Update: Added the open-world survival indie RPG Outward
Although the best PC plays with currency to splash are quickly evolving, so are the best indie plays you might not “ve heard so much about”.
One of very good things about our best indie plays list is that most of these more fog titles, unlike AAA game publishers, don’t try to manipulate you out of every penny any possibility they can get. Free from corporate affect and constant badgering for your fund, the best indie games represent the pure artistic imagination of the developers- especially if you have one of the best gaming PCs.
However, merely because the best indie plays don’t make a lot of money, doesn’t mean they can’t keep up with the latest AAA hits in scope and ambition. In fact, the opposite is true: the best indie games can easily rival or even outstrip mainstream games in both tone and scope- becoming artistic masterpieces in the process. And, they don’t have to rely on tired tropes simply to sell millions of transcripts, like their AAA counterparts.
This is all exciting stuff, and if you want to dive into the best indie games, you’re in luck. We’ve grouped together a list all the best indie plays on the PC market today. We’ve included both in vogue indies like Return of the Obra Dinn and Outward, alongside classic titles like Braid and Dwarf Fortress. And, don’t worry, we’re going to keep this list updated with all the latest and greatest indie slams.
If you’re looking for the next great indie title, retain reading.
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Bill Thomas, Joe Osborne, Kane Fulton and Gabe Carey have also contributed to this article
Yeah, it’s not out yet, with Double Fine promising it’ll be out’ soonish’. Still, Ooblets is staying on our radar. Ooblets is being developed by first-time studio Glumberland, and is backed by Double Fine. The play is described as some kind of combo between Pokemon, Harvest Moon and Animal Crossing, which has certainly captured our attention- and it should probably capture yours, too. The play blends an artistry mode oddly reminiscent of post-apocalyptic sensation, Adventure Time, with gameplay that revolves around gathering beings called ooblets in the town of, uh, Oob.
In the game, you’ll be able to train and battle your ooblets against other ooblet trainers. At the same time, you’ll have to balance your ooblet training with the real-world responsibilities of being a farmer. That’s right, drawing influence from the likes of Stardew Valley, you can cultivate produce and decorate your mansion with various trimmings as well. You’ll likewise be able to join an Ooblet Club comprised of friends( NPCs) you’ll satisfy along the way.
If you don’t know what to do in Ooblets, simply walk around and discover new shops and builds that suit your interest. Better yet, you can open up your own shop and sell render that you’ve grown on the farm as well as items that you’ve scavenged throughout the world. Otherwise, you can feed the leftover crops to your ooblets to watch them level up and learn new techniques to be used in the turn-based, RPG-style battles.
Jonathan Blow& apos; s brainchild first appears to be a simple pastiche of Super Mario Bros, with a middle-aged curmudgeon replacing the titular plumber but still seeking to rescue a princess.
The longer you invest in video games, however, the more that’s revealed to you, progressing from a series of time-bending puzzles to quiet reflective texts- which doesn’t stop it from being the smartest perplex game since SpaceChem. Blow himself has subtly hinted that the ultimate story may revolve around the atomic bomb.
First released as PC freeware by Japanese designer Daisuke “Pixel” Amaya back in 2004 after five years of 100% solo progress, Cave Story predates the recent indie renaissance by a few years. Because of when and how it was firstly released, it& apos; s often omitted in indie gaming discussions.
However, this classic more than deserves to be on every best-of list for its loving homage to the classic act platforming games of the Super Nintendo era , not to mention its incredible music and breathlessly vibrant world-wide. Oh, and don& apos; t forget the hugely intuitive self-controls, lumps of secrets and weapons that are simply too fun to use. If you& apos; ve yet to enjoy this one, you need to set it on your backlog already.
From family-owned and operated Studio MDHR, Cuphead has connected with millions of people around the world, many of whom ordinarily wouldn’t touch a run-and-gun platformer with a ten-foot pole.
Although its gameplay was inspired by classic plays such as Mega Man and Contra, most gamers would likely compare it to a Fleischer Studios cartoon like Betty Boop. Because Cuphead utilizes a hand-drawn art style likened to a 1930 s animation, it’s been universally praised for its gorgeous visuals.
