The Best Indie Games of 2019 for Switch, PS4, Xbox – The Stillness of The Wind (Pic: Daily Star)
When it comes to choosing your next game, its not just the big studio release schedule you should be keeping an eye on. Smaller, indie developers have a lot to offer gamers as well. From hidden gems on the PS4 and Xbox One to incredible indie experiences tucked away on the Nintendo eShop, this weekly round-up will highlight some of 2019s best indie games we've been playing and help you decide which ones deserve not just your money, but more importantly, your time.
INDIE GAME OF THE WEEK – The Stillness of The Wind
The Stillness of the Wind is a simple game, one which focuses on an old woman named Talma and the farm she lives on. Whilst maintaining her modest homestead, a narrative will slowly reveal itself, shedding light on Talmas story and the importance of appreciating every aspect of life.
The first thing you notice while playing is that Talma is very much alone. Its been years since shes seen her relatives and, with an unwillingness to leave her farm behind, she lives a peaceful yet repetitive life tending to her goats, chickens and crops. All in a tiny yet beautifully drawn setting.
The player's role is to manage the farm sim-style so that, when a travelling salesman passes by each day, Talma can trade for supplies to feed her animals and receive letters from the world beyond.
The Stillness of The Wind (Pic: Fellow Traveller)
Its these letters that provide most of the story in The Stillness of the Wind. Sent from family and friends whove long since left the farm behind, these daily letters are the only link Talma has to her loved ones.
Talmas life is a lonely and regimented one, wherein she works day and night on the farm. Its a simple tale but one which becomes incredibly deep and meaningful very quickly. While Talmas routine never really changes, her story and struggles seep into the forefront of the game in an inspired way.
The Stillness of the Wind is a beautiful journey, one which invites players to consider the more meaningful aspects of life and take a moment to appreciate the little things.
Keep reading to see out other favourite games of 2019!
Etherborn (Pic: Altered Matter)
Etherborn – Developed by Altered Matter
Etherborn is all about gravity. The game follows your character (a voiceless white humanoid born into a strange world) as you negotiate gravitational pull and a lot of puzzles.
There is a story that runs through Etherborn, but its relatively abstract and its really the puzzles which take centre stage. In a situation not a million miles away from Super Mario Galaxy, gravity affects how you move through the 3D world, and how you work through each area.
Walking over slopes will gently change the pull of gravity in your favour, but step off sharp ledges and you may well fall to your death. This means that youll have to carefully tread each environment whilst you figure out every unique puzzle. As you solve these puzzles youll also need to collect orbs of light which are the key to helping you advance in your adventure.
Character movement could be smoother, and this does lead to several delicate puzzles being harder than they should be. But beautifully relaxing sound design, charming graphical style and the core puzzle-solving gameplay all work really well.
On top of this, a new game plus mode allows players to pit themselves against the game with harder to find orbs. As the entire point of Etherborn seems to be creating a relaxing and soothing gaming experience, this difficulty spike might not be necessary, but its notable as another layer in what is a well-polished indie puzzler.
Available now on PS4, Xbox One, PC and Nintendo Switch
Cadence of Hyrule (Pic: Brace Yourself Games)
Cadence of Hyrule – Developed by Brace Yourself Games
Featuring beloved characters from the Zelda franchise, Cadence of Hyrule: Crypt of the NecroDancer is an indie rhythm game with a big spoonful of combat thrown in for good measure.
Cadence of Hyrule is both a crossover and spin-off of the original Crypt of the NecroDancer game and keeps the core mechanic of rhythm-based gameplay. The game is set in a familiar Zelda-inspired world (amazing to see Nintendo lending out their IP to an indie studio like this), with key Hyrule landmarks and classic Zelda tunes and remixes.
Essentially, youll be dancing your way through a 2D Hyrule fighting enemies in time with music, and playing as either Link, Zelda or Cadence (the protagonist of Crypt of the NecroDancer). As you visit new areas youll come face to face with new enemies and earn bonuses for keeping the beat and attacking enemies in time with the music.
The visual aesthetic is akin to Link to the Past, but there is music and nods to many more Zelda games than that. The difficulty and learning curve is quite steep (especially if you didnt play the original) but it should click eventually for most players.
