Indie games are proving to be all the rage in today’s gaming world, with the heartbreak and disappointment that was given to us by major publishers during 2018 with games such as Fallout 76, NBA 2K19 and other Triple A Games (High budget, heavily anticipated and high price tag), the focus for a lot of gamers is to find games that don’t fit the mould.
Here at Power Up Coffee in Paisley, we’ve been finding some of the most fun ones available to play on Xbox One.
10: Bendy and The Ink Machine
Davey could talk about this game to you all day without any problems as he’s a huge animation fan, but this game is genuinely terrifying. Bendy And The Ink Machine (which we’re shortening to BATIM from this point forwards), is a survival horror game published by an indie development group called Kindly Beast and republished through Rooster Teeth to be able to port the game on to iOS, Android, PS4, PC and Xbox One.
You play as former animator by the name of Henry Stein as he revisits the abandoned studios he worked in decades ago by invitation of his former boss, Joey Drew. The game is part exploration, part tribute to Walt Disney and the golden era of animation and part Outlast with genuine, blood-curdling screams never far away.
Trust our resident “Prince Of Darkness” to love this game, but to be fair, hearing him scream on whilst playing on our for-hire Xbox Ones is one of the funniest things to happen in our shop on a regular basis.
9. Supermarket Shriek
For people of a certain age, we remember a TV show with Dale Winton called Supermarket Sweep. This little game (both on price tag and storage space) is a parody and also one of the most funny-yet-frustrating Co-op games we currently have on the Xbox Ones here at Power Up Coffee.
Published by Billy Goat Entertainment, this game really is the best of British satirical humour disguised as a video game. Set in a post-Brexit UK, Supermarket Sweep is about a man and a goat in a shopping trolley as they navigate various races and obstacle courses with hilarity along the way.
It’s also very generous with achievements and Gamerscore, which is encouraging for (let’s be honest here, everyone) those who get frustrated, and you can’t play this game without a great big cheesy smile on your face.
From one game that is inadvertently frustrating to one that is liable to make your controller fly (although please don’t do that at Power Up Coffee in Paisley!), Cuphead is a mixture of several tributes at once.
The artwork is reminiscent of that in early Disney cartoons and old Betty Boop cartoons, whilst the gameplay is some of the hardest that we’ve ever come across. Seriously, this game beats Dark Souls in terms of difficulty settings and unlike Bloodborne or Doom, this little indie game doesn’t give up with the ramping difficulty curve ever.
It’s even made Invisible Joe lose his temper on several occasions. The only downside to this game is the fact that to complete this game, the same tricks have to employed in increasing frequency and speed, but that’s an oversight for a game developed by six Canadians in their friend’s garage.
Well worth a buy and playthrough, but expect to swear in frustration to the extent that it would make Frankie Boyle blush.
7. The Gardens Between
From one downright terrifying game and two that will make a nun ape Frankie Boyle with her language, we came across something different with The Gardens Between. This one is child-friendly, not that difficult, puzzle-based but is more of a visual feast than a video game.
In The Gardens Between, you play as two kids trying to make their way across a Narnia-esque world with 20 puzzles with increasing difficulty. However, for those who don’t appreciate steep difficulty curves: dont worry. This is a game for you.
One of the people who regularly hires out one of Xbox Ones for an hour or so a day is a dementia nurse in her 50s, and we’ll finish this particular entry with what she thinks about this game: “I like this game because it’s a game that makes you think, while being accessible for everyone. It’s also nice to see a game made by a smaller group that’s appropriate for kids while appealing to adults as well”.
Below is three things at once: An action/adventure game that has some absolutely stunning visuals, a tribute to other games in the “monochrome survival” sub-genre, and one of the most brutally difficult video games in existence.
It was developed by Capybara Games, who have 22 employees in Canada, on a very small budget, and was due to be published back in 2016, but was paused indefinitely due to the publishers and Microsoft (who published the game) agreeing that the game needed to be revisited and, according to Capybara Games themselves, “polished up”.
It was finally released in December 2018, to very little fanfare, but we genuinely love this game. In this game, your character explores a remote island, trying survive while fighting creatures. The game punishes impulsiveness and recklessness while rewarding engaging in strategic combat and patience.
It also features Davey’s worst nightmare in gaming: Permadeath. That’s right, if you get killed in Below, it’s Game Over and you have to start from the very beginning again. Surprisingly, the only person that really got on with this game was Invisible Joe, but the rest of us admired the game’s aesthetics (when our eyes were open and we were not crying with rage).
5. Donut County
Cross a racoon, Flappy Bird, and Bruce Springsteen and what you get is this absolute gem of an indie game, where your job is to control a hole that increases in size to swallow up objects through a series of increasingly difficult puzzles, and whilst this one is challenging, don’t worry gamers, this game is no Cuphead.
