Beginner’s guide to indie (2020): part two

It’s time for the second part of the 2020 edition of the beginner’s guide to indie. If you didn’t find something that tickled your fancy in the first post yesterday, then hopefully we’ll manage to put that right today.

While part one focused on independent titles that came out during the past 12 months, we’re now looking forward to 2021 and checking out some indie games which are due to be released in 2021. As mentioned yesterday, I tend to favour the adventure genre or titles with strong narratives and this is obvious from the following list – and I’d encourage you to give them a look even if they’re not the sort of thing you’d usually play. Without further ado, let’s round off 2020’s guide!

Beyond the Veil

Perhaps my favourite title from LudoNarraCon this year was Beyond the Veil by Sun’s Shadow Studios. Thanks to a love of creepy stories (although I’m too scared to play scary games on my own) and a long-time desire to visit New Orleans, this text-based horror has earned its spot on my wishlist. Although much wasn’t given away in the live broadcast, the end of the alpha build made it clear that something bad was about to happen to the protagonist – and I’m looking forward to finding out what waits in store for her.



Black Book

I’ve written before that I don’t enjoy turn-based combat, but Morteshka’s Black Book demo convinced me to back the for Kickstarter campaign. This game tells the story of a young girl destined to become a witch and left heartbroken when her beloved dies in mysterious circumstances. She’s given the Black Book, said to be powerful enough to grant any wish to the person able to unlock its seven seals, and sets out on a quest to bring him back to her. Will she surrender to its forces and become a lost sorceress or will she atone for selling her soul?



Book of Travels

Book of Travels is another game I backed through Kickstarter and is somewhat unique. Might and Delight have said this is going to be a very different sort of MMORPG experience, even going so far as to call it a ‘tiny multiplayer online’ because few players will be on each server. It takes place in a world called Braided Shore inspired by fairytales and Eastern mythologies, and focuses on social roleplaying, exploration and non-linear narratives in a beautiful place with darkness at its edges.



Chicken Police

I went into the demo unsure of what to make of Chicken Police because you don’t often come across black-and-white titles featuring protagonists with feathery heads and beaks but human bodies and mannerisms. But two hours later and it was added to my wishlist immediately. The interesting contrast between these crazy characters and a mature storyline brings us something completely different and it kept me on my toes throughout – and I’m a complete sucker for noir detective games. (Disclaimer: Chicken Police is already out but I haven’t played it yet and wanted to include it on today’s list!)



Children of Silentown

I really enjoyed the demo for Children of Silentown during this year’s Digital Dragons Indie Celebration. There was something about its dark, fairytale atmosphere of Elf Games’ title that drew me in straight away. The story revolves around Lucy, a young girl growing up in a village deep inside a forest where people frequently disappear, and there were just enough hints of something sinister happening in the section I played to leave me wanting more. Looking forward to this one when it’s released in full.



Chinatown Detective Agency

General Interactive Co.’s Chinatown Detective Agency is inspired by the classic Carmen Sandiego games and will take players on an adventure across the world in hot pursuit of criminals, witnesses and clues. Its setting was influenced by media including Blade Runner, The Da Vinchi Code and Black Mirror, and the cases you choose to follow up on as private investigator Amira will matter. Do you side with the shadowy underworld informant or root out corruption for a junior politician?



Gamedec

Gamedec takes place in Warsaw City at the end of the 22nd century, where many people choose to escape into virtual worlds to enable them to fulfil their fantasies forget about the horrors surrounding them in real life. These digital lands have therefore given rise to the problems of human nature and their residents often call for specialist private investigators to aid them. Players step into the shoes of one such Gamedec, and it looks like Anshar Studios are going to give us a release which is full of moral dilemmas.



Ghost on the Shore

I wishlisted Ghost on the Shore by like Charlie as soon as I’d finished the demo. I want to discover the history of its characters, the mysterious reason for one of their deaths and whether the other manages to escape a deserted island. Walking simulators only work for me personally if I can find some way to connect to their characters and the developer seems to be working on a gorgeous project which is going to achieve this. Any protagonist who says the line ‘Let’s investigate the shit out of this’ is going to be one I can relate to.



