What’s Your Favourite Indie Game Of All Time?
This week for our Indie Spotlight we've got something a little different. It's a bit of a slow moment for indies ahead of Stray's mammoth launch next week, so we've cast the net larger than usual. We asked TheGamer's editorial staff what their favourite indie games of all time are.
Terraria is undeniably the best indie game of all time, and my favourite by some margin. That’s it. The list is over. In all seriousness, the game has received over a decade of free updates—updates Re-Logic, the developer, just can’t seem to stop producing, even after they’d promised it was really all over. Its thriving community keeps creating amazing maps and stories and detailed mods, and you can still buy this masterpiece for less than a fiver on Steam. People will still be playing Terraria in 2040—if we haven’t all returned to the primordial ooze.
Issy van der Velde
News & Evergreen Editor
Before Hades, there was Transistor. An isometric tactical hack’n’slash – yes, it’s possible – set in the digital city of Cloudbank, inhabited by sentient programs fighting against the homogenisation of their beautiful world. The central pillar of the game is the love story between Red – a singer who’s had her voice stolen – and the man who’s soul is trapped inside her transistor sword. It’s a stunning journey through questions of self, democracy, and love. Topped off with a stellar soundtrack, breathtaking visuals, and fantastic gameplay, Transistor is my favourite indie game ever.
Psychonauts’ mere existence gives me hope for the video game industry and, honestly, humanity as a whole.
Alright, so maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but as far as indie games go, you can’t get much better than Psychonauts. I’ve been an indie game lover for more than a decade but nothing has ever topped this mind-bending title. I love it for putting an excellent spin on the platforming genre. I love it for the ways it empathetically explains and considers mental health. I love it for the goofy characters I became so attached to. I love it for the janky graphics that remind me of playing on my original Xbox. I love it for the Milkman, whose milk is delicious.
No Man’s Sky
David W. Duffy
First up, No Man’s Sky is an indie game. Alright, now that’s over with, we can get to why it’s not just my favourite indie game of all time, but perhaps my favourite game ever. In many ways, NMS mirrors my journey in life. I’ve lived in four different countries, countless more villages, towns, and cities. With moving around a lot comes a feeling of being somewhat lost, and that’s exactly how NMS plays out. Landing on a planet for the first time, trying to get your bearings, and find the resources you need to survive while not knowing what on earth is going on — that strikes me, right to my core. It’s a game that has helped keep me grounded, helped me find some perspective whenever I’ve felt lost. No other game, or even entertainment medium, has given me that feeling, and I’m sure I’ll continue to get lost in No Man’s Sky’s infinite universe for as long as its servers allow me.
I guess I should say some critically lauded, artistically accomplished indie. But I would be lying. The indie game I’ve put most hours in is this simple puzzler on my mobile phone. It’s like Tetris except the blocks aren’t falling and you’re making horizontal or vertical lines on a 10×10 square. It’s annoyingly compelling, stress relieving, and has kept me occupied many times. It’s developed by Athena Studios. More illuminating however are Sky: Children of the Light and Forgotton Anne (not a typo), which are both fantastic mobile games developed by indie studios Thatgamecompany and Throughline Games respectively. These are whimsical, charming experiences with beautiful visuals. Check ‘em out.
Photo / News Editor
Half-Life content is sparse these days. We just got a VR game after over a decade of waiting and we’re back to waiting for leaked maybes to be announced. But I’ve always fallen back on Garry’s Mod, the Smash Bros. crossover of all Valve games, smushed together and enhanced by the community. It started with a little sandbox mode where you’d make your own fun, building levels and ragdoll posing for screenshots, but it blossomed into a minigame extravaganza. I’ve lost hundreds of hours in TTT and Boat Building, meeting so many friends I still talk to today. If there’s one indie game I’ll consistently fall back on no matter what, it’s Garry’s Mod.
Lead Features Editor
I have picked something gay. Stop the presses, she’s finally gone and done it, the absolute mad lass. There are plenty of excellent queer indie games out there that aren’t afraid to tell emotional stories and further LGBTQ+ representation in the medium. I love all of them, but Butterfly Soup is one that will always have a special place in my heart. Developed by Brianna Lei, this adorable visual novel follows a group of young asian-american girls who also happen to be super fruity. It’s sharply written, incredibly cute, and vitally important in the queer culture it seeks to depict. I hadn’t come out when I first played it, so it definitely planted a few seeds that were soon to blossom in my own life, and for that I can’t help but give it a spot here.
Lead News Editor
This isn’t the first time that I’ve talked about how fantastic Spelunky is and it certainly won’t be the last. There are a few games I’d give that golden 10/10 score to, but to this day Spelunky is still the only game out there that I’d call truly flawless. From it’s charming soundtrack to the constant feeling of learning and using that knowledge to improve upon yourself, there’s truly nothing like Spelunky out there. Well, except for Spelunky 2.
Crypt Of The Necrodancer
After The Binding of Isaac popped up in 2011 and became one of the most popular indie games of all time, the roguelike genre exploded. You had your Dungeons of Dredmors, your Risk of Rains, your FTLs and your Nuclear Thrones. In that tidal wave of procedurally generated permadeath came Crypt of the Necrodancer, and nothing else has come even close to surpassing it since.
A rhythm-based roguelike that requires you to make your moves on time to the music, it is possibly the closest thing possible to a perfect game in my book. Every enemy, weapon, and upgrade help make each run feel different despite being to the same music by DannyB (which, by the way, slaps), and with so many things to find and unlock across runs you’re more than adequately trained up for the slaughter that is All Zones Mode. It’s my most-played Switch game, and Workshop support, plus the news a while ago that we’d be getting more updates, is really threatening Vampire Survivors’ top spot on my Steam Deck too.
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