Eri’s favourite indie games of 2016. There was so many to choose from but these are the ones that spoke either because of amazing gameplay, innovative ideas, or great story elements. Maybe even just cause they’re pretty.
Hyper light drifter
Hyper light Drifter was by far my favourite indie game of the year and ranks well up into the top of my overall games list as well. It had some incredible fluid and responsive action combat with a lot of tactical decision making and twitch gameplay about using your skills while avoiding the enemies animations. It was difficult, but more in the challenging way of practice, patience and understanding.
A beautiful map with the best pixel art I’d seen in years.. That is… until children of morta anyway. Amazing backdrops and a design intent that details and unveils certain mysteries of the world through playing. Lore entries to uncover, simple tales told by npc’s in a few pictures, and the stories the ruins of civilizations and large robots tell as you pass.
It is a masterpiece of design in every way and I love it soo much… so much I’ve been thinking about an NG+ run.
Now this nomination does come from just watching a let’s play of the game on youtube but still – from what I watched of the story, the interactions and the world building it was an absolutely stellar overall experience. I purchased it in the steam sales too so I should be experiencing it for myself soon too.
The story is just so perfectly timed through the experience, dropping hints and clues to an elusive mystery of the island that slowly manifests before you. I love the interactions with and the pure depth of the decision tress you are allowed and while yes, many seem to overtly direct the players response many give the player the ability to choose their and the stories direction.
And then there is the unique, and charming visuals throughout the game that evoke that nostalgic feel with the the design and colouring. The level of detail is impressive but also the use of shade and colour to create interesting contrast between the background and foreground. It was a wonderful experience to watch – and I can’t wait to experience my own.
Unravel was a charming little platformer that while short succeeded in creating a strong narrative tied to elements of nostalgia and memory. Noth the lovely backdrops of familiar places, the subtle lighting and colouring as well as the wonderful music just invokes your own memories so well. I enjoy the theme around capturing these memories as it seems to be something we all do from time to time – holding those special moments dear to us and not wanting to let go as time flows on.
For me I think this was especially poignant coming from my grandmother’s recent death, who suffered dementia towards the end. Retelling the same stories to you on visits and later on events from the past. We all sat and listened through this time and in a way it’s nice. Terribly sad but nice in the way of getting to relive someone’s life and the memories they hold dearest. The moments they cherished.
Tyranny is probably the best RPG of the year for me in many ways – yeh I was still playing witcher 3 during the year but that was Dec, this was a complete and amazing experience. It was coming from the Obsidian development team, those behind Pillars of eternity, so I was expecting something decent but their fantasy fare was no where near as interesting a this.
The theme around being a part of this large evil force intent on enslaving and killing is so much more engaging as it creates far more nuance around your choice and morality. It leaves more room for role play elements and the construction of your character and succeeded in creating a world and characters that embody the breadth of the morality spectrum.
The story has been great to get through so far and there is a large amount of options around progression for your character and the team. This includes skill and ability building, outfitting gear, and the roles you want them to fit.
Stardew valley took up an immensely amount of my time during the year but, what was so lovely about it was that it fulfilled a certain niche in my gaming that was rather lacking. A game where I could just sit back, relax and unwind without really thinking about anything. No heart pumping action or twitch skills needed, no deep strategy to plan and unleash, or even story that I needed to pour over and pay attention to. Just good ole Fashioned grind.
Of course it could be more to some people with the relationship system as well as optimizing the farm space but for me it was solely to Relax and I loved it. The nice part was the variety of options that fell into this. Farming, crafting, fishing, mining and such were all rather relaxing to indulge in
With the new fans spaces and buildings I’ve even felt the urge to go back once more.
The amount of rather, hilarious emergent narratives this game provides is absolutely amazing. Sure it’s all rooted in encoded systems but the randomization of character traits and interactions create some wild tales where people go berserk, animals rampage, and people fall in love. It’s a wild ride while playing.
It’s also a great management game as well in a way that feels rather familiar but offers freedom with how you build and survive. There a various elements of the survivors health to take care of, stockpiling food and resources, building and crafting as well as creating a defensible base when raiders attack. It keeps you busy but not in way that feels to overwhelming, or like constant busy work as the systems – once arranged work pretty well without your input. Its a great twist on the usual management game.
The best theme park management game we’ve had in many years that once again helps me relive the amazing time I had with the earlier rollercoaster tycoon games. A series that just exuded charm and a sense of childlike wonder, and planet coaster fulfills this and more.
The real surprising part was just how much customisation this game offers which really helps to fill idle time in game waiting for fund and research, but also allows an amazing amount of creativity with how you design your park. It keeps me coming back over and over, staying up way to late just because I’m building something new, or just fiddling with small details. It gives you grand ideas to implement and self made long term goals to work towards.
Congratulations to Darkest Dungeon for actually making it out of early access. It was a long, and wild ride with points of large changes to mechanics and gameplay but it all seems to have worked out in the end with a game that embodies the best of Rng. Attacks can hit or miss from your, critical damage as well. Different kinds of loots and dungeon layouts, and even what enemies you face. And then there is the mechanic around stress and that defining moment
A game of replayability, of rage, frustration, and jubilation. Of that sensation of grinding your teeth with anticipation of the next action. Great characters with some rather interesting skills to employ. A good amount of enemies to face with some increasingly challenging bosses, and an overarching gameplay that creates incredibly strategic depth with movement through the dungeon, skill use, and the progression of the base.
My only complaint is that it is a rather long and grueling fan eat times with gearing up your characters, facing loses, getting gear and then maybe beating the final boss. It’s good to know then that the next update is creating a shorter mode.
While starbound doesn’t quite reach the level of refined genius of its major influence, Terraria, it is still able to stand apart on it’s own as something different and worthy of your time. There is a huge amount of progression there which at times does feel a little grindy and forced with the planet tiers, still ends up being an enjoyable experience as you scour the universe for the incredibly variety of new weapons, armours and other facets.
The part that, in my mind, that made it something special was the colony aspect of the game that had you building a settlement on an alien planet and having people move in. These poeple often had quests for you to complete as well with the eventual aim of possible joining your space ship crew. I had an amazing time building and it was the activity I spent the most time doing, and working towards by far. It wasn’t just building though but also exploring as much of the universe as you could in order to find new furniture piece and building tiles to use. It filled my exploration and creative urges perfectly.
I really wasn’t expecting to enjoy this game as much as I did as it wasn’t really advertised or talk about that much. And yet, it was the only indie game this year that I played from start to finish in pretty much one sitting. Started saturday morning, slept and then finished Sunday. It isn’t that the game was overly complex, and the sense of progression was rather minimal as well with only a small selection of weapons and equipment that seemed to upgrade as the enemy did.
The overall story and path to end was rather straight and narrow as well – diverging little and feeling very familiar and yet – the gameplay itself was absolutely amazing. The basics of it being a 2d turn based were rather fun and created space for tactical play to matter as you maneuvered your team around the map, hiding behind cover where you could. The surprising part was the real time aiming hat had you aiming your shots instead of relying on rng, this made it feel
Well thanks for tuning in to my favourite indie games of the year and a special mention to both firewatch and inside. What was your favourite the year and what are you looking forward to next year?