It was quite a year for indie games in 2010. We would love to hear what YOUR favourite games were for the year – perhaps of all time! Do you have a top 10? Let us know in the comments at the bottom of the article.
Many people have different views on what actually qualifies as an indie game – certainly Call of Duty, Uncharted and World of Warcraft are not indie games, but what about Flower, Pixeljunk Eden and Angry Birds? Let’s look at some of the best titles we have seen in recent years:
And Yet It Moves
And Yet It Moves is a single-player puzzle platform game developed by independent developer Broken Rules. The game is set in a heavily stylized world with many of the background elements having the look of ripped paper, including the player’s character which also appears to be a rough pencil line-drawing on white paper.
As with most platform games, the player’s character can move left and right and can jump; however the central concept of the game is that the player can also spin the entire world either 90 or 180 degrees around their character as they move. Check out the trailer on Youtube.
Angry Birds is a puzzle video game developed by Finland-based Rovio Mobile, in which players use a slingshot to launch birds at pigs stationed on or within various structures, with the intent of destroying all the pigs on the playfield.
With over 50 million downloads across all platforms, the game has been called “one of the most mainstream games out right now” and “one of the great runaway hits of 2010”.
Amnesia – The Dark Descent
Amnesia: The Dark Descent (previously known as Lux Tenebras or Unknown) is a graphic adventure survival horror game by Frictional Games. Amnesia is an exploration-based adventure game played from a first-person perspective. The game involves physical object interaction, allowing for advanced physics based puzzles and interactions such as opening doors and fixing machinery.
The game casts the player in the role of Daniel, a young man from London, who awakens in the dark halls of Brennenburg Castle with little to no memory about himself or his past. A note left by himself gives a warning that a “living nightmare” is chasing him, and that he must escape it for as long as he can. Throughout the game, Daniel’s situation and additional information about the backstory is found through diary entries and notes that the player can find during their journey, and flashbacks as Daniel recalls old memories of the castle.
Braid is a platform and puzzle video game developed by independent software developer Jonathan Blow. The basic story elements unfold as the protagonist, Tim, attempts to rescue a princess from a monster. Text passages laid throughout the game reveal a multifaceted narrative, giving clues about Tim’s contemplations and motivations. The game features traditional aspects of the platform genre while integrating various powers of time-manipulation. Using these abilities, the player progresses the story by finding and assembling jigsaw puzzle pieces.
Canabalt is a one-button sidescrolling platformer game by Semi Secret Software for Flash and iPhone. The player controls a man on the run and the purpose of the game is for the player to get their constantly running man far as they can. The levels are randomly generated and made of the rooftops and hallways of buildings. Players must avoid objects they can trip over, falling machinery which could kill them, crumbling buildings, and must aim carefully to smash through windows into building hallways so as to not fall to their death.
Cave Story is a freeware platform-adventure video game released in 2004 for PC. It was designed and programmed over five years by Daisuke Amaya, art-name Pixel, in his free time. After its initial release on the Internet, Cave Story slowly gained popularity as an indie game. As a result, Nicalis worked with Pixel to bring the game to Nintendo’s WiiWare in 2010.
The game focuses on an amnesiac silent protagonist who awakens in a cave. Through his explorations, he discovers a plot by the Doctor, a megalomaniac who intends to force the inhabitants of the cave to fight for him in his bid to conquer the world. The protagonist is thrust into the position of savior as he endeavours to defeat the Doctor.
Cortex Command is a 2-dimensional side-scrolling action game developed by Data Realms. In the game, the player takes the role of a disembodied brain, who controls various clones and robots to achieve his aims. The main goal of the game is mining gold, which is used to purchase new clones, weaponry and craft which is then used to eliminate competitors. As the brain is weak, the player must manage his resources carefully, protecting the brain, mining gold and fighting off enemies.
Crayon Physics Deluxe
Crayon Physics Deluxe is a puzzle game designed by Petri Purho of Kloonigames. An early version, titled Crayon Physics, won the grand prize at the Independent Games Festival in 2008. It features a heavy emphasis on two-dimensional physics simulations, including gravity, mass, kinetic energy and transfer of momentum.
