Beyond blockbusters: Break from the mainstream with these indie games


Gamers interested in strategy and city-building games can try Manor Lords, where they are tasked with developing a small settlement during the mediaeval age as they learn and master the title’s in-depth mechanics. — Slavic Magic

While 2024 has already seen major releases like Final Fantasy VII Rebirth, Tekken 8, Mario vs Donkey Kong and Dragon’s Dogma 2, the year has also brought a wealth of overlooked gems from the thriving indie game scene.

Beyond mainstream indie megahits like Baldur’s Gate 3, Helldivers 2, and Palworld, there’s still plenty to explore in the world of video games.This assortment showcases the best of what the indie gaming scene has to offer in the last 12 months, giving players the chance to discover and dive into new, extraordinary worlds that might just become their next favourite virtual adventure.

In Another Crab's Treasure, players are in the shoes (or shell) of Kril, the hermit crab, as they battle through enemies and explore the briny depths while collecting ocean-borne microplastics as the primary in-universe currency. — Aggro CrabIn Another Crab's Treasure, players are in the shoes (or shell) of Kril, the hermit crab, as they battle through enemies and explore the briny depths while collecting ocean-borne microplastics as the primary in-universe currency. — Aggro Crab

Another Crab’s Treasure

Platform: Nintendo Switch, Xbox Series X and S, Xbox One, PlayStation 5, Steam, and PC Game Pass

Another Crab’s Treasure is a charming soulslike – a genre known for its challenging combat and intricate level design – that adds a watery twist to the experience with undersea creatures reminiscent of The Little Mermaid.

In the game, players are in the shoes (or shell) of Kril, the hermit crab, as they battle through enemies and explore the briny depths while collecting ocean-borne microplastics as the primary in-universe currency.

Developer Aggro Crab turned the nature of hermit crabs switching out shells into a gameplay element, allowing Kril to swap between various pieces of trash as makeshift shells, each providing a special, unique ability.

This could be a broken glass bottle, a plastic cup, or an empty can, with 69 to discover. Another neat thing about the system is how Aggro Crab uses it to implement an accessibility mode for those who aren’t fans of how challenging a soulslike title can be.

The accessibility feature enables the “Give Kril a Gun” option, which does just that by equipping Kril with a huge pistol as a shell, capable of killing every enemy with one shot.

In V Rising, players are vampires who must navigate around the ever-present threat of the sun, which inflicts damage, to obtain blood for sustenance, stat bonuses and ability modifiers. — Stunlock StudiosIn V Rising, players are vampires who must navigate around the ever-present threat of the sun, which inflicts damage, to obtain blood for sustenance, stat bonuses and ability modifiers. — Stunlock Studios

V Rising

Platform: Steam

Then there’s V Rising, an isometric open-world survival game from Stunlock Studios that got a full release this year after originally launching on Steam Early Access.

In V Rising, players are vampires who must navigate around the ever-present threat of the sun, which inflicts damage, to obtain blood for sustenance, stat bonuses and ability modifiers.

Like other survival multiplayer titles, players can form clans, build castles to defend their loot, battle other clans over their stockpile of treasure and limited resources, and cooperate in boss fights in a thoroughly Dracula-esque gothic setting.

Speaking of Dracula, V Rising even received a crossover collaboration with Konami’s Castlevania franchise, which adds new character cosmetics, music, and Simon Belmont, the protagonist from earlier Castlevania games, as a new boss to fight.

Players will switch between a sidescrolling platformer and a first-person puzzler as they unravel the underlying conspiracy of American Arcadia, with cinematic set pieces, an especially compelling narrative, and some witty writing. — Out of The Blue GamesPlayers will switch between a sidescrolling platformer and a first-person puzzler as they unravel the underlying conspiracy of American Arcadia, with cinematic set pieces, an especially compelling narrative, and some witty writing. — Out of The Blue Games

American Arcadia

Platform: Steam

Puzzle game fans can check out American Arcadia, a game set in a world stuck perpetually in 1970s Americana with a strong resemblance to The Truman Show.

