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The Best Independently Developed PC Games

by: Dabe ; edited by: Michael Hartman ; updated: 5/25/2012 • Leave a comment

It's hard to find comprehensive lists of the best Independent releases for the PC. Here we try to rectify that by providing a list of the best indie games that money can buy. Most of these choices have a nominal cost and can be easily considered worthy budget purchases.

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    Compiling the List

    Indie PC games are in plentiful supply these days. With the advent of JAVA, Flash or C# programming languages, there has been a recent surge in the game releases of hobbyists and people looking to get a job in the industry. This growth in gaming as a medium and the independent market for games has given a plethora of well produced or purposeful indie PC games. This article will outline some picks for the best Indie PC games to come out over the last decade or so. Read on for the full list, in descending order, with some descriptions and images of each indie PC games choice.

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    #10 - Super Meat Boy

    Indie 001 The aggressive stylings of Super Meat Boy are easily apparent once players navigate through only a couple of the levels. This game wants you to fail, it seeks to humiliate the perception you have of your own skill level and tries to frustrate you in a way not often seen in other games. The challenge it presents -- in a 2D side-scrolling obstacle course fashion -- is a great departure from the all too easy “big release” titles we often play.

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    #9 - Windosill

    Indie 002 A quirky puzzle game, Windosill succeeds through its presentation and minimalist style. Couple this aesthetic with the cutesy animations and warm, mostly blue colored atmosphere and you have a simple yet effective game swimming in pleasantry. The difficulty curve may be harsh to some, with the early levels soon devolving into much harder stages, but this is worth looking into if you’re a fan of puzzle games.

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    #8 - Flotilla

    Indie 003 An indie PC games release that is half derivative Homeworld clone and half choose-your-own adventure, Flotilla is a game that uses the framework of space travel & 3D space combat in order to create a unique experience. Filled with some amusing side characters, species and planetary encounters, the comedy in Flotilla offsets the Homeworld mimicry found in the combat engine.

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    #7 - VVVVVV

    Indie 004 VVVVVV takes a simple concept -- being able to control the direction of gravity -- and turns it into its proprietary mechanic. Through the use of faux-retro graphics and some remarkable chiptune music, this 2D sidescroller endears itself to many of its players. Although it may lack the ability to jump and the story may boil down to saving 8 of your lost shipmates, the game provides a unique mechanic as its primary mode of interaction, which makes for some challenging and varied gameplay.

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    #6 - The Void

    Indie 005 The current renaissance of Eastern European gaming has been somewhat remarkable. With games like S.T.A.L.K.E.R or Cryostasis garnering media attention, it seems fitting that an Russian release would find itself on this list of the best indie PC games. The Void is a facsimile of purgatory, wherein the player tries to sustain his life-force through the collection of color, known in the gameworld as Lympha. Given 35 in-game days to escape this void, the players encounter Sisters & Brothers who will either help or hinder his path to reincarnation.

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    #5 - Amnesia: The Dark Descent

    Much like Frictional games previous Penumbra series or the 2005 Call of Cthulhu release, Amnesia is a first-person horror game based around the premise of exploration, tension and a realisation of the things you can’t see as opposed to the things you can. Unlike a Dead Space or Resident Evil, Amnesia will often not present an imminent or obvious threat to the player, instead preferring to accommodate a tense atmosphere and lingering sense of foreboding.

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    #4 - Minecraft

    Indie 007 Online sandbox games aren’t necessarily new. Mods for Half Life have already broached this area of game (see Garry’s Mod or Source Forts) and with better graphical assets or even mechanics. Further still, they’re free to play, or at least were during their initial stage of conception. So why is it that Minecraft has caught on in the way it has? It’s a hard question to answer and one that is for naught until you’ve play the game yourself. A community driven building project, where the fidelity allows you to create in-game computer logic, is a remarkable feat for the advancement of cooperative multiplayer gaming.

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    #3 - Machinarium

    Indie 008 Machinarium is Amanita Design’s latest game and one of the best indie games to be released on the PC platform for a while. It’s use of hand-drawn art assets and sumptuous score help elevate it past the other 2D point-and-click contemporaries it has to compare to. The simple romance story, with a hint of satire or comedic overtones, serves its purpose to propel you into further puzzles or obstacles. But the importance on sound design & aesthetic quality cannot be stressed enough, as Machinarium is both a visual and auditory masterpiece.

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    #2 - Braid

    Indie 009 This time based 2D puzzler gained mass media attention when it was released in 2008. Known for its unique time mechanic and subtle narrative, Braid is one of the best indie games to gain any sort of notoriety. The story of Tim and the eventual reveal that he is the monster he wants to prevent is a great twist on an otherwise great experience. The gravity, time & physics based puzzles all amount to something fresh for the genre, with multiple derivative games now trying to copy off of what Braid initially accomplished.

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    #1 -Sleep Is Death

    Indie 015 The potential of Sleep Is Death almost overshadows the actual positive prosperity one can gain from playing it. A two-player game that requires one to create a sequence of events for the other to react and interact with, this director/player dynamic is usually between the game’s code and artificial intelligence, as opposed to using two humans collectively. This creates a unique emergence of gameplay or storytelling, allowing two people to combine in a profound or completely ridiculous manner.

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    Honorable Mentions of Best Indie Games

    • Dear Esther
    • Pathologic
    • World of Goo
    • Axel & Pixel (XBLA)
    • Osmos
    • Lugaru
    • Aquaria
    • Light's End (XBLA)
    • The Undergarden (XBLA)
    • ilomilo (XBLA)