Sure, Pokémon Go is taking the world by storm. But with the advent of crowdfunding and digital vendors like the Humble Store and Valve's Steam, it's a good time to be an independent game development studio. Many such studios seem to be popping out of the woodwork, with enterprising visionaries, designers, and programmers able to crowdfund and sell their dream PC games without needing to go through third-party publishers and distributors.
That said, it's an even better time to be an indie gamer; we've seen a wealth of amazing titles released in the past few years, and the indie game movement is still going strong. Here's a sampling of 2 of our favorite indie games for the PC, and why you should be playing them right now.
Some Terrific Indie Games
Opinions of this game are “Overwhelmingly Positive” from the 26k+ reviews on Steam. In Stardew Valley, players start out staring at the blank, slate-grey walls of an office cubicle somewhere deep in the bowels of Joja Corporation.
Quickly, your character decides on a dramatic life change, and lo and behold, receives a letter from Grandpa bequeathing you the family farm on the outskirts of town. You eagerly quit your soul-eroding corporate job and set off on the first bus out of town.
Upon arriving in picturesque Stardew Valley, your goals at the start of the game are easy enough: settle into your new digs, get acquainted with your neighbors in nearby Pelican town, and learn how to plant and water your first crops. Your first few days might possibly be taken up exploring the city, or chopping down trees and trimming the weeds on your overgrown property, and then tilling fields in preparation for the big planting season.
Not long after, you'll be learning the neighbors' birthdays and favorite gifts, making your own preserves and juices, and figuring out which crops to plant and when, in order to maximize your farm's booming profits. Eventually, you'll go on a quest to restore the town's neglected Community Center -- or sell out to Joja Mart, prompting them to tear down the Center and build a warehouse in its place.
Make enough money from your crops, and you might pay a visit to the local rancher who will help you get started in owning and raising livestock such as chickens, pigs, cows and goats, and selling their respective products for even more money.
There's a lot to do in Stardew Valley, but none of it ever feels overwhelming. With its warm and inviting color palate, charmingly hand-drawn 16-bit pixel graphics and engrossing do-things-your-way, go-at-your-own-pace gameplay, Stardew Valley's the kind of game that's approachable enough for beginners, but once you peel back the layers, it's deep enough to be engrossing for everyone.
A real gem and instant indie classic, it's hard to believe that a game this rich in depth and content was made in its entirety by one single person! If you're more of a visual being, this trailer should do the trick:
With more than 95% of the 5k+ reviews of this game being positive on Steam, you can be sure that this is a winner. In Slime Rancher, you play Beatrix Lebeaux, an up-and-coming rancher who sets off to find her fortune on the frontier.
The thing is, the frontier is a planet called the Far, Far Range, and the critters on Beatrix's ranch are slimes. Yup, slimes - amorphous little bouncing blobs that also happen to be the cutest little amorphous bouncing blobs you ever did see. Much of your day on the ranch will be spent exploring the diverse biomes of the Far, Far Range in search of different slimes to capture in your trusty vac-pac for transport back to your ranch. There's also crop seeds and different breeds of chickens to feed said slimes while they enjoy the life of pampered captivity.
Beneath its simple presentation and cutesy exterior, Slime Rancher boasts some surprisingly robust gameplay.
The mechanics behind breeding your slimes is approachable but profound; slimes kept in the same enclosure will eventually hybridize with one another, creating genetic offshoots with characteristics of both parents. Hybrid slimes create more lucrative 'plort' (literally, poo, which you vacuum up and sell to the galactic market for your livelihood), so it's to your benefit to experiment with breeding desirable traits. Say you paired an explosive slime with a flying slime; you'd have a slime capable of launching itself like a missile at the walls of its enclosure.
And that's the other thing — slimes will try to escape their enclosures via all sorts of charming emergent behavior like stacking themselves on top of each other, to the aforementioned flying, exploding missile blob of doom. And if your slimes get loose, don't be surprised to find them raiding your henhouse or snacking on your crops!
With enough depth to satisfy mature gamers as well pick-up-and-play controls, freeform pacing and bright, adorable graphics, Slime Rancher has a lot to offer all members of the gaming family. Bear in mind that as of this writing, Slime Rancher is still in Early Access, meaning the game is still being developed with community feedback and support, so expect some tweaks and changes by the time the game officially hits digital shelves.
Check out a short trailer on this ridiculously fun game:
These are just a couple of examples that show that you don’t have to be a major corporation to create quality games. Do you play either of these indie games? What's your favorite game that wasn't created by one of these big-time gaming companies? Tell us all about it in the comments section!
Images are sourced from the products' respective pages on Steam.