4 June 2018 - 16:25

These are the best indie games available right now

Join a literature club or drop out of college with these indie hits.
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Indie gaming is more popular than ever before, thanks in part to digital games being embraced across PC and console storefronts alike.

From visual novels to farming simulators to roguelikes, there's plenty of indie games available across the world that are challenging gaming's status quo and entertaining players new and old.

Whether you're an indie gamer on PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, or Nintendo Switch, here's some of the best indie games across the gaming world today.

Stardew Valley

Image via Chucklefish
At a glance
  • Genre: Farming simulator
  • Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation Vita (Upcoming)
  • Original Release Date: Feb. 26, 2016
  • Price: $14.99
  • Where to Buy: Steam for PC, Mac, and Linux; PlayStation Store for PlayStation 4; Microsoft Store for Xbox One; Nintendo eShop for Nintendo Switch

Created and spearheaded by developer Eric "ConcernedApe" Barone, Stardew Valley became a hit among PC gamers when it launched in February 2016. Stardew Valley casts the player as an intrepid farmer giving up their nine-to-five job to inherit their grandfather's farmhouse in a village called Pelican Town, throwing players into a world heavily inspired by farming simulator Harvest Moon and Nintendo's slice-of-life hit Animal Crossing.

Easy to learn but difficult to master, Stardew Valley lets players explore life at Pelican Town however they choose. Whether that means becoming an efficient farmer, finding a villager to date and marry, befriending everyone in town, or simply trying to live life one day at a time, Stardew Valley is the perfect escape after a long day and a solid indie game that represents the field's greates potential.

Night in the Woods

Image via Finji
At a glance
  • Genre: Adventure
  • Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, iOS (Upcoming), and Android (Upcoming)
  • Original Release Date: Feb. 21, 2017
  • Price: $19.99
  • Where to Buy: Steam for PC, Mac, and Linux; PlayStation Store for PlayStation 4; Microsoft Store for Xbox One; Nintendo eShop for Nintendo Switch

What is it like to return back home after dropping out of college? Infinite Fall's Night in the Woods follows Margaret "Mae" Borowski, a 20-year-old who has just returned home to Possum Springs after leaving school. She spends her free time hanging out with her childhood friends, but as Mae gradually reacquaints herself with life back home, she realizes something clearly isn't right. The economy hit the town hard, life is changing in the 21st century, she's having weird dreams, and perhaps most importantly, Mae's friend Casey Hartley is missing.

Unlike many other adventure games, Night in the Woods is about the big and small changes alike that haunt suburban American life, including the secrets it hides and the trauma its residents experience. The game is designed as an exploratory experience, encouraging players to check out the world as they see fit, whether by hanging out with specific people over others or exploring events at certain locations. Night in the Woods is somewhat open-ended for that reason, thanks in part to its organic story branches—the more time you spend with certain characters, the more you'll learn about them.


Image via Matt Makes Games
At a glance
  • Genre: Platformer
  • Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
  • Original Release Date: Jan. 25, 2018
  • Price: $19.99
  • Where to Buy: Steam for PC, Mac, and Linux; PlayStation Store for PlayStation 4; Microsoft Store for Xbox One; Nintendo eShop for Nintendo Switch

Platformers are an age-old staple in gaming, but every now and then a game comes along that shakes up the genre. Matt Makes Games' Celeste follows Madeline, a young girl climbing Celeste Mountain on her own while struggling with her anxiety and depression along the way, which come to life thanks to the mountain's strange powers.

Celeste particularly stands out thanks to its dashing and wall-grabbing mechanic that forces players to think fast on their feet, quickly jumping from a platform to a wall to a platform just to get through each level. This makes Celeste a puzzle-platformer of sorts, and dying is pretty common as the game requires player to make precise movements in order to avoid deadly spikes and pits.

Celeste is not just a challenging experience, it also tackles mental illness quite well, making it both an incredibly entertaining and insightful experience.

Hollow Knight

Image via Team Cherry
At a glance
  • Genre: Metroidvania
  • Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux, Nintendo Switch (Upcoming)
  • Original Release Date: Feb. 24, 2017
  • Price: $14.99
  • Where to Buy: Steam for PC, Mac, and Linux

Metroidvania games are more popular than ever these days, which means it can be hard to find a game that truly stands out within the genre. But Team Cherry's Hollow Knight is an instant classic thanks to the sheer dedication put into the game's setting and game design.

In Hollow Knight, players explore an abandoned kingdom called Hallownest, where the player's Knight fights against enemies and bosses in 2D side-scrolling combat. Hallownest is completely open for the player to explore, and the game's story is told through environmental storytelling, which means the Knight can unearth Hallownest at whatever pace they choose.

