The Steam Summer Sale is well under way. Yet another chance for eager plays to open their wallets and pile their dragon’s hoard of digital game copies yet higher in the hope that they’ll get round to playing them some time in the near future. Well we’re here to help you with that backlog by pushing some of our favourite indie titles into the spotlight. If you already own them and haven’t tried them yet then we urge you to do so, if there are some new faces in here then we guarantee you won’t be able to put them down. No matter how hard the latest AAA free to play shooter is trying to pull your attention and time away.
15. Risk of Rain 2
Risk of Rain 2 is a legendary indie roguelike from Hopoo Games that offers a huge variety of enemy types, atmospheric and stylish maps to fight in and a fantastic soundtrack by Chris Christodoulou (see our Q&A with him here). With the recently released ‘Survivors of the Void’ DLC there’s plenty of spice in terms of difficulty and fresh content to add to the base game at a healthy discount and whilst I’ve had a great time playing it with friends, the difficulty scales well and makes a solo playthrough just as enjoyable.
Rated as ‘overwhelmingly positive’ on Steam with over 130,000 user reviews – its commercial success and continued adoration by the community are testament to its quality and enduring appeal to fans of the genre.
14. Stanley Parable: Ultra Deluxe
The narrative indie GOAT returned this year, slightly girthier than before with a host of new secrets, choices and content to uncover (or completely miss first time around and then unearth on another run through.) Nothing has touched it since the original release and while the foundation has stood the test of time well, the new content is on par with what came before. It is an absolute must play for anyone who missed it first time round and absolutely worth a replay for fans of the original who haven’t tried it out yet. ‘You will become powerless. You are not here to win. The Stanley Parable is a game that plays you.’
13. Disco Elysium: The Final Cut
A lot of high profile modern ‘RPGs’ are guilty of masquerading as RPGs while actually leaning heavily into looter shooter mechanics, looking at you Fallout 4 and Cyberpunk 2077. Disco Elysium: The Final Cut on the other hand is a true role playing game through and through. With a gigantic cast of fully voice acted characters to interact with, tonnes of cases for your detective to solve and a beautifully rendered city to forge your story in, you’d be hard pressed to find an RPG on any budget that does it better than Disco Elysium.
12. Outer Wilds
A BAFTA winning indie sensation from Mobius Digital, Outer Wilds dominated game of the year lists in 2019. You’re dropped into the spacesuit of a recruit sent into a mysterious solar system stuck in a time loop to investigate strange signals, decipher alien scribbles, hunt down answers and master the art of marshmallow roasting over an open fire. Also sports some of the best presented extreme weather events in a game, period.
Cult classic Omori is based on the game director’s web comic of the same name and leans heavily into traditional JRPG mechanics. Take control of Sunny, a hikkomori boy who is acutely socially withdrawn and explore the real world alongside a surreal dream world of his own imagination. Assembled in RPG maker and created to help the artist Omocat ‘cope with problems during a confusing part of their life’ it tackles themes ranging from depression and anxiety to friendships and suicide. Absolutely worth your time.
10. Spiritfarer: Farewell Edition
Ever wondered if it would be a heart-breaking task to ferry the spirits of the dead to their final resting place? Ever wondered if bonding with them first and helping them come to terms with how they lived their lives would make parting with them that much harder? Then you’re in the right place because Spiritfarer: Farewell Edition does exactly that. A wonderfully moving, brilliantly animated triumph of a game that hurts and heals in equal measure.
9. Little Nightmares: Complete Edition
A deeply creepy indie horror that earned a much deserved sequel after a successful 2016 release, Little Nightmares is what might happen if Tim Burton and the makers of Silent Hill unleashed their combined powers on a video game project. Cast as a kid named Six you’re up against a series of your childhood fears with the biggest of them being The Maw, a strange vessel filled with corrupted souls that’s wants to eat you whole. Freaky and fantastic.
8. Untitled Goose Game
‘It’s a lovely morning in the village and you are a horrible goose.’ That’s pretty much all there is to it. Go get ’em you orange billed psychopath. Or psychopaths, there’s split screen co-op on offer as well.
An occasionally fiendishly challenging platformer in more ways than one. An instant classic when it released in 2018, Celeste has you face off against your inner demons while climbing a mountain, dealing with mental health issues and searching for the will to go on. The key? Don’t stop, never give up, hold your head high and reach the top. Also features a brilliant, BAFTA nominated soundtrack from composer Lena Raine.
Thalassophobic? Want to be? Then Barotraumer has you covered. An indie survival horror based around co-op gameplay, wrapped in a submarine simulator. As you go on missions into the briny deep will you sabotage your crewmates by throwing a spanner into any one of your sub’s myriad intricate systems? Or will you go all in to man the guns and fix the leaks as horrors from the deep test the integrity of your hull?
5. The Walking Dead: Saints and Sinners Tourist Edition
Time for a VR game and this one’s a doozy. Saints and Sinners lets you experience the scares, the anxiety and the desperation of an underprepared survivor scavenging a living out of the ruins of modern civilization while being persistently assaulted by flesh hungry ghouls, in VR! Never mind the living room, lets beam those zombies directly into your noggin. Its one hell of a horror ride and a must for anyone with a VR headset and the stomach for it.
4. Streets of Rage 4
The most recent entry in the stone cold classic fighting series, Streets of Rage is a pixel perfect dose of digital smackdown that’s perfect for friendly beatdowns in split screen and sports 12 vibrant stages to smack your opponents around in. A revitalizing retro gem.
A nicely pitched ‘reverse horror’ game where players take control of a ferocious ball of biomass that feeds on humans to grow stronger and escape an underground lab. Traversing the environment as a horrific meatball of slavering destruction is a joy and, despite a few metroidvania-esque softlocks slowing the pacing at times, the concept and execution everywhere else is good enough for this to be a must buy for indie horror fans.
Take control of a boy who finds himself alone on the inside (get it) of a strange, dark project. Building on the gloomy aesthetic of Limbo, Inside mixes some hair raising action with genuinely challenging puzzles to deliver an miserable, memorable and downright inspired indie adventure unlike any other.
1. Night in the Woods
Become Mae Borowski as she returns to her hometown to discover that something isn’t quite right. Cold winds are blowing, the friends she wants to reconnect with have changed and grown older and as the sun sets, something’s stirring in the woods. Its narrative and character heavy so if you’re interest is piqued by aesthetics and storytelling then jump right in, you won’t regret it.