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5 indie games that combine genres for a unique experience

These indie games do their best at combining the strengths of multiple genres (Images via Brace Yourself Games/Supra Games/505 Games)
These indie games do their best at combining the strengths of multiple genres (Images via Brace Yourself Games/Supra Games/505 Games)
Siddharth Patil

Thanks to indie games, the video game industry continues to see fresh concepts and new ideas bloom every now and then. Interestingly, there are not just new ideas that turn around entire genres on their heads, but even "hybrid" concepts that may sound weird on paper, but dazzle in execution.

Here are five indie games that successfully combine different genres to create an experience that's not been seen before.


Some of these indie ideas are very innovative

1) Creature in the Well - Dungeon Crawler x Pinball

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Developed by Flight School Studio and MWM Studio, this indie dungeon crawler implements mechanics from an unlikely genre, pinball games. Players will get to explore a mysterious world filled with dungeons and ruins teeming with all kinds of ancient machinery and a mysterious giant creature.

Taking on the role of a robot wielding a sword that can charge electric orbs, players must activate the dormant facility to stop an incoming sandstorm. The machinery in the dungeons includes switches that act like pinball pins. Energy orbs can bounce and ricochet between them to slowly and consecutively power up the area.

While the game does have a learning curve, it is a great experience once players get the hang of it. It is currently available on PC, PS4, Xbox One, and the Nintendo Switch.


2) Pyre - RPG x Sports

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Supergiant Games is, by no means, a small name in the indie sector. However, their 2017 fantasy adventure is a unique blend of ideas, new even for the developers themselves. Pyre is a narrative-driven action RPG with hand-drawn visuals and combat that's best described as "high-fantasy soccer".

The story follows Reader, one of the many outcasts exiled to a mass of dangerous land. These people band together to form tribes that compete with one another for freedom by competing in Rites, the game's term for competitive combat encounters with NPCs that strangely resembles soccer. Each member of the players' tribe plays differently to one another, so experimenting to find the right combination to overcome opponents is vital.

Two unique aspects of the game are how freeing NPCs is handled; as you progress through the story, you can free your favorite characters from the purgatory. However, it is a double-sided ax, as you'll end up with party members you aren't used to. This interesting dilemma forms the core of Pyre.

The Reader can also spend time with their partners, hunt for resources to upgrade, and level up their favorite characters. The game is currently available on PC and PS4.


3) Supraland - First-person shooter x Metroidvania

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German indie studio Supra Games combined three of the most popular franchises into one with their 2018 open world puzzle game Supraland. It borrows from Nintendo's Legend of Zelda and Metroid, and Valve's Portal to create something that's wholly its own.

Taking place in a miniature toy world built by a human child, you play as one of the 'red people.' The 'blue people' have been causing trouble with the water supply, so players must journey to their palace to deal with the situation. The game is a dizzying mishmash of different ideas. The combat is first-person, with players wielding swords and guns to defeat enemies. It showcases Zelda's influence with item-based progression and also Portal-esque gun-puzzles. Finally, the Metroidvania-inspired backtracking and secret areas also make an appearance.

It even has some immersive-sim design in there, with organic solutions for overcoming challenges. Players see a coin atop a highpoint, but are unable to reach it? Activate the magnetic ability to allow scaling to the top via nails and other metallic objects embedded into the structure.

The game is out on PC, PS4, Xbox One, and Switch and recently got a side game release called Six Inches Under. Another brand new entry called Supraworld will also be arriving in the future.


4) Indivisible - Metroidvania x Turn-based RPG

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"Turn-based combat that mimicks fighting game tactics? In a Metroidvania?" That seems to be the general reaction after seeing the indie-RPG game Indivisible. After her village comes under attack by a warlord, Ajna must hunt down the ones responsible for it. Throughout her journey, she encounters a number of varied characters who will aid her on her adventures.

The exploration phase is handled as a platformer, with Ajna being able to jump, dash, and bounce around the beautifully constructed worlds. Enemy encounters transport her and her party to a combat arena, facing off against enemies. Battle mechanics from offense to defense and everything in between are handed with different inputs for each character. While it is a lot of fun and challenging as well, players simply cannot button mash here.

On that note, the team involved was also responsible for making the popular indie fighting game Skullgirls. Unfortunately, developer Lab Zero Games is now defunct following allegations against its founder two years ago. Get Indivisible on PC, PS4, Xbox One, and Switch.


5) Crypt of the NecroDancer - Roguelite x Rhythm

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Crypt of the NecroDancer from indie developer Brace Yourself Games is, by far, the best and most seamless combination between any two genres: here specifically, rogue-lites and rhythm games. Out in search of her missing father, Candane ends up trapped in a crypt ruled over by the titular NecroDancer. He steals her heart, causing her to dance along to the booming beats of the crypt's levels in an effort to get it back.

The game's premise is rather simple. The character's movement must match the tempo of the song (with a visual representation at the bottom of the screen). Keeping up the pace and successfully killing enemies initiates a combo multiplier, while missing a beat, drops it.

The combat system as well as the banger OST composed by the talented Danny B turns an otherwise standard roguelite into a whole lot of fun. However, the game is quite challenging as each enemy has unique attack patterns. Dying also sends the player back to the lobby to start over from each Zone's first level. Although frustrating at first, it becomes harder to notice as time goes on as players naturally get better.

Happy birthday to our favorite musical mom 🪕🎶#CryptOfTheNecroDancer https://t.co/1G3SpMQ4xD

For fans of all things indie, Crypt of the NecroDancer should definitely not be missed and is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It's currently available on PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch and PS Vita.


Edited by Atul S

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