Januaries usually give a gaming website the chance to close the book on the previous year. With the industry catching their breath after the holiday season, our entire team can also unwind. This is also the time to plan for the future and take inventory of what we achieved so far.
Before we dive into an all new collection of indie games, we wanted to let you know of the ones that captivated us throughout the last 12 months. Instead of the usual listicles most outlets go with, though, we adopted a different approach.
We asked each of our writers to take a moment and think. From the list of indie games they played in 2017, they would only be allowed to pick one. Here’s what our girls and guys came up with!
Finding Paradise: Bring On The Feels – Amanda
Ever since I experienced the compelling and tear-jerker story of To the Moon, I have patiently waited for Freebird Games to bless my world with another magical adventure. As 2017 neared its end, the Steam community was finally gifted another story-driven adventure following the same dynamic duo that stole my heart – and many others’ – nearly six years ago.
Finding Paradise, starring the iconic Dr. Watts and Dr. Rosalene, threw me for a loop while simultaneously tugging at my heartstrings. The comical anecdotes and Dragon Ball Z references lighten the sometimes somber atmosphere, generating a wonderful experience once again. Not to mention, the characters are memorable and left a permanent mark on my heart.
If you’re searching for a game with a beautiful soundtrack and a story that makes you weep like a little girl, Finding Paradise (and its predecessor, To the Moon) are indubitably worth playing through. Grab your tissues, folks. My heart is still full of an abundance of emotions!
Old Man’s Journey: Mesmerizing Pocket Adventure – Elisa
I have to admit that choosing a favorite for this 2017 was not as easy as I figured it would be. Besides my first choice, I feel like this 2017 #1 indie hit Cuphead and the way less known psychology-based The Mind Of Marlo deserve a mention in the list. The former has been able to keep me playing for a long span of time, thing that hadn’t happened in quite a while; the latter just had me laughing through the whole gameplay, still touching subjects such as mental disorders in a really sensitive way. I advise you to check it out, seriously.
Back to Old Man’s Journey, it has certainly been one of the most acclaimed indie games of 2017: after finishing it in a couple days, I can see why. Focusing around a man’s expedition through which we’ll get to gather memories about his life and experiences, this non-verbal pocket gem really got me!
The game features an easy puzzle concept and an amazing art style, which I found very relaxing. I someway forgot some phone games’ tendency to stress out one tap after the other, simply enjoying an adventure towards breathtaking landscapes. Can’t hide I even shed some tears when I got to the end of the story!
Luna: I Love This Game To The Moon and Back! – Jodie
“So yes, I have already talked about this game. I reviewed Luna a little while back, but now is my chance to explain why I love it. Luna made me feel so relaxed and calm, something I do not get to feel often. I was introduced to a whole new experience from this game, an experience I still haven’t forgotten. Luna offered escapism in a way that doesn’t immerse you in another world but made you feel great in your own reality. Its serenity doesn’t end when the game ends. This, is why I love Luna!
In short I chose Luna as my indie game of 2017 because of how it made me feel. The game play was simple and the story a bit confusing. As a game it is average. What it offered to the player though was brilliant. Luna was the calm in the storm that is my life. From the stupid puzzles to bringing the little worlds to life every part of Luna was perfect.
Luna holds a special place to me and was a definitely needed game. It is so simple and sweet, what more could you want. It is so rare to get a new experience from a game which is why you have to try it. Luna is hard to describe as it is more a feeling than a game. I wholeheartedly recommend Luna to anybody that wants to relax!”
Aaero: Rhythm games FTW! – Ron
“I love rhythm games, but it’s understandably a genre that’s hard to stand out in. What grabbed me about Aaero is that just about everything has been approached in a different way. There are no arrows, no lanes and no cheering crowd.
What there is however is a sci-fi twin stick shooter combined with a heavily curated tracklist of dubstep greats. Aaero takes inspiration from the genre classic, Rez, but adds a lot of its own new elements. You guide your ship along a rail that matches the feel of the rhythm while dispatching enemies and bosses in the form of mechanical monstrosities.
The rail is something I couldn’t see working in a different musical genre, so I’m happy to see it explored here as a perfect match of the genre and feel as you grind along to the wavy synth sounds. What keeps me coming back to this indie game is a desire to improve and a song list that I love to blast out of my speakers.”
