Top Indie Picks of 2016

With so many great games making their way to audiences this 2016 it was really difficult trying to chose my favourites when it came to the genre I love most: Indie Games. Here are just ten titles (in no particular order) that left their mark on us this year:

SUPERHOT

A stylish, skill-based FPS, SUPERHOT takes an age-old genre and turns it on its head. Featuring mesmerising gameplay and unique, stylised graphics, SUPERHOT aims to add something new and disruptive to the FPS genre.

“SUPERHOT is a first-person shooter where time moves only when you move. No regenerating health bars. No conveniently placed ammo drops. It’s just you, outnumbered and outgunned, grabbing the weapons of fallen enemies to shoot, slice, and manoeuvre through a hurricane of slow-motion bullets.”

  • Platform: Microsoft Windows, Linux, OS X, Xbox one
  • Players:  Single-player

Firewatch

Campo Santo’s super-hyped adventure-exploration title, Firewatch, really set the bar when it came to atmospheric Indie titles this year.

“Firewatch is a single-player first-person mystery set in the Wyoming wilderness, where your only emotional lifeline is the person on the other end of a handheld radio.” While the concept is simple, the gameplay itself proved engaging, though rather short-lived, with a story that was emotional and compelling.  

Take a trip through the wilderness this Festive Season as Firewatch delivers an emotional story in a beautifully rendered environment supplemented by a stirring, original soundtrack. Discover the secrets that lurk within the vast expanses of the Shoshone National forest, follow a mysterious stranger and explore the mysteries of your own heart as you take a journey into the unknown.

  • Platform: Microsoft Windows, Linux, OS X, Xbox one
  • Players:  Single-player

Inside

If you were a fan of Playdead’s first title, Limbo, then you are almost guaranteed to enjoy their second puzzle-platformer, adventure title, Inside, which follows the story of an unnamed young boy as he attempts to stay alive (no mean feat) whilst traversing a dark, dystopian environment in search of answers.

Hunted and alone, a boy finds himself drawn into the centre of a dark project.”

Walk, run, swim, and climb over a series of puzzles and even take on the ability to control bodies in this dark and mysterious thematic sequel to Limbo as you try and unravel the secrets surrounding a mysterious facility focused on mind-controlling the populace.

  • Platform: Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox one
  • Players:  Single-player

Unravel

Unravel is a puzzle-platformer that has you take on the role of a small, woolly creature named “Yarny,” who slowly unravels as you make your way through the game. By using the yarn his body is made of, Yarny creates rope to form bridges, pull things, and swing from items. As Yarny moves, the twine which he is made of unravels, creating lines that the player must use to solve puzzles to progress through the game.

Utilising Yarny’s own yarn, players must solve puzzles, avoid dangerous creatures and traverse obstacles in order to fulfil a quest, that takes you through some of Northern Scandinavia’s most beautiful landscapes, to reclaim his memories of a long-lost family.

  • Platform: Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox one
  • Players:  Single-player

Furi

A fast-paced, action-shoot-’em-up set in a sci-fi, retro universe, Furi puts players into the role of The Stranger – a mysterious man who has spent most of his existence caged within a highly advanced prison composed of ten islands. Once freed from your constraints, by the equally mysterious ‘The Architect’, you are tasked with escaping this hell by hacking and slashing through a series of levels consisting entirely of boss fights.

You were captured. Look what they’ve done to you… The jailer is the key, kill him and you’ll be free. Fight your way free in this ultra-responsive, fast-paced sword fighting and dual-stick shooting game.”

Gameplay is frenetic though not without pattern and consists mostly of dodging bullets, parrying attacks, attacking the bosses by melee or shooting, and quick time events that are, seemingly, designed to punish the less agile of players among us (prepare to die, a lot) but, if you are a fan of high-intensity gameplay and, at times, brutal difficulty gradients , than Furi is definitely for you.

  • Platform: Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox one
  • Players:  Single-player

ABZÛ

If you enjoyed Journey then you are in for a treat with ABZÛ, an adventure-exploration title (by the same art director) that takes players on a journey through the depths of the ocean.

