Every year Game Infinite does a big "End of Year" series of shoutouts and articles and this year is by far the biggest one yet. With the scope of Game Infinite reaching into over 70 GiFriends members and now three GI Channels, I thought it time to do a big end of year celebration. We are doing multiple GiFriends shoutouts for "Best of X", follower voting, and more. We are doing multiple industry game shoutouts and having our three channels do theme specific content such as best Apex Fan Art or Best Tomb Raider Cosplay. I am also doing at least three articles. The first will be this one, listing off the best indie games of 2019.
Now to eliminate bias, this is an industry indie games list, and anything made by GiFriends is promoted and covered separately in the GiFriends program. Being included in this list does not disqualify an indie developer from joining the GiFriends in the future as this is simply the games I enjoyed the most this year. Also I am defining the term "indie" loosely as a smaller budget game made by a smaller dev team. It is a growing practice for even small indie teams to get some help by smaller publishers, or even larger publishers like EA and Microsoft offering less direct help to small independent teams.
Except for Game Infinite's "Indie Game of the Year", I find the order of these games irrelevant as they are all amazing, in no necessary order, and all games I highly recommend playing. The fact that these works of art were made by small indie teams are super impressive, and I hope to have to chance to meet all of these talented creators some day. If there is a game missing or that I haven't had a chance to play personally, make sure to comment on social media which one you loved the most! Scroll to the end for our INDIE GAME OF THE YEAR!
Untitled Goose Game
I have seen exactly three games played by almost all my coworkers at my day job in the break room over the years. One was Breath of the Wild. The break room was filled in every seat playing that game; even people who didn't normally play games bought a switch because we were all playing Zelda. The second was Pokemon Go. Every one and their cousin would have it out on their break, go for a walk, or *gasp* sneak a few moments while working. The third is Untitled Goosegame. That is quite the company that game sits in. I have seen dozens of friends and peers honking and causing mayhem in the break room on their Switch, and when it came to Xbox on GamePass I had to try it. I now hate that I waited so long and wish I got it on the switch. This game is hilarious and fun and surprisingly filled with fun little puzzles to do along the way of terrorizing townsfolk. The premise of a cartoon game about a goose that goes around stealing things from townsfolk is the kind of beautiful 2am idea that somehow because a indie game sensation.
Bloodstained Ritual of the Night
I have never played a lot of older retro platforms including the castlevania games Bloodstained Ritual of the night is the spiritual successor too, but thanks to Game Pass I gave it a try and I was sucked in. The vampire-esque art style, fun combat, and fun environments that encourage you to keep exploring all make you want to keep playing. You play as "Miriam", an orphan cursed by an alchemist that slowly crystallizes her. Players get to battle through a castle and fight endless demons in order to save the world. Demon fighting is always a win in any game.
Spek is the kind of zen and beautiful games that reminds of the immortal greats such as Journey. This simple perspective based puzzle game is simple, challenging, and beautiful. What appears to be 2D at first shifts into 3D environment, but the perspective you are looking at can alter the path a "Spek" can take to reach winning destinations. It is simple, beautiful, elegant, relaxing, and a must play.
BoxBoy! + BoxGirl!
I don't want to admit how many hours I spent playing BoxBoy! + BoxGirl!. This game gave me MASSIVE "one more level" syndrome. The levels are quick enough where you will endlessly want to play "just one more" of them, but challenging enough (eventually, somewhat later into the game) to not make it too easy where it gets boring. It is perfectly balanced to make you want to keep playing. 2 minute levels somehow would eat hours of my time, and make work lunches fly like crazy. The fun beautiful 2D Black and White artstyle was also a zen relaxing break from all the flashy high octane HD chaos of many games I play regularly. Zen and good puzzles are two things I look for most in indie games and this hit both out of the park. Just when the game started to repeat slightly it introduced new puzzle mechanics and navigational elements to change things up. I definitely wore out my joy cons on this game and I suggest you do the same.
Read the full review.
Grip Combat Racing - (Game Infinite 2019 Best Racing Game winner)
When I was 7 years ago, one of my favorite childhood movie memories was going to see Star Wars Episode I the Phantom Menace in theaters. I remember not knowing what the words "phantom" or "menace" meant but I was sure excited because it was a new Star Wars movie! I of course loved the movie in no small part because it contained something my seven year old brain loved very much: Fast Insane Racing. To this day what matters most to me in racing games is SPEED. While yes, graphics and beautiful environments are great, I just want to go FAST. We can go outside for the most part and see beautiful visuals and amazing cars, but rarely do we actually get to experience high speed. For some reason, no one at EA seems to think that they should combine the obvious facts that they have access to the Star Wars brand (pod racing) and one of the greatest racing series and development teams (Need for Speed) together and give us a modern racer that makes me feel like I've had 3 Mt. Dews.