Darkwood: Even When I’m Asleep, I Can’t Stop Seeing This Game – Tom
“I usually like my games how I like my toilets; dank, grimy and clogged with despair. Darkwood catered to that and threw in a few brown trouser moments too. After spending the last few years embroiled among games like The Long Dark, 7 Days to Die, and The Forest, I felt like survival-sim games were getting stagnant.
Then Darkwood came along; it threw a little This War of Mine into the mix and hit my gaming needs. There were enough frantic screams and shouts that my neighbors probably thought I was filming a poorly shot adult film.
Let’s go through the usual checklist:
- Eerie story and soundtrack? Yep!
- Top down-spookathon? Yep again!
- An actual horror atmosphere that kept me engaged and also wishing to tear myself away? Why yes!
- Those simulation/crafting elements that have become my crutch? Of course!
- Will it make you want to watch John Carpenter’s The Thing? More than once!
These are some of the reasons why Darkwood made it as my game of 2017. It’s also why I need new trousers and my neighbors think shady things are happening around here. By all means, try it!”
Maddening Euphoria: Close Race With a Clear Winner – Alessandro
“Of the many indie games I played this year, only a handful left an impression. In hindsight, I sincerely wish I had more time to give each contestant a fair chance. Unfortunately, 2017 simply saw too many titles being released. Some of these are still on my computer, others are lost forever to the fogs of a busy schedule.
When the idea of each team member announcing the game they liked the most came to us, I started wondering what my pick was going to be. I eventually managed to single out two experiences that I thoroughly enjoyed. Lion Shield’s Kingdoms and Castles and Chequered Ink’s Maddening Euphoria both had me coming back for more on several occasions.
In the end, though, it was the latter that brought the cake home. Its relative simplicity, the steep learning curve, and the challenging gameplay kept me hooked to the screen. The colorful scenery, the amazing soundtrack, and the fact that it costs less than a buck pretty much seal the deal. Months after its release date, Maddening Euphoria is the only game that never left my hard drive. There’s a full article about it here if you want to know more!”
Rising Storm 2: Blood, Sweat, and Glory – Jacob
“For me, the indie game that rose to the top would be Tripwire’s Rising Storm 2. I really enjoyed the first Rising Storm so I figured I’d give this one a go too. A first-person shooter set in the Vietnam War, the game lets you play as a soldier fighting for either the Northern or the Southern Vietnam forces.
The South plays like a standard army: with lethal new weapons, shiny new vehicles, and new up to date ordinance support. Up in the North, the situation’s a bit different, and that’s because of necessity. They prefer guerrilla hit and run tactics, setting up advancing tunnels that are used for spawn points, and they must rely on stealth to avoid any pesky enemy helicopter fire.
There’s been many a time when my squad advanced under the cover of my smoke. Many a time we got down in artillery craters and peeked out for Charlie while the commanders radioed for a recon plane. It felt as if I were on the battlefield, right next to my comrades. An extremely exciting experience that I won’t forget so soon!”
Hollow Knight: I’m in love with this game; pure and simple! – Kory
“The second I started it up, I felt a connection with this indie game. From the wonderfully dark world and aesthetic, to the somehow frantic yet peaceful combat; everything I did and everywhere I went made me more and more entranced in it’s world.
What better people to inhabit this dark and dank world than a kingdom of bugs?
Characters feel alive, special, and in a way irreplaceable. In the same way, each area of this metroidvania-style universe can become almost like a well-known friend. Hollow Knight brings the wonder and horror of fantasy out in such a resonating manner that every area sticks out in my memory as something I won’t soon forget.
If it sounds like i’m just a waxing romantic, then take that as a sign of how much I love the game. The adventure expands and enlarges far past what you’d think it would, leading the player through a world I began to wish would never end. If you have any doubts about buying this game, take it from me: you won’t regret your purchase. I love this game with a passion, and hopefully you will too!”
Here you have the 8 games our team loved the most in 2017. Not an absolute chart, but rather a personal selection of titles!
Want to know more about the games we play? Check out The Indie Toaster’s video games archives!