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A Look Back at 2012: Best Indie Game

The PC indie game market continues to be populated with amazing games either by word of mouth or expectations by a certain developer. Entertainment Fuse shares their picks for the best indie games that came out this year.

Steve Smith - Hotline Miami

I was a bit skeptical about Hotline Miami when it first came out. First of all, I’m not really a PC guy, and my laptop has barely enough power to run Minesweeper. On a whim, I downloaded Steam and picked up Hotline Miami. Best $7.50 I’ve ever spent. Hotline Miami is an over-the-top, ultra violent, top down shooter that is so insane that I won’t even talk about the story. Just know that you run around shooting, stabbing, bludgeoning and beating, wearing a variety of animal masks, all while techno bumps through your speakers. Yes, it’s insane and yes, it’s amazing.

Christopher Puenner - Orcs Must Die! 2

Best Indie Game is a fun award because it gives us the chance to really point out and applaud excellence of design in innovative games that really deserve the attention. Robot Entertainment released Orcs Must Die! 2 and proved, once again, that even indie games can compete with AAA titles. As far as tower defense games go, this game is arguably one of the best examples that the genre offers. From creative traps to entertaining creature design, no sacrifice is made regardless of budget limitations.

Orcs Must Die! 2 is not only fun, but it is also creative in more ways than one. However, that isn't why I think it deserves recognition. This game is excellent because it is a successful sequel which is a new bookmark in the world of indie games. We officially live in a world where a stand alone company can be so profitable that they are encouraged to produce another game. The consumers have done good by this game and this game has done good by its players.

Rick Wawrzyszuk - Botanicula

While many in the indie category beat the dead horse of action platforming, or aim their gaze towards ideas too great to be achieved with their limited budget (I mean these are independent games after all), some games find beauty in simplicity. Botanicula is one of these games. While Botanicula may not be a goliath of difficulty, it provides such a fun atmosphere that I couldn’t help but love every moment of the gameplay. By using point-and-click mechanics, the creativity of Botanicula is freed up, and it is clear there was nothing wasted to making this game as unique as possible. The art style is beautiful and unlike anything I’ve seen before in a game. The music is incredibly well done, and instantly got me hooked into what the game could bring me. Above all, Amanita Design’s game should be applauded for its element combination. Many games have good soundtracks, or good controls, but this game combines them all into a wonderfully simple, yet entertaining package.  Botanicula was released in April, yet still remains one of my favorite gaming experiences to date.

Kyle Enz - Hotline Miami

This is probably the hardest category for me to make a decision in because there were so many great indie games this year and they almost overshadow some of the bigger retail releases. However, after narrowing it down between two candidates, one game took a slight edge over the other, and still sticks with me, and that is Hotline Miami. This stunning, horrifically violent 8-bit masterpiece was released only in October 2012, but to this date has sold 130,000 copies, which is a pretty big deal for an indie game off of Steam. From the puzzle-like approach to level design, to the amazingly haunting soundtrack, Hotline Miami proved to me that a top-down 8-Bit game can take me away from almost anything, even a bigger retail release. That's the true test of a really great game.

Aaron Robeson - The Legend of Grimrock

There are a few indie games that come to mind, but one game I can't put down for the life of me. Legend of Grimrock is a fantastic bit of D&D nostalgia with an simple exterior with complex inner workings. You have to assemble and customize your four party members to best suit your playstyle. The learning curve for this game is excellent, with enemies starting out very simple in one on one combat and puzzles that simply require you to hit a button, sometimes hidden sometimes in plain sight, on a wall. The game however gets much more difficult as you play the game and the dream sequences adds a deep immersion for the player. You can design your own dungeon as well as try out other player created dungeons. For the price you pay, you get more than your money's worth with Legend of Grimrock.

Paul Lawford - DayZ

My pick for best indie game of the year goes to DayZ. Well, I know its more of an "add-on" that sits on top of a previous game, but there is a standalone penned in for early 2013. Adding a skin over top popular combat game Arma III, DayZ adds a zombie apocalypse twist where the player must survive the savage surroundings of a torn apart region of Russia where the encounters can be epic between zombies and even other players. The game, which is still in Alpha, has been downloaded over 1.3 million times, has 4000 active servers since its release, and 300,000 downloads in the first two months of its inception. Quite a success story. Well I haven't been able to take my hands off it and I find myself playing for hours without realising it. Something so simple has become so effective. I really hope the standalone makes the game even better because this title has taken 2012 by storm. 


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