Rosewater

After enjoying Grundislav Games’ Lamplight City in August 2018, I couldn’t wait to give the demo for Rosewater a try when I heard the developer was working on another title. This time it’s a Western adventure which takes place in a sleepy border town once the prospectors have realised that there’s no gold in them thar hills. It’s here that Harley Leger has found herself several years after leaving New Bretagne and heading west to leave the past behind – but she doesn’t expect to end up on a journey across Western Vespuccia in search of a hidden fortune.



The Wild at Heart

My favourite demo from the summer Steam Game Festival was The Wild at Heart by Moonlight Kids. It was a wildcard (no pun intended) as I picked it randomly thanks to its artwork – and I was left impressed, with another title added to my wishlist. It’s similar in gameplay to Overlord and Pikmin, and its story about two kids finding a mysterious realm within a forest is charming. I may have encountered a bug during the demo which prevented me from finishing it (the developer is working on fixing it) but I can’t wait to get my hands on this one.



Hopefully you’ve found a few indie releases in this year’s guide that have inspired you to give them a try. If you have any other recommendations, please feel free to leave them in the comments below so I can add a few more entries to my wishlist!

We’re taking part in GameBlast21 to support SpecialEffect, the gamers’ charity.
Making a donation will bring you great loot, increase your XP by +100 and make you immune to fire.*
(*Not guaranteed.)


Beginner’s guide to indie (2020): part one

Over the past few years I’ve found myself moving away from triple-A releases and becoming a bigger fan of indie video games. Independent developers aren’t afraid to take risks and they tend to provide more of the kind of experiences I love.

Dan from nowisgames.com asked for indie game suggestions back in 2017 and his request turned into an annual series. In drafting 2020’s edition, I noticed that many of the titles I’ve played recently were actually released this year so it’s those I’m focusing on this time around. I tend to favour adventures and this will be obvious from the following list, but hopefully you’ll find something that catches your eye and persuades you to give it a try regardless of your gaming preferences.

20 January 2020: The Supper

It may be very short and over in less than 30 minutes, but The Supper by Octavi Navarro is one of the best free releases I’ve ever picked up on Steam thanks to its story and artwork. It’s a weird yet wonderful mix of creepy and emotional. You’ll start the game thinking it’s a dark plot about serving some pretty disgusting meals to your customers, and then come out of it feeling a sort of bittersweet compassion for the protagonist. It’s very well done indeed – I’d highly recommend giving this one a try. Just maybe not during your lunch-break.



05 February 2020: The Blind Prophet

The Blind Prophet appeared in my Steam recommendations a while back and I’d ignored it because it seemed too comic-book-like for me. But after completing the demo during the Digital Dragons Indie Celebration in May, I was sold on ARS GOETIA’s project: I purchased the full game and started it immediately. You play as apostle Bartholomeus in this point-and-click and are sent to liberate the corrupted city of Robork, where things have taken an incredibly dark turn.



05 March 2020: The Longing

Studio Seufz’s release definitely won’t be to everybody’s taste, but it’s such a poignant game with an important message that I had to put it on today’s list. Players take on the role of the last servant of a king who once ruled an underground empire and now needs to sleep for 400 days in real-time to regain his faded powers. It’s your duty as the Shade to stay in this earthen palace ready to awaken your ruler at the end of that period; so what are you going to do with so much time on your hands?



09 March 2020: The Escaper

COVID-19 might have stopped us from going to any real-life escape rooms this year but that doesn’t mean we haven’t been able to get our fix in a digital way. The Escaper by Nocturnal Works was a fun experience that was made even better by streaming it on Twitch and involving our friends in chat in solving the puzzles. There are four themed rooms to figure your way out of with a nice level of challenge, and you can either attempt each of them in an hour to add to the pressure or go at your own pace.



