Fez - Featured Image

Last week I angered the indie gods by grievously insulting one of their children. I wouldn’t exactly say I’m sorry, because I still think that particular indie demi-god is kind of a douche.

Anyways, in an attempt to rebuild relations with indie lovers and gain back a little of the indie grace I lost, I’ve done a Top 5 list this week celebrating my all-time favourite indie titles.

Did a certain french-hat wearing midget make the list? Find out after the jump.

5. Trine 2

I got this little gem in one of those indie bundles that seem to be all the rage these days – I can’t recall exactly which one. There were a few odd ones in that bundle, like a mystery game where you explore a world constructed solely out of multiple photographs. Yeah, that was kind of weird.

Trine 2, however, got me playing all the way to the end. You play not one, but three characters, of which you can switch control at any time. Each character has different abilities, and the combination of these abilities allows you to solve the increasingly complex puzzles that you’ll find throughout the game.

It’s also got a somewhat cheeky sense of humour, and cartoonish but visually impressive graphics. If you like platformers, this is a goodie.

trine 2 screenshot

4. Braid

Another platformer with a twist (see what I did there?), Braid makes the cut on account of being unlike anything I’d played before.

While it starts out as what you may assume is a fairly standard platformer with a dapper young fellow off to rescue a damsel in distress, you quickly realise that all of that is almost completely irrelevant.

While it has the standard pitfalls and jumps you’d expect to see in a game of this type, it also has the ability to take them back on a whim with time manipulation.

The thing I loved about it is that it’s a complex concept, built into a relatively easy to use package. While manipulating time (and even having your clone complete future actions) to complete your quests sounds difficult, it’s actually not. My only real qualm with the game is that it is rather short, but it’s making the list based on the originality of the idea.

braid screenshot

3. Torchlight 2

This game is everything Diablo 3 wasn’t. Blizzard attempted to move away from their traditional foundations and shake things up with a skill tree that you can respec, an always-online requirement and an auction house, essentially ruining the game through the need to constantly retweak everything now that there was money involved. We don’t want our players constantly killing Diablo for sweet loot to sell, so now the boss from the frikken title doesn’t drop any rare items. Yawn.

Torchlight 2, on the other hand, holds fast to old-school values. Despite the cartoony graphics and equipping heroes with futuristic looking guns to go along with the standard sword-and-axe fare, it’s an experience much closer to Diablo 2 than Blizzard’s own sequel was. In fact, two of the co-founders helped create the original Diablo.

The skill trees and the now mainstay layout of health and mana orbs book-ending your spell and item slots will make you feel right at home.

torchlight 2 screenshot

2. Limbo

This very nearly eked out the number one slot for me, on account of being one of the coolest games I’ve ever played.

I’m a sucker for horror, so the creepy, atmospheric black-and-white graphics of this game really sucked me in the second I started it. It’s one of the things I actually love about indie titles – so often there’s no tutorial, no instructions, and sometimes not so much as a start menu. You just get plunged into this crazy world and have to figure things out as you go along.

At its heart Limbo is essentially a puzzle-based platformer, but the graphics are so creepily beautiful and the environment so immersive and frightening that this has become one of my all-time favourite games.

limbo screenshot

1. Super Meat Boy

Ah, Super Meat Boy. I hate this game so damn much. In fact, this game featured in one of my previous columns about the most frustrating games you can’t stop playing.

But that’s what I love about it. I’ve often lamented that games have become too easy, that developers hold your hand and give you quick-saves and checkpoints and infinite ammunition and everything else you need to make sure you actually have fun.

This, as I mentioned above, is the beauty of the indie – they can do whatever the hell they want, and they do. When you aren’t spending millions of dollars on a game, you can afford to alienate the whiny pre-teen who wants to be spoonfed everything.

Super Meat Boy is one of the most challenging, frustrating and difficult games you’ll ever play, and if you’re like me you’ll love every second of it. It’s unforgiving, yet at the same time it’s completely doable (with the right amount of perseverance).

It’ll also take you infinite hours if you’re one of those 100% completion junkies, as finishing every section opens up a mirrored, much more difficult section.

SMB makes my #1 spot because I’ve put more hours into it than probably all these other games combined, and I still boot up it now and then when I’m feeling masochistic.

super meat boy screenshot

Notable exceptions:

Fez

Well, this is the elephant in the room, isn’t it? I wouldn’t leave Fez off the list just because of some beef with the developer, the truth is I didn’t like it all that much.

It’s probably because I have the visual-spatial perception of a toddler, but it just didn’t suck me in. That being said, it is an excellent game and would likely deserve a spot on a more objective list.

P.S. Of course the header image was a bait! Have you learned nothing from our time together?

Minecraft

This is probably the one that would get mentioned most in the comments, so I’ll just head it off at the pass.

While the online build-anything phenomenon began life as a humble indie, I think Minecraft’s megastar status makes it too much of an easy include. Everyone reading this list has either heard of Minecraft, tried Minecraft or actively plays Minecraft.

In that way, it kind of feels like a wasted slot. Does anyone really want to hear me talk about Minecraft? Doubtful. All that being said, I actually didn’t like it that much, it felt too much like hard work. This is probably the same reason I spent almost all of my brief time playing The Sims setting fire to my neighbours.

More stuff like this: