Look Out for the Little Guys: The 10 Best Indie Games of 2018
2018 saw some huge blockbuster releases, but the smaller video game studios also flourished. Here are the best indie games of 2018.
We’ve all heard of Fortnite (perhaps too much), Breath of the Wild, Smash Bros (Melee is still the best, fight us on that), Call of Duty, etc for a reason. They’re great, crowd-pleasing games that can keep you entertained for hours on end.
But what if you’ve already made your way through all of the big name video games out there? There’s only so many times you can replay Skyrim or Destiny or Pokemon. So what do you do when it feels like you’re out of games, or the big name games just aren’t appealing to you?
Two words: indie games.
Indie games sometimes get the bad rap of being lower in quality or not as fun as blockbuster studio releases. And sure, there are plenty of indie games that are, well, crappy.
But don’t underestimate these little indie games. They can make a big impact on you and provide hours of amazing gaming.
This is the perfect time to catch up on indie games before you get bombarded with the December releases (looking at you, Super Smash). We’ve compiled a list of the 10 best indie games released in 2018 for you to consider.
It’s a variety pack of adventure, action, strategy games, and more on all different consoles, so there’s something for everybody.
If you like story driven games that allow you to explore new worlds and fly through a new and interesting universe, then InnerSpace is the perfect indie game for you.
InnerSpace was released in January of 2018 to the immense hype that it certainly lived up to. It’s available on the Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, PS4, PC, and Mac, which means it’s basically available to everyone.
But let’s get into why this indie game is one of the best of the year.
The design style is simultaneously dreamy and intriguing as you fly through the blue and pink skies of this new universe. The colors blend together as though you’re trapped in a watercolor painting, which makes the game visually stunning.
While you’ll have periods of relaxing gameplay, somewhat challenging puzzles, and calming music, you don’t have to worry about not being excited enough. This calm side of the game is balanced with high-speed aerial chases, avoiding obstacles, and surprisingly game difficulty.
The main complaints about this game are the controls (they take a while to get used to) and the lack of a map. However, both of these things also make the game a bit more difficult. Without those features, it might be too easy of a game to be enjoyable.
And as with many story-driven indie games, this one will make you think. It will make you want to explore, think about the universe, and hold onto memories of the present.
Not too shabby for a little indie game.
2. Dead Cells
For those who want less exploration and more action, Dead Cells is the one you should pick up. This is one of the new indie games on this list, so you might not have heard as much about it. Like InnerSpace, this game is available on the Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, PS4, PC, and Mac.
In this game, you play as “Prisoner,” a human-like creature composed of old “dead cells.” Basically, you’re a corpse.
That might not sound fun but bear with us.
Your job is to make your way through various dungeons, fighting off monsters and enemies. It is mostly action, but you’ll also get elements of adventure and exploration with this game that’s not common for many platform-action games.
You’ll gain weapons, find treasure, and upgrade your character by finding cells along the way. If you die, you have to restart that area. There are also epic boss battles against The Concierge, Conjunctivious, The Time Keeper, and The Hand of the King.
We won’t go into too much of the plot; it’s more fun to discover that yourself.
We will mention that this game has a built-in Twitch feature that allows you to stream your gameplay. If you’re into live streaming and using Twitch, this is an awesome bonus.
Celeste is a platform game that’s on the top of many top indie games lists this year for good reason. You might be thinking, “Not another platform indie game!” And, indeed, platformers are somewhat overdone, especially from indie game studios.
But Celeste is special. It not only has great gameplay with classic platformer graphics, but the storyline is touching, interesting, and well-done.
You play as a young girl named Madeline. She decides to climb Mount Celeste, a mysterious and strange mountain filled with hundreds of screens and levels for you to make your way through.
The story itself follows Madeline’s anxiety, depression, doubts, and fears. You’ll meet other characters along the way, follow the themes of mental illness, and enjoy a soothing and emotional story.
Many indie games sacrifice challenging and interesting gameplay for a more involved storyline, but that’s not the case with this one. Your jumps have to be perfect, each level is perfectly designed for difficulty and fun, and certain levels will have you throwing the controller across the room.
If you have a PS4, an Xbox One, a Nintendo Switch, or a PC, get Celeste ASAP.
Moss is a unique game on our list that only people with the PlayStation Virtual Reality or PC VR components can play. If you don’t have that system or the VR additions for that system, you can skip this section. Or, you can read it and realize that you really should have the PSVR just so you can play this awesome game. Your choice.
You’ll be playing as Quill, a small mouse who’s tasked with saving the kingdom. What’s interesting about Quill, though, is that she knows you’re there. It’s kind of like breaking the fourth wall type of thing: she’ll address you, ask for your help with puzzles and levels, etc.
