WHAT an indie game is, is still up for debate as huge independent studios, like Platinum Games, can still carry the title.
For our best indies list we’ve decided to choose games made by very small teams, even down to games made by a single person.
This year has been a great one for indies, with most of Xbox’s success this year coming from smaller games.
Here are our favourite indies of 2022.
It’s hard to believe a puzzle game of such depth and scope was developed by just one person, but it was.
Tunic combined difficult combat with tricky puzzle-solving, where all the tools you needed to complete it were right there from the beginning.
Both the music and dialogue are in an unknown language which you decipher through a hidden in game manual.
Game design at this level will be studied for years to come.
Citizen Sleeper is a surreal intergalactic adventure filled with impactful choices to make.
In a year packed with big-budget triple-A titles, Citizen Sleeper slowed things down and gave us room to breathe.
The game’s story satirises this, as its world is learning to heal from an era of capitalist excesses.
Citizen Sleeper’s influence on how you think about games cannot be understated.
Norco is another intimate adventure, where we see a side of the American South not often shown in games.
This makes it a refreshing experience unlike others you find in even the indie games that surround it.
It’s also disturbing yet dreamy, with interesting puzzles to solve between story beats.
This is one you’ll enjoy if you don’t have an issue in dealing with the bizarre.
Vampire Survivors launched in a very unassuming way, and suddenly everyone couldn’t stop playing.
As a rogue-like, it’s ideal in short bursts, and it’s available on Xbox Game Pass making it easy to pick up.
All you need to do is move your character around the map and pick up items. They will shoot down the invading hordes of vampires all on their own.
The simplicity of Vampire Survivors is what will drive you to do just one more round.
Signalis was another game that surprised us, as on the surface, it looks like any other Silent Hill-inspired horror game.
We were intrigued as it felt like a tribute to an era we thought was long gone.
But beyond this, though, there is something much deeper at play that we won’t spoil.
Needless to say, it is a game you have to play for yourself to find out why it’s so fantastic.
Cult of the Lamb
Cult of the Lamb blends the dungeon-crawling aspects of Hades, with the life sim of Animal Crossing, and we loved it for it.
As the head of a ruthless cult, you can implement rules that lead to sacrifices in order to help the herd survive.
It has a gruesome sense of humour, and exploitable systems that are fun to manage.
Lots of replayability as you choose between mercy and power.
Neon White is from Ben Esposito, known for Donut County and What Remains of Edith Finch.
With such good calibre behind him, he managed to get Neon White greenlit despite its complex premise.
A mix of speedrun, shooting, deck-builder and dating-sim it’s hard to put it in one box.
Another that you have to play to find out just how good it is.
Sam Barlow brought us Her Story and Telling Lies, which shows you why his next FMV project Immortality was such a hit.
You watch behind-the-scenes footage from an “unreleased” film to find out just what went wrong.
As you fill in the gaps yourself, you feel a kind of power in piecing the grand puzzle together.
It requires patience, particularly from those into action games, but the payoff is worth it.
Nominated for Game of the Year, and winning many other categories at The Game Awards, Stray stood shoulder to shoulder with a number of triple-A titles.
It was the big day one release for PlayStation Plus, and ruffled feathers by being a PlayStation console exclusive.
What really struck a chord with fans is that you play as a cat. And who doesn’t love that.
It may be some basic platforming, but the interesting character and cyberpunk world did enough to make it stand out.
Sifu takes the brawler formula and turns it on its head.
Every time you die, you age, upping your defences but reducing or offensive power.
This can make things challenging, particularly for new players, but also gives it a lot of strategy and replayability.
The health you need to keep hold of to stand a chance against the boss, makes it a particularly strong title.
Written by Paolo Sirio and Georgina Young on behalf of GLHF.
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