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Top Indie Games You Wouldn't Mind Paying For 116

Alan Skorkin writes "If you are sick of the boring and overpriced commercial games, then have a look at this list. These are some of the best indie games out there — innovative, immersive, great gameplay and very reasonably priced (some are even free). You would never feel cheated after buying and playing these games. In fact, you would feel like you got the better end of the deal, and that is a lot more than can be said for the vast majority of commercial games out there."
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Top Indie Games You Wouldn't Mind Paying For

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  • by cliffski ( 65094 ) on Tuesday August 19, 2008 @11:12AM (#24658973) Homepage

    I was seriously impressed with the combat on horseback. When I tried the game, the rest of it was a bit of a clear work-in-progress (that may have changed now), but I've never seen horseback combat done as well as that.

    • by Sadsfae ( 242195 )

      let's have more articles like this, a refreshing break from the ordinary IT/sience/random_tech articles that seem to dominate offerings.

      • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

        We've had several articles and ask slashdots about indie games where everyone starts listing their favorites. We don't need to encourage money-grubbing people like this article submitter to continue deluging us with their blog "articles" of "top X" lists to make advertising money.
    • Heavily seconded (Score:3, Informative)

      by ODiV ( 51631 )

      I have burned so much time in Mount & Blade.

      It's such a great sandbox rpg game. There are so many ways to play, without even getting into the mods available. Also, this is a great time to start playing since the game is in its final beta stages.

      In the new version, the start is fairly difficult. I'd recommend spending the first few levels participating in the melees in the city arenas and training in the training grounds.

      With all the great indie games out these days, I don't know why I occasionally buy r

      • I noticed on the Amazon website that Mount And Blade was getting a retail release and should be out mid Spetember so I pre-ordered. I played the demo years back but have never been that comfortable paying for stuff off miscellaneous websites so never registered the full product.
    • Mount and blade is a tremendous game. I got onboard about a year and a half ago, the game was lots of fun then, and has progressed by leaps and bounds since.

      And yes, horseback combat = win (Especially if you have a lance)

      • What blows me away about the game is that you have realistic alternatives for combat and they're all fun.

        So far, I've played:
        - horse archer on fast horse with two stacks of arrows who rides around shooting people in the face.
        - super fast guy on foot who specializes in axes both thrown and wielded.
        - traditional knight on warhorse with a lance, sword, shield, and a couple javelins.
        - asshole commander who sits on the hill and yells at his troops. (okay, not quite as fun)

        Lately I've got a lancer/archer hybrid.

        • Lately I've favored a crossbow and a sword & shield combo. A good crossbow is lots of fun for distance shooting and is strong enough that in the beginning you won't just get swarmed and beaten up if you're a half decent shot (unlike say, the bow)

  • Worth checking out (Score:5, Informative)

    by Endo13 ( 1000782 ) on Tuesday August 19, 2008 @11:18AM (#24659049)

    I haven't played most of the games on the list, however I have played Mount and Blade. And it really is a great game. The graphics are a bit dated, but the gameplay is fantastic. It has easily the best melee combat I've ever played. (It puts Oblivion to shame in that regard.) I downloaded and tried the demo, and it wasn't long before I purchased a serial for it.

    For folks who want a bit more detail, the melee combat system works thus: you control the direction of every swing as well as block, by how you move your mouse when you start the swing or block (but there are other options you can choose from, if that doesn't suit your style). The same works when fighting on horseback, and when you're using a pole-arm on horseback you can couch it and run enemies through with it for massive damage. Also, if you run over foot soldiers with your horse, they get knocked down and take damage.

    • by Narpak ( 961733 )
      Mount&Blade looks like a great concept, especially since they open up so much for mod makers. Now that they have been picked up by Paradox I am sure the attention dealt this game will only increase. If it generates enough interest I am sure we will quickly see updated versions of this game. Just hope one of those runs on Linux :P
    • by antdude ( 79039 )

      I tried the tutorial and started my warrior training. It's nice. Graphics are indeed outdated, but who cares.

  • by Silverlancer ( 786390 ) on Tuesday August 19, 2008 @11:21AM (#24659089)
    An entire series [] of rather graphically and musically impressive shooters--all made by a single programmer in his spare time. They're a hell of a lot of fun to play, and their difficult ranges from mildly challenging [] to rather crazy [] to utterly nightmarish [].
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Hatta ( 162192 )

      It's worth pointing out that Touhou 6 - Touhou 10 all work very well in Wine [].