19 March 2020: Interrogation Files: Port Landsend

My love for both detective and full-motion video (FMV) games has grown during 2020 and here’s a great title which combines both. Visual Interactive’s Interrogation Files is similar to Her Story in terms of gameplay but there’s more to it than simply entering search terms into a database to discover videos: it’s up to you to put the story together and figure out who the killer is so you’re ready to arrest the right person when you’re given the choice. I’m really looking forward to seeing what the developer comes up with next.



23 March 2020: General Horse and the Package of Doom

When Pete suggested playing General Horse and the Package of Doom, I told him he was an idiot because it looked terrible. But by the time the end-credits rolled, I’d completely changed my mind; I’d had a lot of fun in three hours and was a little bit in love with the protagonist. Sometimes you need something that’s going to sweep you along in its crazy story and cause you to forget about the real world for a few hours, and that’s exactly what Studio Spektar and Porcupine Parkour have given us here.



26 March 2020: The Room VR: A Dark Matter

If you know a non-gamer who loves escape rooms, introduce them to The Room series by Fireproof Games. The thing I love most about it is the feeling of achievement once you’ve figured out the solution to a puzzle. It’s as if you’re the first person to discover what’s in the box and behind the next door – and ultimately, escape from this world and the grip of the Null element. We played the latest release, The Room VR: A Dark Matter, this year and hope the developer treats us to another instalment very soon.



03 April 2020: In Other Waters

Jump Over the Ages’ release is another game which won’t be to everyone’s tastes, but I’d highly recommend giving it a go if you’re looking for something atmospheric with a strong narrative focus. When a routine exoplanet study goes wrong and her partner Minae Nomura disappears into an ocean on an alien planet, you must work with Xenobiologist Ellery Vas to dredge up secrets that were meant to be lost forever. Your bond will be tested by what you discover and the choices you make will change the course of the expedition.



09 April 2020: The Procession to Calvary

One of my favourite titles at EGX Rezzed in 2017 was Four Last Things, a quirky little point-and-click adventure created by Joe Richardson. I went on to play it during our GameBlast17 marathon stream that year and then back the Kickstarter campaign for the sequel. If you’re a fan of Monty Python and unique art-styles then The Procession to Calvary is likely to be one for you: players follow the same protagonist after he returns from his brief sojourn in hell and continues his quest for absolution.



30 April 2020: Deathtrap Dungeon

If you like choose-your-own-adventures, give Deathtrap Dungeon: The Interactive Video Adventure by Branching Narrative Ltd a try. A tabletop-RPG-inspired title like this which relies heavily on imagination because it doesn’t show the action shouldn’t work on Twitch but involving everybody in chat in the decision-making turned it into a great evening. The fact this got our character killed several times during the session made it more hilarious and it was a fun, shared experience with friends.



That’s it for now, but the beginner’s guide will be back again tomorrow – with part two focusing on indie games that are due to be released in 2021. If you have any recommendations of titles to look out for, please join in and leave them in the comments below!

We’re taking part in GameBlast21 to support SpecialEffect, the gamers’ charity.
Making a donation will bring you great loot, increase your XP by +100 and make you immune to fire.*
(*Not guaranteed.)


Beginner’s guide to indie (2019): part two

It’s time for the second part of my updated beginner’s guide to indie and, if you didn’t find something that tickles your fancy in part one on Monday, then hopefully we’ll manage to put that right today. Once again, a big thank you to Dan from nowisgames.com for suggesting I write a follow-up to the original series created around two years ago.

As mentioned in my previous post, it’s pretty obvious from the content here on Later Levels that I tend to favour the adventure genre or titles with strong narratives. The following list is therefore focused on these types of video games – but even if they’re not usually the kind of thing you’d play, I’d encourage you to check them out because they’re well worth a look. Hopefully everyone will find something that piques their interest. Without further ado, let’s round off 2019’s guide!

