There are hundreds (if not, thousands) of worthwhile indie games out there so allow me to share 8 of them that I think are pretty neat.
Blue Fire Review Switch ★★★★☆
3D platforming action games usually make for quite memorable experiences and Blue Fire is a great example of what the genre can offer.
Blue Fire has you play as a mysterious little warrior who wears a mask and a cloak. Upon waking up in a strange room, you begin to explore your surroundings to find a large and intricate series of rooms and corridors. In order to traverse this eerie world, you'll need to jump, dash, and fight all sorts of enemies. Thankfully, the combat is super-tight and supremely rewarding as the enemies can be rather tough but you have a handy dodge move that allows you to evade enemy attacks. The constant juggling of dodging and sneaking in a few attacks is handled exceptionally well. Meanwhile, exploration is rewarding, too, as you may discover upgrades as you search every nook and cranny as well as master challenges within another world known as The Void. It can be challenging but it's great stuff.
Mastering all of the challenges within Blue Fire's intricate world is one satisfying endeavour and its eerie atmosphere is top-notch.Blue Fire gameplay video →
TOHU Review PlayStation 4 ★★★★☆
Point and click adventure games aren't as common on console and TOHU strikes a perfect balance between charming and weird.
In TOHU, you command a girl and a robot in order to ultimately piece together an ancient machine that supposedly keeps everyone safe. The journey ahead is full of puzzles that range from obvious to head-scratching yet everything comes together to form a cohesive and memorable adventure. For starters, you'll encounter tons of variety when it comes to scenery, clever situations, and characters. For example, you'll end up making an old lady's pet lizard into a dragon, arm wrestle your reflection, and master a few tricky carnival games. What makes the varied and entertaining journey even more immersive is the gorgeous art style that's astoundingly detailed and well-animated. In fact, this might be the best-looking indie I've played all year. So, if you love the genre then definitely play TOHU.
TOHU can be a perplexing adventure game at times but it's full of stand-out moments that you'll think fondly back on for years to come.TOHU gameplay video → TOHU: A Step-by-Step Guide
RoboPhobik Review Xbox One ★★★★☆
Working through robot-filled stages while trying to survive is nothing new but I bet you haven't played anything like RoboPhobik before.
RoboPhobik is one of the coolest interpretations of the classic Mystery Dungeon formula that I've ever played. For the unfamiliar, these sorts of games have enemies move at the same time that you do as you traverse grid-based dungeons. What makes RoboPhobik unique is that it features a stage-based campaign and you use long-range weapons to deal with robots that emerge from their respective spawn points whenever their countdown is complete. Therefore, the challenge relies on your ability to carefully plan each move and gunshot in order to navigate your way to the exit as efficiently and effectively as possible. There's a solid variety of enemies as well so learning their movement patterns adds to the challenge. Also, the level up system and hidden items add even more to the sense of reward.
As it is, RoboPhobik is one of the most underrated indie games of the year so if you love strategic dungeon crawlers, check it out!RoboPhobik gameplay video → More Mystery Dungeon games
PUSS! Review Xbox One ★★★★☆
Some indie games are just plain odd so here's one that's full of retro psychedelic VHS visuals and it stars a cat which is cool, I guess.
PUSS! is what I like to refer to as a dodge 'em up; a game where your goal is to merely survive and you don't really have any sort of way to attack. Its campaign essentially consists of levels where you guide a cat face through maze-like stages and you can't touch any walls, projectiles, enemies, or anything. This might sound easy and simple but many of the levels feature moving obstacles and other mind-bending transformations that make trying to wrap your head around what to do a tricky feat on its own. When you factor in the trippy graphics, cool music, and goofy sense of humour; you're left with one gratifying feline adventure. Plus, the boss fights are epic when it comes to both challenge and spectacle. It can be an annoying experience at times but you'll always be happy to give it another go.
Although PUSS! feels like it belongs on Adult Swim at 3AM, it's actually a surprisingly challenging, mind-blowing, and enjoyable indie.PUSS! gameplay video → More dodge 'em ups
Missile Dancer Review Switch ★★★★☆
Capturing the magic of classic shoot 'em ups must be a difficult thing to accomplish yet Missile Dancer does so in a commendable way.