With amazing music and bold, iconic settings, Cadence of Hyrule is an enjoyable and fascinating game. With Zelda fitting so well into the Crypt of the NecroDancer world it also begs the question, what other big franchises could Nintendo lend out to exciting indie studios?
Available now on Nintendo Switch
Epitasis – Developed by Epitasis Games
Epitasis begins with you stepping through a portal into a strange alien world. The game delivers a beautiful visual experience in an otherworldly setting, centred around 3D puzzles and a peaceful vibe.
After heading through an alien portal, the playable character finds themselves in a world covered with alien artefacts, ruins and puzzles to solve that will shed light on the history of this strange place.
Epitasis works as a free to roam game and, thanks to the beautiful scenery, its easy to lose yourself on the planet. The graphical style is stunning, and a range of interesting colours and alien biology means that youre likely to frequently forgo puzzle-solving to simply explore.
Epitasis (Pic: http://epitasisgame.com/press/epitasis/)
The puzzles themselves are simplistic and dont require too much thought to solve, which makes Epitasis a perfect game for those seeking a relaxing, easy-going experience. The soundtrack also ebbs and flows along with what youre doing and helps with creating a soothing atmosphere.
The narrative itself is vague and leaves the player to connect the dots and piece together their own story within the game. For some players, there may not be enough structure or challenge to keep them invested, but for gamers who play games in order to chill out, this is the perfect title to pick up.
Available now on PC
What Remains of Edith Finch (Pic: Giant Sparrow Games)
Remains of Edith Finch – Developed by Giant Sparrow Games
What Remains of Edith Finch is a storytelling masterclass, and its finally available for Nintendo Switch. The game opens with titular character Edith Finch returning to her childhood home, determined to uncover the secrets hidden behind each locked door and the truth of the famous Finch family curse.
Ediths house is truly a spectacle. Endless improvised extensions turn it into a crooked, one-of-a-kind building in the middle of a wild forest. Inside are the sealed abodes of Ediths relatives, all of whom fell victim to the mysterious Finch family curse and the premature, bizarre deaths it seems to bring.
Once inside, Edith discovers the stories of each family member in turn. Making her way down the family tree, Edith pieces together their last moments and legacies. Each room has been sealed off following the resident's death, but once Edith finds her way inside shell be faced with their final moments.
These gameplay sections transport the player into the POV of each deceased Finch. Their stories are told in vastly different styles, from vivid imaginations filled with metaphor to a story unravelling through the pages of a comic book. Each story is as compelling and as moving as the last, especially considering the tragically young ages of some of the lost Finches.
Giant Sparrow has taken great care to treat each Finch tale with respect, all while delivering an engaging and memorable story that tackles a plethora of issues such as neglect, depression and anxiety. What Remains of Edith Finch is honestly a marvel, and is right up there with the finest video game stories ever told. If you havent played it yet, please do yourself a massive favour and download it immediately.
Available now on PC, PS4, Xbox and Nintendo Switch
Cuphead Boss (Pic: Studio MDHR)
Cuphead – Developed by Studio MDHR
Cuphead brings the animation style of the 1930s to the video game world in the form of a whimsical run-and-gun platformer. Its deviously difficult, but once you start playing it youll struggle to stay away.
Cuphead follows the story of titular Cuphead after he sells his soul to the devil. In order to get his freedom back, he has to take down a plethora of bosses who have wronged old red horns somehow. These boss fights are at the heart of the game and, with a variety of ingenious cartoony designs, every fight is just as insane and as enjoyable as the last.
Boss fights and the levels between them are purposefully tricky and the screen is often a maze of fast-moving projectiles for your character to dodge. Simply put, Cuphead is hard.
Its one of the hardest games Ive ever played but defeating each level and boss gives you a huge sense of achievement as a result. Additionally, the level of artistic detail is astounding, its just a shame youll miss so much of it because you have to concentrate on the action so hard!
The musical score is also incredible. The soundtrack is mainly composed of jazz and jaunty tones, emphasising the action on screen as you fire off your own projectiles and try to stop yourself from dying for the fiftieth time.
