With so many amazing blockbuster hits coming out this year, it’s been easy to overlook some of the smaller-scale games. To help rectify that, we’ve picked out ten great indie games from 2018 — and with their engaging storylines, beautiful graphics, and amazing soundtracks, we reckon these deserve just as much attention.
Play it on: PC, PS4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One
Help Madeline face her demons and journey to the top of Celeste Mountain in this pixel platformer. It’s intuitive, slick, and most importantly, crammed with levels that are more fun than frustrating (hundreds of them, in fact). Plus, if you’re looking for an extra challenge, there are multiple bonus modes to unlock to make things a bit trickier.
All that plus an engaging storyline and some very atmospheric music means you have a recipe for a real winner.
Into the Breach
Play it on: PC, Nintendo Switch
Into the Breach is a terrific turn-based strategy game, with futuristic mechs, time manipulation, and unfriendly aliens. Your pilots might be outnumbered, but the game’s moreish bitesize strategy means you get a buzz every time you outthink your extraterrestrial opponents. And, if things don’t go entirely to plan, you can simply travel into a new timeline to start again!
Play it on: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
Playing like Katamari Damacy in reverse, this game is a “hole” lot of fun. No, really — you’re playing as a hole! Slide underneath objects, characters, vehicles and (eventually) buildings to make them fall in, as the more things that tumble in, the bigger you’ll get. Some objects are out of reach until you trick them into coming closer — like birds, which you can only tempt down to the ground by swallowing corn and hot coal to make popcorn (well, how else were you going to do it?).
It’s both hilariously quirky and super satisfying, with an adorable art style and a ton of puzzles to solve.
The Swords of Ditto
Play it on: PC, PS4
If you’re looking for an adventure game with a Saturday morning cartoon feel and magical kazoo music, The Swords of Ditto is a good shout. You can explore the land and build up your character or dive headlong into the final boss battle right off the bat — hey, it’s your adventure. Every time you die, the world and your character are randomly generated, giving you plenty of reasons to dive straight back in. With weapons like a colossal foot from the heavens available alongside the more traditional options of sword and shield, you know you’re onto something amazing.
Play it on: iOS, Android
With a beautiful hand-drawn art style and a bittersweet story, this mobile game is a definite essential. Florence follows the story of 25-year-old Florence Yeoh as she meets and falls in love with cellist/prize numpty Krish. There’s no dialogue, but there are puzzles to solve and minigames to play as you chart a course through their budding relationship. Florence has a relaxed pace but a rewarding (and emotional) ending, while boasting a sublime soundtrack.
Play it on: PC, PS4, Xbox One
Play as an adorable pair of Yarnys (apple-sized creatures made from bundles of yarn) and chase a glowing spark across a beautiful world in this charming platformer. In Unravel, your Yarny had to go it alone, but in Unravel Two, you’ll have two Yarnys joined together by a single string. Working alone or in local co-op mode, guide them through the world by solving puzzles and dodging enemies — just try not to unravel your Yarnys too much!
Play it on: PC, PS VR, HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Windows Mixed Reality
Step into a fantastical storybook world and guide adventurous mouse Quill on a quest to save her uncle in this wonderful VR game. If you get stuck, you can take advantage of your VR perspective by leaning to look around things or standing to get a bird’s eye view, because you never know what you might find. This is a game that really knows how to make the most of VR.
Play it on: PS4, PS VR
Yes, this is Tetris, but not as you’ve ever experienced it before. Based on the real-life phenomenon where players think and dream of falling tetrominoes even when they’re not playing, Tetris Effect is a slightly trippy but immensely satisfying experience. Every move you make and line you clear has an immediate and dynamic effect on the music, environment, and even the Tetris blocks themselves. And if you want complete immersion, play it in VR. Seriously, it’s mind-blowing.
Reigns: Game of Thrones
Play it on: PC, iOS, Android
If you’ve ever thought you could do a better job of ruling Westeros than whoever is currently on the Iron Throne, then now is your time to shine. Start your first stint as monarch as Daenerys Targaryen, and do your best to keep everyone in the kingdom happy for as long as you can — but be careful, because that’s really not as easy as it looks. With plenty of familiar faces to look out for and a whole lot of unexpected twists, Reigns: Game of Thrones is a riot for fans of the books and TV series alike.
The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit
Play it on: PC, PS4, Xbox One
Whether you’re already a Life is Strange fanatic or you’re just dipping a toe into the series, The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit contains the same perfect mix of brilliant music, difficult choices, and heart-rending storyline as its predecessors.
Join Chris, an ordinary boy with an incredible imagination, as he creates superhero alter-ego Captain Spirit to help him navigate the ups and downs of everyday life. It’s both nostalgic and quietly humorous, and best of all, it’s free — so there’s no excuse not to patch up your old superhero cape and give it a whirl.