I make it no secret that I have been gaming longer then some young adults have been alive. I am constantly astonished by what game companies are capable of turning out. We have come to a point where the consoles are powerful enough to churn out close to photo realistic graphics. Water now stays on a characters clothes when they get out of the water, oceans go on forever, the sky looks like it has no end, I can go on about the incredible adventures and gameplay this new generation allows us. It truly is something to experience what game developers can create nowadays. I love being a gamer and its never been better. It even looks like VR is turning out better then I imagine, the Holodeck from Star Trek is not to far off I suppose.
So saying all that, what is it about Indie games that I enjoy so much. In all honesty, they don’t usually have all the bells and whistles of a AAA title. In fact, many of them look like they could run on a Super Nintendo or even the old Atari 2600. Usually, if an Indie game wows me it’s due to the art style, not the incredibly huge massive open world we get from modern games. There are of course a ton of indie games out there, impossible for me to try out every one. This article will serve two purposes, the first is to talk about why Indie games are worth your time and the other part will be my recommendations for Indie games that I have personally tried, as well as ones I am looking forward to.
Just to get it out of the way, although Minecraft is an indie game, it really has become mainstream. That’s just fine of course, I love Minecraft. I could get lost in the blocky universe of Minecraft for hours on end. I just really want to focus on the less known titles. The titles that deserve to be more well- known. No matter how many triple A games I review I will always make time for a solid Indie game.
One of the biggest reasons I love the indie game scene is the passion that is evident in the developers themselves. I am sure there are those that go into the indie scene because they think they are going to create the next Minecraft or Braid and make millions. Nothing wrong with goals really. However, the reality is not everyone is going to hit gold with their releases. I have been honored and privileged enough to develop relationships with many Indie developers and I love their passion. They are creating the game they want to play. Often they create these games with next to no budget. I talked to one indie developer that sold his game consoles so he could finish his PC Indie game.
Sometimes we get an incredible new IP from a big AAA studio, but more often then not its a sequel of some sort. Some of them wind up being absolutely fantastic(I am looking at you Uncharted 4). However, it is refreshing to play a game that is different. Indie game developers can be more creative with their ideas because they don’t have millions on the line. The next Call of Duty or Halo game’s are expected to pull in millions. Could you imagine what would happen if Activision decided, “Hey instead of headshots, let’s have the soldiers driving cars and dropping off food door dash style” or “let’s make our game an 8-bit platformer”. There are expectations for these well-known franchises. With an Indie game there is no such expectations. Do the publishers want their indie games to sell? Of course they do. However, they haven’t invested millions into a game to make it hyper realistic. Now I do want to add one caveat, there are times when the expectations for an indie game do grow tremendously. Most of the time, however an indie game grows by word of mouth, not pre hype.
Just to give you an idea of what I mean by the creativity coming from Indie developers, I recently reviewed a fantastic game called Wuppo. This was a 2D platformer that reminded me of a kids drawing come to life. The game world was beautiful in its simplicity. I played another game called Daydreamer: Awakened edition that looked like an H.R. Giger painting come to life. Yet another called Shady Brook that was a text ad
venture with puzzle elements that had over 255 original pieces of art. I could go on for a while about all the different experiences I have had with Indie games. Experiences a lot different than when I sit down and play another AAA title. Now I don’t love every Indie game I play, then again the same goes for AAA titles, but that often is because it’s just not my genre of game. There are so many Indie games that if you don’t like one you just move onto the next. In just a bit I will talk about my recommendations, so keep reading if you are interested in starting or adding to your indie collection.
Much like Indie movies, Indie games don’t have to worry about what their message is. Often times the bigger budget studios are concerned about offending their audience, so they might dumb down their message. I get this when you need to make millions to make a profit you want to offend as few people as possible. Indie studios have a lot more freedom to make a statement. I don’t always agree with a developers view on life, but I respect them putting it out there. A well-written indie game can really make you think, can help you understand a different perspective. Through the eyes of the characters they create and the dialogue(whether text or spoken) within the game. I am currently playing a game called Max an Autistic Journey that was created by a man for his autistic child. In this game you control Max who through old school turned based battles fights his anxiety. Through out this game the creator explains what it’s like to have Autism. As a father of someone on the spectrum and also someone who works with special needs kids and Adults, there were moments in this game that truly got me choked up. This was a 16 bit looking game, so it wasn’t the emotion on Max’s face. It was the writing and watching my little 16 bit character shaking because his anxiety had become too much for him.
To sum up why I love Indie games, is to simply say they challenge me. I’m not talking about gameplay either(although that can definitely be challenging). They challenge how I see things and what I expect from a game. They challenge my perceptions of the world at times. Sometimes they just bring me back to my childhood, when I simply had to save the princess (who wound up being in another castle). I am so grateful for the community of Indie developers that have shown me so much kindness, they were the first to send me review copies and create a connection outside of just sending me the game. I love the community that the indie developers have created. Everyone I have connected with has been incredible and kind.
I promised a list of Indie games, some upcoming some out already. Keep an eye on this site for more indie reviews and indie announcements.
Indie Games I have played and recommend, Braid, Bastion, Max an Autistic Journey, Torchlight 1&2, Daydreamer, Minecraft(duh), Terraria, Wuppo, Story Brook, Evoland, Deathspank(the series), Cave Story, Fez, Hazen: The Dark Whispers, Mark of the Ninja, Shank 1&2, the Cave,Rising Islands, and Machinarium. These are just the ones I can think of off the top of my head.
Indie Games I am looking forward to, Cuphead, Moria, The Adventure pals, Samorost series, Brut@l, Earthlock, Ians Eyes, Reus, Among the sleep, N.E.R.O (might be out already but I haven’t played it yet), Enki, The last tinker: City of Colors(I know this is out but I have yet to pick up a copy), Toki Tori 2, Dollhouse, Outlast 2, Zombasite, Wild Season, Pharaonic, Headlander, clockwork, this is just a start. This is just a small list really. I will post more indie titles as they are announced.
Just to be clear I love a good triple A game, this article was not meant to downplay any of the passion and hard work that goes into making a AAA title. This article was really meant to shine a light on a community of developers that don’t always get the respect they deserve. Through out this year and beyond I will review plenty of triple A and Indie games. If you have an idea for a game and the time and patience to create it, I say go for it. Then send me a review copy.;)