The Best Indie Games in 2019

The best indie games of today are often comparable to big-budget projects developed by large companies. That is because these types of games have come a very long way over the past decade. Nowadays, they’re much more than obscure one-man projects that most gamers wouldn’t have even heard about. Many of the best indies you can play at the moment are actually very ambitious projects that rival or even exceed some AAA titles in terms of quality. Because of this and because they’re generally cheaper than mainstream releases, this category of games has become one of the most popular ones around.

There’s sometimes a bit of confusion when talking about indie games as some people assume they are all just low-budget titles with pixelated graphics. In truth, that’s not exactly the case. These games can actually come in all shapes and sizes. The term “indie” in the context of gaming simply refers to games created by independent developers without any support from a publisher. Most of the time this practice is indeed popular with small studios, and one-man teams. However, we’ve also seen known developers do this on more than one occasion. With that mind and in particular order, let’s take a look at the best indie games for PC and consoles as of 2019.

Cuphead

Cuphead

Cuphead is a very unique platformer developed by Studio MDHR Entertainment. The game came out back in September 2017 and blew gamers away with its incredible 1930s inspired graphics and soundtrack. The game looks exactly like the cartoons of that era and has won numerous awards for its visual design. Those who expect a cheerful little game based solely on the graphics are in for a rude awakening. Cuphead is a brutally difficult game that will punish your every mistake. In fact, you’ll need to put in a lot of time and effort if you want to progress even past the first two bosses of this game.

Platforms: PC, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch.

[appbox steam 268910]

[appbox windowsstore 9njrx71m5x9p]

 

Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice

Hellblade-Senuas-Sacrifice

Hellblade is hands-down one of the awesome game of all time in terms of visuals. The game has some of the best facial animations we’ve ever seen in a video game, indie or otherwise. It would probably be difficult to convince a lot of people that this isn’t, in fact, a major AAA title. But it’s not. Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice was developed and published by Ninja Theory without any major support from third-party companies. Despite being a short and somewhat linear game, Hellblade is a very immersive and atmospheric experience that you won’t soon forget.

Platforms: PC, Xbox One, PS4, Nintendo Switch.

[appbox steam 414340]

[appbox windowsstore 9nclp4lv5k7z]

 

Limbo

Limbo

Limbo always comes up whenever someone talks about indie games, and with good reason. Playdead’s dark and atmospheric puzzle platformer has become a poster child for the genre and a testament to the fact that you can make a great game with a relatively small budget. The game came out back in 2010 and was instantly met with critical acclaim. Though it may not have been the first to use them, Limbo was definitely the game that popularized the black-and-white silhouette art style.

Platforms: PC, Xbox One, PS4, PS Vita, Nintendo Switch, Android, iOS.

[appbox googleplay id=com.playdead.limbo.full&hl]

[appbox appstore id656951157]

[appbox steam 48000]

[appbox windowsstore btqmhk78zpf9]

 

Amnesia: The Dark Descent

Amnesia-The-Dark-Descent

Nowadays, it’s not uncommon to find indie games that can scare you senseless but that wasn’t really a thing back in 2010. Sure, there were games like Limbo that you may have found creepy or unsettling but a nightmare-inducing indie horror game was a rare sight at the time. That is, until Frictional Games’ Amnesia: The Dark Descent came around. Almost a decade later, it’s still not a stretch to say that Amnesia is one of the scariest games of all time. Frictional Games went on to create Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs and SOMA but The Dark Descent remains their scariest game to date.

Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One.

[appbox steam 57300]

[appbox windowsstore bv02tbl15dx3]

 

Frostpunk

Frostpunk

Released just a little over a year ago, Frostpunk is a pretty unique game by 11 Bit Studios, the same developer that brought us This War of Mine a few years back. Frostpunk borrows elements from several different genres, including survival, strategy, and city builder. The game features a steampunk-inspired art style and takes place in a world that has experienced a cataclysmic event which wiped out most of humanity. Your goal is to manage the last city on Earth, a task that is by no means easy as there are a plethora of aspects that need to be taken into consideration.

Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One.

[appbox steam 323190]

[appbox windowsstore 9ns0kh25d76x]

 

Minecraft

Minecraft

We couldn’t have a list of the top indie games of all time without including this little gem. Although the IP is owned by Microsoft nowadays, Minecraft was originally a solo project created by Swedish developer Markus “Notch” Persson and released by his company, Mojang, back in 2011. To say that this game is a world-wide phenomenon would be an understatement. Minecraft sold over 176 million copies as of May 2019, more than big-budget AAA titles like Rockstar’s GTA V or Bethesda’s The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Not bad at all for an indie game with blocky graphics.

Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Android, iOS.

[appbox googleplay id=com.mojang.minecraftpe&hl]

[appbox appstore id479516143]

[appbox windowsstore 9nblggh537bl]

 

Subnautica

Subnautica

Subnautica is a gorgeous underwater survival game that made a huge splash (pun intended) when it released in early 2018. Developed and published by Unknown Worlds Entertainment, the game is set on a distant alien planet inhabited by a large variety of strange creatures. With the exception of a couple of islands, the whole game takes place underwater and can be quite scary at times. Few creatures can pose a real threat in the first few hours of the game, however, as you descend further and further into the depths you’ll gradually come across a variety of huge and terrifying sea monsters.

Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One.

[appbox steam 264710]

[appbox windowsstore bx3s1q5dvhrd]

 

Hollow Knight

Hollow-Knight

Hollow Knight is an absolutely stunning 2D Metroidvania that came out back in 2017. The debut project of Team Cherry, Hollow Knight immediately stands out thanks to its beautiful hand-drawn aesthetics and character design. The game takes the place throughout a vast underground kingdom inhibited by various types of insects. Hollow Knight is absolutely bursting with personality and will have you craving for more long after you’ve beaten. That is if you are able to beat it. Hollow Knight is quite a challenging game that rewards skill and patience so completing its many challenges will not be an easy feat.

Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch.

[appbox steam 367520]

[appbox windowsstore 9mw9469v91lm]

 

Inside

Inside

No list of indie games would be complete without Inside, the spiritual successor to Limbo. The game is very similar to Playdead’s previously title but does enough things differently that it deserves to be played even if you kinda know what to expect. Truth is, you probably don’t. The gameplay is pretty straightforward but where this title really shines is in the storytelling. Much like Limbo, you are left to find out for yourself what the story is and what’s going on in this bizarre and dark world. I don’t want to spoil anything but let’s just say you may find it hard to sleep for a while after experiencing the game’s final act.

Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, iOS.

[appbox appstore id1201642309]

[appbox steam 304430]

[appbox windowsstore c17gqf31d617]

Superhot

Superhot

Superhot is a very unique first-person shooter that feels like nothing else you’ve ever played before. Developed by the aptly named Superhot Team, this is a game where time only moves when you do. That’s the sort of gameplay mechanic you don’t get to see very often, but it gets better. The other things that immediately stands out about this title are the minimalistic and somewhat blocky graphics. This was an intentional design decision to make you feel like you are inside a computer program, which Superhot manages to pull off remarkably well.

Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One.

[appbox steam 322500]

[appbox windowsstore bvz0d05w8mp2]

 

Rocket League

Rocket-League

Rocket League may seem a bit too popular and well-polished to be considered an indie game, right? Well, by the definition we discussed at the beginning of this article it very much is since it was both developed and published by Psyonix. Rocket League is actually the spiritual successor to an earlier Psynoix title known as Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars (SARPBC). Needless to say, that’s quite a mouthful. SARPBC was similar in concept to Rocket League as it was also a vehicular soccer game, though the game never really caught on. The lengthy name may have had something to do with that.

Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch.