A beautiful underwater adventure that evokes the dream of diving, ABZÛ immerses players in a vibrant ocean world full of mystery and bursting with colour and life. Perform fluid acrobatics as the Diver using graceful swimming controls, discover hundreds of unique species based on real creatures and form a powerful connection with the abundant sea life.

Interact with schools of thousands of fish that procedurally respond to you, each other, and predators and linger in epic seascapes and explore aquatic ecosystems modelled with unprecedented detail. Descend into the heart of the ocean where ancient secrets lie forgotten and explore the breathtaking landscapes that, though beautiful and serene on the surface, hint at dangers lurking in the depths.

  • Platform: Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox one
  • Players:  Single-player

Five Nights at Freddy’s: Sister Location

Scott cawthon’s famous survival horror series returns with an all-new installment in the Five Nights at Freddy’s saga with Five Nights at Freddy’s: Sister Location which, though it follows many of the series’ familiar formulae, introduces several new key gameplay and storytelling mechanics which ultimately result in the scariest title in the franchise to date.

“Welcome to Circus Baby’s Pizza World, where family fun and interactivity go beyond anything you’ve seen at those *other* pizza places! Now hiring: Late night technician. Must enjoy cramped spaces and be comfortable around active machinery. Not responsible for death or dismemberment.”

A must have for fans of the series, the latest instalment has players sent underground to a special facility, fully equipped with a host of familiar faces (as well as some new ones) that will attempt to end your life in a most painful fashion. Enough said: Circus Baby is waiting.

  • Platform: Microsoft Windows, Android, iOS
  • Players:  Single-player

Darkest Dungeon

A challenging gothic roguelike turn-based RPG, Darkest Dungeon focuses on the psychological stresses of adventuring as you manage your band of warriors and explore a gothic mansion that you, the player, have inherited.

“Recruit, train, and lead a team of flawed heroes through twisted forests, forgotten warrens, ruined crypts, and beyond. You’ll battle not only unimaginable foes, but stress, famine, disease, and the ever-encroaching dark. Uncover strange mysteries, and pit the heroes against an array of fearsome monsters with an innovative strategic turn-based combat system. ”

A brutal adventure, Darkest Dungeon features classic CRPG and roguelike features, including meaningful permadeath, procedural dungeons, and incredible replayability all wrapped within a brilliantly stressful title that combines a mix of real-time movement and turn-based combat to deliver exquisitely hard gameplay that deals heavily in the micro-play of combat stress management.

  • Platform: Microsoft Windows, Android, iOS
  • Players:  Single-player

The Witness

The Witness is a single-player 3D puzzle-adventure title that features an open world with dozens of explorable locations and over 500 puzzles. Progress through the puzzles and unlock your memories in a game that focuses on non-verbal communication and a player’s ability to find solutions through careful observation of visual and audial cues scattered throughout the environment.

“You wake up, alone, on a strange island full of puzzles that will challenge and surprise you.

You don’t remember who you are, and you don’t remember how you got here, but there’s one thing you can do: explore the island in hope of discovering clues, regaining your memory, and somehow finding your way home.”

All puzzles are based on a mechanic of tracing a path through a maze-like route from a starting point, represented as a circle, to a goal point, represented as a line segment with a rounded end, without crossing one’s path. The goal of these puzzles is not always to simply complete the maze but to find the right path that completes the puzzle correctly. Solve the puzzles and unlock your memories in a visually stunning and cleverly designed title packed to the brim with a wealth of mysteries to unravel.

  • Platform: Microsoft Windows, Android, iOS
  • Players:  Single-player

Oxenfree

A supernatural thriller set on a remote island, Oxenfree is a story-rich graphic adventure that has players cast in the role of Alex, a teenager who is visiting an abandoned island for an overnight party.

Play as Alex, a bright, rebellious teenager who brings her new stepbrother Jonas to an overnight party on an old military island. The night takes a terrifying turn when you unwittingly open a ghostly gate spawned from the island’s cryptic past. How you deal with these events, your peers, and the ominous creatures you’ve unleashed is up to you.

YOU determine every aspect of Alex’s story while exploring Edwards Island, uncovering the base’s dark past, and changing the course of your friends’ lives.”

Check out Telkom Gaming’s breakdown of the mysterious Oxenfree here.

  • Platform: Microsoft Windows, OS X, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Linux
  • Players:  Single-player