    • by KDR_11k ( 778916 )

      I bought Scarlet Weather Rhapsody (10.5, the second fighting game spinoff) recently, definitely a lot of fun (at least in singleplayer, the story mode is much better than the SP modes of other fighting games since it uses megaman-esque boss battles instead of plain fights or stat-boosted regular fights).

    • by Hatta ( 162192 )

      That was supposed to be:

      The best free games I've found in a while are Shmups from ABA games []. Most of them have linux packages, and the windows versions work great in wine too. Fast paced, colorful, intense arcade shooters, it doesn't get much better than this. Go play Torus Trooper and tell me your jaw doesn't drop.

      I should learn to preview.

      • What he said.

        My jaw dropped, my brain froze, and my face melted. I don't know what kind of drugs that programmer was on, but he somehow managed to code it into an easily-portable brainsplosion.

        Seriously. Go get that game NOW! It makes me pine for the old Williams shooter classics.

      • by KDR_11k ( 778916 )

        There's a commercial version of Tumiki Fighters for the Wii with extensive editing tools, it includes a few of Cho's games.

        I can't get Maser Mayhem to run on my PC though, it always crashes on startup (yes, I did install the XNA framework, even reinstalled it a few times attempting to make it work). Anyone have success with that?

  • Where was Postal and Postal2?
  • Braid rocks... (Score:3, Informative)

    by nweaver ( 113078 ) on Tuesday August 19, 2008 @11:24AM (#24659151) Homepage

    Braid is not listed!?!

    Having gotten the demo, I had to buy it. The game is absolutly brilliant. It is a work of art, with mindbending, unique puzzles, AND a lot of fun, all at the same time.

    If you have an XBOX 360, install the free demo, and if you like it, buy it.

    • The article is only for games available for the PC. The fact that it overlooked games on the Live marketplace or the PSN sort of makes sense -- it's hard for those games to be ignored because if you *can* buy them, you're probably aware that they're coming out.

      PC games, on the other hand, rely almost entirely on word of mouth. There's no platform that advertises them, or consolidates the downloading, or puts up at least a "what's new for Windows" page.
      • It would have helped for the word "PC" to be present somewhere in the summary, or the article. Unless that blog has a readership of only telepaths. That would be badass, though.

    • Ditto. You can skip the demo, I'll guarantee you'll want to buy it. Brilliant game.

  • by MasterOfMagic ( 151058 ) on Tuesday August 19, 2008 @11:35AM (#24659349) Journal

    Defcon [] is wonderful, and it's by the same people that do Uplink [] and Darwinia [], and like their other games, comes in Windows, Mac, and Linux versions.

    • I was going to suggest Darwinia and Uplink, but he specifically mentioned no multiplayer games in the introduction, so I don't suppose that DEFCON counts. ;)
  • by Bodhammer ( 559311 ) on Tuesday August 19, 2008 @11:37AM (#24659383)

    One of the most engrossing games I have played in years! Also, no DRM, great developer support.

    It in nice to be treated like an adult by the developer!

    • by Jaysyn ( 203771 )

      Yeah, great game, great publisher. The game-balance in it reminds me of Starcraft for some reason.

      Galactic Civilizations are pretty awesome too.

      Space Rangers 2 is great if you can stand bad Russian translations.

    • by Narpak ( 961733 )
      It is good that games like Sins of the Solar Empire, and other Stardock titles, show people that you can make a great game without a great budget. And sell it for a profit without over the top anti-piracy measures.
      • You know, I just tried installing my completely legitimate copy of Neverwinter Nights 2, and I think SecuROM is making the installer crash. If I had a faster Internet connection I would torrent it for sure, along with the expansion (that I don't have).

        Stardock is just crazy for not using DRM. What are they thinking?

    • I've been meaning to pick that up when my current MMO gets boring. I don't really like turn-based games all too much, but GalCiv 2 was amazing, so I am expecting good things from Sins as well.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by KDR_11k ( 778916 )

      This is about indie games, that means the more obscure kind. SoaSE is a front shelf title and I don't think I'd call it anything close to indie, at least not in the sense that needs blog posts to get exposure. You can see it in any store on display, it has the big, ugly "Games for Windows" logo on the box, Amazon even claims it's published by Midway. It really doesn't belong into this discussion (could just as well bring up Super Mario Galaxy).

      • by Jaysyn ( 203771 )

        Amazon is incorrect. []

        Developed by Ironclad & Published by Stardock. You can't get much more "indie" than Stardock.

