We put together this list of indie video games that are $20 or less, easy to download, and a worthwhile escape from these dark days.
The Stanley Parable ($15, Steam)
One of the best, if not the best, indie game ever. The concept is simple on the face of it. You’re Stanley. You work in an office. One day, you stand up from your desk and realize the office is completely empty. A charming English voice narrates. Things get a bit more interesting when you reach a room with two doorways, and the narrator says, “When Stanley came to a set of two open doors, he entered the door on his left.” But you’re in control of the game … aren’t you? What happens if you go through the door on the right? Your choices spiral from there in a mind-bending, hilarious adventure that comments on video games, the nature of freedom and the meaning of free will.
If you like this, also try The Beginners Guide.
Journey ($15, PS4)
If you’re looking for peace and relaxation, Journey’s the game for you. This game racked up awards when it was first released for good reason. You play as a human-esque avatar traversing a beautiful desert filled with strange ruins. You are heading toward a distant mountaintop and the light at its peak. Your journey will send you climbing, sliding and flying across this mysterious landscape, all accompanied by one of the most immersive soundtracks in video game history.
If you like this, also try Sky: Children of the Light
This side scrolling adventure game follows a boy through a dark and twisted factory. He’s on the run from something – men with masks and pursuing guard dogs – but the reasons why are unclear. Guide his escape through clever puzzle and platforming gameplay with a menacing and entrancing atmosphere. The game’s dialogue-free and dreamlike storytelling serves to heighten the shocking narrative that unfolds.
If you like this, also try Limbo
On more melancholy days, sitting alone in a National Parks watchtower, watching the trees for signs of smoke with a warm mug of coffee in hand sounds like the ideal job. This game drops you in the boots of Henry, a middle-aged man who just took that job. You’ll spend your time traversing the forest, radioing with your boss, and eventually falling into a strange mystery unfolding in the woods around you. I won’t say anymore to spoil the meat of the story, but I will say that the aforementioned story meat is indeed impressive … like fancy salami-quality story meat not some cheap ham.
If you like this, also try Gone Home
This game feels a bit like a wide-ranging and ambitious novel brought to interactive life. The Finch family is reminiscent of the precocious Glass children from JD Salinger’s short stories and novellas, each one with their own unique characteristics and quirks. You follow Edith into the old Finch household in search of answers about the family curse – the fact that they all die in bizarre and dramatically unlikely ways. Experiencing each family member’s story is a thought-provoking delight.
If you like this, also try The Unfinished Swan