Top 25 Favorite Indie Games

The indie games label needs to die but it exists so I'll use it! This list was tough to do as I had well over 25 games written out (and many like Undertale that I have yet to play) but ultimately I had to make a lot of cuts to fit it all in at 25. Lots of heavy hitters didn't make the list but that's proof that there's something for everyone!
  1. 1.
    Mark of the Ninja
    Mark of the Ninja might just be the greatest stealth game I have ever played. It's a 2D stealth platformer with wonderful level design and in-depth game mechanics that puts much of the bigger budget competition to shame.
  2. 2.
    80 Days
    My favorite text adventure ever made and it works best as a mobile experience for quick pick up and play sessions. There's so much to see and do, so many options on how to proceed that no two playthroughs have to ever be the same. The ultimate joy in 80 Days isn't success, it's the adventure and all the lives you come across on the way.
  3. 3.
    Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove
    The current poster-child for indie gaming, Shovel Knight feels like a throwback with modern sensibilities. There's free DLC, charming characters, beautiful art and on-point, precise controls. This game is wonderful! And it's been updated with two more campaigns that make a stronger case for this title than ever before.
  4. 4.
    Bastion was the first indie game that made me feel the love for the smaller games movement. Its a standard action RPG with a beautiful and somber world, heartbreaking moments and the gimmick of a narrator who tells you your story as you play it out. The finale was emotionally draining and brilliantly done.
  5. 5.
    Hotline Miami
    A brutal, rhythmic, nightmare fueled murder fest. Hotline Miami gets you wired to kill everything in as efficient a manner as possible. And you're going to have to get good fast. One hit kills you. Trust me, this game on the PC is stellar, but on the Vita it's a hellish nirvana.
  6. 6.
    Shadowrun: Dragonfall- Director's Cut
    Out of all the games on this list Dragonfall is the big one. The second Shadowrun game after its revival with Returns, it continued the fantastic writing but gave you a fully fleshed out team you grew to care about and maintained the same fantastic role-playing and tactical battles.
  7. 7.
    Monument Valley
    Monument Valley feels like the apotheosis of one handed play. There's a minimalist narrative and stellar art. It's a game of illusions, of impossible designs, and a prime example of how to build a game with the strengths and weaknesses of a platform in mind.
  8. 8.
    Thomas Was Alone
    Thomas Was Alone is a game about shapes with personalities. To say anything else would spoil the charming and well thought narrative offered. It's also a well designed puzzle platformer. Putting the two together makes for a can't-miss package.
  9. 9.
    The indie movement has led to a lot of shooters as well and few stand out quite as much as the dynamic, challenging and visually stunning Astebreed. It's quickly become one of my favorite shmups ever made. And the combination of brutal melee attacks and fast paced shooting and dodging makes this one tough as nails to master.
  10. 10.
    Papers, Please
    Papers, Please is the most thematically powerful game on this list. It's basic function is of a "can you spot the difference" between documents and does so with an oppressive, constantly terrifying atmosphere. Set in a fictional Eastern European nation, you have to take care of your family while determining who you can and can't allow into the country.
  11. 11.
    FTL: Faster Than Light
    FTL is one of the finest examples of indie gaming done right. An addictive gameplay loop brings you back for more in this randomized, rogue-like inspired crawl through space. The unknown awaits you at every turn, whether that's death, friends, pursuers, pirates. Space is an unfriendly place and you need to find a way to manage your crew and ship to the final destination. This is procedural gaming done right.
  12. 12.
    Sine Mora
    Sine Mora is one of the best horizontal shooters to be released as a result. It's a simple, horizontal shooter about time travels (with a plot that makes no sense), beautiful visuals, and challenging scenarios and bosses. One of the coolest gameplay elements it features is slowing down time to navigate impossible scenarios. This is absolutely a must-play game, and a perfect entry point for the bullet-hell sub genre.
  13. 13.
    It's dark, spooky, and well designed. Limbo is a sublime platformer where everything makes sense, even if, ironically none of what actually happening onscreen makes sense. The art style is beautiful through simplicity and the puzzles are all well designed. This is a platformer of an absurdly high quality.
  14. 14.
    Device 6
    A text adventure where the words you read for the narrative are set as the game map you explore. Device 6 is as unique as it gets (as far as I'm aware) and it provides some thought-provoking puzzles mixed with an unsettling mystery.
  15. 15.
    Torchlight II
    The sequel to Diablo II took two turns: one was Diablo III the other was this, and Torchlight II was the more faithful interpretation of Blizzard's classic even following it's basic structure. But it did so with a more colorful and inviting world.
  16. 16.
    The Vanishing of Ethan Carter
    The first "walking simulator" on this list. Ethan Carter has such a wonderful hook, interesting occult setup, and a gruff and grizzled main character. There are so many surreal moments, one nightmarish and horrifying crawl, and such curious and uncomfortable moments that the game is recommended despite the fact that the ending is so awful.
  17. 17.
    Dust: An Elysian Tail
    Dust is Metroidvania style furryfest with great combo focused combat. It's got beautiful, hand drawn art, interesting lore, and lovely music. It's also a bit more forgiving than its contemporaneous competitor Valdis Story which is a significantly more cutthroat take on the Metroidvania style.
  18. 18.
    Shantae and The Pirate's Curse
    I haven't played the original GBC game nor the new Half-Genie Hero release, but if Risky's Revenge and The Pirate's Curse prove anything it's that putting love and care into your game can make it shine, even as a sequel 8 years in the making. It's a beautiful action platformer with vibrant characters, beautiful art, tight platforming, fun dungeons to navigate, and huge bosses to conquer!
  19. 19.
    Brilliant level design is the draw in this mystery puzzle game. It's a brief adventure that can be finished in an evening however the reason it will be finished in an evening is because it's design is so compelling and interesting you can keep on playing.
  20. 20.
    Valdis Story: Abyssal City
    Every once in awhile a truly great game goes unnoticed and we have a prime example here with Valdis Story. As far as modern Metroidvania titles go, I haven't played one more challenging than this one. You traverse a massive map filled with stellar platforming and brutal bosses, but it's coupled with an intense combat system. This isn't an easy game, but those up for a challenge will be in for a surprise with this little known gem.
  21. 21.
    Gone Home
    Gone Home's atmosphere is palpable. You feel transported to an empty home circa the 90's and the entire home is open to you. Ultimately it's all about exploration and what you're willing to put in to the game that determines what you will get out of it. The main narrative is trite, and isn't worth much on its own. But there are secrets in this home, and learning them makes for a genuinely haunting experience.
  22. 22.
    Bit.Trip Presents Runner 2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien
    This game is silly. It's also superbly designed. Your runner runs through courses, you determine when they jump, slide, etc to avoid damage or grab collectibles. It sounds basic but there's so much depth and the art is beautiful. A third game has been announced too!
  23. 23.
    Game Dev Story
    The definition of basic. Game Dev Story is set entirely in one room that expands over time. It's more about how you manage your resources to run a successful company over the span of 20 years. It's also ridiculous how addictive it is.
  24. 24.
    Castle Crashers
    Best played with three friends, this simple 2D hack and slash adventure is goofy fun, genuinely immature, and easy to get into. Playing solo can be fun, but this is best played with other people sitting right next to you. The art style is definitely easy on the eyes.
  25. 25.
    Jamestown forces you to get better as certain levels are not possible on lower difficulty levels. So it trains you to get better until you can unlock them. It's smartly designed and helps develop your skills to progress further. Also you can play with others if your skills don't develop properly.