Top 10 Indie Games That You Should Play At Least Once

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Top 10 indie games

The global indie gaming scene has improved remarkably over the years. Many gamers believe that indie games can compete side by side with AAA masterpieces. With the number of indie games released today, you can start playing as soon as possible.

Now, the big question remains: what indie game are you going to play?

Here are some detailed indie game suggestions to get you started:

Flatspace I & IIk

Space trading games are designed to simulate the reality and harshness of the cosmos. While you might gain the spoils of being a space trader baron, you also run the risk of being downed by a pirate’s torpedo. And after that, your glorious story will grind to a cruel halt. Such is the drama that you will encounter in all Flatspace games

Story

In the procedurally generated universe of Flatspace, you’ll find yourself wedged in a galactic cold war between two races: Humans and Scarrid. That’s all you need to know about the story. As you select your first profession and starting conditions, you’re free to create your own story while dominating the quadrants (all stars are dead here).

Gameplay

Before charging your space blasters, you’ll be asked to choose your race and profession. Human pilots can choose from trader, mercenary, bounty hunter, assassin, police officer, and scavenger. Scarrid space explorers will have the option to pick from warrior, abductor, predator, and nomad. The type of ship that you’ll get depends on your chosen profession. You can expect bounty hunters to have fast ships that can catch space criminals with ease.

Now that you have a ship, you can explore the entirety of Flatspace. As the story goes, the stars are long dead and you have to move through quadrants. Each quadrant is a separate dimension on its own and can only be visited by hyperspace travel. A huge portion of your playing time is spent hopping from one quadrant to another. 

There’s no restriction in playing style. Fancy being a fleet admiral with a battalion of fighter ships under your command? Granted! How about a lonely asteroid scraper barely surviving in a dangerous quadrant? Definitely possible! The space is yours, if you’re gritty enough to survive.

Space battles are common in Flatspace. You can even encounter a badass space rogue during the first five minutes of the game (good luck then). Just remember that you can’t win all the battles. If the situation gets too crazily hot, just hyperspace away.

Flatspace is meant to be played on a permadeath basis. The game option ‘Death Means Death’ will erase your save if your ship is blasted into smithereens. Of course, you can play as an Undead (not a zombie, mind you) and your save file won’t be affected. 

The economic system of Flatspace is dynamic – prices fluctuate and you have to adjust your margins. One downside is that there’s no unifying interface to check all prices. You need to do the hard work of figuring out which station sells which. If you get annoyed with trading, you can just blast criminals away and collect bounties. Every action that you do in Flatspace is rewarded by gaining Rank Points in any of the active Guilds. Constant passenger deliveries, for example, will make you a close friend of the Courier Guild. 

Graphics & Music

Flatspace is not graphics-intensive. You can play it on a low-end PC or laptop, and it only requires a basic DirectX 3D card. The game textures are visually acceptable, although you might see a recycled asset here and there. Lasers, bullet tracers, and sparks are enough to hold your attention, though the explosion effects need a bit of work. But you need not worry about that too much – especially when you’re dodging a locked-on Tomahawk missile.

Flatspace’s soundtrack is fascinating. You might hear a depressing symphony while voyaging through an empty quadrant. Alternately, the crescendo of war might pump up as you’re being chased by angry Scarrid warrior ships. 

Important Notes

There’s no multiplayer functionality – at least for now. Flatspace markets itself as a beautifully immersive and cruel space trading simulation game. 

And yes, you can punish your galactic enemies by turning them into minced meat.

Undertale

Undertale is the type of game that will make you question the essence of RPGs. It’s an unconventional adventure game where choices can shape your gameplay and the characters’ fates as well. Because of Undertale’s quirky yet complex nature, it climbed the ranks of Steam bestsellers and created tons of followers around the world.

Story

In Undertale, you take on the role of a human child who fell into a mysterious hole. This hole leads to an underground ruin – the remains of a terrible war between humans and monsters. Your mission is to get out of the Underground” while discovering the secrets that lies within. Also, corny jokes – you’ll have to endure tons of corny jokes.

Gameplay

Undertale is not a hack-and-slash RPG, and there are consequences if you want to play that way. Every monster that you encounter has a unique personality, giving way to several non-combat interactions. A monster may appreciate your flattering words and choose not to attack you anymore. You also get to spare the monsters’ lives, albeit at the expense of low XP output.

If you want to fight back, prepare your fingers. Monster attacks are represented by almost random bullet hell mechanics. You need to maneuver a small heart icon (represents your soul) out of the way of ‘bullets.’ A wound is deadly enough and can lower your hit points to less than half if you’re not careful. Boss battles are also tedious enough to grind your gears.

