5 underrated indie games with unique artstyles

 Take a punt at some of the most visually striking indie titles out right now (Images via Demurth/Drool/Supergiant Games)
Take a punt at some of the most visually striking indie titles out right now (Images via Demurth/Drool/Supergiant Games)
Siddharth Patil

It's no secret that indie games continue to push the boundaries of the gaming medium. While the mainstream gaming business is largely focused around pushing out safe, tried-and-true formulas, these guys aim for new and unprecedented ways of approaching game development from every angle.

That's a blessing for gamers out there who are keen on unearthing intriguing experiences that haven't been done or seen before. So here are five indie games released in the past decade that boast interesting art directions not really seen in other games.

Take a look at some indie offerings with an eye for visual creativity

5) Antichamber


Indie developer Alexander "Demruth" Bruce's 2013 first-person puzzler is a hallucinogenic trip down the unknown. The game doesn't have a narrative but rather introduces philosophical ideas for the players to dwell on and the notion that perception isn't reality; the countless, mind-bending puzzles and cryptic hints help mess with the player's psyche even further.

The visual style is minimalistic, largely black and white with a dash of color where needed. Demruth described this as a deliberate design choice to allow players to easily distinguish and detect elements that need attention.

But this pairs with the gameplay to lend a serene yet mildly chilling, almost dread-like atmosphere that clings to the player as they run down hallways trying to make heads or tails of the confusing contraptions before them. The game is only available on PC.

4) Snipperclips: Cut It Out, Together!


This sidescrolling co-op puzzler from SFB Games was one of the first few indie games released for the the Nintendo Switch's launch in 2017. The concept has two players controlling Snip and Clip each, who are two paper beings with feet; the aim is to solve the game's 2D physics puzzles with one player cutting a shape out of another to fit the objective as needed.

For example, need to carry a ball? Carve out a bowl-like indent to allow the ball to fit in perfectly so it can be carried over to the goal. The cute paper aesthetic and the goofy expressions of the characters paired with the creative puzzle design results in a party game that's bound to be a hit among friends.

It's available exclusively on Nintendo's current handheld console, the Switch.

The Switch came out 5 years today, which means HAPPY 5TH BIRTHDAY SNIP AND CLIP!! ๐Ÿ’›โค๏ธ

3) 11-11 Memories Retold


This two-studio indie collaboration between DigixArt Entertainment and Aardman Animations is an adventure game set during World War I. It follows the lives of two characters - Harry Lambert and Kurt Waldner.

The former is a photographer from Canada, keen on partaking in the war to photograph the experience to prove his worth to his childhood friend. Meanwhile, the latter is an engineer among the German forces who decides to put his life on the line in search of his missing son by participating in the army.

What follows is a narrative-heavy tale that sees the two lives intertwine, despite language and cultural barriers. Gameplay involves standard, linear exploration adventures with puzzle elements - not unlike Dontnod's Life is Strange series.

However, it's the visuals that are the highlight; inspired by "impressionist art," the art direction consists of deliberately hazy strokes of a painting brush. This also fits the narrative as many of the sequences are memory flashbacks reliving the events that transpired. The game is on PS4, XB1 and PC.

2) Transistor


Indie developer Supergiant Games' name is one that's now been on many more lips since 2020's amazing Greek-mythos-inspired roguelite Hades. The studio has a pedigree for making great indie games that satisfy every craving, from narrative and visual to mechanical.

This is very evident with their second title, Transistor. Released in 2014 for PC and PS4, it is a sci-fi RPG taking place in the virtual world of Cloudbank. Singer and protagonist Red wakes up to find that she's lost her voice and gained a sentient sword known as the Transistor.

Furthermore, this dystopian setting has been overtaken by hostile forces called the Process, presumably under the direction of a governing group called the Camerata.

What follows is an isometric adventure through the city's linear levels, as Red battles dangerous creatures in search of the powerful organization. While the narrative and real-time/turn-based hybrid combat are gripping, the graphics also do their share of immersing the player into the world.

The hand-drawn visuals pop up, from the engrossing cityscapes and personable characters to the cold, malicious Process designs. It's almost like a painting in motion.

1) Thumper


Rhythm games are niche, even among the indie market, but Thumper from indie studio Drool does its best to make sure it's different from others. In a nutshell, it's a horror rhythm game, players control a silver beetle speeding down the highway to nowhere across eerie dimensions.

The gameplay is extremely challenging as players need to avoid rails, spikes and hit notes on the paths to progress.

Thumper looks and feels ๐Ÿ‘Œ on Steam Deck. Ready for launch day @OnDeck. #SteamDeck

The visuals are the most striking aspect of the game, quite literally too. The flashing visuals and vivid, abstract imagery featuring trippy bosses is borderline unnerving to say the least.

It's backed by a surreal industrial OST (from bassist Brian Gibson of the rock band Lightning Rod) that pumps the atmosphere to 11. It's not just a game, but an experience that will likely leave a memorable mark on anyone daring enough to zip down the lane to hell.

The game is purchasable on PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Stadia and even VR such as PSVR and Oculus.

Edited by Sijo Samuel Paul


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