Cuphead has won a bucket-load of awards since its original release on Xbox and deservedly so. Its a masterpiece, but its also incredibly difficult to master. Luckily, if youre struggling on your own, you can always grab a friend and indulge in the superb co-op mode too.
You can read the full Daily Star Gaming review here.
Available on Nintendo Switch, PC, Xbox and Apple
Effie (Pic: Inverge Studios)
Effie – Developed by Inverge Studios
A colourful 3D action-adventure game, Effie sees a chosen hero attempt to overcome the darkness in an enjoyable adventure inspired by the action platformers of old.
The central protagonist and playable character is Galand, a man who was cursed by a witch and, as a result, now suffers from premature old age. In order to rid himself of the curse, Galand travels to the land of Oblena for a bit of puzzling, a dash of platforming and a lot of combat.
Galand is equipped with a magical shield that can be used as a weapon and a way to quickly traverse the red grasslands between cities, surfboard-style. Surfing on the shield lessens the time youll spend travelling between locations, plus its a seriously enjoyable aspect of the game.
Galand fights with his shield in a way akin to Captain America, bashing enemies and throwing and catching it a bit like a boomerang. As you spend more time with the game your shield will only become stronger, gaining in power and skills. Combat is simplistic and basic enemies take no time to dispatch. In mobs, you may have more problems, but focus your attacks on higher priority foes and battles still play out with relative ease.
Its clear that classic 3D action-adventure games have greatly impacted Effie, but it does have its own soul and the game is certainly a fun if not particularly challenging addition to the genre.
Available now on PS4 and PC
Riverbond (Pic: https://cococucumber.co/home/riverbond/)
Riverbond – Developed by Cococucumber
Set in a colourful pixelated world, Riverbond is a dungeon crawler unlike another. With an entirely destructible voxel world, and the ability to play through the game on either a solo adventure or with other players in couch co-op, Riverbond has a lot to offer.
The narrative of Riverbond follows a group of young heroes who must travel across various lands and defeat the evil which has overrun the world. As a dungeon crawler, combat is key and players will come face to face with a number of enemies to take down as they explore the game.
Levels are playable in any order and will see you fighting off against increasingly aggressive enemies as you begin to clear the level. At the end of each adventure, youll come face to face with a boss, the variety of weapons here helps as you can decide whether you want to attack the foe head-on, or stay back and use your ranged weapon to wreak havoc instead.
A number of collectibles can be found in chests across each level containing items ranging from weapons to decals and skins. The skins can be kept for future adventures but the weapons are only for the use of that area, so dont get too attached.
Riverbond uses enjoyable co-op features to keep the gameplay feeling fresh and exciting, but also knows how to deliver a powerful solo experience. Its a relatively short game that packs a lot of fun, which makes picking up this indie game a no brainer.
Riverbond is available on Xbox, PS4, PC
A Level in Hue (Pic: Fiddlesticks)
Hue – Developed by Fiddlesticks
Hue is a puzzle platformer that puts you in the shoes of titular character Hue as he embarks on a quest to find his mother and restore colour to a monotone world.
The world Hue once knew has been cast into shadow. Players must work through a series of puzzles utilising colours Hue can restore to his on-screen colour wheel, a kind of control panel for selecting the background colour of the world.
The gameplay is comprised of simple 2D elements, and using the colour wheel players can manipulate blocks and other aspects of the environment. Selecting the colour that matches the blocks or obstacles on the screen will cause them to disappear into the background, allowing Hue to move around them and get one step closer to solving a given puzzle.
There are hundreds of puzzles in the game with each new room revealing a novel stage for Hue to tackle. Some moving puzzles require quick thinking, and other rooms present riddles which require slow consideration and calculation.
The overarching story driving Hues adventure is told through voice messages which can be found throughout the world in the form of audio letters. This dialogue tells the main narrative of Hue, encouraging players to source all of the colours and return the world to normality.
Hues unique way of utilising colour as the main mechanism of puzzle solving sets this game apart. Its an enjoyable, challenging concept and Hue is certainly a game that shouldnt be missed.
