Screenshot of Overland game

6 of the Best Indie Games in 2016

Indie video games are the heartbeat of the industry. Because of this, the anticipation level for a well-publicized indie game sometimes outpaces the quality of that game by miles and miles.

Still, don’t allow the real or perceived failures of some indie games sour you to the category en masse. Let’s take a look at six of the best indie games of 2016:

 

Screenshot from The Witness of river in the forest

The Witness

The latest mind-bending offering from indie game legend Jonathan Blow is a veritable feast for the senses. Puzzle fanatics go wild for the intellectual paces that “The Witness” puts players through, while virtually anyone can appreciate the game’s sheer beauty of vibrant colors and robust scenery. Set on an island, “The Witness” requires intellectual buy-in from its participants, but most find the experience worth the price of admission.

 

Screenshot from Hyper Light Drifter

Hyper Light Drifter

This highly anticipated RPG melds the past and present. Often compared to 16-bit Nintendo classics such as the “The Legend of Zelda,” “Hyper Light Drifter” provides straight forward gameplay that is easy to engage yet difficult to conquer. However, the old-school feel of its graphics belie the game’s complex structure, dark, neon undertones and extreme attention to detail. “Hyper Light Drifter” is old-school with a purpose.

 

Screenshot from the game Orbit

ORBIT

People love talking about black holes; here’s their chance to play with them — or, at least, around them. “ORBIT,” one of the winners of Google Play’s Indie Games Festival, is one of those wonderfully crafted games that can easily be enjoyed on your phone as you wait for your name to be called at the dentist’s office. While working to stabilize orbits around black holes, you’re simultaneously making captivating art — all while taking in classical music.

 

Screenshot from Cuphead

Cuphead

Early previews of “Cuphead,” set for release in mid-2017, have everyone digitally salivating over the game’s ingenious ode to 1930s imagery while meeting modern-day gameplay expectations. Its run-and-gun structure — filled with boss battles — isn’t anything out of the ordinary; what has everyone clamoring is the sheer impact of the hand-drawn art and frenetic fight scenes. The game’s main character is striving to pay off a debt to the devil, but this game appears to be sent from heaven.

 

Screenshot of Overland game

Overland

Each level of this “squad-based survival strategy game” takes place on simple yet gorgeous small squares of space situated in a variety of environments throughout North America, which has been ravaged by a horrific natural disaster. The resultant world, in which monsters roam the land, requires a series of mind-wrenching choices — and no two encounters in the game are ever the same.

The confined spaces in which each encounter takes place make the game easy to embrace while incredibly difficult to master and, as you expect from survival games, mentally draining.

 

Screenshot of Adr1ft

Adr1ft

“Adr1ft” is another survivor game, but unlike any other. This first-person experience is about an astronaut who is “floating silently amongst the wreckage of a destroyed space station with no memory and a severely damaged EVA suit slowly leaking oxygen.” As you try to find key resources, make repairs and eventually return home, you become immersed in the beauty of your surroundings. While some feel that “Adr1ft” doesn’t offer enough action, it’s hard to argue with this VR-ready game’s incredible scenery and unique concept.

Regardless of the console or platform, innovation within the realm of indie games continues to entertain, inform and enlighten.

 

Are you passionate about the ability of games to bring about behavior change, expand awareness and make a difference? Explore a master’s degree in Game Design from American University.

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