Cuphead is more than simply its stunning visuals, however. It’s a series of 19 challenging and engaging honchoes, with platforming bits interspersed between them. It already made our list of the best indie plays, but Studio MDHR has announced that the Cuphead: the Delicious Last Course DLC, slated for 2019, with a new isle to explore, new boss to overcome and, most importantly, a new attribute to master.
Many AAA games serve as escapist power fantasies, where the player is ultimately able to dominate the game’s universe- privilege until video games ends. But, many indie games are the exact opposite- like the IGF award winner and sorrow simulator Cart Life.
Papers Please is similar to Cart Life in that it& apos; s likewise an IGF winner with elements of misery about it. Simply, it& apos; s better – it’s a smart-alecky, bizarre sim about the compromised life of a border guard living under a totalitarian regime. It& apos; s ugly and desperate, but also innovative, uproariously funny and awfully smart.
Among the hardcore gamers we are all aware of, Spelunky is the go-to drug. Even today, several years after its release, some of them still play it every day, despite having completed it many times over. That& apos; s because Spelunky, an ostensibly rogue-like platformer with a definite demise, is tough, differed and highly randomized.
It also has more dark secrets than a presidential nominee, signify there are a boatload of ways to finish it, and its daily challenges are a sure-fire way to public humiliation.
Does humor belong in video games? Well, according to the Stanley Parable, that’s a resounding’ yes ‘. This play is funny without being dumbed down. Players follow( or don’t) a very British narrator who changes the world around you, based on your choices.
No choice is penalized, and every playthrough is likely to be fresh with new humor and bizarre goings-on. Being trapped in the closet in The Stanley Parable is more moving and funny than the majority of members of other indie games.
If you missed out on this ironic gem back when it first launched, you’ll be happy to know that the developer announced the Stanley Parable Ultra Deluxe edition for 2019, with fresh content, more finishes and a console release. This Ultra Deluxe edition actually sounds pretty tempting, even for us- and we played it a whole lot when it first came out.
Further learn: Retro-me-do! Digitiser’s Mr Biffo on his top PC games of all time
It took more than nine years to construct, but Owlboy is definitely worth the wait. Originally designed for PCs and released after belatedly 2016, this clever indie game masterpiece is now available to experience on Mac and Linux as well- and there’s even a Nintendo Switch version! Owlboy centers around a race of owl-human hybrid attributes called, and aptly so, Owls. Of them, you restraint Otis, an Owl who is censured by his mentor for his inept flying skills.
The story watches Otis’ village destroyed during pirates who clearly have conflict with the Owls. As a outcome, Otis has to work with an hodgepodge of villagers in-game to take out foes. Of course, when boss combats arise, you’ll need to manage friends accordingly, as each persona comes with their own give of unique skills and capacity to use in conjunction with one another. If you’ve ever played and enjoyed a Kid Icarus game, this is one for the books. Otherwise, play it anyway.
Similar to The Stanley Parable, Gone Home falls into the unofficially labeled’ march simulator’ genre. Where it diverts from the clever and philosophical Stanley Parable, nonetheless, is its focus on life’s difficult actualities, as opposed to light humor.
After arriving at your childhood home following an overseas inspect, “youre playing” as 21 -year-old Kaitlin Greenbriar who is greeted by an evacuate house. While gameplay is essentially limited to scavenging through tones to find out where your family is, the gripping tale is exceedingly emotional and obliging, as long as you prevent an open thinker. After all this time, Gone Home stands out as one of the best indie games out there.
Only SpaceChem has mixed learning with entertainment as successfully as The Kerbal Space Program. The game is simple – design and build a spacecraft to take the cutesy Kerbals to the Mun and beyond.
Yet its focused use of real physics means that you& apos; ll find yourself espousing NASA as you’re building multi-stage rockets and space stations as well as exploring the Kerbal& apos; s strange cosmo on EVAs, before bringing your discoveries back for research on the Kerbal planet – that& apos; s if you can get off the soil at all. It& apos; s a huge, complex, challenging and fun game, that manages to be super smart without being preachy.
The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth is the exact opposite of something like Kerbal Space Program – it’s an action roguelike par excellence. You play as a young boy attempting to kill his damned siblings, mother and perhaps the Devil, use simply your tears, which he shoots from his eyes, naturally. This indie plays is matched merely by the equally visceral Nuclear Throne.
