With so many fantastic titles available for gamers to play and enjoy, it’s natural that some will slip under the radar. Unfortunately, that means some absolute gems fall through the cracks, particularly those made by indie developers who can’t afford the huge marketing budgets of the larger gaming companies.
There are hundreds of games that would absolutely deserve a place on this list, but here’s just a small selection of 5 incredible indie games that you should check out!
Initially released for Xbox on 28th August 2020, Drake Hollow is a mesmerising action-adventure game by indie developer The Molasses Flood. You play as a teenager who disappeared from the real world, and entered a world known as The Hollow, home to the legendary drakes. Together with some new friends, your job is to fight back the evil forces holding the world hostage, and return the drakes’ magic. The story is clever and well developed, and you can even find lore notes scattered around the map, which add further depth to an already rich world.
As well as traditional genre elements such as the ability to fight and explore, Drake Hollow also offers players the ability to craft tools that assist in traversing the world, as well as build their base camp. You gather materials that you find throughout the maps, as well as schematics which can be used to buy new item blueprints. You can then use your materials to craft curios to help you on your journey, or to craft items for the drakes.
The drakes are the adorable creatures that populate The Hollow, and you discover more of them as you explore new territories. They require plenty of assistance, and you’ll need to make sure you cater for all of their needs. They’ll require beds, food, water, and plenty of entertainment. If any of their needs are not met, the drakes can go into hibernation, or even die! You have limited building space within your camp, so you need to decide the best way to balance their needs. However, they’re not just a burden, and they offer you increasingly useful abilities.
The game also offers a multiplayer mode which allows you to invite friends to your world, and battle the forces of evil together. You have to traverse the aether (the dangerous vapours separating islands), and fight the enemies that plague the world. There are a range of fun weapons that can be discovered, including amusing items like chair legs and pool cues. There are also ranged weapons which can be used in conjunction with melee, and make combat both challenging and enjoyable. Whether you play with friends or alone, the combat and exploration in Drake Hollow is top notch!
Honestly, there’s so much more that could be said about this wonderful game. For me, it was one of the stand-out titles of 2020, and it more than deserves a place on this list. With The Molasses Flood adding new patches and updates regularly, Drake Hollow is one game that you definitely can’t afford to miss out on.
Whilst you may have at least been aware of Drake Hollow, I expect that many of you will not have heard of Storm Boy. Developed by Blowfish Studios, Storm Boy is a very unconventional game, and unlike any other that I’ve played. It’s less of a game and more of an experience comprised of several mini-games.
The game follows a young boy who spends his life on the beach with his father. One day, he discovers some bird eggs, and he takes care of them until they eventually hatch into pelicans. He forms a particularly close attachment with one of the pelicans, and the rest of the game follows the two of them together. The mini games are all completely different, and are more relaxing than fun. There’s no real challenge involved, but there’s not meant to be. Storm Boy is all about allowing the player to just step outside of themselves for a while, and take pleasure in the small things.
As we play through more mini-games, we grow increasingly attached to the characters, and we see the close bond between Storm Boy and his pet pelican. The graphics are beautifully minimalist, and the entire story is incredibly emotional and moving. Storm Boy is a gaming experience that will stick with you long after you’ve finished playing it.
New Super Lucky’s Tale
New Super Lucky’s Tale is a superb breath of life into a game that almost fell flat. When I first played Super Lucky’s Tale, I was underwhelmed and disappointed. I’m a huge fan of platformers, especially those with cute graphics, and on the surface it had appeared that it was going to be right up my street. However, the gameplay was clunky, and the movement was so counter-intuitive that eventually I just gave up.
However, two years later, Playful Corp released New Super Lucky’s Tale, and it just blew me away. They’d fixed everything that had bothered me about the original, and the gameplay was a thing of perfection. The worlds are beautiful and vibrant, each with its own theme. The levels are an exciting mix of 3D and 2D platforming, with huge variety in each level. Everything about playing the game just left me with a huge cheesy grin plastered across my face.
