the story of a gamer—Wreden—trying to make sense of the fragments of games and mods made by another creator. Bringing you on the journey to explore, experience and feel.
It’s a game which will stick with you for years.
Indie games are the beating heart of video game innovation, meaning there are far too many games to include on this list. But through such brave innovation we can confidently say that indies are the true pioneers of the gaming industry.