Hue is now available on PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and PC.
Baba is You (Pic: https://hempuli.com/baba/)
Baba Is You is an incredibly unique puzzle experience, with the game presenting the solutions to puzzles in the form of text you can manipulate.
The player controls a little character known as Baba who explores various pixelated arenas containing a puzzle. To complete the world and advance to the next stage, Baba must reach a goal. To do this, Baba needs to push words around the screen to create new sentences that alter the state of the game.
As an example, you might be able to use Baba to change the sentence Baba is you to Key is you. After doing so, youll find youre now controlling the key instead of Baba and can access something. Its an ingenious premise, almost like a simple version of coding.
Baba Is You has over 200 puzzles ranging from simplistic to painfully complex. The environments are always painted in a black world, but bright colours highlight potential strategies for completing the level and make each area feel individual.
Its a seriously original game but one that finds great success in its quirkiness. Paired with the portable, pick up and play nature of the Switch particularly, Baba Is You is an essential purchase for any gamer who enjoys puzzlers.
Baba is You is available now on Nintendo Switch and PC
Tales of the Neon Sea (Pic: Palm Pioneer)
Tales of the Neon Sea is a pixelated mystery adventure with a quirky neon colour scheme and a unique retro style.
Set in a futuristic cyberpunk city, both humans and robots live in a world where tensions are high and conflict frequently arises. Our protagonist is veteran detective Rex who becomes embroiled in a murder case (an old lady victim) that has wider implications than anyone could have expected.
A 2D pixilated experience, the game runs for multiple hours and provides an intriguing old school style detective mystery. The cyberpunk twist is enjoyable, but the underlying humans vs subservient robot thematic may feel a bit overdone to fans of the genre.
When it comes to gameplay, there are simple puzzles that test the skills of our hero, as well as the opportunity to deduct evidence from crime scenes and slowly unravel the conspiracy which has overtaken the city. There are even sections where you play as Rexs cat, a capable crime stopper itself.
In the end, its the cyberpunk-sleuthing mashup which makes Tales of the Neon Sea so memorable. This is a game thats fun to play, and a perfect demonstration of what creative indie developers can do when they decide to knit two genres together.
Tales of The Neon Sea is available now for PC.
Farming in My Time At Portia (Pic: https://portia.pathea.net/)
My Time At Portia – Developed by Pathea
My Time At Portia is a post-apocalyptic game with a difference. A life-simulation experience, the game revolves around construction and interaction with the residents of Portia in a vibrant, colourful world. No gritty dystopian setting and drama here.
Gameplay revolves around taking over your fathers old workshop and using materials gathered from around the world to create new structures, furniture and buildings, both for the residents and for your own house.
Youll also be encouraged to interact with the townsfolk, building friendships and eventually even a romantic relationship. To create a good repour, youll need to complete specific tasks the villagers set you, and present them with gifts suited to their particular taste. Get it wrong and theyll take offence.
Underneath the new world of Portia are a number of interconnected caves and abandoned ruins. As well as providing ores and materials that are essential during the game, youre likely to find old relics which piece together the story of Portias history.
Similar to the Animal Crossing franchise, you can pour weeks of your time into this game and never feel bored or as though the content is repetitive. Monster battles and farming mix things up, and discovering the truth about the post-apocalyptic event that drove everyone underground is another draw.
If youre looking for a post-apocalyptic game unlike anything out there, or simply want a relaxing life-sim, My Time At Portia is well worth a look.
Available now on PS4, Xbox One, PC and Nintendo Switch
Figment (Pic: https://www.bedtime.io/figment)
Figment – Developed by Bedtime Digital Games
On the surface, Figment is just another colourful action adventure game. But delve deeper, and youll find an inventive and meaningful portrayal of mental trauma.
Set in The Mind you play as Dusty, an old warrior who used to hold the title of Courage of The Mind. Joined by his sidekick Piper, the two friends pledge to fight against the evil thats poisoned their home. The two share a lot of comedic banter, and depending on your particular brand of humour you may find this hilarious or grating.
