It’s time for the second part of my updated beginner’s guide to indie and, if you didn’t find something that tickles your fancy in part one on Monday, then hopefully we’ll manage to put that right today. Once again, a big thank you to Dan from nowisgames.com for suggesting I write a follow-up to the original series created around two years ago.
As mentioned in my previous post, it’s pretty obvious from the content here on Later Levels that I tend to favour the adventure genre or titles with strong narratives. The following list is therefore focused on these types of video games – but even if they’re not usually the kind of thing you’d play, I’d encourage you to check them out because they’re well worth a look. Hopefully everyone will find something that piques their interest. Without further ado, let’s round off 2019’s guide!
Wadjet Eye Games takes what we love about point-and-clicks and throws in some new elements to refresh the genre for the modern day in Unavowed – and it totally works. You can choose your past career, which influences how you tackle certain situations and solve puzzles; and a party system allows you to select two members from your group whenever you go out to investigate a supernatural situation. The developer always displays a real talent for creating characters who stick in your head long after you’ve completed a title.
2018: Coloring Pixels
Feeling stressed or anxious? Then head over to Steam and download Coloring Pixels by ToastieLabs as soon as possible. Some may not consider it to be a ‘real’ video game but it’s definitely one of the most relaxing releases I’ve ever experienced. It’s a title you can chill out with when you’re not in the mood for taking down villains or saving the world, something to keep your hands busy while your brain winds down. And if the free version doesn’t offer you enough clicking calm, you can download additional colouring books.
2018: The Gardens Between
The Gardens Between by The Voxel Agents is proof that a video game doesn’t need to tell an epic story, contain dramatic battles or feature hundreds of hours of content to have an impact on the player. It tells a much more personal tale about friendship through a series of puzzles; and it left a mark on me because there were many things I realised long after playing which gave it a deeper meaning. It may be a short title that can be finished in around three hours, but it’s absolutely perfect just the way it is.
2019: What Never Was
If you’re trying to save your money in the run-up to Christmas, What Never Was by Acke Hallgren is one of the best free titles you can download from Steam. Gamers who love things like Firewatch and What Remains of Edith Finch will find plenty to appeal here and you’ll be crying out for more by the time you reach the end of this short experience. The good news is that the developer has confirmed they’re working on a second chapter – and if it’s as excellent as the first, this is going to be an amazing series.
Imagine playing a game like The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim but with no combat; somewhere you can explore without fear of getting attacked, where there are secrets and interesting characters to discover, and where you frequently pull back from the screen to admire the view. That’s exactly what Eastshade by Eastshade Studios is and it has been added to my all-time favourites list after playing it earlier this year. Everything about this title – the artwork, the music, the story – is beautiful. I can’t recommend it highly enough.
2019: Guard Duty
If you like the classic point-and-click adventures and love Simon the Sorcerer in particular, then Guard Duty by Sick Chicken Studios will be one for you. There’s something nostalgic about it which makes you feel as though you’re stepping back to the early 1990s despite it featuring a streamlined interface to bring it up to date. It’s a very unassuming title with pixel-graphics and a light-hearted nature. But these factors actually hide a very touching plot with a great message and you’ll be feeling all warm and fuzzy inside by the final credits.
I picked up Ord. by Mujo Games on a whim one evening after it appeared in my Steam recommendations and made me curious. Two hours later, and I wasn’t disappointed. It’s a release of tiny text adventures: each scene consists of only three words and those you choose affect the outcome. Only one story about defeating an evil wizard was available back in August when I played it, but a big update in August means that three more tales are now available for your enjoyment. I’ll therefore be revisiting this game in the near future.
2019: Flotsam (early access)
When my other-half and I saw Flotsam by Pajama Llama Games at Rezzed in 2017, it really caught our attention despite not being the sort of thing we’d usually play. We were therefore pleased to see the developer back at EGX last year and ended up buying the title after visiting their stand at EGX last month. It’s easy to tell while playing it that the game is still in early access as there are a few quirks that need to be ironed out, and the developer is working on adding further content. It’s definitely one to keep on your radar though.
Hopefully you’ve found an indie release among the 16 I’ve included in this updated guide that has inspired you to give them a try. If you have any other recommendations, please feel free to leave them in the comments below and give me a few more to add to my wishlist!
Video game lover, Later Levels blogger and SpecialEffect volunteer. Big fan of wannabe pirates and fine leather jackets.