The best new indie games on Steam

Ignore these smaller gems at your own risk [updated for January 2017]

Great news! There's never been a better crop of indie games available for a pittance of the price of a premium title.

But bad news! The selection is so large, it can be a tough job working out which of the many new wonders is actually worth your time.

Fortunately, we've spared you hours of agonising labour and scoured Steam for the latest and greatest indie games on offer. We'll be adding the cream of the crop from the world's largest game delivery platform each month, ensuring you never have to endure going outside into the glaring sunlight again.

Prepare yourselves for long-term vitamin D deficiency as we keep you locked to your screens for the rest of time.

Astroneer (£15.74, Early Access)

If you like the idea of procedurally generated space worlds and No Man’s Sky failed to scratch your extra-terrestrial itch, then this could be the ideal salve.

The name of the game is exploration and creation. Space-suited engineers explore planets in which the terrain can be easily reformed. Resources are collected to build snazzy vehicles and other mechanical wizardry, and eventually, new planets are discovered.

Sound mechanics, which can be enjoyed by up to four players in co-op mode, are wrapped up in a captivating voxel art style. The only limitation here is a lack of depth, which probably stems from the game’s pre-alpha state during Early Access. This should change as the months roll onward and the game continues to develop (procedurally, of course).

Platform: PC

Buy Astroneer

Beholder (£6.99)

Beholder is a curious synthesis of Papers, Please, Sim Tower, and Thief. You play Carl, an informant masquerading as the landlord of tenement block. The totalitarian regime for which you work requires tenants to be monitored, and reported to the authorities should they break any of the many arbitrary laws handed down from above. 

The decisions made during each assignment dictate the eventual outcome of Beholder’s short narrative. It’s possible to be a lapdog for the establishment or assist some of the poor people headed for the chopping block.

You can also be terribly, terribly cruel: planting evidence implicating your kind neighbour in illegal drug production, stealing from the poor, or even becoming a serial blackmailer. Of course, we only tried out some of those things in the name of testing.

Platform: PC, Mac

Buy Beholder

 

Shenzhen I/O (£10.99)

Try your hand as an electronic engineer in a booming 1980s electronics company. Shenzhen I/O is a puzzle game in which players must program the microcontrollers that run various products.

If you’re unfamiliar with programming then the first couple of hours will prove a test for the synapses: much like real coding, there is no room for incorrect syntax and your circuits can fail to complete the task unless they’re planned out carefully.

It’s the small touches that make Shenzhen I/O a winner. Rather than spoonfeeding players each new technique via tutorials, the game provides a reference manual which must be consulted to learn the language and understand certain components. Yes, it sometimes feels like being back at school, but in the best way possible.

A perfect gift for anyone seeking to begin learning the foundational principles of coding.

Platforms: PC, Mac

Buy Shenzen I/O

Zup! 2 (£0.79)

Short, simple, and unbelievably cheap. Zup! 2 challenges players to fling the ball into a specific zone using exploding blocks. And that’s about it.

Playthroughs last anywhere between 30 minutes and an hour, but at a cost of £0.79, Zup! 2 is still more cost efficient than a trip to the cinema, and a whole hoard of AAA games out there.

Platform: PC

Buy Zup! 2

Paladins (Free; Early Access)

Paladins looks a lot like Overwatch. There you go, we said it. It’s pointless ignoring the similarities so let’s just clear the air. Both are team-based hero shooters that blend MOBA and FPS mechanics. Both feature a scary-looking bloke with a chain hook and shotgun. And yes, both require players to take control points and sometimes, guide payloads.

There is, however, one regard in which the products differ wildly: cost. Paladins is in Early Access and is free to play. Overwatch is very much not free, and costs anywhere from £35 upwards before you even begin to count its monetised loot boxes. The Steam community rates Paladins’ particular flavour of ability shooter, and even if you already own Blizzard’s rival, it’s probably still worth taking it out for a spin.

Platforms: Windows

Buy Paladins

Aragami (£14.99)

There will be no Assassin’s Creed release in 2016 leaving some players with hole where third-person sneakery used to reside. Aragami could be the answer to said woes; a stealth game where creeping and backstabbing is the order of the day, along with a few supernatural upgrades including the ability to blink from one location to the other and merge with the shadows.

The game doesn’t promise the same open world shenanigans as AssCreed, but for £14.99 you buy yourself a unique-looking shank-sim offering its own challenges.

Platforms: Windows, Mac

Buy Aragami

Osiris: New Dawn (£18.99; Early Access)

Colony building is the latest trend amongst indie games and Osiris is a particularly gorgeous-looking example of one such title. Players work cooperatively to establish a colony whilst defending from hostile aliens and raids from other unscrupulous colonists.

The game’s principle sell is emergent stories. Maybe someone on the team isn’t pulling their weight and the arachnid xenomorphs hack you to death in the night. Maybe those seemingly friendly neighbours don’t actually have the best of intentions. You don’t know until the simulation turns.

Platforms: Windows

Buy Osiris

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