2018: Unavowed

Wadjet Eye Games takes what we love about point-and-clicks and throws in some new elements to refresh the genre for the modern day in Unavowed – and it totally works. You can choose your past career, which influences how you tackle certain situations and solve puzzles; and a party system allows you to select two members from your group whenever you go out to investigate a supernatural situation. The developer always displays a real talent for creating characters who stick in your head long after you’ve completed a title.

2018: Coloring Pixels

Feeling stressed or anxious? Then head over to Steam and download Coloring Pixels by ToastieLabs as soon as possible. Some may not consider it to be a ‘real’ video game but it’s definitely one of the most relaxing releases I’ve ever experienced. It’s a title you can chill out with when you’re not in the mood for taking down villains or saving the world, something to keep your hands busy while your brain winds down. And if the free version doesn’t offer you enough clicking calm, you can download additional colouring books.

2018: The Gardens Between

The Gardens Between by The Voxel Agents is proof that a video game doesn’t need to tell an epic story, contain dramatic battles or feature hundreds of hours of content to have an impact on the player. It tells a much more personal tale about friendship through a series of puzzles; and it left a mark on me because there were many things I realised long after playing which gave it a deeper meaning. It may be a short title that can be finished in around three hours, but it’s absolutely perfect just the way it is.

2019: What Never Was

If you’re trying to save your money in the run-up to Christmas, What Never Was by Acke Hallgren is one of the best free titles you can download from Steam. Gamers who love things like Firewatch and What Remains of Edith Finch will find plenty to appeal here and you’ll be crying out for more by the time you reach the end of this short experience. The good news is that the developer has confirmed they’re working on a second chapter – and if it’s as excellent as the first, this is going to be an amazing series.

2019: Eastshade

Imagine playing a game like The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim but with no combat; somewhere you can explore without fear of getting attacked, where there are secrets and interesting characters to discover, and where you frequently pull back from the screen to admire the view. That’s exactly what Eastshade by Eastshade Studios is and it has been added to my all-time favourites list after playing it earlier this year. Everything about this title – the artwork, the music, the story – is beautiful. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

2019: Guard Duty

If you like the classic point-and-click adventures and love Simon the Sorcerer in particular, then Guard Duty by Sick Chicken Studios will be one for you. There’s something nostalgic about it which makes you feel as though you’re stepping back to the early 1990s despite it featuring a streamlined interface to bring it up to date. It’s a very unassuming title with pixel-graphics and a light-hearted nature. But these factors actually hide a very touching plot with a great message and you’ll be feeling all warm and fuzzy inside by the final credits.

2019: Ord.

I picked up Ord. by Mujo Games on a whim one evening after it appeared in my Steam recommendations and made me curious. Two hours later, and I wasn’t disappointed. It’s a release of tiny text adventures: each scene consists of only three words and those you choose affect the outcome. Only one story about defeating an evil wizard was available back in August when I played it, but a big update in August means that three more tales are now available for your enjoyment. I’ll therefore be revisiting this game in the near future.

2019: Flotsam (early access)

When my other-half and I saw Flotsam by Pajama Llama Games at Rezzed in 2017, it really caught our attention despite not being the sort of thing we’d usually play. We were therefore pleased to see the developer back at EGX last year and ended up buying the title after visiting their stand at EGX last month. It’s easy to tell while playing it that the game is still in early access as there are a few quirks that need to be ironed out, and the developer is working on adding further content. It’s definitely one to keep on your radar though.



Hopefully you’ve found an indie release among the 16 I’ve included in this updated guide that has inspired you to give them a try. If you have any other recommendations, please feel free to leave them in the comments below and give me a few more to add to my wishlist!

Beginner’s guide to indie (2019): part one

Almost three years after starting Later Levels, I’m still a huge fan of indie video games. Independent developers aren’t afraid to take creative risks to bring us something new; and their smaller releases aren’t as daunting as tackling a large, big-budget experience.

