Monday, February 15, 2010

The 8 Best Indie Games Ever Made

Everyone loves a good indie game. They're free, they're sometimes fun, and they give you something to do. But there are some times when independant games just cross the line. Then there's indie games like the eight below. Games that can give professional games a run for their money and best of all are all 100% free.

8. Eversion
At first glance Eversion appears to be a cheerful Mario Bros-esque platformer with upbeat music, bright colors, and a cute flower creature as the protagonist. This is until you start eversing, moving between the layers of the world. Each eversion takes you deeper into horror but you'll need to go all the way in order to win.

Horror and pollution are interchangable.

Eversion is a great game with solid and challenging platform action and the eversing system is interesting and well implemented. Eversion's only hindrance is that it is extremely short. There's eight levels here including the bonus level. That said, it's eight levels of pure awesome.

Everse now.

7. Dracula's Shadow
A remake/homage to Castlavania 2: Simon's Quest. Graphics are more or less unchanged from the original, but the music has been remixed, the levels have been redesigned and new characters and items have been added.

There's no way around mentioning this so let's just get it out of the way now. This game is UGLY. This really goes with the "unretouched graphics" thing I mentioned above. Castlevania 2's graphics were hideous even for the time, and they have not aged well. That being said, the graphics do not in any way detract from the gameplay.

Actually, this isn't really an enemy in the game. This is just what happens to your eyes after playing this game for too long.

Dracula's Shadow is a long and exciting game and it has clearly been designed with playability in mind.. Enemies in outlevelled areas will stop giving experience, which discourages grinding and makes the game more fun. Your weapons deal set damage that is in proper proportion to how much damage the enemy can take, making combat much simpler than your average modern platform RPG hybrid.

The real downside to this game is that it's just a tad too easy. The bosses are pushovers, even for an NES homage, and the game itself is none too difficult either. Of particular strangeness is that the placement and programming of enemies always makes the game more difficult when travelling left to right, even in areas where you have no reason to do so. This is puzzling and just a bit sloppy.

Overall, a very fun game that is easy to get into and enjoy, but hindered by a number of vexing problems.

Get it here.

6. An Untitled Story
An Untitled Story is a non-linear platform game (ie. Metroid) involving birds, fireballs, and blowing shit up. In the developer's words, "you begin as an egg in your nest, and the rest is up to you to figure out." The game takes this simple premise and follows it to an utterly illogical and completely badass conclusion.

This egg kicks more ass then you ever will.

Alright, admittedly it is just a cuter version of a 2D Metroid with more exciting bosses and better platforming action. On the other hand, it's a cuter version of a 2D Metroid with more exciting bosses and better platforming action. Why the Hell are you not playing it already?

Find it and other less untitled games here.

5. Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup
The ultimate roguelike, Linley's Dungeon Crawl was first created by Australian programmer Linley Henzell in 1997. After Linley fell off the edge of the Earth in 1999 it was picked up by the current team at and became Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup.

Stone Soup is quite possibly the biggest game on this list. Looking at the races screen shown above you may imagine this to just be a lot of fluff with no substance. This is not so. Each of the races has its own unique play style. Ghouls, for example, are deadly unarmed fighters that need to eat constantly to avoid dying, as opposed to mummies who need no food at all but heal very slowly and can't use potions. Even the different breeds of elf have noticable differences.

A single session of Dungeon Crawl may last anywhere from several hours to several minutes, but don't think you've seen everything the game has to offer just because you beat it once. Gameplay changes drastically based on your character's race and choice of god, and random levels and artifacts ensure you never play the same game twice. For those who don't like the ascii-based nature of roguelikes Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup also has a beautiful tiles version.

Beauty and giant cockroaches are interchangable.

Dungeon Crawl's one shortcoming would be its totally unforgiving nature. It is very easy to die through absolutely no fault of your own, at which point your character is deleted. This can not be turned off and the developers have been very vocal in their refusal to change this, saying that doing so "would violate [their] definition of fun." Fortunately, this is very easy to get around if you feel so inclined. (Just back up your saves.)