The objective of each level in Crayon Physics Deluxe is to guide a ball from a predetermined start point so that it touches all of the stars placed on the level. The ball and nearly all objects on the screen are affected by gravity. The player cannot control the ball directly, but rather must influence the ball’s movement by drawing physical objects on the screen. Depending on how the object is drawn, it becomes a rigid surface, a pivot point, a wheel or a rope, and the object can then interact with the ball by hitting it, providing a surface to roll on, dragging, carrying or launching the ball, etc. The player can also nudge the ball left or right by clicking on it, and in some levels, rockets appear and can be used as part of the solution.
Cry of Fear
Cry of Fear is a Single Player Survival Horror Total Conversion of Half Life 1. It’s the new project of a team of modders who have made other hl1 mods such as Afraid of Monsters: Directors Cut. If you’ve played Afraid of Monsters, then you should already know what kind of hosed-up game this will end up being. The only released information of Cry of Fear details gameplay elements and how the game will feel. There is a lot of content put into the game, and it’s taken two years to create.
The game draws inspiration from old Horror games like the Silent Hill series. You have to solve puzzles, fight horrible monsters, explore dangerous looking locations, traipse through a forest while zombies chase you, the usual survival horror fare. There is a new inventory system in the game, you find and collect items (guns, ammo, keys, notes, knives, lanterns) and can examine, combine, and equip them. What’s unique about this though, is you can assign different items to your left and right hands.
Dear Esther is an award-winning, critically acclaimed, experimental first-person game. Built in the Source engine, it abandons traditional gameplay, leaving only a rich world soaked in atmosphere, and an abstract, poetic story to explore. Dear Esther was originally launched in 2008 and is currently being rebuilt by Robert Briscoe.
Dino Run (Escape Extinction In Style) is an independent Flash game created by PixelJAM and XGen Studios, in which the player steers a dinosaur through increasingly dangerous side-scrolling landscapes to escape an impending wall of doom. The game uses simple pixel art and 8-bit sound to replicate the style of 1980s arcade games.
Every Day The Same Dream
An artistic and existential game about alienation and refusal of labour. Beautiful and bleak, ‘Every Day the Same Dream’ was made in 6 days by The Molleindustria for the Experimental Gameplay Project and features music by Jesse Stiles. This game inspired the short film of the same title, with music by Alva Noto & Ryuichi Sakamoto, Takahiro Kido and Sylvain Chauveau, which you can watch on [Youtube]
Game Dev Story
Game Dev Story is a videogame company simulation game for iPhone OS and PC by Japanese studio Kairosoft. You play a studio manager, and must manage your own game company, trying to create a million-selling game. You direct your crew of designers, artists, and coders in an effort to create a string of successful video games over a 20 year time period. Beyond just making games, you’ll need to grow your own brand name by running a game convention booth, attending awards shows, advertising, and managing an ever-changing fan base.
Limbo is visually stunning, presenting its action in a black, white and grey world, using lighting, film grain effects and minimal ambient sounds to create an eerie atmosphere. The plot is simple: you control a boy who wakes up in the woods, and you have to find your sister. You may or may not be in limbo, but wherever you are, you face danger, in the form of traps, spiders, spikes, deep water (sadly, the boy can’t swim) and falling from large heights. Limbo is Playdead’s first production with Arnt Jensen as Game Director.
Machinarium is a puzzle point-and-click adventure game developed by Amanita Design. The goal of the game is to solve a series of puzzles linked together by an overworld consisting of a traditional “point and click” adventure story. The overworld’s most radical departure is that only objects within the player character’s reach can be clicked on.
Minecraft is a sandbox construction game, inspired by Infiniminer, and created by Markus Persson, the founder of Mojang Specifications. Minecraft is a game about placing blocks to build anything you can imagine. At night monsters come out, so players must make sure to build a shelter before that happens. The player takes an avatar that can destroy or create blocks, forming fantastic structures, creations and artwork across the various multiplayer servers in multiple game modes.
Miner Wars 2081
Miner Wars by Keen Software House is a six degrees of freedom (6DOF) asteroid mining and space shooter played in a fully destructible environment and is a combination of single player story game and MMO. As a player, you operate an advanced mining ship in an open world asteroid belt area. You dig kilometers of tunnels, harvest the ore, travel the solar system, fight your enemies and discover deep secrets.