You’ll get to use both motion controls and classic controls in this game. Your main goal is to defeat an evil snake, but you’ll get to do that by interacting with the environment, working with Quill as a team, and completing tasks and questions.
The only downside besides the specific system requirements? It’s quite a short game that you can definitely fully complete within a day.
In InnerSpace, you get to explore the universe. With Subnautica, you get to explore a whole different kind of universe: the deep sea on an alien planet.
This game has been available for the PC for a few years, but only just got released for the Xbox One, PS4, and Mac.
This is both a survival game and an exploration game. Here’s the premise:
You’ve crashed your spaceship onto an alien planet called Planet 4546B. You’re now stuck on this open world map where you have to both keep safe from the dangers of the deep, but you also must venture out into the dangerous environment to get supplies in order to survive.
You’ll have to find food, water, and air. You’ll collect resources, make weapons, construct shelter, and explore your surroundings, all while avoiding dying or being killed.
The gameplay is pretty open and all depends on what you want to do. Do you want to explore far away from your crashed ship, or do you want to stay close to maintain a sense of security? Do you want to find the two islands on the map or stay submerged underwater?
Whatever you choose, this game is fun, open, and exciting all at once.
6. Into the Breach
Let’s give you the first strategy game on this list, shall we? This is a PC game with a super high rating on numerous game review sites, so you know that it’s a crowd-pleaser.
The game style is pretty simple, but not too much so. It’s minimalistic while at the same time detailed if that makes any sense.
You’ll take turns in this strategy game with the goal of winning tiny micro-battles. This game is pure strategy: you won’t win diving in and shooting every turn. You’ll need to think through each turn you take or risk losing the entire battle.
You don’t have to worry about long, boring battles either. Unlike other similar battle and turn-based strategy games, these fights are quick. That adds to the suspense and strategy. There’s no room for error when there’s no luck to rely on and the battle itself only lasts a few turns.
7. Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire
Right now, this RPG style game is only available on PC. However, if you have a PS4, Xbox One, or a Nintendo Switch, you can look out for it in the next year.
If you played the first game in this series, it’s a guarantee that you’ll love this sequel. But playing the first game isn’t necessary to enjoy this new indie game.
This game takes classic RPG features that you love and combines it with modern trends and technology so it won’t feel like you’re back on your old desktop playing old school Runescape.
In true RPG style, you get to fully customize and control your character. Everything from look to backstory to interactions with others to magic to skills to weaknesses is controlled by you.
While you can fully finish this game in about 25 hours, that doesn’t mean the fun stops with that first playthrough. Just like with Skyrim, you can replay the game with a completely new character for a whole new experience.
Depending on the character you choose and how you customize them, your first playthrough will be nothing like your second which will be nothing like your 10th.
8. Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice
While this indie game was technically released in late 2017, the hype and the excitement over it truly began in this past year.
The other games on this list look distinctly like indie games. The graphics and styles aren’t bad, per se, but they lack that huge game studio quality that you can instantly recognize with a game trailer or still shots.
Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice is an indie game with that style and look that would make you double check that it counts as an indie game. You’ll play as Senua as she traverses a horrid, terrifying, and dark world as she battles monsters both in real life and in her own mind.
The plot revolves around Senua’s fall into insanity as she tries to continue fighting and surviving with her sword in hand. It’s dark in terms of storytelling, and creepy at times with a whisper overlay constantly messing with Senua’s, and your own, mind.
It’s a great combo of action, adventure, fighting, and great storytelling.
9. Mark of the Ninja: Remastered
The original Mark of the Ninja debuted in 2012, but this remastered version was just released quite recently for the PS4. 2012 might not be old enough to consider this game a “classic” but it has all of the elements that will cement it into indie game history.
It’s innovative and interesting for a 2D action game. You’ll need to be alert as you play this game since many enemies can hide in plain sight, relying on stealth alone to take you out.
The gameplay is pretty straightforward but enticing remastered visuals and a certain amount of skill and precision are essential for your success.
10. Guacamelee! 2
The first Guacamelee game was amazing. The second is even better.
Juan Aguacate returns in this game complete with his quirky superpower: he’s able to turn into a chicken. You’ll have huge maps to explore, new abilities to uncover, puzzles to solve, secrets to find, and monsters to fight.
You can also play this game with others making it one of the only multiplayer games on this list. It’s currently available for the PS4 and PC with a Nintendo Switch version on the way.
10 Best Indie Games of 2018: Which Will You Play?
The best indie games are the ones that you didn’t expect to love more than blockbuster releases but become your favorite game. So which will it be: the action adventure of Dead Cells? The open world of Subnautica? Or the RPG Pillars of Eternity?
Whichever you choose, rest assured that these are your top options.
Think we missed a better indie game from this year? Leave a comment down below or contact us to let us know!