Indie games are known to be bastions of creative forces of all kinds. Where most AAA teams fall short, with their sights set only on safe sequels and tried-and-true methods to keep customers happy, these guys do the opposite.
There are countless examples of smart and unprecedented game concepts out there. But since it's not feasible to cover all of them, here are five of some of the most memorable instances.
A look at five fresh indie ideas that haven't been replicated yet
5) Murdered: Soul Suspect
Publisher Square Enix partnered with indie studio Airtight Games for Murdered: Soul Suspect in 2014. It is an action-adventure game revolving around Ronan O'Connor, a detective investigating his own death. That's because he turns into a ghost after being killed by a mysterious person. What follows is a tumble down the rabbit hole involving the occult as Ronan searches around the town of Salem for clues, meeting other paranormal NPCs and avoiding demonic entities in stealth encounters.
Unfortunately, its not a particularly good game. Repetitive gameplay, dull open world, forgettable characters, horrible 'combat' segments - the list is endless. However, there aren't many games out there that let players control a wandering ghost. So I would say it's worth checking out for the concept alone, even though the execution falls far short of its target.
The game is playable on PC, PS3, XB360, PS4 and XB1.
4) Donut County
Have you ever been lost in thought only for your mind to conjure up weird scenarios that are odd yet satisfying? Donut County is that but in video game form. It is the brainchild of indie designer, Ben Esposito.
The plot is hilarious and super weird. Protagonist Mira gets her hands on a device that lets her summon and control a literal hole in the ground. It starts off small but as it gobbles down more and more objects, it gets even bigger. To the point that even entire buildings fall to the depths below.
It kind of is a puzzle game in that sense, seeing how quickly players can rack up points by inhaling objects. It's also very satisfying, and a great way to chill back with countless "what the-" moments.
Donut County is on PC, PS4, XB1 and Switch.
3) Snake Pass
3D platformers are a rarity these days, even in the indie scene. So, seeing Sumo Digital's interesting take on the genre in 2017 brings hope for the future. Snake Pass lets players control a coral snake called Noodle. Partnering with Doodle the hummingbird, players navigate around vertically-scaled puzzles to find collectibles and secrets.
The game has a lot to like: vibrant visuals, fun level design, a learning curve and a charming soundtrack by iconic composer David Wise. However, it's not a game that you might want to play in one stretch. Due to the slow-paced and precise nature of the control scheme, countless players (including yours truly) have ended up with sore hands. But hey, you don't often get to control a snake realistically in a game through another way.
Snake Pass is available on PC, PS4, XB1 and Switch.
The indie market is rife with Metroidivania games these days. Acclaimed titles like Hollow Knight, Ori, Axiom Verge, Bloodstained, and so on delivered great experiences about taking on dangers and saving the world from imminent threat. But what about a Metroidvania where YOU are the threat?
If that sounds enticing, then check out Carrion. The indie team at Phobia Game Studio describes this sci-fi journey as a "reverse horror" experience. Here, players assume control of an alien lifeform dubbed "The Monster." The red throbbing mass of meat you drive around must escape the containment facility it's trapped in.
The creature can and will devour anything that moves. In typical Metroidvania fashion, players will traverse the interconnected levels and find mutations to allow it to evolve. This grants it new abilities and makes it stronger to stand a chance against the science facility's security forces. All in all, think of it like playing as Dead by Daylight's Killers, hunting down prey with utter joy. Because the carnage is awesome and very satisfying to perform.
1) Baba Is You
A puzzle game at its heart, 'Baba Is You' turned many heads back when it launched in 2019. Made by indie developer Arvi Teikari, it's all about using the magic of words to manipulate environments. In fact, the above tweet clearly demonstrates the game in a nutshell.
Each level has a bunch of objects and sentences. Players must move around these objects and words to form sentences that allow them to overcome challenges with new parameters of their own creation. It's very much a 'play how you want' kind of game as it offers different solutions.
It's by far one of the simplest yet most mindblowing concepts in recent memory. The game is out on PC and Switch.