9 Indie Games Everyone Should Play Once, According to Reddit

It’s not exactly shocking to hear a friend mention that a movie or book “changed their life”, but it would still be surprising to most people to hear a friend say that a video game has changed his life. But that shouldn’t be surprising, because video games have been pulling the same kind of narrative heart for decades now, and nowhere is that pull stronger than in indie games.

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Indie games, or games produced independently and not affiliated with major studios, tend to push the boat a bit further when it comes to both gameplay mechanics and narrative design. Indie developers can afford to take more risks, and sometimes because of that, they miss out on mainstream attention. But sometimes developers take a risk that not only manifests something impactful, but something powerful enough for people to remember for the rest of their lives.

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Disco Elysee


Disco Elysium promotional art featuring two of the cast characters against the artistic backdrop of the fantasy urban setting

As one Redditor points out, “Disco Elysee is arguably the best RPG ever made,” and with its many accolades, the case can certainly be made. Combining tabletop RPG elements with point-and-click style adventure, the format is broad enough to allow themes of nihilism, ultraliberalism, and even drug addiction to run through.

The game unfolds like a novel, naturally as written and conceived by Estonian novelist Robert Kurvitz. But beyond the game’s unique literary style, it’s defined by a stunning art style largely inspired by oil paintings, achieving one of the most concise and accomplished artistic endeavors a video game has ever sought. .


Spiritfarer


Spiritfarer logo

Despite being one of the newer entries on this list, Spiritfarer still managed to garner a cult following similar to if it had been released decades before. Tackle its mature subjects in a sensitive and ethereal way, the game has been applauded for “how it celebrates death” as one Redditor puts it.

Technically a “management simulation”, Spiritfarer The Ghibli-esque art style and writing make its experience practically the antithesis of the usual constraints one expects from the genre. Yet, however many Spiritfarer is applauded for being a calming experience, a Redditor reminds newcomers that “that gaming jerk hit me right in the heart.”


Stanley’s parable


The Stanley Parabole Adventure Line

The term “meta” is used when something refers to itself or itself. Almost every artistic medium has used it at some point, from theater to poetry, but arguably one of the most meta meta products that has ever existed is the video game. Stanley’s parable. One player described it as “a unique experience I’ve never had before”.

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A commentary on indie games as a whole, the pleasures of play, and the true paradox of freedom, Stanley’s parable is a narrative game where the player directs an office worker at the behest of a truly unreliable narrator. Although incredibly simple in its gameplay, the game excels for its experimental writing and voice acting by Kevan Brighting.


Thomas was alone


Thomas in Thomas was alone

As explained in the pages of almost every book on narrative theory, one of the most exciting parts of writing is its ability to create empathy for something that doesn’t exist. In the case of Thomas was alonethis ability is pushed to its limit by asking the audience to sympathize with a group of shapes.

The game’s success in this area can be demonstrated by one Redditor’s comment, “this game made me rip a rectangle apart”. But beyond its obvious narrative accomplishments, Thomas was alone is also a delightfully challenging platformer, which, like many other acclaimed indie games, uses its gameplay mechanics to further bolster its story.


Outer Wildlands


Outdoor Wilds Wallpaper

Named game of the year by half a dozen publishers in 2019, Outer Wildlands is an open-world exploration game that has managed to ensure that its non-linear journey is specifically tailored to each player. One Redditor describes it as “a game where the story is told through your own curiosity and exploration.”

Seemingly coming out of nowhere, Outer Wildlands positioned players as a rookie in a space program, tasked with exploring the galaxy to unravel the mystery that had buried the solar system in an endless time loop. The game, inspired by The Legend of Zelda, is filled with stories that constantly pose complex puzzles for the player, leading to a world experience like no other.

Hotline Miami


The most important independent game of each year since 2008

One of the most controversial indie games to exist, Hotline Miami in many ways, it achieved exactly what it set out to do, bringing attention to the hyper-violence that had become commonplace in video games. A Redditor describes it as “the most influential indie game due to its soundtrack and meta commentary for games.”

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The game received critical acclaim in 2012, and to this day its art style and music retains an intense cult following due to its take on the popular gory neon aesthetic of the 80s. 2011 To drivethe game was popular enough to become an equally acclaimed sequel, Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number.

Stardew Valley


Stardew Valley title on sky view with hills

Although farming has been one of the most consistently successful topics for simulation games, none have come close to the success of Stardew Valley. A feat all the more impressive that the game was entirely developed by a single man in four years, this man being Eric Barone.

Although not critically acclaimed, the response to Stardew Valley was mostly positive, but sincerely not up to par with the outstanding commercial success it has now received. The game is loved for its open escapist feel, the NPC residents of Stardew Valley itself, and the way it allows players to take both a feverishly rigorous approach or a laid back, relaxed approach to farming. . As one Redditor describes it, it’s “a game where you can really play it however you want.”


terrariums


The Terraria video game logo

At one time, the main rival of the most popular video game in the world, Minecraft, terrariums is today underestimated for its popularity and impact both when it was first released and in the years that followed. Having been lovingly updated and extended by its developers to this day, terrariums is a gigantic open-world side-scroller that places players on a surprisingly intense quest.

On first load terrariums it may first appear as a side view of Minecraft, with a block structure dictating exploitable resources and a crafting system to use them. But long-term players of the game know that terrariums is much deeper than Minecraft for its available resources and customization. One Redditor estimates that “a single run takes around 100 hours,” but recent estimates suspect that figure is closer to 500.

hollow knight


The Hollow Knight: Voidheart Edition video game logo

The Metroidvania genre has seen a huge resurgence in recent years, attributed to a host of games including dead cells, Sunderedand History of the cave. But one of the most surprising hits was the unassuming hollow knightan accessible game that lured players into a punishing experience reminiscent of “Souls-Borne” games.

Hiding its story in a seemingly endless maze of tunnels, cities, and jungles, one of this game’s greatest achievements is the breadth of its creativity. Unraveling the story takes time and effort, and the straightforward move-set becomes bewilderingly complex as bosses get tougher and attack windows get shorter. Its world is hauntingly sad and its music equally memorable, as one Redditor put it “Two years later, I regularly catch my wife humming the card guy’s song.”

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