SLIDESHOW

10 interesting, indie PC games you probably overlooked in 2015 (so far)

There are more games released per year now than anyone could possibly play. We pick out ten smaller titles you might've missed in all the hubbub around 2015's biggest.

Duck Game

Leave no game behind

We try to review every major PC game. Really, we do. But occasionally we fall behind, or a dozen games come out the same week, or something like The Witcher 3 comes out and just obliterates entire portions of our lives.

As such, it’s entirely possible a few of these games slipped through the cracks in your gaming library, much the same way as they did in mine. And that’s not fair, because these games are good! Some are even great! So now that we’ve listed off the best games of 2015 (so far), here’s another list worth perusing—great PC games you might’ve missed in 2015 (so far).

Spirits of Xanadu

Spirits of Xanadu

Think of it like a lo-fi version of System Shock 2. Like, really lo-fi.

All flat shaders and polygonal objects, Spirits of Xanadu is a quick, creepy adventure game set on an abandoned spaceship. It’s not quite meaty nor polished enough to land on my “Favorites” list, but it’s one of the best small-team games I’ve played this year, full of fantastic atmosphere and some excellent sequences—even if the overall setup is familiar.

Vertiginous Golf

Vertiginous Golf

Steampunk. Mini Golf.

Vertiginous Golf isn't perfect. Far from it, in fact. Some of the stages are way too long and way too complex for their own good, and the game could use quite a bit of optimization. But it makes the list because a) Who the hell makes mini golf games anymore? And b) It's a novel twist on the genre, with a weird overworld/underworld class warfare storyline that adds an overarching narrative to the world. Yes, in a mini golf game.

Pix the Cat

Pix the Cat

Combine Snake with Pac-Man and you’d probably spit out something like Pix the Cat. A relentlessly fast adrenaline-rush of an arcade game, Pix the Cat is the story of a cat that raises ducks. Or something along those lines.

It’s so good I’m still playing it off-and-on six months after release. I’d especially recommend this to any fans of Pac-Man Championship Edition DX+ (a.k.a. the best Pac-Man game since Ms. Pac-Man). It has the same sort of feel, even though the end-goal is different.

Chip's Challenge

Chip's Challenge 1 / 2

I got really excited that Chip’s Challenge and its never-before-released sequel were headed to Steam in May, and then I barely got to play either game—mainly because a little hidden gem called The Witcher 3 came out and destroyed three weeks of my life.

Suffice it to say, Chip’s Challenge is still a healthy dose of nostalgia, although the trial-and-error nature of many of the puzzles feels more than a bit dated in 2015.

JumpJet Rex

JumpJet Rex

Every year we’ve got to have at least one game to fill the role of “Spiritual Successor to Super Meat Boy.” Every. Single. Year.

This year it’s JumpJet Rex, an ultra-hard sidescroller featuring a T-Rex wearing jet-propelled boots. And while neither as difficult nor as meaty (heh) as Super Meat Boy, I think JumpJet Rex is one of the better imitators—at least the controls feel tight and responsive.

Space Colony

Space Colony

While Grim Fandango and Homeworld stole most of the Remaster spotlight this year, I’d recommend finding some room in your heart for base builder/RTS Space Colony too. Originally released in 2003, Firefly Studios (Stronghold) went back and relaunched the game with updated graphics and Steam Workshop support in April.

Hot Tin Roof

Hot Tin Roof: The Cat That Wore a Fedora

Hot Tin Roof has a lot of problems—of which the overly-convoluted level design is probably the most egregious.

But it’s also different. It’s weird. There’s so much to love about this adventure-game-masquerading-as-a-side-scrolling-shooter, be it the hilarious dialogue or the weird Westerado-esque revolver mechanics or the way the world revolves a la Fez.

I never finished Hot Tin Roof and I don’t know if I ever will—seriously, the level design gets really frustrating at points—but there are a lot of great ideas in this game that might make it worth checking out.

Duck Game

Duck Game

Duck Game finally escaped the Ouya black hole in June to land on Steam, and I can’t think of a more deserving game. Taking the four-player-mayhem multiplayer popularized by Towerfall and expanding it with more weapons, more color, and more absurdity, Duck Game is one of the best party games I’ve ever played.

Grey Goo

Grey Goo

Grey Goo is on my shame list, this year. I’ve heard nothing but good things from the people who’ve played it, but I haven’t managed to get that far into it yet.

And that is a shame, because it seems (from what little I’ve played) like one of the best old-school RTS games in years. Of course, that’s not necessarily saying much considering the genre at this point is…well, pretty much just StarCraft II. Still, the game is quick, responsive, and has some interesting faction-based twists on construction/unit production. Hopefully I can delve into this one more now that it’s summer.

Cults & Daggers

Cults and Daggers

Like a number of the games on this list, Cults & Daggers is a great concept with flawed execution. Rather than the standard 4X setup, Cults & Daggers puts you in charge of a religion in the era between the death of Buddha and the birth of Christ. Your goal is to spread your religion by any means necessary.

It’s a unique idea, and the underlying rules seem well-tuned. However, the game’s let down by its convoluted and rather cheap-looking interface, the result of which is a game that’s a nightmare to learn. Plan to dedicate quite a bit of time to figuring out this one’s quirks if you pick it up.

Elegy for a Dead World

Honorable mention: Elegy for a Dead World

More writing exercise than game, Elegy for a Dead World is a weird one for sure. There are three planets to “explore,” and the game (as it were) revolves around stopping at various points and interacting with writing prompts—basically filling in the blanks with your own ideas. Or you can use the freeform mode and just write what you want, where you want.

It’s an interesting concept, albeit a bit thin on content. Still, I wrung a few hours of writing out of it, and I’m all for games trying to push creativity back on the player. This game’s not recommended for everyone, by any means, but I think it’s a perfect fit for this list.