With this year seeing a significant rise in gaming as a whole, and with more and more players on the lookout for new and interesting games to play, it’s worth it to take a look at some indie games that haven’t gotten as much attention.
Indie games have gotten more and more popular as of late, with small games experimenting with big ideas that have managed to pay off. The risks taken by smaller independent developers have led to interesting creative developments that are hard to find in bigger titles.
How to find new indie games to try
This year may actually be one of the best for indie games as players have had to resort to digital marketplaces more and more due to various pandemic mandates. While physical retailers may still be dominated by big budget AAA titles, digital storefronts can often have new big studio releases next to small indie games that have recently taken off.
This list will try to identify smaller games that have been more overlooked. It will emphasize small, affordable games that do something interesting or unique that is hard to find elsewhere. As a result, although games like Among Us and Phasmophobia are indie titles, they are currently some of the most played titles available on Steam, and therefore not in any way overlooked.
#1 - Relax with ISLANDERS? - $4.99 on Steam
ISLANDERS is a minimalist indie game about building a small city on a procedurally generated island. It uses a unique score system as its limiting resource, and is more interested in making a stress free environment where players don’t have to worry about time, populations, world resources, taxes, and so on.
ISLANDERS gives players a few buildings to place and modifies points for placing them near certain map features or buildings. It’s a very simple gameplay loop that lets players take as long as they want thinking about where to place each specific building. It won’t be the kind of indie game most players can binge, but it’s very much the kind of game that players can return to every few days to relax with.
#2 - Work odd jobs in space in Heat Signature - $14.99 on Steam
Heat Signature is a space based roguelike made by the creators of Gunpoint. Players take on the role of a mercenary working odd jobs by finding and infiltrating space ships to accomplish whatever they’re being paid to do. Sneak on board, attack anyone in your way, get caught, blow a whole into space and remote control your own vessel to pick you back up.
Completing missions earns the player money which can then be spent to buy new gear for new missions. Eventually, the player’s character will either die or need to be retired, after which the player just picks a new mercenary and tries again. It’s a very creative game that lets players play as fast or slow paced as they want.
#3 - Play through multiple horror vignettes at the House on the Hill - $6.99 on Steam
House on the Hill is one of the better variety horror indie games currently available. This game features multiple different horror adventures for players to experience, from ethereal and otherworldly apparitions to grisly monsters lurking in the shadows.
This game aims to touch on different types of horror in order to ensure that most players will have something to enjoy through playing this game. While each individual vignette is short and varies in effectiveness from player to player, it manages to tie them all together in an interesting way that keeps this indie game fresh and memorable.
#4 - Wander the stars and experience the mystery of the universe in Outer Wilds - $24.99 on Steam
This indie game is probably the most well-known of the bunch but it’s good enough that anyone with even a small sense of wonder should give it a shot. Unfortunately, the very nature of Outer Wilds is exploration and discovery, which makes talking about the game without outright spoiling it very difficult.
Suffice it to say that it is probably one of the only games on the market which uses exploration as a core gameplay mechanic in a way that doesn’t simply pad out the game’s runtime. Exploration isn’t something players are asked to do because there isn’t much else to offer, it’s the part of the game the developers have worked the hardest on.
Anyone worried about whether or not there is enough to do should know that this indie game does have a direction, story, goal, and mystery, but to detail them any further would ultimately spoil significant parts of the game. Give it a shot, and don’t look up anything about it.