Twiddling your thumbs waiting on a next-gen console? Desperate for something to tide you over while you wait for the next big AAA game? Or simply trying to fill the endless void of life in a global pandemic inbetween Deliveroo orders and moving from your bed to your desk ad nauseam? Well, we can’t help with any COVID-induced existential crisises, but what we can do is recommend a set of cracking indie titles to keep you entertained. You may have heard of some of these, but every single one of these games is worth playing, and we’ve tried to include a little something for everybody.
Pixel art. Procedurally generated. Rogue-like. That combination of terms either has you yawning or drooling right now, but Noita is currently sitting at Overwhelmingly Positive reviews on Steam, unique in that every pixel on screen is physically simulated – you’ll create your own spells to blaze, freeze and explode your way forwards.
Despite the fact that the indie market is currently flooded with rogue-whatevers, Noita proves that the genre still has plenty to offer, with an arsenal of tricks up its wizard’s sleeve to amuse and entertain for hours on end. It offers a degree of interactivity rarely seen in the gaming medium, and really has to be seen in motion to be totally appreciated – so check out the release trailer below.
Green Hell is a survival game set in the Amazon jungle, and our very own Mr. Maddox was so impressed with it he scored it 9.7/10. “I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again. Green Hell welcomes you to the jungle, but it’s far from fun and games. Everything is out to get you, nothing is safe, and your death is pretty much inevitable. However, despite the challenges put to you, it’s an incredibly detailed game that is really well made and such a joy to play.”
You can check out our full review here. Green Hell would be a fantastic alternative for anybody up for something a little less fantastical than Valheim (which has been omitted from this list for obvious reasons). Challenging the dangerous life within the Amazon is both terrifying and engaging, and it will push your human survival instinct to its very limit.
BUDDY SIMULATOR 1984
Buddy Simulator 1984 is one of indie gaming’s biggest surprises this year, and you’d be forgiven for not hearing anything about it just yet – but it is an absolute must for fans of deeply personal, extremely sinister storytelling. It’s fantastical and yet intimate much like Undertale, drawing you into a world built just for you by an AI companion.
Kaesiya gave it a confident 10/10 in her review, immediately enthralled by the intense levels of creativity Not A Sailor Studios poured into this unique little experience.
“The world previously described by a text adventure becomes a fully fleshed out universe, with a whole cast of eclectic characters to boot. Soon finding yourself immersed in the story that unfolds, you end up on a quest to save Mayor Tortley from the dreaded Snoodlewonker. Buddy Simulator‘s cutesy exterior is constantly at odds with the growing dread beneath the surface – your buddy is doing their very best to create something wholesome and fun to play, but sometimes it just can’t make the pieces fit together right…
There are several occasions where gameplay is purposely disrupted by glitches and other ominous happenings that make you question what is really happening under the surface. As the story unravels, your buddy starts to become unstable and this is reflected in the quality of the game, darting between caring, supportive friend to needy and overbearing.“
DOORS OF INSANITY
This was my personal pick for this article – this deck-building roguelite is currently in Early Access, but it’s already tons of fun, and while some of the feedback they’ve had has been mixed, I really can’t stop myself from heartily recommending it. It’s fun, it has a brilliant sense of humour, and it really shines in so many areas despite a few rough edges.
“Doors of Insanity is mad, and I mean that in the best possible way. The art seems to take significant inspiration from Cuphead and Adventure Time, with splashes of Ren & Stimpy. Enemies bop along to the soundtrack, bringing momentum to every fight. Rewards are lavished upon you at regular intervals, slowly buffing up your health and damage potential, tricking your deck of cards out with new and interesting abilities (occasionally peppered with pop culture references). Doors of Insanity is always moving forwards, and the battles it offers are such intoxicating little chunks of quickfire fun it’s extremely easy to get caught up for hours on end.”
SHATTERED: TALE OF THE FORGOTTEN KING
Shattered is an indie adventure on a grand scale, a sprawling, monolithic voyage through a dying world. It’s incredibly ambitious and layered with beautiful, haunting artwork. Chris gave it 9/10, praising the smooth combat, gorgeous world and tremendous scale.
“Shattered: Tale of the Forgotten King, developed and published by Redlock Studios, has all the makings of a title which could contend for best indie game of the year. Shattered is definitely one of the most ambitious titles I have played in a long time, and by the way the game plays and feels, it would be criminal to give it any less than it is due...
On your quest to reach the King, there will be various places you will need to visit, and upon getting your map to begin your adventure for real, your hands will be tickling to go out and explore, more so because of how gorgeous the world looks. Compared to how dark the opening levels and Limbo are, players will be very pleasantly surprised by the colour in the realm; blue skies, green trees and red leaves all blend together to create a spectacle to the eye, a show which will entice the player even more to just go out and explore.“
Have we missed something? Have you played any of the titles on this list? Let us know in the comments if you agree! Or if you disagree, I suppose. As long as you’re nice. Actually, if you’re going to be all negative about it, could you at least balance it out with a cute picture of a red panda? Thanks.