With dozens of bizarre pieces to collect, endless procedurally-generated levels, and tons of secrets, the Binding of Isaac is a very dark take on the exploratory example established by Spelunky.
Don’t let the pixel artistry graphics put you off- Undertale isn’t a game that would have fit on the Super Nintendo. That’s because, in Undertale, the decisions you stimulate have a huge impact on how video games terminates and, more importantly, how it continues in New Game Plus.
While playing Undertale, you’ll come to realize just how much liberty the game gives you. Despite its highly stimulated , not to mention intense, boss matches, you’ll be able to make it through the entire nine or so hours of Undertale as a total pacifist. Plus, when you go through the game a second time, you’ll bear the weight of the consequences from your previous running. What’s even better is , now Undertale is out on the Nintendo Switch, so you can take this masterpiece of play layout wherever you go.
From developer Playdead, Inside is comparable to its predecessor, Limbo, in some way, only with an added layer of profundity that inspires constant wonder. This is mostly a result of the unspoken narrative, which revolves around yet another nameless boy. In Inside, nonetheless, the son in the narrative is running away from a group of men who- if you fail to stay out of their sights- are an attempt to mercilessly kill you.
Though it isn& apos; t clearly articulated why the boy is running from these men or why you should even care since you don& apos; t know who he is, so Inside will leave you begging for answers. The grim, lifeless specifying of Inside is more than worth the price of admission. Its minimalist artwork mode alone is avant-garde enough to feel right at home in a museum. Factor in the fact that this game that& apos; s both fun to play and dripping with interest, and Inside is one of the best indie plays money can buy.
Developed single-handedly by Eric Barone, Stardew Valley is undoubtedly a technical achievement for that little fact alone. If you’ve ever played a Harvest Moon game, you’re already familiar with the proposition of Stardew Valley – you are able simply not know it yet. Stardew Valley is an addictive farming simulator, which ensures you interact with townees to the point where you can literally marry them.
Stardew Valley isn’t just farming, though – it’s a whole cluster of other things at the same time. You can go fishing, you can cook, you can craft stuff. You can even travel explore procedurally-generated caves to mine for pieces and even contended slime-monster-things. Nonetheless, you should keep in mind that your health and vigor are finite, so you& apos; ll want to keep your character rested and fed to avoid suffering from exhaustion. Pass out and you’ll lose a considerable amount of money and items you’ve worked hard to attain. Stardew Valley will have you playing for hours on end, for better or worse.( Emphatically better .)
From Canadian game developer Alec Holowka, creator of the award-winning Aquaria( likewise featured on such lists ), and independent artist/ animator Scott Benson, Night in the Lumbers is an unconventional side-scrolling adventure game centre around a 20 -year-old protagonist named Mae who drops-off out of college to move back in with her parents.
Featuring a narrative largely based around dialog selects and mini games that put a spin on mundane assignment, like bear containers up the stairs and devouring perogies, Night in the Timbers is a timeless coming-of-age tale. Not only will you suffer middle class America through the eyes of a personified cat, but virtually every interaction in-game will have you laughing aloud. And now that it’s available on the Nintendo Switch, you’ll be able to take it wherever you go.
If you’re a fan of the recent ripple of games inspired by Dark Souls, you’ll utterly love Hollow Knight. You take control of the Hollow Knight, and conduct them through the deceptively adorable landscape to take over foremen and other challenging task. Much like Dark Souls, it’s not immediately clear what you’re actually supposed to be doing as the narrative is intentionally obtuse.
The Dark Souls inspirations don’t point there, nonetheless. It likewise embraces Dark Souls’s’ tough but fair’ doctrine, where the game is only as hard as you make it – you are able to overcome anything as long as “youve had” patience and learn lessons from your blunders. Hollow Knight takes these lessons learned from Dark Souls and administers them into a MetroidVania, with all the side-scrolling and upgrades you could possibly want. You can even play it on the Nintendo Switch now.
If you’re looking for video games that’s as unforgiving as it is fun, search no further than Dead Cells. It takes gameplay inspiration from so many regions- from roguelikes to MetroidVania. There’s even a hint of Dark Souls in there, to create a unique action game that will test your restrictions.