It’s child-friendly, funny at parts, and has clear influences from games such as Frogger, Flappy Bird and Snake. The artwork and score in this game are masterful as well, as the music variates with the speed in which you complete the puzzles, so as long as you’re not as reckless as our resident “prince of darkness” (Davey), you should be alright.
The way in which you view how difficult the game is says as much about your gaming style as it says about the game, which has made this a favourite among us.
4. We Happy Few
We recently got Davey to write a review of this one, as we witnessed him pour nearly two days’ worth of playing this at Power Up Coffee in Paisley. We agree with him. This game is frankly, brilliant.
The visuals are absolutely superb both when your character is high on Joy and when they’re not. The original score used to soundtrack this game is absolutely phenomenal with a fully immersive, yet overbearing tone. The gameplay is unique, to say the least, with three characters (complete with skill trees) with different sets of skills.
The game also has a brilliant gameplay mechanic where by simply choosing for your character to take Joy makes the game drop in difficulty to help you get past certain parts of the game, but what really makes this game stand out is the lore:
It’s Soylent Green, 1984, Brave New World and The Handmaid’s Tale all rolled into one drugged-up, 1960’s-esque English nightmare.
Sorry Xbox fans, this one is only available on PS4 and PC, but we’ve enjoyed playing this game nonetheless. It’s strange for any studio, regardless of funding or background to repeatedly get brilliant games developed, but the guys at SuperGiant Games managed it by releasing Pyre back in 2017, straight off the back of developing Transistor.
This game is a mash-up of Skyrim, Fallout and (most interestingly) Rocket League, and has a real, high-fantasy setting, but don’t let that put you off. Through playing video games, we get escapism, whether it’s being the world’s best sports player, the lone survivor in a post-nuclear-apocalypse United States of America or being the superhero you’ve always wanted to be.
This game does the same in this respect, as you lead a party of people through a series of sports game with increasing difficulty, as you’re made to make difficult choices to ensure the survival of your party of survivors. It also has a great multiplayer mode, and to buy this game won’t break the bank.
2. TellTale Games’ Jurassic Park
Does a TellTale Game really count as an Indie Game? We’d argue yes, as even though they have bigger budgets than most indie (independent) production studios, they’re still smaller games that are really more like interactive movies.
Saying that, this one has caught the attention of all of us here at What Happens In Gaming, with Davey in particular. The game is set in the aftermath of the events of the first film, where you control several characters in a mission to assess what actually happened at John Hammond’s doomed park, what or if anything can be recovered, and what happened to the can of shaving cream full of dinosaur embryos stolen by Wayne Knight’s character Dennis Nedry.
Isla Nublar is beautifully rendered, with the ruins of the iconic visitor centre being a particular highlight. We see an injured T-Rex from the events of the first film, and the remains of Dennis Nedry is a spectacular, if not disgusting visual delight.
Throughout this game, you’re faced with binary choices that determine what happens at the end (as is TellTale’s noticeable style), but the great thing about this game is the concept: This game provides a perfect sequel for the original film, and although The Lost World was absolutely superb, this film’s concept should be made into a film eventually.
The voice acting is incredible, and best, of all, the game uses John Williams’ original score. There are also hints at the Jurassic World series as well, which is weird to see, because at the time of development, Jurassic World hadn’t even been written as a treatment.
1. Steamworld Dig 2
How many of you, our lovely readers, like The Elder Scrolls Series? If that’s you, but you don’t want to pay through the nose for all the expansions and online packages, then this game is a very viable alternative for your wallet to not get whacked as much.
This game isn’t 3D like The Elder Scrolls, but is just as immersive. In this game, you play a robot by the name of Dorothy, searching for her friend, Rusty, who was the protagonist in the previous game. You explore multiple locations as you search for your robotic friend, picking up certain boosts and upgrades along the way, and the great thing about this game is despite the concepts, there are no micro-transactions!
It really is fun for all the family, as this game is available on all platforms, without having any problems with cross-play servers, and has one of the best soundtracks in an indie game that we have heard in a long while (save for the previous entry, but that’s just nostalgia based).
There are plenty of references to different parts of pop-culture, with the most frequent ones being Through The Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll, and more noticeably, The Wizard of Ozfilm released in 1939. However, with a deeper look, there’s also references to Michael Crichton’s works and Blade Runner.
Did you enjoy our little list? We certainly hope so, and don’t forget, if you want to play on most of these games, but can’t afford to buy them at home for yourself, you can always come and visit our shop, Power Up Coffee, based in Paisley, Scotland. We also do cracking coffee, and are happy to talk to you about video games at any time.
The What Happens In Gaming Team