Indie games are enjoying something of a renaissance of late, with digital distribution and a general malaise over disappointing big budget titles combining to form the ideal conditions for a resurgence of rejuvenated retro genres and new game types that tell their stories in ingenious ways. Here are some of our favourites.
Gone Home (PC, Mac)
A “first-person narrative exploration” game that casts you as a girl returning from a year of travelling to find her family aren’t home. As she explores their eerie mansion, the story of what has happened to them unfolds through audio narration, visual clues and more. An incredibly engrossing – not to mention emotionally-charged – way to spend a couple of hours.
Surgeon Simulator 2013 (PC, Mac)
If the name conjures up images of delicate keyhole surgery played with a super straight bat, dispel them now. Surgeon Simulator 2013 is a darkly comic LOL-fest in which physics and incredibly tricky controls combine to create dangerous amounts of absurdity as you attempt to perform various feats of surgery. A great game? Probably not. A great deal of fun? Most definitely.
Spelunky (PC, Xbox 360, PS3, PS Vita)
While it might look like another old-school dungeon-crawling platformer, Spelunky is transformed into something truly special by its roguelike elements. What’s that when it’s at home? Well, it means that each level is procedurally generated, so in effect you’ll never play the same level twice. Enemies, ladders, traps and treasure will all be placed differently, and the very layout of the level’s platforms will rarely, if ever, be the same. So if you’re looking for some variety to spice up your life, you’ll find it here.
Luftrausers (PC, Mac, PS3, PS Vita)
A “bullet hell” retro shoot ‘em up in which you pilot a highly customisable airplane – called a “rauser”, Luftrausers is hair-tearingly difficult but maddeningly addictive thanks to its near-perfect controls. Your rauser has three customisable elements, and with a total of 120 possible combinations of weapons, fuselage and propulsion system, you’ll need to tweak it carefully in order to beat each stage.
DayZ’s is finally finished! Except it’s not - it’s still in Alpha, which means it’s rough as old boots. Even the developers “advise you not to buy and play the game”, but that hasn’t stopped around a million players coughing up already. Why? Because this is the most frightening and “realistic” vision of a zombie apocalypse there’s ever been.
An MMO in which other players are as much – if not more – of a danger than the rampaging undead, DayZ is a grippingly grim, almost nihilistic portrayal of a world gone wrong. Team up with others or go it alone in a 230 square kilometre world in which up to 40 other human players could be lurking.