        • by KDR_11k ( 778916 )

          Isn't "indie" mostly used for games without any publisher? A full price retail game with all the trappings that entails doesn't really look very indie to me.

          • by Jaysyn ( 203771 )

            Let's break this down for you since you seem to be having a hard time understanding. I'll even use an analogy since we all know Slashbots love analogies. In the music world "indie" means independent from one of the Big 5 (or 8 or whatever) publishing companies; WEA, Sony, Capitol, etc. Those guys that form the RIAA basically. Some indie record lables (Barsuk, Dischord, Sub-Pop) are quite profitable. When we talk about an "indie" game company we are talking about a game company that isn't published by At

            • by KDR_11k ( 778916 )

              There's so many smaller publishers that still deal with AAA (multi-million dollar budget) games that talking about games published by smaller publishers in the same way as games without any publisher at all is silly, you'd end up comparing the equivalent of a hollywood blockbuster with a video on youtube. I'd motion to include only games without a publisher or marketing campaign as "indie".

              Generally articles listing "indie" games are meant to advertise games you wouldn't hear about otherwise, not games that

              • by Jaysyn ( 203771 )

                Yes, Valve would qualify as a wildly successful "indie" dev / publisher.

                a.) They are a privately held company

                b.) They aren't contractually beholden to another publisher to "rush out" an unfinished game or any of the other hijinks we've come to associate with EA, Atari, etc.

                No one in this conversation thread was saying that SoaSE should have been included in this article. You said it wasn't an indie game & I disagreed.

                • Isn't that kind of like saying Radiohead is an "indie" band seeing they put out their last album themselves, and didn't use any of the big music companies? While technically true, it doesn't fit the definition most people would think of when thinking of "indie".
                  • by Jaysyn ( 203771 )

                    Let's look at this from the other angle, if a indie band is wildly successful, but keep basically the same sound & never changed the way they do things from the technical or business angle, do they somehow lose their indie-ness?

                    BTW, Radiohead was a bad example because if you buy a the physical "In Rainbows" CD from them, it's still being published by ATO / RED [] records which is a RIAA affiliated label. So no, I wouldn't consider Radiohead indie. Nine Inch Nails [] would have been a better example.

    • At least, not what most people mean. Stardock may not be a major publisher, but still. The game was written by a development studio, has a publisher, and is for sale in all major stores. Generally by indy people mean a game written by a couple of guys, or maybe just one, and for sale on the the web.

      Don't get me wrong, Sins is a great game, possibly the best of 2008, but I wouldn't call it an indy.

    • Sword of the Stars is pretty good too; it's kind of a cross between Gal Civ 2 and Sins, with turn based strategic gameplay and real-time controllable battles. It's developed by ex Barking Dog Studios peeps, just like Sins :)


      No DRM that I've noticed, at least over Impulse [].

      Semi-randomized tech-trees based on a race's strengths. Just because you've researched Lasers doesn't mean you're going to get Phasers, and research can end early or hit time/cost overruns. Adds extra layers of risk to researc

      • by mjwx ( 966435 )
        SOTS (the boxed and Gamers Gate version) originally came with DRM but it was removed in the expansion pack. SOTS suffered in the fact that the game basically came down to rushing your opponent. The only victory condition was conquest and the diplomacy system was so broken and inadequate that there's no point in even having it (impossible to win the game as allies).
    • by mjwx ( 966435 )
      Stardock, whilst being an excellent developer and distributor (Ironclad doing most of the dev on SOASE, but Gal Civ is all Stardock) I do not consider them Independent, they are however a shining example of what a games developer and distributor should be.
  • I agree with the author of the article that Depths of Peril is probably the best indie RPG available today. But of course I haven't played them all. (And he's obviously slanted towards RPGs based on his list.)

    I find more and more that my game purchases are smaller games, or just donating on the Paypal buttons of freeware games I like. The last indie game I bought was a simple, mindless (but strangely addictive - at least at first) tile RPG called Battle of Tiles [] that cost $4.95.

    There are so many indie ga

  • by Anonymous Coward

    This is an excellent list, though I am somewhat disappointed that only one game I looked at (and I checked out most of them) had a native Linux version. I'm sure some work with Wine, but I'm too lazy to look. I'll definitely be trying out Eschalon tonight.

    Also, I played Battles of Norghan a few years back and it was addicting. It's a very unique game...the description from TFA, "a blend of strategy and RPG" is about as accurate as you can get, but it really doesn't play like any other game (that I know o

  • I have not gotten around to playing it just yet, but reading the story of Boatmurdered [] prompted me to download it.