Hollow Knight features several interconnected areas distinct from one another, and after starting each new region, players discover new passageways by trial and error in order to continue. Over time, the Knight can receive additional skills during their journey and use spells to fend off enemy combatants, too. Known for its gorgeous dark, Victorian-esque aesthetic, Hollow Knight is worth a pick for any side-scrolling Metroid or Castlevania fans looking for an indie take on the genre.

VA-11 Hall-A

Image via Sukeban Games
At a glance
  • Genre: Visual novel
  • Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux, PlayStation Vita, PlayStation 4 (Upcoming), Nintendo Switch (Upcoming)
  • Original Release Date: June 21, 2016
  • Price: $14.99
  • Where to Buy: Steam for PC, Mac, and Linux; PlayStation Store for PlayStation Vita

Mixing drinks and changing lives are two things you'll be doing constantly throughout VA-11 Hall-A, and for a good reason. Developed by Venezuelan studio Sukeban Games, VA-11 Hall-A casts players as Jill, a bartender in a dystopian cyberpunk future where food is tight, the economy is broken, and everyone still needs a drink now and then.

But instead of placing the player at the center of the dystopian society's conflicts, Jill learns more about day-to-day life just by talking to patrons, learning their stories, and mixing their drinks. Gameplay takes place by serving customers and making small talk, with a branching dialogue system that leads to different responses based on how the player serves drinks. Meeting the customer's order leads to more personal conversations, but experimenting with their requests (like adding a little bit too much alcohol) can lead to just as interesting results.

Like other visual novels, VA-11 Hall-A is driven by its story, and the game's characters are as memorable as they are realistic, whether they're robotic sex workers or empathetic authority figures. For those looking to scratch that cyberpunk anime itch, VA-11 Hall-A shouldn't be missed.


Image via Studio MDHR
At a glance
  • Genre: Side-scrolling shooter
  • Platforms: PC and Xbox One
  • Original Release Date: Sept. 29, 2017
  • Price: $19.99
  • Where to Buy: Steam for PC; Microsoft Store for Xbox One

In September 2017, Studio MDHR released Cuphead, an incredibly difficult side-scrolling shooter inspired heavily by Fleischer Studios cartoons from the 1920s and '30s. Suffice it to say, the game quickly proved an instant success.

In Cuphead, players fight through run-and-gun levels and boss fights, dodging incoming fire while firing back at their enemies. It's easy for players to die dozens of times before finally finishing a level or boss battle. For instance, boss fights commonly involve attacking an enemy through multiple stages by dodging attacks, parrying incoming projectiles, and jumping from platform to platform, and since Cuphead gives players limited health, getting hit three or four times can be an immediate game over.

Cuphead is known for being both challenging and artistically gorgeous, and that alone makes it one of the most popular indie games to date. Don't expect an easy playthrough, but the game's platforming and shooting elements are sure to delight any Contra, Gunstar Heroes, or Metal Slug fan looking for a contemporary twist.

Doki Doki Literature Club

Image via Team Salvato
At a glance
  • Genre: Visual novel
  • Platforms: PC, Mac, and Linux
  • Original Release Date: Sept. 22, 2017
  • Price: Free
  • Where to Download: Steam

As far as indie games that challenge the norm go, Team Salvato's Doki Doki Literature Club made quite an impact when it launched in fall 2017. Inspired by Japanese dating sims and romance visual novels, Doki Doki Literature Club follows a nameless main character as he joins his high school's literature club after his childhood friend Sayori convinces him to join. But things clearly aren't right within the literature club, and what happens next is fitting of the game's warning: "This game is not suitable for children or those who are easily disturbed."

Innovative and incredibly scary, Doki Doki Literature Club remains a favorite for its memorable characters and metanarrative commentary. The game certainly isn't for the faint of heart, but its story is sure to stick with anyone who plays through the full game.


Screengrab via [Toby Fox](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Hojv0m3TqA)
At a glance
  • Genre: RPG
  • Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Nintendo Switch (Upcoming)
  • Original Release Date: Sept. 15, 2015
  • Price: $9.99 on PC, Mac, and Linux; $14.99 on PlayStation 4 and Vita
  • Where to Buy: Steam for PC, Mac, and Linux; PlayStation Store for PlayStation 4 and Vita

Undertale is easily one of the best indie titles in gaming history—and for EarthBound fans, the game's premise alone is sure to delight.

Developed by Toby Fox, Undertale follows a human child who makes their way into the Underground, a region separate from humanity where fantastical creatures live and rule. As the player explores the Underground, they're given the opportunity to either kill, flee, or befriend enemy combatants, many of which include the game's main characters. This is done through a bullet hell system, where players have to dodge enemy attacks, and Undertale famously features enemy characters that talk to the player while in combat.

From the very start, the player's choices impact the entire game's story, in part because the player can go on a genocidal rampage if they'd like—or spare every person they meet. Quirky, strange, yet oddly touching, Undertale remains an incredibly popular indie game to date. If there's one indie game to pick up, it's this one, by far.

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