The independent videogame production, as we all know, often turns out to be an undergrowth teeming with life, a furnace that is always active and ready to churn out novelties that are often quite palatable. Among the many ideas that have come to life in the world of indie video games, we have decided to select several indie titles worthy of mention, for a series of reasons that we are going to list. Our list shows important and symbolic video games, able to distinguish themselves by genre and also available on different platforms, so that you can recover them more easily if you have not already tried them. So ready to immerse yourself in this journey with us discovering the best indie video games launched so far?
1. Motion Twin – Dead Cells
Let’s start our selection of the best indie video games with Dead Cells, a title with different qualities that we are going to list and that will show us why it is included in this list. Available since last year on the Epic Games Store, it is about a metroidvania with RPG elements rather defined, which go well with the action side of the title in question. Between jumps and fights we are offered one esperienza roguelike that accompanies us for different procedural dungeons, a choice that makes Dead Cells with a not very easy progression and with a rather declared difficulty from the beginning.
In addition, every game will always be different, as with each game over the progress made will be lost. However, this should not be seen as a frustrating element. Just get carried away with the fights that we will have to face and the complexities that await us. Also looking at the graphic sector, we can only appreciate the treatment with which every backdrop and environment has been elaborated. The usual use of pixel art in indie productions also makes this title distinctive, in line with the titles of its genre.
If you are looking for a title that is fun, but certainly challenging and that will give you no respite, Dead Cells is for you. Inspired by the classic roguelikes and MetroidVania, we cannot fail to notice that typical trait of the Dark Souls series. It is no coincidence that a title that gives you an idea of how difficult the games you are going to play are.
A decidedly unique work of its kind, the one proposed by the Moldenhauer brothers of MHDR Studio team with their Cuphead, the run’n’gun released in October 2017 and which is still remembered today for its unique style and difficulty. A success that has led to millions of copies sold and which tells the story of two brothers in the shape of a cup, focusing mainly on battles with bosses and pure combat.
As we have also observed in our special dedicated, the levels are developed according to the style of 2D scrolling platformers in a rather complex and difficult to deal with. So, what makes this title unique? Certainly it is graphic style of the characters and settings in general, as you really breathe an amarcord atmosphere. This is able to resume the production of the twenties of the last century in the entertainment sector.
A rather high level of quality that is also evident in the technical sector, giving us a smooth and well responsive game engine experience. Nor can we miss a special nomination for the soundtrack with jazz melodies that undoubtedly recalls the very first animation titles. Cuphead is therefore one of the best indie video games not so much for its gameplay itself, as much as for the artistic vein of the team that emerges in each proposed backdrop.
3. Return of Obra Dinn
One of the indie titles par excellence, the one produced in 2018 by Lucas Pope, for history and for technical and graphic realization. Return of the Obra Dinn tells a story that we could find in a novel written at the time of Jules Verne or Jonathan Swift. What does it tell us? A ship has mysteriously disappeared and an unclear story remains unsolved. These are the key points of the graphic adventure that takes us to the Obra Dinn, a vessel whose crew died under unclear circumstances. The reason? Equally unknown. It remains to an agent the task of analyzing each corpse to trace the causes of their death. All in a world made only and exclusively in black and white and in dots.
Return of the Obra Dinn looks like one complete and perfect union in the symbiosis between aesthetics, gameplay and narrative, which accompanies us as we solve the mystery surrounding the boat in question. Return of the Obra Dinn is a game where it is anyway some level of reasoning is required, due not only to the dynamics of the story itself, but also to the presence of several written details. A fundamental aspect that defines the main features of the gameplay, making it intriguing but less immediate and quick than an action. It certainly remains one of the best all-round indie video games, also for its technical sector.
In fact, looking at these aspects, graphics are offered in the old-school style, and not just visually speaking. We are also offered a series of simple controls and straightforward, intuitive gameplay, also in this case arousing a certain nostalgia for older productions. A further sign of these technical choices lies in the choice of the monitor to emulate to also give a feeling of retro evocation offered.
4. Little Nightmares 1 e 2
The two chapters in the story of the most famous yellow riding hood in video games, made by Tarsier Studios, are now famous among gamers. We can elevate Little Nightmares 1 e 2 almost a a level worthy of a Triple A. The story with horror and mystery traits inspired by Tim Burton’s production tells of our protagonist fleeing horrible creatures, out of a nightmare. To do this, you have to use various types of platforms, solve puzzles and escape once and for all in a mix of puzzle game, stealth and sliding platform.
Both titles of the franchise offer us adventures well linked to each other, with a stylistic and multifaceted coherence in the playability and in the themes offered in an almost grotesque and dreamlike setting. The novelty of the second title, which arrived at the beginning of 2021, remains the possibility of co-op between Six and Mono, the first of which can come to our rescue to tackle the most difficult steps of this platformer.
Little Nightmare takes us to a world where we can also run into absurd settings and tense situations. In fact, the title aims to generate anxiety due to the individual scenes in which we will have to move, between dark places where dangers lurk and puzzles to be solved while also requiring a certain speed. Two chapters that allow us to embrace the darkness of an anomalous world and devoid of real life, full of fears and uncertainties. A real nightmare, but not on a technical level, which reaches quite remarkable expressions as anticipated and which make these two titles worthy of being counted among the best indie video games.
Let’s now move on to one of the classic indies of exploration, in first person and that marked the debut of the Campo Santo team. A blast from the past is offered to us in Firewatch, who throws us into the woods of Wyoming way back in 1989 as Henry. This is a lookout who has to search in solitude a place where unclear facts have occurred. No one on the horizon, no contact except Delilah, the only voice in the game that reaches us via walkie-talkie.
The beauty of this indie is certainly in the landscapes and in the graphic realization of the backdrops, a little less exciting is instead the proposed story. In fact, the plot tells of a man who struggles to come to terms with his life, in search of his meaning in this world and, just as he wanders in the woods, he has to face a mystery that almost leads him to paranoia.
Firewatch is a title that, due to its relative scarcity of narrative, deserves to be experienced by each player according to their own experience and sensitivity. At times very disturbing, this title, however, has no claim to be considered a horror, quite the contrary. The level of emotions is quite high, the real focus of the game, turning out to be then a walking game in which we have to move and interact with the environment. Unsuitable for those looking for a title full of action and strategy, Firewatch is one of the best indie video games for being one of the first walking simulators capable of bringing with it a good dose of narrative and emotional.
6. Ori and the Blind Forest e Ori and the Will of the Wisps
The two works by Moon Studios that led us by the hand in a poignant story acclaimed by a wide audience could only be counted in our selection of the best indie video games. Let’s talk about Ori and the Blind Forest and its sequel, Ori and the Will of the Wisps, enchanting in their graphic and narrative sector. Two action platforms with a good dose of puzzles that make everything very elaborate and very appreciable.
Released respectively in 2015 and 2020, Moon Studios gave us two adventures with colorful and dreamlike settings, also accompanying us with an impeccable soundtrack. The two chapters offer us a sliding platform full of magic and mystery, bringing together noble feelings and disturbing enemies in a world full of breathtaking settings. The fights sometimes present a difficulty that may seem frustrating, but which is accompanied by an important attention to detail and comparable to a Triple A.
The second chapter, chosen by us among the best indie video games of 2020, increases the dose compared to the first job, thanks to the success of an exciting story with undoubtedly engaging gameplay. We are also witnessing a progressive evolution of Ori, which becomes more and more powerful and more agile, taking us on an authentic adventure full of dreams. In fact, if the first title had raised the bar of expectations by a lot, these were promptly confirmed five years later, giving …