2017 was another great year for indie titles. With every passing year, it seems that indie developers get better and better at delivering intense, emotional and, above all, fun experiences we don’t really see in AAA games anymore. We absolutely love it.
Some of our “best of 2017” lists already include some great indie games, like Cuphead and Divinity: Original Sin 2. However, this list is made especially for indie games we enjoyed playing, but don’t necessarily fall into any specific category. We’ve converged on a sort of theme this year – we either liked somber but beautiful games or really funny ones that look… less than impressive.
Here are our picks for the best indie games of 2017:
Night in the Woods
Developer: Infinite Fall
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Maor Zor: In Night in the Woods, we get to accompany Mae, who drops out of college and returns to her hometown in the middle of nowhere, USA. Mae also happens to be a cat, her best friend is a fox who lives with his bear boyfriend, and her childhood friend is a goth crocodile. Through these unique characters, we experience a funny, touching, and bittersweet story about everything from the transition to adulthood, small-town economy, and friends falling apart.
Even though every character in Night in the Woods is an animal, the game feels incredibly human. The struggles each of them go through, and the way they choose to deal with them, are immediately relatable. You can decide how to spend your time in the town of Possum Springs, and with who – opening different scenarios with every choice. With a striking visual style and a fantastic soundtrack, Night in the Woods is among the best story-driven experiences of the year.
Developer: Con Man Games
Guy Yuval: Kindergarten is funny, twisted, and a little bit insane. It’s what would have happened if Groundhog Day took place in a kindergarten filled with psychopaths, dark secrets, and terrible food. You relive the same Monday over and over again in an attempt to solve a missing person mystery. Along the way, you’ll have to make friends with the weird kid, poison the school bully, and try not to get murdered by the janitor.
Figuring out how to do all that is the fun part. Each “quest” has a weird chain of events that leads to both chilling discoveries and hilariously dark moments. The writing is probably the best part of the game, but the horrible things that happen on screen (to little, pixelized kids no less) help drive home the game’s unique atmosphere. This one isn’t for the faint of heart, but if you’re looking for a unique puzzle game that’s packed with dark humor and challenging puzzles to figure out – you have to play Kindergarten.
What Remains of Edith Finch
Developer: Giant Sparrow
Publisher: Annapurna Interactive
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Guy Yuval: I like exploration games (or as some of you might call them – “walking simulators”), and What Remains of Edith Finch is a great example of one with a compelling plot and interesting gameplay. Each little story you uncover within the walls of the Finch mansion is unique in every way possible. You’ll play through a horror comic book, turn into a sea monster, and explore the fascinating world of fish canneries and fantasy role-playing.
There isn’t a lot to this game other than the story (or should I say stories), but it is captivating in a way most games can’t manage. It’s funny and full of wonder, but at the same time sad and filled with loss. Exploring the corridors and rooms of your twisted family home is also quite an adventure all by itself. The intricate level design, coupled with the almost obsessive attention to detail makes every minute of What Remains of Edith Finch feel new and fresh. What Remains of Edith Finch is my favorite narrative experience of the year, and if you love stories, it can probably be yours as well.
West of Loathing
Developer: Asymmetric Publications
Publisher: Asymmetric Publications
Tarradax: From the makers of Kingdom of Loathing comes a full-fledged turn-based RPG that gives our “Best RPGs of 2017” winners a run for their money. Sure, the graphics are as simple as can be – black and white stick figures (Colorblind Mode available in the options) with hand-drawn “simple” effects. But look past the graphics, and you’ll discover a deep RPG, full of meaningful player choice, humor and a vast world full of locations to explore.
With multiple endings, different and distinct classes, a variety of companions (and horses!) to choose from, a plethora of skills and special abilities, West of Loathing shows us that you don’t need fancy graphics or voiced dialogues to make a solid RPG. All you need is good writing and letting players mess with the world as they see fit. Quite a few other titles could learn from it, and I can’t wait for the sequel.
Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice
Developer: Ninja Theory
Publisher: Ninja Theory
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4
Guy Yuval: Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice proves that indie games can be just as cinematic and stunning as any AAA game. Developer Ninja Theory refers to their game as a “triple-A indie”, and I have to admit it’s a perfect description. Hellblade is beautiful, expertly written and dares to deal with a subject not a lot of games do – living with debilitating mental illness. True, most mentally ill people probably don’t go on epic quests into Hel in order to revive their lover, but Senua is special.
so special, in fact, that her character makes this entire game. Yes, there’s combat and some very light puzzle solving, but this is her story – and it’s a great one. Her actress, Melina Juergens (who never acted before) delivers a memorable performance that captivates the player from beginning to end. The game also manages to portray mental psychosis in both a believable and respectable way, which is a huge point in its favor. I’m not a big fan of Ninja Theory’s previous games, but Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice is an achievement worth celebrating.Some of our posts include links to online retail stores. We get a small cut if you buy something through one of our links. Don't worry, it doesn't cost you anything extra.