Like The Truman Show, American Arcadia tells a dystopian tale centred around the protagonist Trevor Hills’ escape from a reality TV show.

Players will switch between a sidescrolling platformer and a first-person puzzler as they unravel the underlying conspiracy of American Arcadia, with cinematic set pieces, an especially compelling narrative, and some witty writing.

Buckshot Roulette is set in a nightclub and pits players against the sinister Dealer, with gritty graphics reminiscent of consoles from the early 3D era of gaming and even has a multiplayer mode in the works. — CRITICAL REFLEXBuckshot Roulette is set in a nightclub and pits players against the sinister Dealer, with gritty graphics reminiscent of consoles from the early 3D era of gaming and even has a multiplayer mode in the works. — CRITICAL REFLEX

Buckshot Roulette

Platform: Steam

Gamers after a more pick-up-and-play experience can take a gander at Buckshot Roulette, which is essentially a game of Russian roulette on steroids, featuring a 12-gauge shotgun, some minor tweaks to the rules, and powerups that turn it from a simple game of luck to a strategic guessing game.

The game is set in a nightclub and pits players against the sinister Dealer, with gritty graphics reminiscent of consoles from the early 3D era of gaming and even has a multiplayer mode in the works.

Rather than rehashing the classic hospital management formula, Galacticraft developer Brightrock Games opted to spice things up by having players operate a hospital in space. — Brightrock GamesRather than rehashing the classic hospital management formula, Galacticraft developer Brightrock Games opted to spice things up by having players operate a hospital in space. — Brightrock Games

Galacticare

Platform: Xbox Series X and S, PlayStation 5, Steam and PC Game Pass

Those who grew up playing Theme Hospital on the original PlayStation console will be pleased to see yet another spiritual successor with Galacticare.

Rather than rehashing the classic hospital management formula, developer Brightrock Games opted to spice things up by having players operate a hospital in space.

This means that they’ll have to deal with a variety of patients from alien worlds, each with their own pool of medical conditions to treat.

This even includes giant space travellers like Baz, who, after being treated, acts as a wandering merchant that sells upgrades whenever he visits.

Baladins is a choose-your-own-adventure video game where even the less ideal outcomes can still lead to progression in the story. — Seed by SeedBaladins is a choose-your-own-adventure video game where even the less ideal outcomes can still lead to progression in the story. — Seed by Seed

Baladins

Platform: Steam

Baladins, on the other hand, is heavily inspired by tabletop roleplaying games based on Dungeons & Dragons, where character stat points and the roll of the dice can be the difference between succeeding or failing a quest.

But there’s no harm in failure in Baladins, since it’s a choose-your-own-adventure video game where even the less ideal outcomes can still lead to progression in the story.

Players can form co-op parties with up to four members and choose from a selection of five unique classes as they explore a fantasy world of knights and dragons.

Manor Lords

Platform: Steam, PC Game Pass

Gamers interested in strategy and city-building games can try Manor Lords, where they are tasked with developing a small settlement during the mediaeval age as they learn and master the title’s in-depth mechanics.

There’s even real-time tactical combat in a style similar to the Total War franchise, requiring players to deal with various battlefield conditions as they grow their village into a city.

Little Kitty, Big City features a cat as it explores the city, stirs up trouble, and hangs out with other animals. — Double Dagger StudioLittle Kitty, Big City features a cat as it explores the city, stirs up trouble, and hangs out with other animals. — Double Dagger Studio

Little Kitty, Big City

Platform: Nintendo Switch, Xbox Series X and S, Steam, PC Game Pass

Another entry in the “cute animal traverses cityscape” genre is Little Kitty, Big City, an adventure that, as the name suggests, features a cat as it explores the city, stirs up trouble, and hangs out with other animals. The furry protagonist can even be kitted out with a variety of silly collectible hats as it hops about.

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