Two years ago, Dan from nowisgames.com asked for indie game suggestions and this resulted in a short series of ‘beginners guide’ posts. A recent ‘this time in 2017’ tweet then prompted him to ask whether I’d considered doing a follow-up – so I’m back once again thanks to Dan! I tend to favour adventures or titles with strong narratives and this will be obvious from the following list, but hopefully everyone will find something that piqued their interest. Let’s dig into the updated beginner’s guide to indie (part one).

2014: J.U.L.I.A: Among the Stars

Although it has a completely different setting and premise, I kept being reminded of playing Myst for the first time all over again when I began J.U.L.I.A: Among the Stars by CBE Software. It was that sensation of stepping into new worlds, and being confronted with strange contraptions and mysterious structures – albeit in the stars and through AI companions. The developer is currently working on their next title, Someday You’ll Return, and it’s one I’m eagerly awaiting the release of.

2016: Kona

James from Killer Robotics very kindly gave me a key for Kona by Parabole in October last year and, although this chilly walking simulator won’t be to everyone’s taste, I really enjoyed it. One of the reasons for this is the game’s narrator. This nameless voice has a wonderful personality about it and the script was written in such a way that you’re never quite sure whether he’s being solemn or joking in his observations. For a title that’s set in a blizzard with a theme of isolation, it lightens the mood when things start to get serious.

2016: Maize

It’s hard to explain what Maize is about for two reasons. Firstly, it’s difficult to hint at several plot points without spoiling the whole thing; and secondly, this title by Finish Line Games is just so weird. Trying to summarise the story here would make a lot of readers think it was probably best left in a dark corner of my library but I encourage you to give it a go if you’re a fan of the slightly bizarre. A game doesn’t need to be serious or challenging to make it worthwhile, and Maize is proof that sometimes a bit of silliness can hit the spot.

2017: Stories Untold

If you loved text-adventures as a kid, you need to check out Stories Untold by No Code. It was recommended to me by Bradley from Cheap Boss Attack and ended up being my favourite game of 2017. The fear slowly rises as you make your way through four episodes and see connections until the hairs stand up on the back of your neck every time you’re asked to enter a new command. It’s difficult to say more without spoiling the game for future players except that the developer has crafted some very special, atmospheric moments.

2017: Paradigm

One of Paradigm’s highlights is its comedy but this is also the reason why some won’t enjoy it. There are plenty of jokes about drug use, addiction, deformities and other sensitive subjects so if any of those topics are likely to offend, I’d recommend finding another adventure. But if you’re a fan of the absurd and can overlook how close-to-the-bone some of the gags are, there’s plenty of silliness here in Jacob Janerka’s release that will likely appeal to you – and the awesome Ellen from Livid Lightning agrees.

2017: The Infectious Madness of Doctor Dekker

Full-motion video (FMV) games are like Marmite: you either love them or hate them. I’m in the former camp and have been lapping up the titles published by Wales Interactive over the past year. D’Avekki Studios’ The Infectious Madness of Doctor Dekker has been my favourite so far because its characters have a way of sucking you in: will you, a psychiatrist, be able to solve your predecessor’s murder and fix the chaos he left behind? Be careful, because the questions you ask your patients will determine their fate and your own.

2017: Finding Paradise

To The Moon was included in my original beginner’s guide and it’s one of my favourite games. I’ve played it multiple times because I love its emotional story; the ending still manages to inspire all the feels because it’s just so bittersweet. When Freebird Games released the follow-up, Finding Paradise, fellow fan Chris from OverThinker Y and I got together to have a long discussion about the series so far. The title contains some hints about what’s going to happen in the third instalment and I can’t wait!

2018: The Red Strings Club

Let’s finish off today’s list with one of my favourite games from 2018: The Red Strings Club. It’s a release that asks the player how far they’re willing to go to suppress the worst aspects of our personalities for the good of the population, and whether it’s worth sacrificing negative emotions such as sadness and anger. Do our feelings make us who we are, are we shaped by our suffering, and is happiness at the cost of free will ultimately worth it? Deconstructeam has given us an experience that questions who the real villain is.



