2019 was a very rich and important year for the independent video game industry as well. Since we are talking about videogame productions that count on a budget and/or a workforce numerically smaller than the triple A productions, this year too we have drawn up an ad hoc ranking for the so-called Indie Games. It should be noted, however, that more and more often (and even some of the titles in this ranking are an example) independent studios that offer their work to a large publisher can get a media echo – thanks to the marketing that a large publisher can guarantee – larger than others, although worthy, productions of the same type. A lot of indie games improves your intelligence, because of a different kind of puzzles, and for example, you can download some smartphone games by link.
Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice
Given the time spent in development and the technical quality of the final product, maybe more than one player will have mistakenly identified Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice as a triple A (and in fact the software house Ninja Theory has worked on triple A productions in the past, for big publishers like Capcom’s DmC) but it’s an indie title instead.
An indie that has all the connotations of a big production, not only for its graphics but also and above all for the narrative depth and themes covered and for a more than solid sector in terms of gameplay that brings it deservedly to the top of the charts.
Announced for the first time at Gamescom in 2013, RiME finally arrived on PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One in 2017 and confirmed all the great expectations that from the beginning had shown thanks to an artistic style of strong appeal both to The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker and titles of the master Fumito Ueda.
The title of Tequila Works gave us an emotional and contemplative adventure visually striking and full of symbolism and poetry. Despite the bad conversion that came on Nintendo Switch only several months after its launch, we can’t help but reward it adequately for proposing something so beautiful and introspective.
Impossible not to mention here also the incredible run & gun Cuphead, released exclusively on PC and Xbox One systems. It’s not really an indie game since its development lasted several years and cost a lot and could count on both marketing and a direct participation of Microsoft that believed in the potential of Studio MDHR.
However, the development is totally attributable to the independent studio, so it makes sense to treat this title as a link between the two rankings. Beyond the gameplay as sublime for lovers of the genre, as punitive and difficult for those who are not accustomed to run & gun (so much so as to have generated in the web singular comparisons with Dark Souls in recent months), the title of the Moldenhauer brothers presents a unique and unmistakable artistic style that recalls the classics of animation of the ’30s.
What Remains of Edith Finch
What Remains of Edith Finch is a first-person graphic adventure developed for PC and PlayStation 4 by the Giant Sparrow team (the developers of The Unfinished Swan themselves) that manages to sublimate the most intimate sense of storytelling in a video game, telling us a story of Edith Finch and the curse that seems to weigh on her family.
Edith is the third and only daughter of Sanjay and Dawn. She is also the last remaining of her relatives, most of whom died at an early or middle age. Back in the family home, she will be able to reconstruct the fantastic and tragic stories around the death of each Finch in a very simple and intuitive walking simulator gameplay.
Fall of Light
Fall of Light is the new game of the Italian team RuneHeads that mixes a bit of Souls and a bit of ICO to outline an original isometric action. Two souls apparently so different from each other that they coexist in an adventure fun and deeper than it might seem at first glance.
A very original souls-like made in Italy with an isometric view that reminds a bit of Monument Valley style but manages to create its own world with dark and gloomy atmospheres alternated with the bright and vivid colors of the areas touched by light.
Thimbleweed Park is proof that point and click is not a dead genre. The good Ron Gilbert (Monkey Island) returns to the opera along with Gary Winnick (Maniac Mansion) for this new title in which the nostalgia of pixels returns to be played.
Available for PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and even Nintendo Switch it’s a must for lovers of old style graphic adventures and one of the best indie goodies of 2017.
Pyre is the latest game from the guys at SuperGiant Games (already authors of the very successful Bastion and Transistor) that offers a fascinating story declined in a visual novel structure with RPG elements not too marked, in an original formula for the team, which is worth playing if you enjoyed the style of their first two games.
Here you’ll be called to lead your group of exiles to freedom by facing a series of mystical competitions, or you can even challenge a friend in one of the adrenaline-pumping rituals of the game in Versus one-on-one mode.
Last Day of June
Made by the Italians of Ovosonico and with a wonderful soundtrack by Steven Wilson, Last Day of June is an emotional adventure that touches the heartstrings of the players both with its narrative and with its chromatic games.
Its structure is mainly aimed at solving puzzles related to the causal link between the memories of different characters that Carl, our protagonist, will have to live several times in an attempt to change his past.
Inspired by the sounds and aesthetics of the 1980s, Nex Machina is a frenetic arcade style twin-stick shooter developed by the Finnish Housemarque team. Inspired by Robotron and Smash TV, the game focuses on pure action as well as destruction and competition in the distant future in cablepunk style.
Strongly contrasted with the calm atmosphere and themes of some of the titles in the positions above, it’s perfect for anyone looking for pure action in simple, straightforward gameplay.
Released in February this year for PC (later also for Nintendo Switch) Hollow Knight is a very special and artistically inspired metroidvania, hand drawn in the classic 2D style and with several references to the atmosphere of Tim Burton.
An action and adventure game against the backdrop of a vast ruined kingdom populated by heroes and…insects. Players are called upon to explore the winding caves, fight against numerous filthy creatures and make friends with bizarre insects.