The 10 Best Indie PC Games

The logo of Vertigo Games, an indie game developer that made three of the games on this list.
The logo of Vertigo Games, an indie game developer that made three of the games on this list.

Indie (Independent) Games

 So just what is an Indie game, exactly? The term "indie" is an abbreviation for "independent," meaning a smaller company that doesn't collaborate with other companies to make video games. That is, they do all game-related work themselves; design, art, marketing, scripting, composing music, implementation, and so on. These games can often be a lot more fun than the top-of-the-line, blockbuster games you'll find shelves full of at Wal-Mart. You might never see an Indie game at Wal-Mart, but that doesn't mean they aren't just as high-quality. Most of the time, they rival high-end games to a large degree. Just because Microsoft or Blizzard didn't design it doesn't mean it's not a great game, and the opposite is also true--I've played plenty of "popular" or supposed high-end games only to find them lacking in quality. Not all the games listed here are independently-developed, but most of them are relatively unknown to a very large audience, which is a shame. Most of them I discovered on the IGF (independent games festival) website.

The purpose of this hub is to let you know about these awesome games so you can give them a chance, and try out a few. I've tried to include a wide variety of different game types, so there will hopefully be something for everyone here. A lot of the games are free, and a lot of them aren't. However, the ones that aren't free all have demos, so you can check them out and see what you think before you decide to buy them or not.

The List

Alright, so here's the list. Below each item, I've explained why I think the game belongs on this list, and what is fun about it that other games might be missing. If any of the terminology below confuses you, you might want to check out my other hubs, The 20 Best Commercial PC Games, which includes a glossary of game-related jargon, and The 5 Best MMO PC Games.

#10 Ore No Ryomi 2

This game really should be at the top of the list. The only reason it's at the bottom instead is the graphics. They may be well below par, but that doesn't say anything about the game itself. It's just pure fun. What it lacks in glamour it makes up in addictiveness and replay value. You purchase menu items to sell to your customers, then make the orders using your keyboard and/or mouse. I'd recommend getting used to the keyboard; it's much faster. This is just a classic game that can't be beat. This game was made by Vertigo Games, an indie developer whose logo is shown at the top of the hub.

#9 Super Mario War

Ever wanted to play smash brothers and super mario brothers 1, 2, and 3, all at once? Now you can. Ever wanted to edit the world maps on super mario brothers 3 as well as design and play your own levels in those maps? Now you can. This game has a plethora of different game formats to play in; a fully functional map and level editor with every possible block or object or powerup from any super mario game; and one heck of an action-fighting style that is perfect for satisfying all your mario cravings at once. Need I say more?

#8 Musaic Box

This may not be an indie game, but few people know about it. If you like music, this game is for you. Think of making a Sudoku that you solve by sound rather than logic. It might not sound like fun, but it is awesome. Give it a try; you won't regret it.

#7 Osmos

Time to tune down the brainpower required of musaic box and the action of super mario war. Osmos is a relaxing and visually spectacular game. It lets you wind down and relax as you control a small orb floating in a cosmic-like pool of other bacteriums. Absorb smaller ones to get bigger, then absorb even bigger ones. Don't go too fast though; to move, you must eject small amounts of matter, which will gradually make you smaller if you move around too much. Quite an amazing game. The music alone is a selling point.

#6 Dyson

Time to move to the realm of RTS gaming. This is the most abstract and fun RTS you'll ever play. It has a unique blend of semi-autonomous units and other-worldly environments. It could be asteroids orbiting in space, or microbes fighting for life inside a cell. The basic units are winged, bird-like things that fly around on their own. You can direct them with basic movement commands, but they largely do their own thing, attacking if you send them to an enemy base, or patrolling if they are stationed on a planet you own. Sacrifice 15 of them to build more trees, which grow or produce more units for you. You can also build defense-only trees, which quickly kill enemy units when they arrive, but do not produce any mobile units. The music in this game is also a huge plus, and on top of everything, it's free.

#5 Shellblast

Another Vertigo Games title, Shellblast is commonly described as a mix between picross and minesweeper, but not really. It takes the best elements of both and comes up with a unique new way to experience puzzles. You are a bomb expert, and disarming bombs takes both logic skill and knowledge of the various bomb types. You must find all of the "pistons" in a bomb, and pistons can be found by moving beams of light across the bomb in two different directions. A fascinating venture in puzzling guaranteed to satisfy your need for brain exercise.

#4 Immortal Defense

This game is quite excellent. If you are into tower defense games, this is the one for you. This game rivals Gem Craft, which is the best tower defense flash game I know of. That's how good it is. It's called Immortal Defense because you are playing as a man who has been cryogenically (or otherwise) frozen in time, but whose mind remains active in a higher dimension of space, called pathspace. You can see the entire dimension, but the "creeps" are spaceships following a one-dimensional path (a line) which you are defending. This line is called phasewarp travel, so to the spaceships, your attacks are invisible. The "towers" are actually called points, and they represent different aspects of your will. This is quite entertaining, philosophically speaking, because you are defending pathspace with your mind, thus you have to use aspects of your will to do so. For instance, the most basic tower is called the Fear Point, which damages and slows the creeps. It's as if you are using your own fear to create fear in the spaceships (or I guess, the crews of the spaceships) to slow them down.

#3 Spirits of Metropolis

This is a game that I had the pleasure of beta testing. I would like to think that my input had a positive impact on the game; however, David Galindo, the game's author, and President of Vertigo Games, is the primary reason this game is so awesome. It is his best work yet, and I have spent no small amount of time playing it. It has been wrongly pinned into the match-3 genre. There is no way such a dull and overrun genre could even hold a candle to this great game. The differences between Spirits and match-3 games will become apparent within a minute of playing it. The main difference being, it's actually FUN and requires strategy and thought to win. In a match 3 game, you simply swap gems until you lose or win. No swapping going on here, folks. Even if you don't care for the single player (Journey) mode, there are plenty of other modes to keep you occupied, as well as periodic downloadable content for those who have bought the game.

#2 Aquaria

If you've ever played any Metroid game, I'm going to assume you thought it was awesome. If you didn't, you can just skip this number because you're an idiot. (Just kidding) Anyway, if you liked any Metroid game, this game will be an instant classic to you. It's just perfect. There's no other word for it. What little I have played of this game has been some of the most fun I ever had playing a game. This is saying a lot, because I've played a bunch of games. It is at number two for a reason. If you find this game dull, you must be a moron. I dare you to play it and not be impressed. The beginning can drag on, but once the action starts, you won't be able to stop. This game is worth much, much more than what it actually costs to purchase. I would pay upwards of 100 dollars for any game of this quality.

And the number one independently-made game of all time...drum roll, please...

#1 Battle for Wesnoth

This was in my old "Best 20 PC Games," but it belongs at the top of the indie list, for sure. There's no doubt about it. It's free, first of all, but it plays like no RPG strategy game you've ever tried before. There's nothing else that can be said, really. Why are you still reading this hub? You should be out there downloading and trying out these great games!

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Comments 3 comments

nicomp profile image

nicomp 7 years ago from Ohio, USA

Great list. There are a lot of fantastic developers out there who need more recognition.

Typhoon profile image

Typhoon 6 years ago from North America

I love you grandpa.

#4 was a fantastic game for sure. Immortal Defense is one of the few I actually wanted to play through for the story :)

poetic grace profile image

poetic grace 6 years ago

You are very thorough and well-written.

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