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Top 10 indie video games of the decade – Reader’s Feature

Guacamelee! – one of the best indie games of the last 10 years
A reader looks back at his 10 favourite indie games of the 2010s, including everything from Super Meat Boy to Rocket League.
The last decade has been an excellent one for gaming in general, but in spite of the ever-increasing power of PCs and consoles the last 10 years hasn’t all been about big budget titles. In large part thanks to the online services offered by consoles, it’s now easier than ever for independent developers to share their work with the world.
What exactly counts as an ‘indie’ game these days isn’t always completely clear but here are my picks, that to the best of my knowledge fit the description, for the 10 best indie games of the decade.

10. Super Meat Boy (2010)
A follow-up to a Flash game, Super Meat Boy is a 2D platformer in which players take control of a living slab of meat, known as Meat Boy, as he attempts to rescue his girlfriend from the evil Dr. Fetus. The opening levels introduce the control scheme, which essentially amounts to running and jumping, before the game quickly ramps up the difficulty.
With instant deaths and no mid-level checkpoints this is a game that could easily have become frustrating, but the fantastically precise controls and clever level design constantly surprises and delights, making for an incredibly enjoyable challenge.

9. Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition (2013)
Having been murdered Juan awakens in the land of the dead, where he meets a luchador that gifts him a mysterious mask that returns him to life and grants him special powers. Throughout the game players discover new powers, all of which are fun to use and significantly impact upon gameplay, making for a 2D platformer that is very much structured in the Metroidvania mould.
The graphics and animation are fantastic, and this is complemented by a deep combat system and platforming sections that also require a great deal of dexterity. Thanks to the tight controls however the game never becomes frustrating and side rooms that contain boxes granting the player items (such as extra lives) even have puzzle solving elements to them.

8. Super Time Force (2014)
Of all the genres, 2D platformers are without doubt the most widely represented when it comes to indie gaming. To be honest many of them are relatively uninteresting and not really worth bothering with. Super Time Force certainly is though.
Each of the game’s levels allows the player a time limit of just 60 seconds, but at any point the player can rewind time, choose another (or the same) character, and then fight alongside their previous run-through(s). A selection of characters are available, each with vastly different skill sets, and utilising each at the right time is vital for success. Truthfully, the shooting mechanics themselves could only be described as competent but thanks to this unique concept, which is put to brilliant use by the fantastic level design and boss fights, Super Time Force is great fun from start to finish.

7. Papers, Please (2014)
You wouldn’t think it possible to make an interesting video game from completing the repetitive and mundane tasks of working on a border patrol desk, but that’s exactly what the creators of Papers, Please have managed to do.
Everything starts off fairly simple as you decide whether or not to allow a series of civilians access into the game’s fictional country, but the wages you take home at the end of the day (wages which are needed to keep your family fed and healthy) depend on only letting the right people through, and any errors result in hefty fines being dished out. As the game progresses more complications, such as having to check passports or watch out for certain types of people, are introduced and pretty soon the pressure really begins to build. I’ve still never made it all the way through to the ending but Papers, Please is a unique and thought-provoking gaming experience.

6. This War Of Mine (2014)
This War Of Mine sees players in control of a group of civilians trapped inside a city torn apart by war. The game is essentially comprised of two parts, the daytime where you manage your home, and the night-time where a single survivor can scout an (often dangerous) location for supplies.
The only goal is to keep everyone alive as they struggle with a lack of food, medicine, and the constant danger of hostile soldiers and civilian scavengers. With character deaths being permanent, and tough choices having to be made constantly, it provides a completely different perspective on war from the usual shoot first, ask questions later gameplay of other video games and makes for a tense, enthralling and often heartbreaking experience.

