Weekend Hot Topic, part 1: What’s your favourite indie game?

GameCentral readers name their favourite ever indie games, from Hotline Miami to Ori And The Blind Forest.

The subject for this weekend’s Inbox was suggested by reader Tim Rogers who asked what you think of indie games in general and whether you play them a lot or just when they’re free on PS Plus or Games with Gold.

As it turned out, most people were very keen and praised the best examples as being more imaginative and entertaining than even big name AAA games. The favourites included Hollow Knight and Cuphead, but there were lots of other more obscure titles mentioned – some even we hadn’t played before.


Equal footing

My favourite indie game is Hollow Knight but somehow saying it like that feels like I am doing it, and many other Indie games, a disservice. Hollow Knight is one of my favourite games of recent years, along with other indie titles such as What Remains Of Edith Finch, Celeste, SteamWorld: Heist, Into The Breach, and Dead Cells amongst others. All of these are top draw games that are deserving of everyone’s time.

I am sure everyone reading this has already played Hollow Knight and have experienced the excellent and satisfyingly hard combat. If you haven’t stop reading this and go and play it now. The way the overworld is intertwined and linked up is excellent, although I concede that the purchasing of maps and having to spend an ability point on marking yourself on the map has proved off-putting to many.

With the exception of a few games, such as Edith Finch and Firewatch, I have played indie titles on the Switch which is the ideal platform for them. The small screen when playing portably allows me to focus on the gameplay and also carry on playing games whilst my wife marathons TV boxsets like Downton Abbey (which is surprisingly good). It is also nice to see older PC favourites such as Undertale get ported over and brilliant that Microsoft has allowed Cuphead and Ori And The Blind Forest to come across too.


Made with love

I love an indie game. I’ll often seek out a shorter indie release that’s on sale as a palette cleanser in-between playing big releases.

I have got a lot of time for Bastion and I really enjoyed playing Into The Breach and Golf Story on the Switch last year.

I cannot split my two favourites which are Undertale and Divinity: Original Sin II. It isn’t really possible to compare the two.

With Undertale, the gameplay is at best pretty limited (the bullet hell bits are cool though), but you can see this is intentional and all the efforts have been put into creating the distinctive atmosphere and subversive, affecting story.

Contrast that with Original Sin II where the setting, story, and aesthetic purposely play by the rules of the genre but instead are used to hang the incredibly deep and rewarding gameplay off of.

This sounds trite but the freedom the developers had to make the game they wanted to make really shines through when you play both these titles, which is a fantastic quality to be able to imbue in your work.


Proper games

I haven’t really had much interest in indie games until I got the Switch, but since then I’ve probably bought as many indie games as ‘proper’ ones. At first it was just because there was a lack of releases, but I’ve started to look forward to the high-profile indie games.

I couldn’t really get into Stardew Valley or Hollow Knight, but games like Cuphead and Baba Is You are as good as everyone says. I got Celeste recently, but I haven’t played it yet because I’m still on the wonderful Untitled Goose Game (it really is Skool Daze for the 21st century).

But I think my favourite is Gorogoa. It looks and sounds beautiful, it’s thought-provoking and it could really only work as an indie game, i.e. it has a unique gameplay idea that may only last a few hours long but is more rewarding than many games that last 10 times that.

Looking forward to Return Of The Obra Dinn.


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Indie dread

As far as indie games go then three instantly spring to mind as cast iron classics. The first is Limbo by Playdead Games. A haunting platform/puzzler that encapsulated a sense of wonder and dread in equal measures. The art style has still never been bettered in my eyes. A perfect mix of film noir and 1920s style primitive cinematography

On the subject of cinematography Year Walk by Simogo dials this aesthetic back to pre-cinematic levels, with its gloriously realised austere pop-up book vibe that really does throw a left field hook at any expectations you may have going into it. Sometimes the scariest thing is not understanding what exact undertaking you have chosen. The companion app enables a truly fourth wall-breaking experience that I don’t believe has been bettered since.

Lastly, I have to give Decay by Shining Gate Software on Xbox a shout. The first three chapters were genuinely effective at unsettling me and gave me plenty of jump scares and nightmares. The last chapter (four) felt a bit bloated though and I remember a certain puzzle being so drawn out and ruining the vibe that I almost gave up. I’m glad I didn’t though as the ending still stays with me now.

Well, looking back on this list then it would seem that I am quite a grim and morose chap and I do lament the fact that I’ll never get to play P.T. (Silent Hills) but as a footnote and glimmer of fluffy happy stuff: I absolutely loved the joyous co-op of Ilomilo from Southend Interactive. An absolute blast for me and my partner from start to finish.
D Dubya


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