    The dwarven settlement of Boatmurdered (eh what?) is created and eventually run to the ground by several players, each governing the city for one year of game time. Madness ensues (with lots of homicidal elephants).

    • Note that newer releases of DF have had much calmer elephants, and you are now much less likely to inadvertently send the local herd into a rampage. Protip:Cage traps catch everything.
      • The developer seems to change which critters are super-dangerous from time to time, to keep things interesting/unexpected. Last one I remember was carp. Carp you say? Little fishies? Little fishies that will jump several tiles out of the river and drag your screaming fisherdwarf back to be devoured in a frenzy of gummy nibbling.

        Dwarf fortress is absolutely stupendous in many respects. It has a physics simulation, to the degree that a tile-based world allows. Severed body parts fly through the air to land an
        • by Kiffer ( 206134 )

          Carp were dangerous because they had the default bite and could drag the dwarfs into the water, where the dwarfs would get stunned and either get ripped a part of drown... also due to an over sight they constantly gained stat bonuses from swimming all the time and ended up stupidly strong, but that's fixed now.

          Small fish are considered vermin and don't appear as creatures on the map as such...
          These are the sort of carp that appear on the map

    • by Kiffer ( 206134 )

      Play it...
      The learning curve isn't too bad if you've played a rogue-like or two.
      First hurdle is the ASCII like graphics (actually openGL tiles), this puts most people off but if you've played nethack, angband or what ever then you're used to it all ready.

      The controls seem a little hard to pick up, there are for example a few different 'look' keys, 'v' for Viewing creatures, 'k' for looKing at objects/terrain, 'q' for looking at and controlling buildings, and 't' for looking at iTems that might be IN the bui

  • by Dogun ( 7502 )

    I'm a fan of Aquaria, which is sort of an unreal underwater action-adventure Metroidvania sort of thing. It's stunningly beautiful, fun, and reasonably priced.

    • by Bostik ( 92589 )

      Oh yes, and it works with wine. Tried the demo and was impressed enough to actually buy the game.

      What really brings Aquaria together is the marvelous soundscape. Factor in some good voice acting (one exception in very late game) and the way the story is built, it's definitely worth the price.

      I just wish the authors would release a soundtrack soon.

  • One of the more fiendishly clever flash puzzle/platformers I've encountered, Shift [] has the same "Pick up and Play for a few hours" with simple game mechanics that made Portal so fascinating.

    There's a couple sequels out there, too. I'd gladly pay for a longer, more complete version of this game.

    • by fat_mike ( 71855 )

      Fiendishly clever does not come close to describing this. I just played it for the first time and it was a blast. The "Sometimes you just have to shift" would make a great line for a movie poster.

  • For the Slashdot crowd, I can think of nothing better than Fantastic Contraption. It's a free* flash based physics game, where you can construct all sorts of machines, vehicles, catapults, bridges, or whatever else solves the task of 'get this object from a to b'. There's a whole slew of user generated content like the 'find the simplest solution' challenge, or the 'find a green (no motors) solution' challenge.

    *For a $10 donation you get the ability to design your own levels, but

  • I glanced at a few that looked good and saw Mac support in all the ones I looked at.

    I love this trend! I'd be even more impressed if they had linux support as well, but anything but windows is fine with me.

    Hmm, "Anything But Windows" would make a great replacement for "News for Nerds".

    • sure beats long hours of break out and super breakout
      • Well, along with all the blizzard games (wow, wc & diablo I II and III) and the sims and--well I love this trend.

        By the way, if you used to play warcraft III or diablo II, go to

        You can enter your old PC game serial numbers there and download new binaries for mac or PC directly from Blizzard. CD Copy protection has been removed and you can download as many times as you want (for all your PCs). If you still have one of these games installed, just connecting to battle net will upgrad

        • You can enter your old PC game serial numbers there and download new binaries for mac or PC directly from Blizzard. CD Copy protection has been removed and you can download as many times as you want (for all your PCs)

          You forgot to mention that entering your Starcraft key lets you download Brood War legitimately from them too - they don't differentiate between "with expansion" and "without expansion" for Starcraft, because BW didn't have a key in the first place.

  • Geneforge series, Exile series, Avernum, Nethergate- all are simply brilliant. I liked Exile 3 most of all, but all are well worth playing.

  • I'd spend $2-$3 to support "You Got A Grappling Hook []".