Each time you play this game, it will be different. And, while you’ll lose some progress each time you die- and you’ll die a lot- the game will become more and more rewarding as the complex and fluid combat becomes second nature. In the final release of the game, you get access to over 90 weapons, skills and abilities that’ll let you tailor your gameplay nonetheless you want.
Whatever you do, don’t get discouraged when you miscarry. Get up and try again, and Dead Cells will simply reward you in the end, which is why it has our voting in favour of one of the best indie plays in 2019.
Introversions was one of the earliest& apos; indie& apos; companies, liberating games like Uplink, Defcon and Darwinia whilst Vlambeer was still in short pants. After years of struggling, they& apos; ve eventually hit a huge success with Prison Architect, a game where you body-build, personnel, kit and manage a peak protection prison, of all places.
With smart hostages who are willing to do anything to escape, you& apos; ll struggle to keep them all inside – or keep them from rioting – and turn a profit. It& apos; s eminently playable, even more so in the near future as Paradox has acquired it and plans to make it available on all platforms.
These days, it’s hard to find an RPG that will really push you to your restrictions. Outward, with its focus on survival and tough combat, is one of these RPGs. There isn’t much in the way of narrative, but you’re placed in the middle of the world of Aurai, where you’ll have to struggle to survive. You’re not a hero, however, merely the everyman trying to survive in a harsh world.
In many lanes, Outward is like The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind. There’s a heavy emphasis on exploration, but you aren’t afforded seek arrows or any kind of waypoint. You have to rely on your own ability to use a map, together with any guidances that are given to you by quest NPCs. If you’re looking for a challenging RPG, this might be one of the best indie plays for you.
Dwarf Fortress is its own genre, its own industry. This is a game that, before you& apos; ve even set foot in it, has to generate the entire geography, myth and history of its massive world-wide. Then it tracks every single one of the dwarves you& apos; re overseeing down to the fuzzs on their legs, and giving particular ghastly elephant slaughter that they’ve evidenced and are now carving on an ornamental chair.
Your task is to keep the dwarves alive as they carve out their subterranean realm – given that insanity, ogres and starvation plague them during all stages, that& apos; s not easy. And midgets, always, always mine too deep.
Run. Jump. Die. Repeat. That’s essentially the gameplay loop of Super Meat Boy, a fiendishly addictive 2D platformer that’s also bloody hard, with an emphasis on bloody. Gallons of blood is spilled as the game’s eponymous meaty hero leaps over deadly plunges, rotating recognizes and going chainsaws in a bid to rescue his lover, Bandage Girl, from the evil Dr Foetus. Obviously.
Boasting solid self-controls, lots of humor and vibrant graphics, Super Meat Boy leapt onto the PS4, Vita, and Nintendo Switch in style.
It might not be Playdead’s most recent game, but Limbo is timeless. Even five years after its liberation, the game’s haunting storyline still affects us. You play the Boy, a child with glowing eyes who is cast into Limbo to find his sister. Stirring your space through a dismal and dangerous world full of hostile silhouettes, giant spiders and deadly gravitational lands, you’ll need to think quickly and perfectly occasion your motions if you’re going to survive.
Limbo is much more than a simple platformer: it& apos; s an experience, and one that will have you pondering the very essence of life by the time you finish. Deep, profound and assimilating, it& apos; s one indie game everybody should take time out to play.
If you& apos; re hankering for a retro-inspired multiplayer archery combat game( aren& apos; t we all ?), TowerFall: Ascension is the pick of the plenty. Fast, frenetic and teeth-gnashingly hard in hardcore mode, the game& apos; s car-mechanics are simple: burn arrows at your adversaries or jump on their heads to stay alive until the round ends.
Arrows that don& apos; t reached are embedded in walls, making for tense scenarios when you have to traverse the map while dodging opponents to retrieve them. As such, practicing until you attain Robin Hood-esque levels of accuracy is recommended. Ascension is best suffered with friends in neighbourhood multiplayer mode, which recollections Super Smash Bros& apos; most psychotic moments.