But perhaps the strongest trait of Undertale is the interactive experience that it can bring. There are tons of puzzles to tickle your mind and unlockables to keep you curious. Your loot bag is limited though, so you need to prioritize which items to take and discard. 

Graphics & Music

Undertale’s graphics style is a throwback to the golden years of the SNES. The retro style will trigger a warm feeling of nostalgia. Obviously, this graphics style is not meant for everyone – just for people who love retrogaming to a certain degree. In terms of music and sound quality, Undertale hits the spot. The sound of receiving damage is painfully gritty, heightened by a vibrating effect.

Important Notes

Undertale is available on Nintendo Switch. You can now play it anywhere you want. Just remember to have your tissues ready – some interactions within the game are enough to make you cry.

DemonCrawl

Minesweeper with deadly RPG – this is the best description of DemonCrawl. If you think that the game concept is boring, think again! Minesweeper will already make you nervous because one wrong click is enough to throw you off your game. DemonCrawl has the same level of danger but you get to collect items and equipment to enhance the experience.

Story

DemonCrawl is another indie game with minimal focus on story but still provides a rich and immersive gaming experience. Practically, you’re a hero who needs to save the land from a demon king. The only way to do this is to solve tons of puzzles that represent your whole journey.

Gameplay

The basic premise of Minesweeper applies to DemonCrawl. You will face a board and try to open all spaces without uncovering a mine. In DemonCrawl, there are no mines – just monsters that are more than eager to tear you apart. Uncovering a monster will shave points off your HP, so you have to be careful. The stronger the monsters are, the greater the damage. 

DemonCrawl is special because of the number of fantastic items that you can use. Terribly wounded by that annoying spider? Then eat the chicken leg that you looted from the previous puzzle! Or perhaps you want to reduce incoming damage? Armor will do the trick. Aside from items, you can also discover curses that will make your gameplay 15x harder. 

Every board in the game is procedurally generated, so no playthrough is the same. You might even encounter visitors who can sell items, kill monsters, and bring some sort of advantage. But then again, the visitors’ help is temporary and not game-breaking.

You’ll get annoyed with DemonCrawl but you’ll keep on playing. One reason is the number of collectibles that you can get. There are 500+ items to unlock, along with a plethora of avatars, items, and achievements. 

If you don’t want to grind RPG-style, then you can play DemonCrawl’s Classic version. This is more similar to Minesweeper because you only have one shot per puzzle board. Still, you will gain XP for every board finished. 

Graphics & Music

DemonCrawl has a pixel style design – something that retrogamers will love. This makes the game highly playable on old systems and mobile. Every board has a unique theme and catchy artwork. The items are designed really well, though some of them might look a bit grainy and unclear. 

Music-wise, DemonCrawl is a blast. The soundtrack changes with every board and the sound effects will bring the immersion to a different level. The opening soundtrack loops every time you return to the screen (a lot of times since you’ll die constantly), so you need to get used to it.

Important Notes

While there’s always a pattern behind DemonCrawl puzzles (just like Minesweeper), there’s a bit of guessing involved. Then you’d probably guess wrong and have to do the grind over again. Such is the beautiful perils of DemonCrawl.

The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth

The real beauty of procedural generation is the uncertainty that it can bring. Combine that with gritty horror elements and you’ll have a bestseller. The Binding of Isaac has an exact theme. All dungeons are random, and you will encounter various enemies with peculiar nature.

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Story

The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth is eponymous to the old biblical story, Binding of Isaac. In the game, you control a traumatized child named Isaac. His fanatical mother removed all of Isaac’s possessions and locked him in a dark room. When Isaac learned that his mother plans to sacrifice him, he fled through a sinister trap door. Thus, his terrifying adventure has started. 

Gameplay

Since The Binding of Isaac is a rogue-like multidirectional shooter, you can expect lots of mayhem and carnage. The enemies are unforgiving, though you can take advantage of their patterns and weaknesses. To make your adventure a bit easier, you can collect items and use them at the right moment.

You can also view The Binding of Isaac as a bullet hell game. But instead of traditional projectiles, you have to rely on Isaac’s tears (shaped like orbs). Each room contains puzzles to be solved or enemies to kill. Once all the rooms in a specific dungeon are cleared, the horrifying boss will appear and attempt to devour you whole. 

The first edition of Binding has a pure permadeath mechanic. Rebirth has the same feature but you have the option to save at any time. You can also play with a friend to ease the difficulty of the dungeons. Just keep in mind that other players can’t do specific actions – like planting bombs and carrying useful items. 

