Indie games are amazing and so too are the indie developers, the publishers and the general wholesome community that surrounds indie game development. If you think about it, every AAA game studio started as an indie game developer. So if you found a particular indie game amazingly good in 2020, who knows what that studio is going to be putting out in the future. I checked in with the GOA team to see what their Indie Game of the Year was and to highlight some awesome games you may have overlooked, and really should play.
DAN “THE INTERNUT” VAN DER MEER AND PETE “FREQUENCY” CURULLI
Indie GOTY: Moving Out by SMG Studio/Team17
Dan: Moving Out was just so unique, it took one of the worst pastimes of all time and made it epic. That’s hard to do.
Pete: I just had so much bloody fun with it, a good laugh with mates.
CHRIS “INFERNO” INGLIS
Indie GOTY: Cloudpunk by Ion Lands/Maple Whispering
Given the hype this year for all things cyberpunk, Cloudpunk is everything I wanted it to be. From flying around in my HOVA through the neon-filled night sky, to interacting with all sorts of humans, androids and AI characters. It really captured the feel of being in the Blade Runner or Fifth Element universes, whilst carving it’s own niche into the cyberpunk theme. The story was slowly revealed to you and gives you time to think about it whilst driving around Nivalis. The camera angles when on foot were occasionally hard to deal with, but those moments were quickly forgotten after talking with some colourful characters and jumping back into your taxi, soaring through the skyscapes. A new first-person view has since been added to the game which is incredible and made Cloudpunk even more immersive.
Honourable mentions for me are The Dungeon of Naheulbeuk and recently released Spaces Raiders in Space. Both games feature some of the most humourous and well acted dialogue in games I’ve played to date, and both have really good gameplay elements too. Naheulbeuk is a turn-based strategy game and Space Raiders is a cool take on survival defence games. They’re both well worth investigating.
ROYCE “ZULU” WILSON
Indie GOTY: Carrion by Phobia/Devolver Digital
The premise of this retro-aesthetic reverse horror game from indie developer Phobia Games is simple: You are the monster, escaped from the lab and intent on revenge and escape into the world. The whole package comes together superbly – controls are simple and intuitive, and the gameplay works really well. As you make your way through the environments (which include uranium mines, an underwater base, botanical gardens and so on), you find and unlock new powers such as the ability to parasitically control humans, or to turn to monster spaghetti in water to get through vents. While there’s a few niggles, particularly around the lack of a minimap and subsequently getting lost a lot, overall I found Carrion to be an excellent indie game that did something innovative, did it well, and was just the right length.
NIC “STIX” HOLLAND
Indie GOTY: Streets of Rage 4 by Dotemu/Guard Crush/Lizardcube/Yooreka
A highly enjoyable tribute to the arcade side scroller of old! An incredibly nostalgic feel mixed with modern day graphics you’ll be playing for a good time, not a long time, but one you won’t forget.
KAI “KAIZA” ZSCHERPEL
Indie GOTY: Projection: First Light by Shadowplay Studios/Sweaty Chair/Blowfish Studios
Projection: First Light is not a game that would normally be my go to but I’m so glad I did get to play! I’ve not previously seen another game that uses the styles or clever gameplay to navigate the protagonist, but it’s an incredible execution. This is a subtle and beautiful 2D platformer to which fans of the genre, along with the puzzles and artistic pieces, will love to play. I know I did – It was incredible!
DARREN “STR8JAKTJIM” MACNEALL
Indie GOTY: Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout by Mediatonic/Devolver Digital
A simple but amazingly fun game where you run through obstacles and play games. It burst out of the gates (anyone trying to play early on would remember the server issues as Mediatonic tried to keep up with huge demand). I had a blast playing through and seeing the different costumes. I still come back to it if I just want something quick to play. I may have only won a single crown but I love it!
Honourable mentions are Jenny Le Clue – Detectivu and King of Crabs. Jenny Le Clue is a charming, almost point and click story-driven game with lots of charm. Voice acting is on point and visuals are amazing. Can’t wait for part 2! King of Crabs is a battle royale game where players compete to be the king….of crabs. Unlock crabs with different abilities and take on other players.
NATALIE “NATTY” TURNER
Indie GOTY: Death and Taxes by Placeholder Gameworks
Death and Taxes puts you in the cloak of the Grim Reaper, deciding who lives and who dies. Death and Taxes is for fans of games like Papers, Please, where point-and-click simulation meets bureaucratic intrigue – working out how far you can push the boundaries before you get caught. Each day on your work desk humans are presented to you on character sheets. You must choose who lives and who dies, based on absurd directives from your boss – Fate. You only have a short description, age, gender, profession, and your Twitter style news feed to help you make your choices. Fate is also becoming increasingly disenfranchised with the systems in place. However, he will still punish you or fire you if you do not comply with his requests.
Despite the serious topics covered around death, ethics, and self-reflection, the game carries itself with great humour. The comic book art style, witty writing, and slightly over the top voice acting makes Death and Taxes an entertaining gaming experience. And with the powers of the Grim Reaper, can you justify killing someone for liking pineapple on their pizza? Your choices shape if you make it through the game, and what ending you receive. The first playthrough will take around 3 hours. There is a New Game+ mode that can be used to earn all the endings and to collect all character costume and office desk items. Death and Taxes is a phenomenal quick indie that is easy to pick up and play, with a surprising amount of depth.
ALEXANDRA “ROGUESULTANA” NITSCHKE
Indie GOTY: Fracter by 4L Games/Quantum Astrophysicists Guild
Fracter is a short but sweet atmospheric puzzle game where you are stuck in a shadow labyrinth seeking the light. I really enjoyed this game as it had a deep story that can be interpreted differently by individual players, and each chapter was supported by encouraging affirmations that related to not only the levels, but to myself. The game not only left me feeling eerie but it had me hooked.