Breaking down just five games for one year in an all-around indie category is a tough job. Whereas blockbusters compete fiercely as well, but get attention regardless, a small project can still be drowned instantly by its peers, despite a pristine creation.
Yet, perhaps the indie scene is also where to turn when convention starts feeling tired. While shooters, roleplaying titles and other popular genres remain amazing experiences, sometimes you need someone to throw a curve-ball in there.
Even in these similar genres, an indie project will put brain to brawn, to overcome its stature.
Best Indie Games of 2013
A true great game makes itself shine with what it has to offer, not how it is illustrated, per se. In this year’s Best Indie Games of 2013, we commend five titles that proved to take their idea to excellent execution.
A winner from these five choices will be determined by the editors in the coming month.
Never before has a game that is so soothing in presentation delivered such an invigorating challenge. A simple design of switching between earthen elements to slide across levels sounds easy enough, but this requires intense concentration.
Luckily, Element4l urges players on with its soft, silhouetted tones and an oddly fascinating soundtrack of experimental ambient noises, cascading through each other. Its flow is exactly as the water it tries to convey in design. Where the gameplay is the destructive Yin, its arrangement is the constructive Yang.
Papo & Yo
Some of the strongest stories are told with a personal touch, letting us peer into the vulnerabilities of their creators. Despite Papo & Yo’s original outlook of a magical adventure, there is a sensible darkness within that tackles topics like alcoholism and domestic abuse.
It’s empowering that the struggles of a child can be woven seamlessly in an otherwise gorgeously clashing universe of shanty towns and illuminating, mystical items that sever its core. If games were fairy tales, the moral of this story would fit in perfectly.
Pensive challenges are plentiful in the indie world, but this is one randomly created quest that takes this notion and flips it to quick wit. Mixed with a light version of permanent death, it quirkily overturns any convention it uses.
Enemies are tough, they are plentiful and a swift demise is inevitable. Each step just needs to be a little better than the last and that’s rarely more rewarding than in this pixelated, side-scrolling carnival of death. In fact, death is its own renewing progress.
Games that put the entire premise bluntly in their title are annoying. We get it; that’s the plot. In a rare exception, Don’t Starve can be allowed this indiscretion, because it adds much more to its premise than trying to stay fed.
There’s an entire survival mechanism present in an eerily drawn world of pointy shapes and greyed out environments. Nature can either be a tool or a threat and it’s by ingenious discovery with an exact amount of info that those tides can turn.
It’s hard not to just scream “It’s Mega Man,” on this one, but that’s what also makes it partially bittersweet. While Capcom squanders its gift, its legacy reverberates through the gaming community to give our nostalgic hearts a boost.
With a universe rich in color and a set of highly customized traits, this little robot’s adventure is a joy to go through and that with riveting and fast-paced combat. It’s a game that’s part exploration, part sweaty palms, part endearing charm and all appealing conquest.