NSLT follows the story of Lucky, a fox who’s destined to become a Guardian. Guardians have the duty of protecting the worlds from evil, and they control the Book of Ages, which contains magical pages that create portals. However, Jinx, an evil sorcerer, has stolen the magic pages, and it’s up to Lucky to stop him and the rest of the evil cats.
NSLT is a game that’s fun for all ages, and gets progressively more difficult when you work towards completion. The main game is fun and fulfilling, and completionist runs are even more so. The Guardian trials once you complete the main story are a brilliant way to test players, and you utilise all the skills you learned over the course of the game. NSLT offers hours of excitement, and is a must-play for fans of the platformer genre.
Yes, Your Grace
Developed by Brave At Night, Yes, Your Grace is a role-playing strategy game that lets players take control of their own kingdom. Play as the king of Davern, a fictional kingdom on the verge of financial ruin. It’s your duty to manage money and supplies, whilst also keeping up the morale of the public.
Throughout each day, you will have petitioners come to you to offer propositions, or ask for favours. You need to decide which offers to agree to, and which you simply don’t have the resources for. It’s impossible to please everyone, and striking the right balance is crucial in order to keep Davern from crumbling.
As well as managing resources as the king, you are also a father to three daughters, and have to build relationships with them. This can be every bit as tricky as controlling the kingdom, and Yes, Your Grace will test your morals when you have to decide between what’s good for your daughters, and what’s good for the realm.
There are limitations to the choices you can make, as the game is somewhat linear, and certain events have to take place. However, the choices you make in the middle can greatly affect the outcome. Overall, Yes, Your Grace is an intriguing game with a strong plot, and is a lot of fun without being overly demanding on the strategy side. It’s well worth a try if you’re a fan of the genre, or you’re looking for something new and different.
For The King
For The King is a rogue-like RPG that’s reminiscent of great tabletop games. It’s also possibly my favourite game on this entire list. It can be enjoyed as either a single-player game or with multiple players, and is thoroughly immersive. The strategy is just the right level so that you find yourself fully engaged with the game, without becoming so overwhelmed that you zone out.
The world is split into hexagons, and you can only move a certain number each turn, that number being determined by a range of factors. You and your team travel through the world fighting enemies, gaining weapons, armour, and buffs, and completing quests. As well as regular enemies, you occasionally have to defeat ‘scourges’ which give you a de-buff until you have beaten them. You can see how many turns you have left until a scourge comes into play, and often it’s a good idea to seek them out and defeat them before they activate their de-buff.
You’re also constantly fighting against ‘Chaos’, and have to find special items known as cult devices which can either lower Chaos, remove a scourge, or give you an extra life. You can also remove Chaos by completing quests for each town. The game ends if you run out of lives, or if the Chaos bar fills to 3. However, you can also beat the game if you make it all the way to the end and defeat the evil boss.
Throughout the game, there are optional areas such as dungeons which risk you losing a life, but can provide awesome rewards if you win. You also gather ‘lore’ points, which can be spent after you die in order to unlock new characters and better items for future runs of the game. You may encounter random events which can reward you greatly, or cause devastating damage. As with most rogue-likes, For The King is not intended to be beaten on the first run, and it may take several attempts until you’re successful.
The art-style for this game is beautiful, and the colours used are superb. The range of items is also fantastic, and the way they combine with each other is quite frankly genius. Different characters have different strengths and weaknesses, so choosing a well-balanced team at the start can be the difference between winning and losing. It can be tough to choose the right weapon and armour loadouts, as well as which items to keep and buy, but that’s the fun of it. For The King is an excellent strategy game, and is one that should be played by any fan of the genre.
So, what do you think? Are there any games on this list that you’re planning to pick up and play? And which indie games are your hidden gems that you always recommend to others? I’d love to hear your thoughts, so please let me know in the comments!