Indie gaming is something that I have been exposing myself to more and more over the past couple of years. While big-time game publishers such as Electronic Arts, Activision, Capcom, and Square Enix seem to garner a lot of attention and income from the gaming community, there are independent publishers and developers that are doing an outstanding job at bringing creativity and ingenuity to the industry. In a sense, it is as if the independent game creators are getting back to the way today’s big companies used to be in their earlier days.
Remember the days when EA Sports brought passion and innovation to their Madden NFL, NHL, Triple Play/MVP Baseball, and NBA Live series in the past? Remember when Final Fantasy VI and Chrono Trigger on the Super Nintendo made Squaresoft a superstar company but the release of Final Fantasy VII on the original Playstation made them legendary? And what about when games like Street Fighter II (Capcom), Mortal Kombat (Midway), and NBA Jam (Midway) first hit arcades. Take a moment and remember those moments you first experienced those games and compare it to how many times you get those same goosebumps today. Furthermore, think about how you might not have known that Squaresoft, Midway, and Capcom even existed until you played these games. Everybody has to start somewhere and every gaming company that makes it big has that one legendary game that becomes iconic.
While bigger companies sometimes get caught up too much in the bottom line ($$$) at the expense of quality, the independent developers know that quality is what they must focus on if they are to grow their brand. So although they won’t get the commercials or the overall exposure of a big publisher, the fact of the matter is that they are providing a much-needed balance in the world of gaming. In my opinion, they are providing the passion and outside-of-the-box thinking that has been lost too many times within the major gaming companies. As a result, they need our support so they can grow.
This article isn’t intended to mean that I don’t enjoy games from major publishers. I’ve had a blast playing the latest Call of Duty Modern Warfare, Persona 5 Royale, Final Fantasy VII Remake, Mortal Kombat 11, and Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. Yet I can’t help but crave unique gaming experiences that are completely different from the normal formulas that are too often repeated over and over again in gaming with just a different coat of paint. Fortnite emerged as the top-selling video game mainly due to merging two elements of shooting and building in an innovative and polished way that was different than other shooters before it. Where will the next innovation come from?
One publisher that has made a significant impact on converting me to a supporter of indie gaming is Supergiant Games. Their library consists of Bastion, Hades, Pyre, and Transistor. All of their titles are top-notch games that are original, stimulating, aesthetically pleasing, and wonderful to play. I truly wish that companies of this sort received more attention. Hades brought Supergiant Games plenty of attention in 2020 due to all of the gaming awards it received that year. It was personally my 2020 Game of the Year.
This year (2022), I plan to dedicate a good amount of time to spotlighting the many independent games that are in my library to help spread the word. A couple of Youtubers worth checking out for their coverage on indie games are SplatterCatGaming and ClemmyGames. I learn so much about upcoming indie titles from their videos and enjoy their recommendations.
Below is a link to some indie game developers and publishers that I have become familiar with and I believe are worth checking out along with game recommendations based on the games I’ve personally played and liked. If you have any recommendations, please let me know in the comments below and I can possibly add them to the list.
Jydge, Neon Chrome, Tesla vs Lovecraft
Brace Yourself Games
Crypt of the Necrodancer
Cellar Door Games
Rogue Legacy 1&2, Full Metal Furies
Hotshot Racing, The Ascent
Shadow Warrior 1&2, Broforce, Enter the Gungeon
WW1: Tanneburg, WW1: Verdun
Spelunky, Spelunky 2
Crown Trick, Bladed Fury, Unheard
Night School Studio
West of Dead, Star Renegades, Kathy Rain
Hades, Pyre, Bastion, Transistor
Overcooked, Monster Sanctuary, Hell Let Loose
Terrible Posture Games
3 out of 10, MOTHERGUNSHIP, Tower of Guns
Streets of Rogue, Hello Neighbor