Indie games have always been an outlet for upcoming developers. Each year a variety of indie games are released, and in 2018 some had an incredible story and a beautiful design, while others were simple and silly. With so many games to come, let’s look back and recognize the top five indie games of 2018.
“Celeste” was created as a prototype in just four days for the Pico-8 fantasy console during the annual hackathon Game Jam in 2015. Canadian developers Matt Thorson and Noel Berry later finished their game, which is now considered one of 2018’s top indie games.
Players play as a young woman named Madeline who begins to climb Celeste Mountain while avoiding various deadly obstacles - which will cause players to rage. Besides jumping and climbing walls, she also has the ability to perform a mid-air dash in whatever direction she’s facing. At first this ability can only be performed once and is recharged when she touches the ground or touches a replenishing crystal. Players are later granted by a second dash as they continue to climb this vigorous mountain.
During the 2018 The Game Awards, “Celeste” was the winner for Games for Impact and Best Independent Game. It was also nominated for Best Score/Music and Game of the Year.
“Celeste” is the kind of game that requires a lot of thinking, which can be frustrating. But with every bit of rage comes a great sense of satisfaction as players complete each difficult level and continue to climb Celeste Mountain.
Available on: PC, Playstation 4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch.
The Gardens Between
“The Gardens Between” is a beautiful puzzle game that is centered around one simple idea: time manipulation.
Developed by Australian studio, The Voxel Agents, the game is set on a series of small themed islands that tests a player’s logic and observation.
Players will play as Arina and Frendt, two teenagers who are next-door neighbors. One stormy night, the two teens sneak out of their homes and hide in their tree house, which was built on a small garden between their homes. In the midst of the storm, Arina and Frendt notice a light sphere form in front of them. The sphere causes the treehouse to fall into a vast ocean with small islands made up of their shared experiences. As they sail between each island, their goal is to light every portal on top of that island.
Players can influence each character’s action, but not their individual movements. They must move the characters as a unit forward or backward in time.
Most of puzzles require players to observe the passing of time and the movement of useful objects. Some can be solved with trial and error, and others require a little more thinking.
Overall the game isn’t as difficult as it seems. If players simply pay attention, they can beat the game in just a few hours.
“The Gardens Between” integrates childhood objects to create incredible puzzles.
Available on: PC, Mac, Nintendo Switch, Playstation 4 and Xbox One.
“Gris” is a platform-adventure game developed by Spanish developer Nomada Studios. Players have the opportunity to explore a world that is like a watercolor painting come to life.
Players play as Gris, a girl who found herself in the palm of a crumbling statue of a woman. Attempting to sing her way out, Gris chokes up and causes the statue to break, dropping her to a colorless world below. After she lands, she notices a number of odd structures that seem to be powered by mysterious points of light, which resemble stars. By collecting each light, she gains a variety of abilities and creates a path of constellations.
“Gris” is a beautiful game with a variety of pastel colors. Her character design alone is breathtaking — her hair is the color of the sky and covered in stars. The game’s cover photo draws players in, expecting a game where they can explore a living illustration and that is exactly what’s delivered.
Available on: PC, Mac and Nintendo Switch.
“Dead Cells” is an action platformer that was developed and published by Motion Twin.
Described as a “roguevania,” a combination of procedurally generated roguelike games and action-exploration-based metroidvania games.
At the start of each game, players control a mass of cells that control the body of a deceased prisoner. Exploring a series of dungeons, players fight a variety of creatures and collect weapons, armor, abilities, power-ups and money. Players also collect another form of currency called “cells,” which allow them to permanently upgrade their health flask, gold reserves, weapons and so much more.
Like most roguelike games, players will always start at the first level after every death, losing any amount of progress and “cells” collected within the dungeon, unless they reach a vendor between each level.
Unfortunately, this game is not like Hollow Knight where you have the opportunity to return to the scene of your death and collect your cells again. This may frustrate players, but the game allows players to find runes that unlock special abilities that make every playthrough much easier.
“Dead Cells” is the kind of game that determines if you like to play it safe or risk it all.
Available on: PC, Mac, Playstation 4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch.
Developed by American indie designer Ben Esposito, “Donut County” has a simple concept where players must swallow objects, which makes the hole larger.
“Donut County” is about a girl named Mira who works for her friend BK, a racoon who owns a local donut shop called Donut County. She begins to notice BK playing with a mobile app that is causing holes to appear in the area consuming homes and residents. BK refuses to acknowledge he did anything wrong. Mira then uses the app to order a hole to swallow the donut shop. The two friends are then trapped underground with the other consumed residents. They all learn that this was part of the Racoon King’s plan to collect more trash. Using the app to wreak havoc within the king’s home, Mira and BK start their mission to stop the Racoon King.
Donut County may be short, but with its quirky characters, incredible soundtrack and its pleasing aesthetic, it sure is a great game to pass the time.
Available on: PC, Mac, iPhone, Playstation 4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch.
Gris, our third favorite Indie game of 2018, allows players dive into a world of living illustration.