Game play is led by an epic story and is a combination of a single/multi-player game, cooperative, or you against everyone. The story introduces you to many types of missions: rescue, exploration, revenge, base defense, theft, transportation, stealth, search and destroy, pure harvesting, racing or just flying around and destroying everything you see.
Osmos is a puzzle video game developed by Canadian developer Hemisphere Games. The aim of the game is to propel yourself, a single-celled organism (Mote), into other smaller motes to absorb them. Colliding with a mote larger than yourself will result in being absorbed yourself, resulting in a game over. Changing course is done by expelling mass. Due to conservation of momentum, this results in the player’s mote moving away from the expelled mass, but also in his/her own mote shrinking.
Overgrowth is a 3d action-adventure game from the independent game studio, Wolfire Games. While the game is still in development, it has definitely attracted a lot of attention, due to their weekly alpha trailers showing each of their latest features, not to mention leading the Humble Indie Bundle giveaway.
The game takes place in the savage world of Lugaru where rabbits, wolves and other animals are forced to use paws, claws and medieval weaponry to engage each other in combat. Overgrowth will feature a seamless integration of brutal close quarters combat and fluid platforming. Powered by Wolfire’s brand new Phoenix Engine, Overgrowth will have cutting edge graphics, brutal physics, realistic AI and intuitive combat controls that will immerse players and tap into their primal survival instincts.
PixelJunk Shooter is a video game developed by Kyoto-based developer Q-Games for the PlayStation 3. The game is based on classics such as Gravitar, Oids and Thrust, with inertia based movement, pushing the physics to a new level using liquids, gases and many clever gameplay tricks.
The goal of each level is to rescue the men in suits by snatching them with your grappling hook, but letting a bunch of them die triggers a game over. There are also many hidden diamonds throughout the levels.
Spelunker HD, known in Japan as Minna de Superankā (みんなでスペランカー), is a PlayStation 3 game developed and published by Irem Software Engineering. It is a remake of the 1985 NES port of Irem’s arcade version of Tim Martin’s Spelunker. While in terms of gameplay the game does not differ greatly from the original, it adds HD graphics, although the NES version can still be played, as well as 100 all-new levels over 10 different locations.
Super Meat Boy
Super Meat Boy is a platform game developed by Team Meat and is the successor to Edmund McMillen’s and Jonathan McEntee’s flash game, Meat Boy, originally released on the Newgrounds website in October 2008. The game sees players taking on the role of a small, skinless, cube-shaped boy named Meat Boy, who must save his girlfriend, Bandage Girl, from the evil Dr. Fetus. Players must guide Meat Boy to the end of each level, using his wall clinging ability, while avoiding buzzsaws, salt, and other various death bringing obstacles.
The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom
The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom is a puzzle platforming game developed by The Odd Gentlemen. Previews for the game have praised its unique puzzle mechanics, comparing it favorably to Portal and Braid in the creativity of its puzzles.
The player controls the main character, P.B. Winterbottom, to attempt to gather pies. The player may record an action and a clone will constantly repeat that action, serving as a platform, pie-fetcher, or other puzzle-solving device.
The game is visually presented like a silent film, reminiscent of art nouveau or films from the late 1800s/early 1900s. As such, there is no spoken dialogue, as all speech is instead shown through title cards in between stages. The game is also shown in mostly black-and-white and features a score primarily composed of piano-centric arrangements bearing a style similar to those of silent-era films.
VVVVVV is a 2D puzzle platform video game designed by Terry Cavanagh and composed by Magnus Pålsson. the player controls Captain Viridian, who is lost in an alternate dimension, in search of the missing members of his spaceship’s crew. Instead of jumping, the player is able to control the direction of gravity, allowing Captain Viridian to flip between the floors and ceilings of the environment. The graphical style of VVVVVV is heavily influenced by the Commodore 64; similarly, the game’s music is entirely chiptune.
World of Goo
World of Goo is a physics-based puzzle game by 2D Boy. The game is built around the idea of creating large structures using balls of goo. The main objective of the game is to get a requisite number of goo balls to a pipe representing the exit. In order to do so, the player must use the goo balls to construct bridges, towers, and other structures to overcome gravity and various terrain difficulties such as chasms, hills, spikes, or cliffs.