Gameplay-wise, Figment is an isometric platformer with puzzle elements across a number of colourful and wacky worlds. Levels are decorated with giant pencils, toy instruments and other cutesy paraphernalia, all incorporated into The Mind as obstacles and the tools to get past them.
You quickly learn that the quirky world used to be bright and colourful, but that a brood of monsters has transformed The Mind into a darker, more toxic version of itself. Dusty must fight against these foes and solve a series of puzzles in order to return The Mind to its former glory.
Combat is simplistic but usually fun. Likewise, puzzle-solving is often repetitive, but at least the formula the game is repeating is an enjoyable one.
Whilst it has a few minor flaws, Figment is an entertaining and ultimately worthwhile experience. For a more in-depth game assessment, check out our 4/5 review here.
Available now on on PS4, Switch and PC
Pikuniku (Pic: Sectordub)
It may sound like a new Pokémon, but Pikuniku is actually a charming and colourful indie game that revolves around a cast of barmy characters.
Gameplay mechanics are relatively simple, with protagonist Piku (a kind of blob with legs) interacting with doors, boxes and switches to gain entry to 2D rooms and levels. Piku can also twist his body into new shapes to reach areas that were previously inaccessible, meaning that there are several different ways to progress through each level.
The game runs around five hours long and, during most of it, youll find yourself helping the quirky characters in the game solve a handful of missions. As you complete these tasks youll uncover the narrative of Pikuniku which, despite its cutesy appearance, delves into revolution and deep-rooted dystopian conspiracy.
Pikuniku also has a two-player mode which allows a second player to engage in local co-op. This mode features nine distinct stages, with the second player controlling Niki alongside Piku. Teamwork is essential to get through each level and puzzles must be approached in a different way to the single-player campaign.
Whichever way you choose to play, Pikuniku is a bright, lively experience which is well worth picking up.
Pikuniki is available now on Nintendo Switch and PC
Trüberbrook (Pic: btf)
Trüberbrook – Developed by btf
A twist on the classic point and click adventure, Trüberbrook tells the story of young physicist Hans using a hand-crafted, 3D model world that is genuinely stunning.
As Hans arrives in the West German town of Trüberbrook, an alluring sci-fi mystery presents itself and, over the four chapters of the game, Hans must finely comb each area he visits for clues as to whats going on.
Game environments range from snowy mountain tops to charming rural hotels, to gloomy caves. The world is meticulously put together via photogrammetry; a method that involves building the model set for a scene in real life before digitally scanning it into the game. The result really is exquisite, and this is one of the most uniquely beautiful indie games out there.
The games narrative is a little short, and Trüberbrook should only take you around eight hours to complete. But constant thrills, twists and turns make Trüberbrook engaging and exciting enough to warrant a second and even third playthrough.
Available now on PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and PC
Jupiter & Mars (Pic: Tantalus / Wicked Witch)
Jupiter and Mars – Developed by Tantalus/Wicked Witch
Jupiter & Mars is a futuristic underwater adventure game which follows two playful dolphins named Jupiter and Mars. There is a meaningful story here as well, with humanity having been wiped out by climate change and the toxic oceans they left behind only now beginning to regain their former natural glory.
The narrative sees an elite race of whales call for the help of Jupiter and Mars. The whales want to destroy the few remaining man-made structures which are still poisoning the ocean around them, preventing marine life from prospering as it otherwise would.
Youll have to solve puzzles and find pathways by using echolocation to locate key objects or have Mars break through obstacles opening up the way forward. Jellyfish and electric impulse-firing fish will offer some level of threat, but they can easily be pacified by a dolphin sound pulse.
Though interactions with enemy fish and puzzle-solving make up a good proportion of the game, its exploring the depths of the sea that is much more rewarding. The games underwater world is an almost recognisable one, but you can really see the devastating impact of what we humans have done (and are still doing) to the planet.
Jupiter and Mars works best as a PSVR game. Playing in this format, you can truly appreciate the scale and detail of the ocean around you, but, however you play, Tantalus Media have certainly succeeded in creating a relaxing and worthwhile experience.
Available now on PS4 and PSVR
Hellblade Senua's Sacrifice (Pic: https://www.hellblaRead More – Source[contf] [contfnew]