[appbox steam 252950]

[appbox windowsstore c125w9bg2k0v]

 

The Binding of Isaac

The-Binding-of-Isaac

Released back in 2011, The Binding of Isaac is one of the great game you can play even today if you’re a fan of roguelikes. The entire game was designed and developed by a two-man team composed of Edmund McMillen and Florian Himsl. You may know McMillen from his work on Super Meat Boy, which is another indie title well worth your time. The Binding of Isaac is quite a bit different in terms of gameplay but no less unsettling than playing a bloody cube of meat. In fact, The Binding of Isaac can be a pretty disturbing experience for some due to its religious themes, though its cartoony graphics should offset that to some extent.

Platforms: PC-only at launch. An improved version was later released for Xbox One, PS4, PS Vita, Wii U, and 3DS.

[appbox steam 113200]

[appbox windowsstore bqd45pqr4f4j]

 

Machinarium

Machinarium

Machinarium is a very charming point-and-click adventure game released in 2009 by Amanita Design. Amanita isn’t particularly well-known but the team actually developed a number of titles over the years. Previous games include Botanicula, Chuchel, and the Samorost series. The developers have a particularly interesting art style they like to use, which makes all of their games feel alien and outlandish. Machinarium is no exception. The gameplay is worthy of plenty of praise as well. But the visuals and soundtrack are what really set it apart from other games in the genre.

Platforms: PC, Xbox One, PS4, PS Vita, Nintendo Switch, Android, iOS.

[appbox googleplay id=air.net.machinarium.Machinarium.GP&hl]

[appbox appstore id459189186]

[appbox steam 40700]

[appbox windowsstore 9wzdncrdl89f]

 

Dead Cells

Dead-Cells

Dead Cells is a fantastic action-platformer that came out back in August of 2018. The debut project of developer Motion Twin, Dead Cells combines elements from multiple genres, including Metroidvania and roguelike. The combat system is somewhat akin to what you might expect from the Dark Souls series. Albeit quite a bit flashier. Much like one of its main sources of inspiration, Dead Cells can be quite challenging at times but never feels unfair or unbalanced.

Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Android, iOS.

[appbox steam 588650]

[appbox windowsstore bqscns1t8phq]

 

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds

PlayerUnknowns-Battlegrounds

Although quite buggy even two years after its initial release on Steam Early Access, we still have to give a shout out to PUBG. It may not technically be considered one of the most played an indie game out there by most people, but it’s hard to argue with the impact this title had on modern gaming. PUBG is the primary reason why the Battle Royal crazy started to gain mainstream attention. And while other games in the genre have since exceeded it in terms of overall quality, none came from such humble beginnings as PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds.

Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Android, iOS.

[appbox googleplay id=com.tencent.ig&hl]

[appbox appstore id1330123889]

[appbox steam 578080]

[appbox windowsstore c0mn5dn8kr3f]

 

Kerbal Space Program

Kerbal-Space-Program

We’re wrapping up our list with Squad’s Kerbal Space Program. Though later purchased by Take-Two Interactive, the original version of the game was developed and published solely by Squad. Kerbal Space Program is a one-of-a-kind game about creating and managing your own space program. Despite being hilarious and silly in all the best ways possible, the game is actually fairly accurate in depicting the incredible challenges of running a space program. So much so, in fact, that Kerbal Space Program caught the attention of real-world space agencies, including NASA.

Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One.

[appbox steam 220200]

[appbox windowsstore brbd7bdk271p]

 

Final Thoughts

A definitive list of the indie games of all time is perhaps impossible to put together. However, we tried out best to include some of the greatest titles independent developers have to offer. Whether you’re into roguelikes, platformers or first-person shooters, you’re likely to find an indie game out there that’s right up your alley. And if it’s not on this list, make sure to keep an eye out because new indies are coming out all the time and some of them are often hard to find.

Amy Nicholson is a fangirl who loves travel to other places and playing games.

2 Comments
  1. You forgot about one other indie game, with AAA quality called Occupy White Walls. Check it out, you won’t regret it 🙂
    P.s it is 100% free on Steam.

Leave a reply

IndieGameMag - IGM