Missile Dancer is a simple shmup that'll feel right at home for fans of the genre. All you do is move your fighter jet around while dodging projectiles and using any button to shoot. Also, holding the button down extends a red scanning circle that allows you to lock onto enemy planes and whenever you let go, you fire a barrage of homing missiles. This formula makes it feel very similar to Taito's classic arcade shooter RayForce. One thing that sets it apart is that you can shoot enemy missiles with your regular shot and the challenge lies in your ability to do so while firing plenty of your own missiles which is trickier than it sounds. To make the action even more fun, you can play cooperatively with a friend which is a nice bonus. Overall, it may be simple but it does everything just right for score-chasing fun.
Retro-inspired shmups simply don't get much finer-tuned than Missile Dancer with its simplistic and challenging approach to the genre.Missile Dancer gameplay video → More Switch Shoot 'em Ups
Habroxia 2 Review PlayStation 4 ★★★☆☆
2019's indie shmup Habroxia now has a welcome sequel but is it any good? Let's blast off, take to the skies, and get ready to shoot!
Habroxia 2 is an interesting blend of shoot 'em up and twin-stick shooter as its levels automatically scroll and you can shoot in any direction. Its stages even transition between horizontal and vertical segments which is quite nifty. Anyway, it's by no means an arcade-like experience because of its stage-based campaign where you upgrade your ship between levels with earned currency. Therefore, I imagine that it would appeal to casual fans of the genre seeing as you can grind and power-up as much as you like. Unfortunately, it's only for 1 player but on the plus side, its wealth of distinct boss battles are quite enjoyable to take on. Its graphics and music are fairly standard, too, and the gameplay isn't exactly exciting. Overall, it's one of those retro shooters that'll primarily appeal to genre newcomers.
Habroxia 2 is a modern gamer's idea of what retro shoot 'em ups were like but it's far removed from what made the genre special.Habroxia 2 gameplay video → Habroxia Review
SOLAS 128 Review Switch ★★★★☆
Reflecting light via setting up mirrors is a classic video game puzzle but what if a whole game relied on this mechanic? Here's SOLAS 128.
SOLAS 128 is a puzzle game where you solve screens by setting up mirrors to guide beams of coloured light to their respective exits. This definitely doesn't sound exciting but I assure you that it is for a multitude of reasons. The coolest thing about it is that these screens compose a massive and intricate game world so as you progress, you'll end up filling an unfathomably large grid with light. The screens themselves are often quite difficult to figure out but you do get hints that recharge over time and you can also highlight all interactive objects to help you visualize what you can do. On top of all this, you're treated to an excellent '80s-inspired synthesizer-heavy soundtrack and flashy neon visuals that make piecing together the puzzles an immediately gratifying experience.
Don't let SOLAS 128's seemingly simple premise put you off; this is one fantastic indie puzzler that you'll want to see through to the end.SOLAS 128 gameplay video →
Knight's Retreat Review PlayStation 4 ★★★☆☆
Here's a puzzle game that uses chess pieces as its main focus and get this; you don't even have to be familiar with chess to play it.
For whatever reason, I've never learned how to play chess even though I love strategic games. So, I was hesitant to play Knight's Retreat but to my surprise, you don't have to know how to play chess to figure it out so that's a nice bonus. All you basically do is move grey chess pieces out of the way as you try to guide a gold knight to its goal. Oh, and later stages will have you guide multiple knights. Anyway, once you move a gold knight, its tile gets destroyed which renders it unusable so part of the strategy is figuring out the order of the pieces as well as where to move them to. This all comes together to create a satisfying puzzle formula yet some scenarios can feel quite similar. I also couldn't remember how certain pieces can move at times which was a bit frustrating.
Knight's Retreat is a clever stage-based puzzler that uses chess pieces to create an impressively entertaining campaign of puzzles.Knight's Retreat gameplay video → Chess Knights: Shinobi Review