That’s it for today, so hopefully you’ve managed to find something new for your wishlist! For not if you haven’t though: I’ll be back on Wednesday with part two and eight more indie games worth checking out.

Beginner’s guide to indie: part three

It’s time for the final part of my beginner’s guide to indie and, if you didn’t find something that tickles your fancy in part one or two last week, then hopefully we’ll manage to put that right today. Once again, a big thank you to Dan from Now is Games for suggesting I write this series and being the inspiration behind it.

As mentioned in my last posts: the following list contains only games I’ve actually played myself (except for the final category below) and, as pretty obvious from the content on Later Levels, I tend to favour adventures or games with strong narratives. However, I’ve made a point of not making every entry a point-and-click so hopefully there’s something for everyone here. Without further ado, let’s round this series off!

Typing games

Epistory – Typing Chronicles is a game I’m not sure many people know of but it’s definitely worth checking out if you enjoyed The Typing of the Dead: Overkill (my guilty pleasure). There are no zombies this time however: the world unfolds in front of you like an origami storybook and it tells the story of a writer who’s stuck for inspiration. You defeat your foes by typing words shown on-screen and every element in the title is controlled exclusively with the keyboard.

On the other end of the typing-game-spectrum is Hacknet, a simulator based on UNIX commands and real hacking rather than the Hollywood-version of it. The hacker responsible for creating the most invasive security system on the planet is dead and it’s now up to you to unravel the mystery and ensure that Hacknet-OS doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. If you’re not good under pressure or tend to type with two fingers only, then it’s probably not one for you.

Visual novels

I’m not a huge fan of visual novels and so my knowledge is somewhat lacking, but here’s one I actually enjoyed playing. Cinders is a mature take on the classic Cinderella fairytale and it’s not as cutesy as you’d imagine: this heroine isn’t afraid of taking fate into her own hands, even if it means breaking the rules. There’s plenty of player choice and my Cinders became an independent lone traveller who didn’t need a man by her side – you go, girl.

Next up is one of my favourite video games: To The Moon. It’s been called an adventure and an RPG but its gameplay elements are so light that it’s more like a visual novel with some movement. If you’re looking for action then it won’t be to your taste; but if you want to get drawn into an amazing story then I urge you to pick this up as soon as possible. Just be aware that you’ll be crying like a baby by the time the credits roll and will probably need a hug.

Something different

Looking for something different? Then you’ve come to the right place. First in this section is Her Story, a full-motion video (FMV) game which has you sorting through clips of old police interviews in order to discover what happened to a woman’s missing husband. Viva Seifert plays the protagonist and she does so perfectly; her body language, expressions and tone of voice all come together to make you wonder if she’s lying about what she knows…

Proteus isn’t a title that will appeal to everyone but if you’re in need of a ‘digital holiday’, then here’s your stop. Although the only mechanic is exploration and all you can do is walk, it’s a lovely and calming experience: this procedurally-generated island is home to creatures and ruins with magical properties, and a dynamic soundtrack changes in response to the world around you. A new island is generated each time so you’ll always see something unique and can use the ‘postcard’ feature to capture it.

What’s next?

There are loads of indie titles waiting on my wishlist and here’s what I’m playing next. I’ve heard good things about Night in the Woods, an adventure game focused on exploration, story and character. College-dropout Mae returns home to resume her former life but things aren’t the same: it seems different now and everyone has changed. Leaves are falling, the wind is growing cold, strange things are happening and there’s something in the woods…

Athena from AmbiGaming has been playing RiME recently and she has convinced me to give it a go! You play as a young boy who has awakened on a mysterious island after a torrential storm. Wild animals, long-forgotten ruins and a massive tower beckon you to come closer; and armed with your wits — and the guidance of a helpful fox — you must explore the enigmatic land, reach the tower’s peak and unlock its closely guarded secrets.