It’s not often that a platformer manages to balance challenging and engaging gameplay with an emotional and thought-provoking narrative, but Celeste pullings it off. From the developers of Towerfall, Celeste obeys the story of Madeline, a girl who decides to face her mental health issues by rise to the top of the mysterious Celeste Mountain. In doing so, she learns more not only about the mountain, but about herself as well throughout the process.
An inevitable classic, Celeste integrates the obvious jump-start, air-dash and climbing powers into a brutal serial of platforming challenges in upwards of 700 unique screens. And, if that’s too easy, you’ll unlock B-side sections along the way, designed for only the bravest of hardcore players. Better yet, you don’t have to worry about waiting an eternity between each respawn. Instead, Celeste brings you back from the grave in an instant, a welcome departure from the typically extensive loading screens.
Have you ever wanted to land on an alien planet, and build a factory? We admit that it’s an odd proposition, but we promise that it works in Satisfactory. You’ll land on one of three planets of varying impediment, where you’ll be tasked with building and automating a factory to exploit the world around you.
The premise sounds bland, but being able to explore these beautiful worlds in first person, while scavenging materials and fighting off hostile wildlife attains it all that more exciting. Plus, is there something better than sitting back and admiring something you worked hard on?
Satisfactory is in early access right now, and exclusive to the Epic Games Store, but if you can get past all that, you’re sure to get hours of wholesome simulation out of it.
After the rage success that was the original Nidhogg, it’s a shame to see the superior sequel get thrown under the bus. Nevertheless, in spite of its controversial art style, Nidhogg 2 jam-packs a refined, stunning gaze that the first version, a cult-classic, couldn’t even think to compete with.
In still frames, we can see how this could get misconstrued, but fortunately, it’s the merriment and addictive local multiplayer gameplay that stirs Nidhogg, well, Nidhogg. And it’s all there in Nidhogg 2. Additionally, every time you respawn, you get one of four unique weapons that simply reinforce the challenge.
Esteemed indie designer Jon Blow& apos; s follow up to Braid may look like an entirely different adventure, being 3D and all. However, the two are more thematically alike than you might think. The Witness, at its core, is another puzzle game that tells an interesting story through said puzzles.
This puzzler takes place in an almost equally impressionist- albeit heavily Myst-inspired- world-wide, but it& apos; s story is a lot more nuanced and mysterious than Blow& apos; s previous. At almost every corner of this island that you& apos; ve simply woken up on( or beneath ), there is a clue as to how you got onto this island and why you& apos; re here.
Don’t get us incorrect, we liked Bastion, but we won’t deny that Transistor was SuperGiant Games’ best work to date. Much of that will deal with the blending of action-based and turn-based RPG elements contained within its cyberpunk futurescape. Likewise, in classic SuperGiant fashion, those machinists are complemented with a stunning artwork style and a music score so unforgettable it’ll make you want to buy the soundtrack.
Leaving key gameplay defeats up to the player, the story isn’t so variable. Transistor’s primary attribute, Red, is a renowned singer in the city of Cloudbank. However, she’s been attacked by a group of vicious robots who call themselves the Process, operated by another group called the Camerata. In her expedition, she acquires the Transistor, a mysterious sword with the voice of a boy. Soon enough, she’ll understanding of him and how he will shake up her world.
It’s weird to think that Oxenfree came out before the first season of Stranger Things, and yet, the two coincidentally have a lot in common. The 80 s-inspired heavy synth music composed by scntfc, for one, accentuates some truly gripping sci-fi horror centre around – you guessed it- groupings of adolescents stuck on an island.
The story involves a handful of uniquely written personas, namely the primary character Alex, together with her stoner friend Ren, her newfound stepbrother Jonas, her dead brother Michael’s ex-girlfriend Clarissa and her best friend Nona( who Ren happens to be in love with ).
The plot is explained through branching speech talks, similar to Life is Strange or modern-day Telltale plays, and it features five different ends depending on your selects.
Exploring a surreal wilderness seems like quite the trend these days in gaming, and developer Campo Santo& apos; s debut only serves to keep it going strong. Set in the wilderness of 1989 Wyoming, you& apos; re playing Henry, a burn lookout that& apos; s all alone in the timbers after exploring something strange in the distance.