Graphics & Music

Even though The Binding of Isaac is not a 3D shooter, it can captivate anyone because of its eccentric style. The game art falls within the spectrum of cute and creepy, making it a real hit among hardcore indie lovers. Visual effects are satisfying – the part where enemies explode into bloody chunks is something to look forward to. Enemies also look weird, as if they’re cursed by an angry ancient god.

The Binding of Isaac has an appealing musical soundtrack. You’ll notice this for only a few moments because you might get busy evading dungeon monsters.

Important Notes

The Binding of Isaac runs well on old PCs but make sure you have at least 4GB RAM. You can also share dungeon seeds with other players so they can try new and exciting layouts.

Stronghold Series

Stronghold is one of the few games that will grow on you. In fact, the game is so popular that it spawned numerous sequels and titles like Stronghold Crusader and Stronghold 3. Stronghold is a historical strategy game focused on military conquest and economic development. Some will even argue that it’s a castle-building simulator.

Story

Set in the era of the Crusades, Stronghold allows you to become the ruler of a kingdom and accomplish different objectives. You need to do everything to defend your kingdom against invaders, while staging conquests for military supremacy.

Gameplay

Stronghold will test your mettle as a tactician. You control the reigns of sovereignty, and you’re free to expand in any way possible. The only catch is that your kingdom needs a strong economy before you can attain map dominance. This requires immense planning, depending on your goals and objectives.

If you’re the type of gamer who wants to spearhead a campaign from the get-go, you may need to slow down. Stronghold is nearly realistic. Swordsmen, for example, cannot bash castle walls no matter how hard they try. They’ll probably get mowed down by archers stationed on top of those walls. The proper usage of siege engines is necessary, and you need to spread terror through fire. Lots of fire, if you want to destroy your enemies’ holdings.

Bravery will take you far in Stronghold, but you must exercise caution. If your character is cut down in battle, it’s game over for you. This could probably mean that your kingdom lost its morale upon the death of their humble, diplomatic, carnage-obsessed king. 

Stronghold has also become popular with its Free Mode. In this mode, you can just build a thriving kingdom without any pressure. Free Mode is an excellent way to test your kingdom logistics plan and theories. Also, you can try the Stronghold Scenario Editor if you want to design a map with specific variables.

Graphics & Music

Stronghold has clearly shown its age. The textures are grainy and some effects can even be likened to the old days of Empire Earth. However, the castles and structures are represented properly – you will feel a sense of pride upon seeing these structures built. At the same time, you’ll break a sweat once you see grapeshots of trebuchet ammo being offloaded against your castle walls. Stronghold units look simple enough and you can easily forget them after a long and tedious game.

In terms of music, Stronghold has a dramatic appeal. Voice acting may seem bland but it’s acceptable. The sounds of battle will keep your blood pumping, especially once it reached a tremendous scale.

Important Notes

Stronghold is not as punishing as Total War when it comes to requirements. The early Stronghold versions can run on old PCs, and they will offer many hours of fun. Also, don’t forget to train lots of archers during military campaigns!

Don’t Starve

Don’t Starve wants you dead, seriously. This roguelike survival adventure game will test your patience as you try to craft various things and survive the perils of a strange land. Every decision matters in this game, and you need to put on different thinking hats to survive as long as you can. 

Story

The game begins with the first character, Wilson, struggling to make a breakthrough with his chemistry experiment. All of a sudden, his radio spoke to him and dropped a hint about a secret knowledge that only Wilson can unlock. Afterward, Wilson built a machine and turned on the switch frantically. Like a dark curse, shadowy arms grabbed Wilson and teleported him to a different world.

The perpetrator is the mysterious yet gentlemanly Maxwell. Throughout the adventure, Maxwell will reveal himself to the player and cause various kinds of trouble.

Gameplay

Don’t Starve offers a sandbox approach for any player. You’re free to harvest different resources from the starting island and turn them into useful stuff. Crafting is inherent to your survival because you can’t just rely on the island’s resources which might eventually run out (depending on the map). 

The gameplay might seem easy – if not for the perils of the night. You must do everything throughout the day and stay put at night. If you stay in the veil of darkness, you will receive continuous damage until you’re dead. The only way to ward off the dark is to build a campfire and keep it burning. 

The Sanity Mechanic is ingenious and cruel at the same time. Over time, your ‘sanity meter’ will fall down because of many factors. If you eat flowers, for example, you’ll receive a sanity drop. Don’t try to let this fall at dangerous levels because ghastly, ephemeral creatures will appear and attack you.

As you keep on playing, you can unlock different characters with special skills. Wilson, the first character, can grow a beard and shave it. The shaved hair can be used as fuel for campfires. One thrilling part of the Don’t Starve experience is determining how a new character can survive a deadly, procedurally generated island. 