It can be an effort to work up the motivation to turn on the console or PC after a long day at work when you have only a spare hour in the evening; and sometimes the thought of jumping into another 100-hour open-world RPG can be a bit daunting. But it doesn’t mean you have to give up gaming completely because that’s where smaller indie titles can fit in nicely. Although huge big-budget games do have a certain appeal, there’s also something nice about being able to make good progress in sixty minutes and complete a title within several sittings.

Hopefully you’ve found an indie release among the 23 I’ve listed in my three-part beginner’s guide that has inspired you to give them a try. If you have any other recommendations, please feel free to leave them in the comments below and give me a few more to add to my wishlist!

Beginner’s guide to indie: part two

So your favourite genre of video games didn’t make it into the first part of my beginner’s guide to indie games? Well fear not, for I return with part two today! A big thank you once again to Dan from Now is Games for suggesting I write this series and being the inspiration behind it.

As mentioned previously: the following list contains only titles I’ve actually played myself and, as pretty obvious from the content on Later Levels, I tend to favour adventures or games with strong narratives. However, I’ve made a point of not making every entry a point-and-click (although there are still a few) and hopefully everyone will be able to find something that appeals to them here…

Horror

Ok, ok, I know I said I’d be careful about adding point-and-clicks to my list; but let me start off with one to get it out of my system and then I’ll leave them alone for a while. Stasis was a game I backed through Kickstarter and it’s one of the better titles I’ve received this way. It contains a few too many storyline elements to make it as cohesive as it could be, but the atmosphere is excellent and you’ll find the hairs standing up on the back of your neck.

If you’re looking for a more ‘traditional’ horror game however, Outlast may be the thing for you – especially with Halloween fast approaching. As investigative journalist Miles Upshur, you must explore the long-abandoned Mount Massive Asylum and try to survive long enough to discover its terrible secret; but without a weapon to hand, your only hope is to run or hide. Prepare yourself for jump-scares and a few screams along the way.

Platformers

Next up are a couple of ‘indie darlings’ and even if you’ve never played an indie release, it’s highly likely you’ve at least heard of them. Braid is a clever platformer that features a ‘time manipulation’ mechanic, which is extremely handy if you keep falling down holes and has an interesting effect on the game’s plot. It’s not however one for those who don’t like storylines open to interpretation or think ambiguous endings are pretentious and full of ‘hipster b******t’.

If you can appreciate a title which uses excellent narration to give otherwise simplistic shapes colourful personalities, it’s worth checking out Thomas Was Alone: a lovely little release about a group of artificial intelligences (AIs) who try to make their way to freedom before they’re deleted. If you’re not a fan of Danny Wallace though and can’t think of anything worse than listening to his voice for several hours on end, then I’d probably steer well clear.

Puzzle games

Little Inferno is a fun game whose cartoonish looks and cheery music disguise how clever it actually is. Players throw toys into their new Little Inferno Entertainment Fireplace and watch them burn as they figure out puzzle combinations, while the weatherman encourages them to stay indoors. But what’s really going on in the outside world and why does your weird neighbour keep sending you messages? It’s best to hide the matches after playing.

Meanwhile, The Witness is one of those titles where it’s more about the journey than the destination. You’ll find yourself on an island surrounded by beautiful scenery and hundreds of puzzles; and you’ll rage-quit often but still keep coming back for more. The lack of a plot to tie it all together is frustrating and has put many off Jonathan Blow’s post-Braid release (see above), but it’s worth getting for the experience.

Sport

Like cars? Like football? Then Rocket League is a match made in heaven. My other-half and stepson love this game and while it isn’t something I’d usually play, I have to say it’s one of the ‘nicer’ online multiplayers I’ve come across. Although there seems to be a habit of players on your team dropping out of a match soon after the other side scores the first goal, I’ve never encountered any kind of hostility while playing this title.

Unfortunately I can only give one option for this genre because I’m not really a fan of sports games myself! But if you have any recommendations, please feel share to share them in the comments below.

That’s all for now, so hopefully you’ve found a few titles to add to your wishlist! Part three of my list will be coming in a couple of days so keep your eyes open for that if you haven’t yet found the indie game for you.