Ever since I attached actual rocket engines to my toy cars (how did I survive childhood?), the true real speed demons who made Grip Combat Racing have finally given me what I have wanted to experience since that 7 year old child first dreamed so - Rockets with wheels.
This is the fastest racing game I have ever played and it will make you feel like you do in fact need "Jedi reflexes" in order to play it. I recommend this game on no less than 1 Red Bull or 2 Mt Dew Kickstarts. Playing it gave me some of the most insane-flying-half-way-across-the-map-last-second finishes ever. As if the game wasn't fast enough there are even faster modes that focus on boosts over weapons. I described the game as "Dark Souls for Racing" because it will test your reaction skills and can be one of the hardest racers you've ever played and definitely one of the best.
Baba is You
Baba is you is one of the most unique platformers I have ever played. The simple retro art style is designed to lure you into a false sense of security. This game is hard, mind bending, and something I would have completely glossed over if not for a random recommendation from my coworker. This is the first and only game I have ever played where the gameplay mechanic is to actually change the rules of the game itself. It is hard to describe so make sure to watch the trailer. Baba is the name of the rabbit you start as but you move blocks with words around into sentences and it changes the rules by which the game operates. Wall is Stop changed to Wall is win means moving baba into the wall to win a level, but more so Wall is You can move the whole map to the winning flag. It is the kind of matrix-breaking puzzle platforming that will make you feel like The One.
What the Golf?
Golfing games are not just a dime a dozen they are a nickel a dozen and something many will skip past until you watch the trailer. I promise you, pause reading this and watch the trailer first so you can understand what I'm about to tell you. This is NOT another Golf game. It is an homage to the entire gaming industry in beautiful poetic golf form. Every level is different with different rules, different physics, different win scenarios, and sometimes even different art styles or different perspective. The game shifts from 2D, to 3D, to AR; from vertical to horizontal. It has levels that are designed to pay homage to gaming classics such as Portal, Mario, Angry Birds, Super Hot and many many more. If there was a "golfing" focused multiverse to jump around the cosmos it is "what the golf". I can't express enough how much you need to check out this game. It will only ask for a few minutes of its time but you will want to give it hours.
My Friend Pedro - (Game Infinite 2019 Best Art Style Winner)
Another game that gave me huge one more level syndrome was My Friend Pedro. I took this game with me on my summer vacay and enjoyed having it on the go with my switch. This game brought a massive amount of fun matrix inspired game play as you run and gun in slow-mo. I am very hard on 2D platforms in general and my rule is they have to offer something MORE just to pass. They have to kill it on art, gameplay, or story in order for them to appeal to me and My Friend Pedro slays it on all fronts. Plus it has a talking Banana so there's that.
Read our full review for My Friend Pedro Here.
Outerwilds - INDIE GAME OF THE YEAR 2019 WINNER
- GOTY 2019 Nominee
Outerwilds, (not to be confused with The Outer Worlds) is an space exploration game that came out of no where, literally showed up on my xbox and blew me away. I don't event remember buying the game, and was in my new installs, a gift from either my faulty memory or the Xbox gods. I played it not knowing much about the game, and I became infatuated with this pure work of art. The more I played the more I wanted to learn. I wanted to know ever secret hidden in the small solar system. The game has a beautiful art style, beautiful soundtrack, and a facisnating story. It was the first 10/10 we gave out for the year, and not only is it the best indie game of the year it is definitely an instant classic I will be mentioning, replaying, and recommending for years to come.
I remember reading titles like "a game we can't review because you must just play it" and it is trully difficult to describe without spoilers. Even for players that don't usually like space games or slower exploration games I tell them try it because it is such an incredible experience. The game offers up a mystery about the mini solar system you occupy very early into the game that throws a unique spin on how you must explore. It offers a mystery to solve that gives some purpose to your exploration. And while some exploration games can feel vast and empty, Outerwilds gives us a dense and quality experience with each planetary destination being not just incredibly creative but vastly different from each other. While you wake up on a forestry planet, you will soon discover an ocean planet, a black hole, a white hole, a gas giant, a ice comet, and EVEN stranger places. My childhood dream of flying a ship around the solar system exploring planets in a space suit was fulfilled in this game. As a physics nerd who enjoys a good conversation about space was thrilled by the floaty physics meant to mimic the realities of space travel so often ignored by science fiction like the fact that you have to put as much thrust into slowing down as you do to speed up in space. If you are not careful you might find yourself flying right past your destination.
While mindless exploration and a quiet zen nature of floating around is 10/10 amazing in this game, it takes it farther by making you want to solve the mystery presented early in game. If you want to read our full review check it on our reviews page, but I just highly suggest getting the game yourself and trying it.
Full Review Here.
For more End of 2019 celebration events and more gaming news make sure to stay tuned on Game Infinite and follow us on social media for the latest in all things gaming!