Bigger is Not Always Better

At least it’s not in the gaming world! In the gaming industry, there are large companies that produce AAA games (Call of Duty, Fortnite, Assassin’s Creed, Halo, etc.) and there are smaller companies that develop indie games. An indie game is a video game that typically comes from a smaller studio and does not have the financial backing of a publisher. Because these small indie games are trying to compete in the large gaming industry, the titles are often unique, innovative, and rely heavily on their own marketing and digital release of their games.

With the gaming industry constantly growing, indie games have exploded in popularity and for good reason. You don’t have to have millions of dollars to make an outstanding video game, you just need a good story, good gameplay, and great people working on it!

Here are some of my favorite indie games in the past few years:

Cuphead v2

Cuphead was one of my most anticipated games ever since it was announced at E3 in 2015 and it ended up being one of my favorite titles from last year when it released on September 29, 2017. It is an old-timey, 1930s cartoon-styled, challenging, platformer game. Cuphead and Mugman gambled at the Devil’s casino and lost; now you have to go collect the souls of those who wronged the devil. What I loved most about this game was the challenge of how difficult it was and the soundtrack. The music in this game is incredible! The story behind this game is also inspiring! The co-founders of Studio MDHR (the developer) actually mortgaged their houses so that they could have enough money to finish the game. This ended up paying off in a big way as the game sold 1 MILLION copies in the first 2 weeks of its release and as of August 2018, over 3 million copies!! Due to the overall success of Cuphead (including numerous awards), the delicious last course (DLC) was announced to release some time in 2019.

Yoku's Island Express

Yoku’s Island Express released on May 29, 2018 and flew under my radar for awhile. One day I happened to be browsing the “games I may like” on my Nintendo Switch and this game was suggested to me. The algorithm was spot on, because this game was as fun as it was cute. Yoku’s Island Express is a platformer/pinball hybrid game where you play as a little dung beetle (Yoku) and deliver mail across a vast island. As you start your new role as the postmaster you uncover an evil plot of the godslayer who is trying to kill the island deity and take its power, so you must stop him! This plot and the setting reminded me a lot of something Disney would write. The game received many great reviews and although short (around 6-8 hours for completion) was definitely worth a play through and was a lot of fun.

Valiant Hearts v2

Valiant Hearts is hard to classify as either a AAA game or an indie game. It released on June 24, 2014 by a small team from Ubisoft Montpellier. This game is truly something special in my eyes. The game is considered a puzzle, adventure game that follows people who fought in World War I. I liked this game for a few reasons, I learned things about WWI, the game used real pictures and excerpts from WWI cameras and journals, and the game was very emotional. It gave me more of a sense of reality of what really went on in such a brutal war. I highly recommend this if you are into history and don’t mind tearing up a bit…especially in the last act of the game.

Overcooked 2

Overcooked 2 started co-op mayhem on August 7, 2018. I only really knew about this game, because my best friend, Bryon, kept talking about it. This game is a silly, cartoon-style, cooking simulator where you have to work with 1-3 other people to prep orders and get them out to the customer as fast as you can. So think the old game, Diner Dash, on steroids and you have to cooperatively work together with other people to get the job done. Of course, it’s not that simple as there are new recipes to master, the kitchen can rotate at a moment’s notice, fires can start, and other crazy obstacles get in your way of being a master chef. Bryon and I have played this game together just about every day since we bought it and it is the ultimate friendship test to be sure! So roll up your sleeves, grab someone you trust, and get to cooking!

There are many other indie games I’ve played and enjoyed over the years and I look forward to new studios and the indie games they make each year. Some of the next indie titles I’m going to play are Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, Moonlighter, and Undertale. I expect you’ll be hearing about these games in future blog posts as they are some highly-rated games with amazing stories to be told.

Is there any indie games you love to play? Any suggestions for me on titles I shouldn’t miss out on?

“Yer skills be like me buried treasure…just a myth.” Captain Brineybeard, Cuphead, 2017

9 thoughts on “Bigger is Not Always Better

  1. Here’s one I tried on a whim. Agatha Knife. I don’t usually go for point-and-click, but with the game being about a little girl making a religion around butchering anmials, I had to know. Also, Nintendo suggested it to me on the Switch.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great read. I think the video game industry is starting to mirror the movie industry more and more. While the big budget Hollywood blockbusters continue to steal the majority of peoples attention, there is still room for the smaller idependant filmmakers to craft thier narratives on a much smaller scale. A major difference is that you can get both types of videogames in the same place (no need for an arthouse console), and you can purchase Dead Cells from the exact same place as you can purchase Spiderman. I think this accessibility factor makes for a much friendlier environment for indie developers.

    My top indie picks:

    Axiom Verge: a brilliant Metroidvania style game by Thomas Happ. A true homage to the original Metroid, this is the game Gunpei Yokoi would have made if the NES had a modern controller.

    Mercenary Kings: The good people at Tribute take the Monster Hunter formula and apply it to a 2D sidecrolling action title that oozes personality. It was a PS+ title a few years ago, so you may already have it if you do the responsible thing and add every free PS+ game to your account each month.

    Risk of Rain: a sidescrolling (I guess all thee of my picks are sidescrollers…huh) roguelike in a sci-fi setting by Hopoo games. As time passes the difficulty increases, so you have to weigh the benefit of searching out more power-ups against the constantly increasing difficulty level.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! You have some great points! I completely agree with you that accessibility makes a big difference. I feel that the gaming industry also mimics the movie industry in terms of big companies focusing on long-running series and remakes and the smaller companies trying to make a name for themselves so they think and produce stuff outside the box.

      As far as the titles you listed, I know I have heard about Axiom Verge in the past, I’m pretty sure it was on PC first (but I could be wrong). I am 90% positive that I did indeed download Mercenary Kings at one point or another. And lastly, I cannot say I have hear of Risk of Rain, but I am a SUCKER for side-scrolling, especially platformers.

      Thanks for your input Haku(Adam)!!


  3. It is as if we both understand the videogame industry for some reason >.<

    I would be interested to know what you think of Undertale. Earthbound is one of my favorite games of all time, so I was very eager to play it. I purchased it on STEAM, but I just don’t play games on PC. When it was announced for PS4/Vita I preordered the PS4 collector’s edition from Fangamer. It ended up getting delayed forever and ended up buying and playing on Vita. Maybe I just built it up too much over the two years, but I found it pretty underwhelming; and you know me and the kind of games I like. Undertale goes in the pile of things I don’t like but should with Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Game of Thrones.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Luckily, I’ll be going into Undertale relatively blind, but I know some about the choices you can make. It just released for the Switch and I thought it would be a perfect pick-up and play game. I’ll let you know when I get to it, but first I have to get an A on this marketing research test tomorrow 🙂


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