5. Brothers: A Tale Of Two Sons (2013)
Many big budget titles could really learn a thing or two from indie games on the art of telling a story without the need for constant interruptions and cut scenes, and Brothers: A Tale Of Two Sons is a perfect example in the way in which it tells a dark (yet moving) tale with a gut punch of an ending.
A good story is of course pretty meaningless if the gameplay isn’t up to scratch, but Brothers delivers in this department too. The key to the gameplay is the unique control scheme that tasks the player with guiding both brothers at once using the two analogue sticks, as well as R1 and L1 for context sensitive actions. This has allowed the developers to create some brilliantly clever puzzles and gameplay sequences that otherwise wouldn’t be possible. Like many indie games this is a fairly short experience, but it’s one that’ll stick with you long after the credits roll.

4. Hotline Miami (2012)
Despite its simple 2D graphics and top-down perspective Hotline Miami is without doubt one of the most violent titles you’ll find on any platform console. Underneath the violence however is an extremely entertaining and challenging video game.
The game itself is split into chapters, almost all of which involve infiltrating a different building and killing everyone inside. In practice it plays out like a fast-paced puzzle game as you plan your way around each level, attempting not to leave yourself open to attack from the relentless enemies that won’t miss their shot. Extra depth is added to proceedings through masks that provide special abilities, such as having guard dogs act friendly towards you, and the ability to switch between silent melee weapons and the more effective but noisy guns. Add to this an intriguing, if rather vague, storyline and Hotline Miami certainly packs a lot into its relatively short run time.

3. Bit.Trip Presents… Runner2  (2013)
The first of the Bit.Trip to appear outside of a Nintendo console Runner2 received universally positive reviews and garnered justifiable success.
The aim is simply to guide your character to the end of the level as they run relentlessly from left to right across the screen. Early on you’ll just need to jump over enemies and platforms but pretty soon the game introduces more elements, such as a slide to duck under obstacles and a shield with which to deflect incoming projectiles. Each level also features gold and score multipliers to collect, for those interested in achieving higher scores for the online leaderboards.
Runner2 is pretty tough in later levels but, thanks to its well managed difficulty curve and precise controls, it never becomes frustrating and the hugely satisfying soundtrack that responds to each of your moves only adds to the experience.

2. Salt And Sanctuary (2016)
Ska Studios had made a few decent titles, including The Dishwasher and Charlie Murder, before this but Salt And Sanctuary remains their best game to date.
Having selected from one of the eight starting classes, each with vastly different skill sets, Salt And Sanctuary throws you quickly into the action and the Dark Souls influence is apparent from the very start. In less capable hands this could have been a disaster but the well-designed map actively encourages exploration and the 2D combat soon unveils its intricacies. Add in a few new ideas of their own, such as the ability to customise the sanctuaries at which you level up, and purchase new weapons/spells, and this comes closer than any other game to capturing that FromSoftware magic.
If you can find a willing partner you can even play through the entire game in co-op mode, adding a whole new layer to the tactical side of combat!

1. Rocket League (2015)
The simplest way to describe Rocket League is football (or soccer for US readers) with cars. The game offers a variety of modes to keep players entertained but it is the online multiplayer that has been the key to its enduring success.
Games are played either 2 vs. 2 or 3 vs. 3 and last for just five minutes. At first this may appear to be a fairly simple game but it soon reveals its hidden depths thanks to the fantastically responsive controls, which allow for all manner of skills and tricks, and the need to effectively work with your teammate(s) if you’re ever going to succeed in the competitive online environment. The manner in which Psyonix continue to support this title with free updates to the arenas, vehicles and decals also has to applauded, especially in an age where many of the bigger developers seem to want to wring every last penny out of their customers. Rocket League is arguably the biggest success story when it comes to indie gaming, and it’s well deserved.
Honourable mentions:
Journey, Tearaway, Battleblock Theater, and Life Is Strange would all have been considered for this list, but were not included as although they were developed by independent studios they were published by Sony, Microsoft, and Square Enix respectively. Limbo, Inside, and The Messenger all came close to making this top 10 as well.
Let me know if I’ve missed your favourite!
By reader Drlowdon
The reader’s feature does not necessary represent the views of GameCentral or Metro.
You can submit your own 500 to 600-word reader feature at any time, which if used will be published in the next appropriate weekend slot. As always, email [email protected] and follow us on Twitter .
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