Five days to go, NPCs, till the end of the Elemental Challenge!
Next, tie up your man-buns, bust out the Beatles on vinyl, fasten the brass fittings on your leatherbound book-bag, order your favorite mocha-nilla-turtle-deep-fried-non-fat-soy-almond americano, and crochet up your hemp-sewn smocks because it’s time to take on the hipster scene of video gaming: Indie games! Indies (short for “independent”) aren’t defined as a genre but they’re categorized and classified by the characteristics of being developed by small studios running on lower budgets. Typically, they have greater focus on single features because of this and they don’t usually tend to be these huge, sprawling open-world adventures. Another trend in indie games, which I love, is their fondness for pixel art. Indies are what games would be like if they still developed them for the Super Nintendo, and the like.
There are some really great diamonds in the rough, and these are some of our favorites. I’m sure you’ve heard of them.
The Green Screen Mage
Undertale isn’t just my favorite Indie game, but it’s my all time favorite game! It is coming to the PS4 soon and I can’t wait! It’s the friendly RPG were nobody has to die! You make monster friends/or enemies, pet doggos/or kill them, make bone puns/or not, and dance with a crazy robot/or duel. It’s such a fun interactive game.
The Black Humor Mage
Even though Phil Fish is kind of a weird guy, I love FEZ anyway. It was one of the first indie games I’ve played, and it is still one of the most innovative and fun indie games I’ve played. It got me into more indie type games too.
The Midnight Mystic Mage (Sublime Reviews)
Stardew Valley. This has become one of my favorite games of all time in the past year. There is so much to do and it really takes the Harvest Moon type of games and expands on them in an amazing way. A one man development team of Eric Barone / Concerned Ape, makes this an obvious choice for my pick for top Indie game, it really is quite the accomplishment and such an addicting game. (Honorable Mentions – Freedom Planet, Fez, Minecraft)
The Spoony Bard Mage (Nerd Speaker)
Shovel Knight. Dun dun duuuuun. Da dun dun duuuuun. Da da dun dun dun dun, dun dun dun… da da duuuun dun dun. Daaaa dun dun!
The Final Fourteenth Mage (Cilla vs. Games)
VVVVVV is one of the first indie games I bought and played on Steam. It was recommended to me by a friend and I bought it on a whim as it was cheap. It was so much fun. The game itself is charming as you set out to rescue all of your crew members. I really like to support games where they are created by one person or a small group of people. Designing a game is no easy feat and they deserve the recognition.
The Hopeful Handheld Mage (Retro Redress)
Hotline Miami (Steam). I’m not 100% sure if Hotline Miami is an indie game. I’m frankly not sure what Hotline Miami is. It’s like the child of Gauntlet and Smash TV, if it was raised on video nasties. The atmosphere is disturbing (the music in particular is awesome) yet you can play it for hours on end. Part of that is due to the excellent action, both violent yet well thought out. The other part is Hotline Miami’s greatest trick – you respawn instantly after death. That’s right, there is no chance to stop and consider if you want to keep playing. You just keep playing…
The Brave Blue Mage (924COLLECTIVE)
Card Hunter by Blue Manchu combines table top gaming, tactics, & collectible cards to create a fantastic browser game. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, with a casual episode based quests, with additional content regularly added. Playing as Gary a fledgling gamemaster with older brother Melvin’s supervision. Creating characters, & equipping armor & weapons to make powerful decks in this turn based hybrid game. Props to Chey for creating this memorable indie.
The Dapper Zaffre Mage (Save File 02)
Oh man, did I spend a lot of time on Liero– any computer I had access to that was capable of running it had a copy of Liero. Even computers that couldn’t run it had a copy of it, just in case they ever changed their mind. And then I found LieroX a year later, which was basically Liero but now with custom weapon packs, maps, skins, and online play. Ir is pretty much Real-Time Worms, and just as much fun, too. The user-made content was plentiful and great, and I can still remember my favorite weapon mod, the ‘8-Bit’ pack, which incorporated about 30 different NES-era sprites into usable weapons. I’m not sure if the online scene is really around anymore, or if the project is even still in progress.
The Over-Caffeinated Nostalgia Mage (Nostalgia Trigger)
Indie games managed to evade me for some time, the primary reason behind this being that I generally avoid buying digital games, which is the typical method of distribution for indie games. That all changed when Shovel Knight busted on the scene! I love the 8-bit aesthetic that has become commonplace in indie games, and I like to credit Shovel Knight with a lot of that inspiration. This game showed that a simple 2D platformer could be dialed up in terms of difficulty to appeal to an older crowd who grew up playing very difficult platformers, whereas modern games tend to be easy to appease a younger, less patient crowd.
Yacht Club Games has also done the fans a great service by releasing to them all of the DLC packs completely free for anyone who bought the game before the final expansion was released. They’re the good guys in an industry that tends to be a little checkered!
The Rage Mage
What do you do when the insulin runs out, also known as A Boy and His Blob. This NES farce was created by a single male whose diet consisted entirely of cheese. It’s the worst of what indie games can be: torturous trial and error, unfair difficulty, stupid puzzle solutions, demanding that players step into the sadistic mind of its creator.
The Well-Red Mage
There are so many incredible indie games out there, and I’ve begun to become convinced that indie games are saving the gaming industry. Because they come from smaller studios and developers, and there’s less cash involved, there’s much more room for creativity compared to the cut-and-paste AAA category. That’s not to say there aren’t indie clones, because there are, but the indie market is large enough to produce vast swaths of games that are quality and other games which aren’t, rather than rely on a few huge releases each year. Indie games are much kinder on my wallet and if I end up hating one, I don’t feel too bad about losing out on $5 to $25, compared to dropping $60 on a traitorous piece of crap like Final Fantasy XV.
With all that said, indie games are still largely new to me. They represent some of my earliest steps out of retro gaming into modern gaming. They’re one of the big reasons why I bought a Switch day one. Nindies! I’m more than happy to see an eShop full of so many indie titles! But how to choose between them. I’ve loved Bound, Shovel Knight, Terraria, Stardew Valley, Abzû, the thatgamecompany trilogy: flOw, Flower, Journey, and then Downwell, Grow Home, and the influential, cinematic sci-fi masterpiece Another World, but ultimately I’m going to name Hyper Light Drifter as my favorite indie game.
Sure it bridges into hipster territory, but beyond the aesthetics, the addicting, fast-paced gameplay, the mysterious, dialogue-less world, the unforgettable, acid-tone visuals charred into my memory, there’s the fact that HLD’s creator made this game as a kind of allegory/metaphor for his personal health issues. As someone who’s struggled with health issues for most of my life (I have only one kidney), this resonated with me and the vision of the ailing Drifter is one I doubt will fade from me too easily. If you haven’t played Hyper Light Drifter, you should. It’s truly unique.
WELL JUST KIDDING! I actually named Hyper Light Drifter as my favorite Hack n’ Slash game! So given the rules of this Challenge of not naming the same game twice as a favorite, I’m going to go with Another World/Out of this World, the game that influenced creators for years to come. It plays out remarkably well and it feels so cinematic for its age!
What are some of your favorite indie games? This is a category I’m really passionate about! Share, share, share below! Thanks for reading! We’ve only got four days left in this Challenge. Will you finish strong?
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