Graphics & Music

Graphics-wise, Don’t Starve has a memorable charm. Its style is like a cross between a Tim Burton masterpiece and a paper cutout storybook. The game assets have a sinister appeal, and this will make you think twice before picking something up. Even the friendly NPCs look a bit ‘off,’ causing you to be on the edge. This can get repetitive as you play continuously, so it’s advisable to have limited gaming sessions. 

The musical ambiance of Don’t Starve is whimsical but somehow forgettable. If you’re in the middle of a tedious game, you can barely enjoy the music. Still, you shouldn’t turn off the volume because audio cues can help you with the game.

Important Notes

If you’re planning to try Don’t Starve, you should turn your attention to Don’t Starve Together. This is the multiplayer version of the game and it will allow you to play with five of your pals. Now, you can all work together for mutual survival (or death). 

Crashlands

What Don’t Starve lacked in terms of flavor and friendliness, Crashlands doubled up. As a story-driven survival adventure game, Crashlands will let players explore an untamed planet and accomplish interesting quests for different NPCs. And to top it off, there’s an evil floating head entity that will antagonize the main characters continuously.

Story

Flux Dabes, a galactic trucker, is falling late on his shipment because of an alien megalomaniac named Hewgodooko. Stranded on an alien planet, Flux must do everything to get back on track and accomplish his shipment. 

Fulfilling this goal is entirely up to you, and there are lots of things to do on the planet. With the help of a robot best friend named Juicebox, you must harvest, craft, build, tame, and hunt your way to success.

Gameplay

Crashlands has won several awards and hailed as a relaxing cult classic adventure. Even though it shares the same concept with other survival games, Crashlands has remained competitive. One strong factor is the unlimited inventory feature of the game. You can collect and craft as many items as you want! 

The world of Crashlands is divided into several biomes filled with numerous creatures. These creatures can be hunted down for raw materials or tamed as pets. Even though the creatures look ‘alienly’ cute, they can be deadly enough. During encounters, all attacks are broadcasted so you can study the patterns and make an evasive maneuver. Don’t be complacent, though. An encounter can go crazy if multiple attack patterns are involved.

Collecting and upgrading your gear is necessary for your success. As you move from one biome to another, your equipment must be strong enough to withstand enemy attacks. The process of upgrading your gear is linear – you will find out that a newly made armor is already obsolete once you’ve acquired a new blueprint.

If you love designing buildings and bases, Crashlands will keep you satisfied. Using different materials, you can craft building components and start designing.

Graphics & Music

Vibrant and colorful, Crashlands will fit nicely as an easy weekend game. The art style of the game is similar to funny webcomics, so expect to smile every now and then. All items in the game have a unique design, reflecting their alien-like nature.

The musical soundtrack of Crashlands will keep you pumped and energetic during a game session. It will even take time before the music grows old on you.

Important Notes

Crashlands is best played on mobile. You’ll find that evading enemy attacks is faster using your phone instead of PC. Plus, if you’re on the go, playing Crashlands is a great way to kill boredom.

Antihero

Fancy being a lord of thieves? Or have you been looking for a unique board game with stealth and violence? In that case, you can never go wrong with Antihero. Set in the darkness of the Victorian Era, Antihero will require you to put on your thinking hat while stealing as much loot as you can.

Story

Antihero tells the story of Lightfinger – a threatened Master Thief who needs to restore his guild’s former glory. As you play the game, you will encounter Lightfinger’s enemies, as well as dastardly figures who want to ruin his guild.

Gameplay

Antihero is more than just another ‘kill your enemies, earn more points’ type of board game. In this game, territory control is important. You can control specific districts and block alleyways with your minions. If you’re running low on gold, you can burgle estates anytime. Just be wary though, because your enemy will also do the same thing. 

With Antihero’s repertoire of valuable units, you can unleash many kinds of tricks against your opponent. The Assassin (expensive unit), for example, is capable of slaying a minion in one shot. You just need to pay the gold and accept the fact that the Assassin can only be used once. Careful minion management will put you ahead of Antihero’s curve.

Powerful NPCs will also give quests. The first Master Thief who accomplishes a quest will be rewarded greatly. Most of the time, these quests are assassination contracts. Your dagger will never be clean in Antihero.

Graphics & Music

Antihero shares a visual style with Don’t Starve. At one point, you might even ponder that both games could be intertwined. But the point stops at the color richness of Antihero. The Victorian structures are designed properly and each figure has a distinct, memorable style. Antihero is a visual treat with an excellent sense of immersion.

