2017 has been a phenomenal year for gaming–there’s no doubt about that. But AAA games like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Horizon: Zero Dawn weren’t the only big hits of the year. Several indie games had great reception from critics and audiences alike, and some even won big at the Game Awards 2017.
The indie games this year truly showcased what smaller studios are truly capable of, even in a year packed full of larger titles. So, without further ado, here are Game Rant’s Top 5 Indie Games of 2017.
It’s no surprise the Cuphead would make the list of best Indie Games this year. Developed by StudioMDHR, Cuphead is a love letter to challenging boss fights, drawn in the style of rubber hose cartoons of the 30’s.
The game was hand drawn with impeccable attention to detail, and the effort put into the animation really shows. Cuphead won Best Visual Design at the 2017 Game Awards, and it was a well-deserved win. It also won Best Indie Game and Best Debut Indie Game at the Game Awards as well.
Each boss fight in the game is unique and challenging, forcing players to adapt to new strategies and styles when working their way through the game. Cuphead is a challenging, yet rewarding experience, with an art style that is awe-inspiring.
Cuphead is available for PC and Xbox One.
Perhaps one of the most surprising hits of the year is What Remains of Edith Finch. The game, developed by Giant Sparrow, is an adventure title where players travel through the home of the Finches to learn the history of America’s most unfortunate family.
The house is full of puzzles and clues that help the player unravel the mystery of what happened to the Finches. What Remains of Edith Finch delivers a heart wrenching story about a family that the player almost feels a part of by the end. Each member of the family has their moment in the spotlight that does each of their stories justice, and delivers an emotional payload that is unlike any other game out there.
What Remains of Edith Finch is available for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.
Supergiant Games, the developer of Bastion and Transistor, brings yet another great game to their lineup. Pyre takes basketball and tosses it right into the middle of a fantasy setting, but with some tweaks and changes that make it interesting and incredibly fun to play.
Pyre feels truly new, which is really saying something. The world that Supergiant built is full of unique and fascinating characters. The choices that the player makes have an impact on the game and how the characters interact with the player and one another, like having a character shave their mustache and change the character design for the remainder of the game. Pyre is unlike anything else out there and is highly worth picking up, but don’t expect it to be anything like Supergiant’s previous games.
Pyre is available for PC and PlayStation 4.
Next on the list is Divinity: Original Sin 2, a game which was 100% crowdfunded, and is in the minority of games to be crowdfunded that go on to be huge successes. Divinity: Original Sin 2 takes a page out of the Dungeons & Dragons handbook, and makes a massively interactive RPG that gives players huge amounts of freedom with how they want to tackle their adventures.
Speaking of Dungeons & Dragons, Divinity: Original Sin 2 also features Game Master Mode, which allows players to create their own adventures and have others play it. The Game Master runs the game while others try to tackle the adventure that has been put before them, very much channeling the D&D inspiration.
Divinity: Original Sin 2 creates a rich and immensely interactive world that draws from the best parts of pen and paper role playing games, giving a sense of freedom that is so often lacking in most games. This cements Divinity: Original Sin 2 as one of the best RPGs of all time.
Divinity: Original Sin 2 is available for PC.
Developed by Australian studio Team Cherry, Hollow Knight takes players back to the classic Metroidvania style of games that many have come to love. This 2D platformer brings fun and engaging combat with a story just ambiguous enough to keep the player questioning the entire time, while also experiencing breathtaking art. The art design for Hollow Knight is something out of a storybook, if that book was designed by Tim Burton. The characters and creatures one encounters are adorable, yet slightly off-putting.
In a game where most of the story is told through the environment, Hollow Knight does a fantastic job. The environments are complex and puzzling at times, forcing the player to try to navigate the labyrinthian catacombs of a buried city to unfold the stories buried within it. Hollow Knight delivers a beautiful and serene experience with a complex and interesting narrative, all captured through phenomenal artwork that is truly unique.
Hollow Knight is available for Mac and PC, and launches for Switch in 2018.
Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice does something that not many video games have accomplished, by putting the player in the shoes of someone fighting psychosis. Ninja Theory’s brutal third-person RPG combines Norse mythology with a combat system that is both challenging and brutally punishing.
The game is, first and foremost, a deep dive into what it means to suffer from psychosis, a feat worthy of the Games for Impact award at the Game Awards 2017. The team at Ninja Theory exposed the player to brutal hallucinations, both auditory and visual, to really capture what these symptoms of psychosis truly feel like. Playing with headphones is a must, for when the voices start whispering in your head, it is one of the most maddening and powerful experiences that a video game can provide.
Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice is available on PC and PlayStation 4.
The Sexy Brutale is the perfect cross of Clue and Groundhog Day, allowing the player to unravel a series of murders in the titular casino, all of which happen in the span of one day. The player can reset the day at any point, allowing for quick exploration to put the pieces together to stop the different murders happening at the Brutale. The trick of the game is that you cannot be in the same room as anyone else, and must rely on peeping through doors or hiding in closets to gather information.
The music and art design for the game is phenomenal, and the story keeps the player guessing until the last minute. Make sure to pick up The Sexy Brutale on PC, for the console ports suffer from some performance issues that may get in the way of thoroughly enjoying the game.
The Sexy Brutale is available for PC, PlayStation 4, Switch, and Xbox One.
Whatever one’s favorite gaming genre is, 2017’s indie scene had something for almost everyone, be it platformer, action-adventure, or RPG. So, while 2017 comes to a close, we can not only celebrate all of the great indie games that came out this year, but we can also look forward to plenty of exciting indie titles to come in 2018.