When we play indie games, we always give them a little more grace as usually these games are made by very small teams of people, usually with very little funding and experience. As a result these games usually are a little bit 'janky' and lack the polish of which you would expect out of a AAA title. Although, even with this lack of polish and 'janky' play style, sometimes we get some absolute masterpieces that come out and put AAA games developers to shame, showing that making a game fun to play, is much more important than anything else. Check out 5 titles, we believe achieved this below:
Stardew Valley is a sweet little farming sim which takes inspiration from great games before it such as Harvest Moon and Animal Crossing. Although, arguably Stardew Valley absolutely perfects this style of game and far surpasses that of what it takes its inspiration from. In Stardew Valley you make a character, who is then given a house and run-down farm. As the player is introduced to the mayor of the village and are challenged to engage with the community (within the game) and restore this run down farm. Players are able to quest, talk, build, fight, fish, trade and farm to earn money, which in turn, enables them to improve their land. The game delivers a really relaxing experience that doesn't really punish you for anything. The worst that can happen is a player can fall asleep in the street, or lose all their life in which they will have a small sum of money taken from them for the 'medical bill'.
Best yet, the developers ConcernedApe have grown this game a lot from its launch adding in features such as online, local multiplayer and weddings. Giving this game constant FREE support has really helped keep its community alive and kept the game thriving. If you love games such as Harvest Moon, then this game is something you HAVE to experience, if you haven't already! For all of the above reasons, we regard Stardew Valley as an Indie Masterpiece.
Time and time again, when looking through the steam library we see indie developers bringing us great horror experiences all the time. These experiences are almost always clunky, janky and whilst they're fun, they can be short lived. Until Phasmophobia came into the picture that is. Developed by one person under the developer name of Kinetic Games, Phasmophobia is a game that which has a band of 4, going into creepy settings and trying to identify the type of ghost haunting these. In terms of gameplay, Phasmophobia plays exactly how you imagine an indie game to play. Animations are bad, and the gameplay itself is overall really slow and clunky. But strangely these actually ENHANCE the experience. Imagine being chased by a ghost and dropping your torch because you accidently pressing the wrong button in panic. You then struggle to pick your torch up, because of how slow it is, leading to your impending doom. Or, walking down a creepy doorway, seeing a friends dead body clip through a wall right in front of you, suddenly. That is exactly the types of experience this game brings to the table.
Our team found ourselves spending over 40 hours playing the game, for the amazing cheap cost of £10 each. I mean not many AAA experiences even give that level of co-op commitment, and they cost ALOT more. Although Phasmophobia is rough around the edges, its a game that should embrace and keep these rough edges. Also, to add even more value to this epic title, the game is getting regular FREE updates, that add more levels, ghosts, gameplay mechanics and tools into the world, to keep fans hooked to the experience. With Outlast Trials upcoming, which is a coop horror experience, the bar has been set very high for this game to be equally as chilling.
Untitled Goose Game gets absolute star points for originality and its probably the only game on this list that built up its own unique style of gameplay. When I heard about the game before anything substantial had be shown off, I remember looking at screenshots of the Untitled Goose Game and thinking, "Why?!"... but then when it finally released, oh my, my initial perception of this game was entirely wrong.
For those of you who might have been living under a rock the past couple of years, the Untitled Goose Game is a cute adventure game where you take control of a havoc wrecking goose. As this goose, you have a 'shopping list' of activities that you have to do, to ensure chaos on the local neighbourhood. This will include things such as trapping a young boy in a phone box, stealing supplies from a shop, breaking a persons broom, and interrupting some local punters down at the pub. The charm for this little title comes from its delivery of cheekiness. It never crosses that line of being a complete ass, you're always pottering on the edge of it in fact. You're being a minor nuisance more than anything. Everything in this game beams that its family friendly, safe to play for children (and adults) whilst delivering a completely unique game. There isn't much more that I can say other than, if you haven't played this joyous title yet, then I massively recommend you do!
Firewatch is easily the best walking simulator that is out there. For those who haven't played this title, I don't want to give too much away, as its a fantastic experience when going into this title totally blind (as I did). In Firewatch you play a man who is escaping his past life, to experience a life away from people. In this your character choses to go to a tower to fire watch for a local wildlife park. Very simple premise, but it comes with a twist. There are strange things afoot in this beautiful land, and it is your duty to go and investigate these happenings. Unlike other walking simulators, Firewatch does actually have you do more than just walk, talk and interact with things. In fact there's some decision you'll need to make along the way. Although Ill stop there for gameplay as for those who are using this article as a way of recommending a good indie game, you deserve to experience this without anything spoiled.
Firewatch is a masterclass in telling a gripping story through environmental and suggestive themes. You'll be wondering around the beautiful wilds of Canada, whilst craving to want to know more about the person you play as, and the happenings which are occurring. Once I completed Firewatch, I craved for more. I wanted to know more, I wanted to know what happened next... there was so much left for me to want to explore. Honestly, whether you're a fan of walking sims or not, I can assure you that no other walking sim you've played before can rival this title. If you've never played it before, then go and buy it today. Get comfortable, and be prepared for an epic and beautiful story. For those who have played it before, I am pretty certain, that when they saw this listed, they didn't need to read this passage to agree.
Limbo is easily one of our favourite platform games, full stop and the odd thing is... I cant exactly tell you why. Limbo is just a really good game, all round. Limbo was a first of its kind, it introduces puzzle platforming like never before, whilst using symbolic story telling to allow people to craft what they think the journey this game takes you on, means. In Limbo, you play as the silhouette of a child, who is tasked with navigating a dark and dangerous plane, full of monsters, tribes and horrors looking to stop you in your tracks.
The developers Playdead, released this title back in 2010, and still today there are developers and games that aspire to deliver experiences as good as this. Limbo has positioned itself as a game other developers aim for. Upon release this game did better than any other title in this list with critiques. In fact it scored a very comfortable average of 89% with reviewers, and was received extremely well. But for us, what makes Limbo a Masterpiece is its ability to tell a story with only ambiance and silhouettes. Limbo was a first of its kind, I don't believe that anyone had told a story quite like the way that Limbo did.
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