10 Indie games of 2013 you should’ve played
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I’d normally avoid including a currently in-progress title, but after previewing the title myself, I’ve seen more than enough of Audiosurf 2's progress to call it buy-worthy. Audiosurf 2 one part music analyzer and one part game; it deconstructs any song you throw at it and then creates a level around it, which is where you, the player, come in. Steer a wakeboard, control a jet, or build puzzles as you literally surf through your music library—and smile gleefully upon realizing that every last inch of the game, from avatars to skins, is fully customizable thanks to the game’s deep Steam Workshop support. If you like music, you like Audiosurf 2. It’s that simple.
Games like FEAR 3 and Dead Space 3 suggest that true horror has gone extinct. Well, leave it to independent development to say otherwise.
Outlast is of the vein of horror that strips all means of combating threats from the protagonist, instead reducing them to a quivering ninny who’s got no choice but to run or be eaten. Your helplessness is only augmented by the game’s plethora of gorgeously realized ghouls and goblins which are sure to get you quite familiar with your own heartbeat. This is to say nothing of the engrossing atmosphere and chilling soundtrack, mind you.
Don’t expect to Resident Evil your way through this one, but buy it nonetheless if you’re looking for a good scare. Oh, and read our own Mike Splechta's review to find out how much he cried after playing Outlast.
Spelunky bears an unlikely resemblance to the previous contender in that, although your adventure is quite a bit more cheerful, your adventurer is equally prone to horrible, horrible dying.
Spelunky takes the rogue-like pledge to difficulty that spawned the permadeath mechanic and turns the dial to 11, cackling all the while as it leads you astray with its deceptively adorable visuals. Dungeoneer to your heart’s content with an infinite array of randomly generated levels, arm yourself with everything from torches to jetpacks, and pray that this run is indeed the last run as you trudge deeper.
That is, the last run where you kill yourself with a bomb—not your last playthrough, of course. Find out just how impossible Spelunky is and isn't in our review.
Point-and-click adventure titles are a dime-a-dozen in the indie scene, but the left-field approach of this self-titled dystopian document thriller is a true eye-catcher. Papers, Please puts you in a claustrophobic ticket booth at a country’s border and hands you the task of inspecting immigrants’ documentation. However, beyond simply slapping a stamp, the game integrates moral weight into each newcomer. Deny a lost mother a visit to her son, weigh the odds of unknowingly admitting an assassin against having your already meager pay docked, and stress over the welfare of your desperate family.
I realize this isn’t coming off as hugs and roses, but trust me, the game is a true demonstration of palpable tension. Time-trial-y to the bone, Papers, Please is a unique hybridization of point-and-click and puzzling that’s worth your time. At least, the time you can spare before the next person arrives.
Check out our full review of Papers, Please if you’re looking for more detail on this indie oddball.
Risk of Rain
“How do you make the rogue-like genre more difficult?” they asked. “Put the difficulty on a timer, thereby making everything your fault!” Risk of Rain answered without hesitation.
This 2D shooter puts the player between a rock and a hard place: Do you explore the level to upgrade your gear and level your character, or rush to the end lest the difficulty timer run too high rendering the boss nigh-on impossible? Everything boils down to weighing the odds with Risk of Rain, as each precious second brings you closer to a spike in difficulty. Levels are immense, enemy variety is a veritable rainbow and the soundtrack is downright enchanting, so if you’re a fan of the teeth-grindingly difficult, grab an umbrella and play Risk of Rain.