    A simple game that has a unique play mechnic, and a great story.

  • []


    Yeah, and I'd pay for it too.

  • Are those too old school, or what? :-(

    I've been playing those on VestaPup (a nice Puppy Linux variant), and it's been wonderful! :-)

  • I'd pay for a new Battle for Wesnoth [] campaign. I'd love to see a bazaar arise, where multiple organizations provide images and story ideas, while all working on the same backend.

  • Spring [] is one of the best games (RTS) I have ever played the interface is a little rough and it takes a bit to learn unless you played Total Annihilation, but it is incredible for an open-source indie game
  • Bunny Must Die [] is a great Metroidvania-like game. It's short of course but full of ideas and memorable awesome moments (nope, I don't speak Japanese either). Oh and there's two free games from the developer available: Magical Harvest [] and Jabberwock [] which are similar to Zelda games except with more shooting.

    Generally a good source for japanese indie games is Palet [] if you're inclined to actually buy them.

  • Regarding Positech.. (Score:3, Informative)

    by Caraig ( 186934 ) on Tuesday August 19, 2008 @02:59PM (#24662583)

    It's worth noting that Positech is the game company which gained some Slashdottery earlier by being the company whose developer opened a dialogue with software pirates to find out why they do what they do. And because of that, he has removed all DRM and dropped the prices of his games and made bigger and better demos... and a bunch of other things. He's worth checking out.

  • Paying for a game like "Depths of Peril". With any game, I play with the intent of having a fun experience that will make me want to go out and buy it. I always look at the price first to see if that price reflects a quality that I could tolerate. The game lacks a lot of visual polish, which made it very difficult for me to get into the game. The gameplay was also nothing new. Oh, and the website? looks like something I made in 1995. I have a rule of thumb with indie games, and it generally holds true. If t

    • by Fweeky ( 41046 )

      Dwarf Fortress's website [] looks like it came straight out of 1990. The game [] looks like something out of the 70's. The controls are confusing and inconsistent, and you get very little guidance [] from the game itself.

      That doesn't stop it being incredibly deep [], absorbing [] and rewarding []; Looks [] aren't everything.

      • by Kneo24 ( 688412 )

        It doesn't matter how deep or absorbing the game can be. If the controls suck and it gives a bad first impression by not at the very least trying to marginally stay up to date with the looks, it's going to turn more people away than it would draw in.

        It is possible to create a fun, deep, absorbing, and rewarding game even while you give clear direction (when necessary), and having controls that function in a way to enhance your experience (instead of hindering them). And you can even do this while keeping th

        • by Fweeky ( 41046 )

          It doesn't matter how deep or absorbing the game can be.

          Saying that, you are perhaps not the target audience of DF ;)

          I'll note that DF is also alpha software, and has a planned development arc of more than "a year or four", and that does include a lot of interface improvements.

          If the controls suck and it gives a bad first impression by not at the very least trying to marginally stay up to date with the looks, it's going to turn more people away than it would draw in.

          Maybe, but then, plenty of games do those things and bomb. UT3 looks pretty damn good, it's got easy to pick up controls, etc.. yet, it's sold all of about 30,000 units, and I can't say I've ever seen anyone raving about how good it is. DF, with its ANSI tiles and dubious controls has de

        • And in many regards, I would agree with you. However, if you actually play DF, you'll come to realize there's only so much one man can do. The controls don't 'suck' any more than any other rogue-like -- There's a couple of things here and there that seem counter-intuitive, but it's all quite functional, and the on-screen interface explains what every key does.

          As far as looks, this game already consumes 100% of a core (not multi-threaded), and bogs down the machine due to the freakish amount of calculation

  • If you're into Galaxian-style space shooters, you can't do better than Warblade [] and it's also available for the Mac. The graphics are stunning. The gameplay is really good, but if there's a complaint it's that you can build up a powerful arsenal of weapons at high levels but if you hit the wrong powerup, you become weak again and it doesn't matter how many lives you have, you'll die a quick painful death.

  • Anyone ever played The Kingdom of Loathing []? It's sort of a cross between a text adventure and an MMO, with some writing that I'd put up there with The Hitchhiker's Guide in terms of humor.

    I found out about it two weeks ago from an article [] in The Escapist, and I can't stop playing it.

    And it's free (donations welcome, as it pays the developers' salaries).
  • I would start by hunting Jellyfish - []

Man is an animal that makes bargains: no other animal does this-- no dog exchanges bones with another. -- Adam Smith