Antihero’s musical soundtrack sets the tone of the dark era. It’s acceptable but won’t hold your heart for a long time. Besides, you might forget about the music as you plan your next vicious move.

Important Notes

If you’re an IOS user, you’ll have a blast with Antihero. The game is properly optimized for IOS, though the PC version is also acceptable.

Slay the Spire

Deck building games are always fun because of the possible combinations that you can make. But what if you can experience roguelike thrill and get to build a ‘super-deck’ at the same time? This is the goal of Slay the Spire – a roguelike deck building game that emphasizes the importance of choice amidst the chaos.

Story

In Slay the Spire, you take on the role of a hero who needs to vanquish a spire full of monsters and crazy situations. The story is shaped by the cards that you’ve drawn and the outcome of your spire run. It’s either you win or you die – there’s no middle ground, as Cersei Lannister once pointed out.

Gameplay

Slay the Spire’s crowning glory is deckbuilding. At the start of the game, you must select a character with a unique skill and a deck of cards. These cards can make or break your game, but your decisions are more important. The branching options of the game allow multiple possibilities but you will always draw blood. At the end of every spire level, you will face a sinister boss who wants to end your run.

Combat is turn-based and highly driven by the cards. These cards can be used to attack, buff, debuff, and affect the battlefield. With every victory, you will gain loot – aside from the random new cards that’s added to your deck. Slay the Spire is pure tactical mayhem, and you can use different strategies to win.

Needless to say, a few wrong cards in your deck can ruin your strategy. So, don’t be complacent! Most runs will result in failure but you’d still be rewarded through unlockable cards and items.

Graphics & Music

Slay the Spire looks vibrant and alive with its colorful style and unique enemy designs. The effects are also awesome enough to keep you glued for a long time. It may get repetitive after many runs, but you will never be disappointed.

Music is another strong suit of the game. It supports the foreboding atmosphere and will possibly reflect the fate of your current playthrough. 

Important Notes

Slay the Spire is now available on PS4 and Nintendo Switch. This simply means that you’ll have more hours of spire-conquering fun!

Stardew Valley

Probably the most relaxing game on this list is Stardew Valley. Hailed as a love letter to the Harvest Moon Series, Stardew Valley combines the elements of farm building, dating sim, crafting, adventuring, and resource management. Amidst the flood of action-packed games of today, Stardew Valley is a breath of fresh air. 

Story

In Stardew Valley, you take on the role of a disillusioned corporate worker who suddenly inherited a plot of land from his grandfather. This land is located in the idyllic Pelican Town where secrets deeply reside.

Gameplay

Stardew Valley is an open-ended farming simulation game wherein your decisions can affect the lives of other characters. Every day, you have the freedom to plant crops, forage materials, craft things, slay monsters, and talk to villagers. Your daily activities are limited by your energy bar but it can be replenished by eating food. 

Just like Harvest Moon, you can settle down and have kids. However, this requires a huge investment because you need to have your home upgraded. The best way to develop a romance with a specific villager is to talk to him/her and offer gifts. Villagers have different likes and dislikes – so you need to experiment with tons of items. Note: don’t gift weeds or trash!

Do you love hitting things until they die? Stardew Valley has a giant underground mine full of sinister caverns. You can encounter different kinds of enemies on every floor, as well as treasures and natural resources. Combat is straightforward but can be difficult if you’re swarmed by enemies. Be sure to bring bombs and lots of food!

Eventually, the endgame of Stardew Valley is all about you choosing between the traditional Community Center and the modern Joja Corporation. You won’t see spoilers in this article though, so feel free to choose the best option that resonates with your character.

Graphics & Music

Stardew Valley is heavily retro – a major throwback to Harvest Moon’s SNES glory. The visual sprites and textures look beautiful across all platforms. The villagers can benefit from a visual rework though, but game mods can easily solve this. 

Aside from game style and design, Stardew Valley was recognized for its poignant music. As you play along, the soundtrack will touch your soul and make you nostalgic. Sound effects are great, though the quality depends on the platform. If you’re stressed after a long day, just listen to Stardew Valley’s soundtrack – it will lift your mood.

Important Notes

Want to have more farming fun? Play the game with your friends! Stardew Valley has a four-player cooperative mode that will keep you entertained for hours. Just set boundaries with your friends. You don’t want them planting potatoes on your blueberry-dedicated farm.

CONCLUSION

This big list of indie games will help you get started if ever you’re having a hard time picking the best game to fill the void. Always remember that indie games are special and shouldn’t be rushed. Otherwise, you might get burned out easily. Just pick an indie game and enjoy the wonderful ride!

 

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