That is, save for your collaborator on the other line of a walkie-talkie: Delilah. She& apos; s your only point of contact as you explore the wilderness. Will you make it back alive? Will the decisions you shape help or harm the relationship with your only lifeline to the outside world, your boss? Don& apos; t is concerned at those questions just yet- admire those forestscapes first!
Rust is one of the more successful indie titles of recent times. Following the completion of 2015, it had sold more than 3 million copies, which isn& apos; t too shabby considering it wasn’t even finished — video games has been on Steam& apos; s Early Access scheme since launching in December 2013.
It seems people are able to& apos; t get enough of the Day Z-inspired survival sim. It envisions “youre using” your wits and bears to survive its harsh open world, starting off with nothing but a boulder. After amassing resources needed to build a house and weapons to fend off intruders( other online musicians, in other words ), Rust gradually becomes more intense as you protect your developing base — or attempt to breach others& apos ;.
Fans of the original Overcooked will not be disappointed by its second installment in the chaotic sofa co-op series from British indie game developer Team1 7.
This time around, your duty is to defeat the& apos; Un-Bread& apos;( zombie cooked goods) that have taken over the Onion Kingdom, by battling through brand new recipes including sushi, pizza and burgers in increasingly chaotic kitchens with up to three other people.
To add to the frenzied merriment, you must battle obstructions including random flames, collapsing floors and meddling passers by, all while getting your orders out to the pass in time.
Things get complicated fantastically rapidly, and relationships, friendships and family alliances will be tested as you work together to complete your recipes on time, making it a merriment and challenging sofa co-op game that will build you genuinely understand the meaning of “too many cooks bungle the broth.”
The natural progression of survival plays, SCUM takes what predecessors like Rust and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds both succeeded at and iterate in impressive styles. And, while it’s still in early access, it offers a unique spin- mixing the frenetic gameplay of battle royale plays with the slow, thoughtful gameplay of a survival sim.
SCUM, unlike other similar games, is extremely heavy on the simulation side of things, however. You shouldn’t expect to run in guns blazing, as you’re going to get tired rapidly( just as you would if you tried running outside in person with a ton of stuff in your backpack ). But, if heavy statistic systems is something your into, there’s a lot to adore here. It’s like spreadsheets with a physics engine.
Just don’t go in expecting a polished suffer , not for now. However, developer Croteam promises to add more features over day, and as they’re backed by Devolver, you can trust that video games is going to shape up into something great.
Every so often, there’s video games that perfectly merges and balances aesthetic, gameplay and narrative- where everything feels like it simply, well, adapts. The best indie plays always excel at this, and Return of the Obra Dinn is proof. A mystery taking place on a derelict ship, you’re tasked with figuring out how the crew of this lost ship died, disappeared or worse.
The entire game has this old-school visual styling that, combined with the simple powers and gameplay technique make it feel like a nostalgic sort of adventure. Right from the situates menu, you’ll get to choose what kind of monitor you’d like to emulate- we picked an old school Macintosh option- that should give you an idea of the type of retro revivalism on offer here.
Return of the Obra Dinn is a game that will require critical thinking, investigate and a ton of reading. If that all seems appealing to you, and you’re all good with retro esthetics, you will adoration this game. In fact, it’s one of the best indie games in a season marked with AAA decadence.
If you’re anything like us, you’ve probably spent hundreds of hours playing Roller Coaster Tycoon during your childhood. And, while there have been plenty of theme park simulators over the last few years, they’ve never quite hit that smudge.
Parkitect is the closest we’ve ever get to those early aughts park simulators, and we’re absolutely in love. From the cartoonish art style to the realistic simulation and Steam Workshop integration, Parkitect is one of the best indie plays 2019 has to offer.
For times, thatgamecompany has been behind some of the best indie plays on world markets, simply the majority of members of them had been exclusive to PlayStation. One such game was Flower. Serving as a kind of a precursor to the beloved Journey, Flower throws you in command of a flower petal, channel-surf through high winds.
You’ll activate different colorings of flower beds to affect the environment, which will also get you different colored petals, until you have an entire trail of color channel-surf high winds. It’s an improbably relaxing and artful experience, and it has the potential to be concealing a content about the industrial world we all find ourselves living in. Trust us, pass it a shot as it’s one of the best- not to mention, most legendary- indie games ever.
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