Ten Best Indie Games

Published: September 20, 2014

A list of the five best indie games to have been released in the last few years. Everyone's jumping on the indie development bandwagon, so it's probably good to know where the start hunting if you're interested in trying out some of these addictive, 'quaint' games. Or, to re-affirm your own beliefs. Or, to get mad at me for thinking something else. Look, whatever. Just read the list already. 

  1. Rust

    Rust is a secondary attempt from developer "Facepunch", most noted for their incredibly popular "Garry's Mod" sandbox/development game. The general premise in Rust is to scavange, forage, build, and get beaten to death by naked men with rocks for your rocks. It brings a breath of fresh air to the survival genre, in that there isn't a concrete goal or way to win. Interactions with people are the primary draw, and the opportunity to engage in user-moderated politics and rules is a neat experience. 

  2. Don't Starve

    Another survival game, but this time with a much different feel and atmosphere. As of yet, the game hasn't went multiplayer (though that's current in beta testing as you read), which means it's a single player experience wherin the most dangerous enemy is the loss of your own sanity. Or not being able to find food. Or attempting to fight anything. Really, there's a lot out there to kill you in the wide world of Don't Starve, but the draw comes from both the Tim Burton-esque art style and the permanent death of your character. When you die, you don't take anything with you; rather, you take those experiences and can apply them to your next playthrough. 

  3. Satrbound

    Despite its lack of updates, the initial content available upon release was enough to keep plenty of players going for a really long time. Build, Explore, and Dungeon Crawl your way through any planet in a number of galaxies, each with its own unique biome and set of enemies. The art style is reminiscent of Terraria ('cuz it's the same artist.), which means it'll endear you with its SNES-era graphics and interface. The developed really knocked out the issues that a lot of people had in other 2D games that allowed building by giving the character a laser that allows the placement and rotation of items via an inventory item. 

  4. Shovel Knight

    Shovel Knight is an action/platformer that stays true to traditional 2D graphics of the NES-era, while infusing that with scathing difficulty, punishing bosses, and a Dark Souls like death policy. You will die, and you will lose progression, but that's half of the fun. While being as difficult as it is, it still doesn't take itself too seriously; your character is a Knight, who's weapon, is a shovel. You attack in a fashion reminiscent of Scrooge McDuck from the old NES Ducktales games. The soundtrack is quite lovely, to boot.

  5. Amnesia: The Dark Descent

    Amnesia: The Dark Descent, should be familiar to any of the million plus people who subscribe to Pewdiepie, who rose to fame screeching into his webcam while playing this very game. A Lovecraftian inspired survival/horror game, Amnesia: The Dark Descent delivers both purplexing puzzles and chilling spooks. Crawl your way through a mansion crawling with nightmarish beasts and appirations to kill a man, though you don't really know why. A must for anyone who wants to harken back to first-person exploration games, or fans of the original Resident Evil trilogy that didn't like guns. Oh, and people who hate clean pants. 

  6. Rogue Legacy

    Ever wanted to crawl through a sprawling, Castlevania-esque manor and collect riches along the way? Ever wanted to do that with Dwarfism? Rogue Legacy takes the action/2D platforming of old, and mixes it with the semi-roguelike experience. I say semi, because you do carry over some of your accrued wealth into the next playthrough, as well as your genetics. Each character has a genetic difference, be it positive or negative, that will impact the way your next playthrough pans out. Characters who're genetically inclined to exaggerate will see numbers filling up their screens when they hit opponents, tall characters will have a harder time dodging attacks but find it easier to get to higher places, and so on. A refreshing take on the genre, with pleasant atmosphere and a tongue-in-cheek approach to roguelikes. 

  7. 7 Days to Die

    By now, we've all played Minecraft. However, if you thought Minecraft could be too peaceful, or if you just felt like you needed to kill swathes of zombies inbetween crops or building, 7 Days to Die is for you. It takes a realistic approach to the increasingly popular voxel-based art style, which means you can dig/build/farm to your heart's content, while still being able to remain immersed in a realistic art style. The game's difficulty is pretty up there, but can be scaled down to fit almost anyone's playstyle. The crafting system in really thorough, though it can be a bit intimidating the first playthrough. The developer helped curb that issue by giving you the basic outline of craftable items via the game's crafting window, which categorizes things based on need. A surprisingly thorough freshman attempt.

  8. Minecraft

    Which brings me to my next entry: Minecraft. Look, I know it's low hanging fruit. Apparently, like seven or eight people out there really like this game. It may or may not be single-handedly responsible for innovating what was thought to be a dead-end career path, or whatever. It might've been sold to a major studio for 2.5 BILLION (with a 'b') US dollars, or something like that. It's incredibly hard to hate the game, despite some of its obvious drawbacks like the lack of clarity between updates and the painful modification process, though that has been soothed over time by more transparency between users and devs. It has an incredibly active modding/support community, which means the game constantly has new content added that isn't exactly official, but you can mod your game to pain fish in J.R. Tolkien's nightmares in 45 minutes and two forum posts, if you're so inclined. A steamroller for a reason.

  9. Goat Simulator

    Do you often wake from dreams of stomping around suburbs, destroying gas stations and licking bar-b-q grills with tears in your eyes, the crushing reality of your humanity emphasized by how real it is? Worry not, because you can play as a...goat. In this...simulation. It's a goat simulator, appropriately named 'Goat Simulator'. You can do all of those things, as well as other traditionally goat-reserved activities, like backflips off of water towers, crashing to desktop, and getting caught in a woodchipper. It's only 12 bucks, guys. Don't be a jerk. Some of the money probably goes to goats. I don't know, no one has said that, but I feel like it should.

  10. Path of Exile

    Path of Exile is as close as we'll every get to an honest-to-god sequel to Diablo 2. When some of the original developers from Blizzard North quit/got fired, they decided to start making their own 'sequel', albeit under a different name. Completely free to play, Path of Exile is one of the only indie developed titles that has an 'ethical' cash shop, wherein none of the purchasable commodities affect the players abilities or otherwise give an advantage over another player. Couple this with addicting gameplay and loot running, and you have a successful 'freshman' attempt at a diablo clone, except by the people who put out Diablo and without lining EA's dirty pockets (It's like Christmas!).

In an ever changing martketplace, we can only guess the next pattern of successful games. However, supporting these indie developers gives us an opportunity to single-handedly shape that future, while putting cash into the coding-callused hands of those who most genuinely deserve it.