Bring your +5 Plate Mail of Elitist-Linux-User-Dodging and go here to get it.

4. Knytt Stories
Knytt Stories isn't truely a series in the way most people think of a series. That is, there are no sequels and they're not all made by the same person. Rather, Knytt Stories refers to all games created using Nifflas' Knytt platformer engine. Specifically, this entry in the list refers to The Machine, Within A Deep Forest, and, of course, Knytt.

Knytt Stories is platforming in its purest state. There's no boss battles, no levelling up, just solid platform adventure in a beautiful and detailed world. This may be a turnoff to those expecting a lot of action, but for those who want epic platform adventure without a lot of hassle you need look no further.

You need the blue key to click this link.

3. Five Days a Stranger
A game by Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw, Five Days follows Trilby, a cat burglar who breaks into an apparently abandoned mansion only to find he isn't alone, but is trapped with four other strangers. Over the course of the next five days a horror mystery unfolds that would make M. Night Shyamalan jealous.

The M. Night that made Sixth Sense, I mean. Not the egomaniacal hack that's currently wearing his flesh.

Five Days a Stranger has the best story of any game on this list, which should really be expected from an interactive fiction. In a way 5 Days is just that, an interactive horror/mystery movie. Unfortunately, like any mystery movie it doesn't really matter how good it is, once you've seen it once you don't have a lot of reason to see it again. Even more unfortunately, like any good horror movie it was immediately followed by a string of sequels that will make you want to throttle Yahtzee like Jason on a sexually promiscuous camp counselor. Do yourself a favor and ignore the rest of the quadrilogy.

You can find the game here. Machete not included.

2. Iji
A science fiction platformer that asks, "what if one day, out of nowhere, aliens attacked and destroyed all life on Earth? Also, what if the last human survivor got upgraded with nanorobotics that allowed her to kick through walls and use any weapon, even ones that don't exist?" The answer is just as awesome as you'd expect.

Awesome is interchangable only with more awesome.

If Stone Soup was the biggest game on this list Iji is definitely the most unique, if only for including a morality/pacifism system that actually works. It's actually possible to beat the entire game without killing a single living thing. (Which, ironically, earns you the most destructive weapon in the game.)

But even if you don't care about that (and if you do, why are you playing a game about killing aliens with giant guns?) Iji's awesome gameplay and numerous secrets and unlockables will keep you playing for quite a while.

There's a weapon that kills everything on screen and it's not even the strongest weapon in the game. Find out what is here.

1. Cave Story
You know what Cave Story is. Don't play that game.

Daisuke Amaya's Cave Story is not only the best indie game it's one of the best games in general. It's also similar to our number two game Iji in that, taken together, they prove that graphics aren't that important after all by trouncing even current gen professional games using nothing more than epic story, solid gameplay, and an array of weapons that would make Charlton Heston piss his pants.

This pistol can make an elephant EXPLODE.

While Cave Story's gameplay will appeal most to fans of the 2D Megaman and Metroid games it is accessable and enjoyable for pretty much anyone. You know, unless you have some sort of religious code that forbids you from playing the greatest game ever made.

If you need a link to this game there's something wrong with you.

Edit from The Future:

I must admit I hadn't played Dwarf Fortress at the time I wrote this. I have since played it and wrote a review which you can find here. Enjoy.


Zarkuna said...


Anonymous said...


Mike M. said...

My apologies. I'm afraid I haven't played Dwarf Fortress. ^^;;

Anonymous said...

Mate, if you've not played Dwarf Fortress, you have not PLAYED. Seriously, the game is insanely good. It's like someone went back to 1980 and said, "Hey, let's make a game using ascii but lets make it require the power of a supercomputer to do all the simulation needed in game and wait 20 years for the processors to catch up" It's astounding how deep the game actually is. I work in the building where Valve worked prior to moving to their new offices and would meet the developers all the time in the elevator and one day mentioned, "I love your guy's games, in fact Portal is my 2nd favorite game of all time" They asked "What's your favorite?" and I replied "Dwarf Fortress" They shuffled their feet uncomfortably and replied "It's our favorite too"
So let that be a lesson to you