Best Of 2018 lists are everywhere right now, showing the love to Fortnite and Red Dead 2 and God of War. And yes, those games are wonderful and deserved to be showered with affection. But what about the little guys, the smaller artsy indie games that maybe you’ve heard about but just haven’t get around to playing?
Fear not, reader. We're here to remind you; to sing the praises of unique game play, art, and plot. Branch out in 2019, friends. Spend a weekend building a storefront with dungeon loot (Moonlighter), taking on a logic puzzle aboard a merchant ship (Return of the Obra Dinn), or just sucking everything into a hole at the request of a raccoon (Donut County). You won't regret it.
The Messenger - This pixel-art gem holds a 10/10 on Steam! You play the role of a young ninja who, after his village is attacked by demons, must work his way through peculiar lands in order to deliver a scroll that might just save them all from certain annihilation.
Return of the Obra Dinn -With speckly black-and-white graphics and a complicated puzzle to solve concerning the merchant ship Obra Dinn and the whereabouts of her crew, this is a game that involves lots of logic and exploration. But with a 10/10 on Steam, it seems quite worth your time.
Dead Cells - This pixel-art stunner comes from developer Motion Twin and is an impressive rogue-lite, metroidvania inspired action-platformer. With no checkpoints, its description on Steam says it all: “Kill, die, learn, repeat.”
Moonlighter - What if the game shopkeeper was also… the hero? Moonlighter answers this question in adorable pixel-art, putting you in the shoes of shopkeeper Will, who dreams of becoming a hero in his town of Rynoka. An action RPG with a Stardew Valley-meets-Dark Souls feel, Moonlighter mixes in combat, looting, and dungeon exploring, but places an emphasis on the shopkeeping aspect as well, allowing you to stock the shelves with your hauls from quests, price items, and get rid of nasty thieves who wish to steal your wares. Sounds like a good time to me.
Donut County - Kind of like a reverse Katamari Damancy, Donut County allows you to literally become a hole in the ground (controlled by a trash obsessed raccoon named BK of course), pulling anything and everything down into your dark depths while growing big enough to consume whole towns. Truly satisfying, with cute art and lots of humor too!
Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom - Want to fight monsters in a Miyazaki-style animated film? Of course you do (I see that Totoro plush). You play King Evan, who wants to found a new kingdom for his people in order to protect them from evil. Help him out, will you?
Frostpunk - Talk about putting a lot of weight on your shoulders. Frostpunk tasks you with building the last city on Earth and managing its citizens in order to avoid extinction. As its leader, you’ll deal with questions on morality, the preservation of hope; as well as establish laws and technologies, and weigh some tough (seemingly impossible) choices. Up to the challenge?
The Gardens Between - The Gardens Between follows BFFs Arina and Frendt as they travel across magical garden islands filled with items from their childhood; solving puzzles, exploring, and testing the strength of their bond. It’s a personal, touching story that involves a concept I can fully get behind: manipulating time itself.
A Case of Distrust - With Saul Bass inspired 2D visuals and swingin’ 20’s music, A Case of Distrust immerses you in 1924 San Francisco, where you’ll play private investigator Phyllis Cadence Malone. Investigate speak-easies and billiard halls, and unravel your mystery using evidence and statements, all while avoiding shady characters. I can really feel the Agatha Christie wafting off this one.
The Red Strings Club - Another pixel-art beauty, The Red Strings Club delves into serious discussions on depression vs. happiness disguised beneath a cyberpunk thriller narrative experience. Take down a corporate conspiracy and learn the truth!
GRIS - Join Gris in her journey with sorrow as its manifested on her dress, gain abilities, and grow emotionally and mentally. GRIS uses a pastel palette and calming score to enrich its world, and you’ll enjoy light puzzles, platforming sequences, and optional skill-based challenges as Gris’ dress continues to evolve. There is almost no text, just simple control reminders illustrated with universal icons. A whimsical, enlightening experience to be sure.
Minit - Retro black-and-white animation and a unique concept make Minit stand out: you only have 60 seconds to solve your puzzles. It’s all due to a curse that ends each day after a minute, but you can help! Discover all the secrets and bring back the other 1439 minutes!
Hollow Knight - Explore caverns, fight creatures and befriend bugs, all while making your way through the expanse of a destroyed kingdom in a 2D art style that just screams Tim Burton-meets-Miyazaki-meets-Moebius. It’s breathtaking to look at!
Hope everyone has a great rest of their weekend. Maybe you can break out the Gamer Goo and play one of these games (hint hint)?
And if there are any little gems that we missed that you’d like us to know about, stop being stingy and spill the beans! We can do another list later. 😉