In an ocean of video games, from good to great, indie games can offer a really unique gaming experience as many of them have unique themes and stories, the likes of which you cannot find easily in mainstream popular games. In other words, indie titles offer something new to the player, be it in the form of in-game challenges, gameplay styles, or simply appealing art, visuals, and/or game design.
It wouldn’t be wrong to say that the more creative bunch among the regular gamer crowd are the ones who are truly able to appreciate games created by independent game studios. Their experience, feedback, and support to the indie game developers matter as all of these prevent the video gaming world from becoming stagnant and derivative.
The response of the gaming community to indie titles also emboldens the developers to improve upon their hard work and stretch their imaginations to create a world that promises a richer gaming experience.
How Indie Games Push the Envelope in Game Design
Indie games are a lot about freedom and creativity in game building, where both these aspects could border on the boundless (and that’s a good thing, is it not?). They are also about the power of creation from a new or relatively lesser-known developer trying to find their feet in the gaming industry.
The subsequent appreciation, recognition, and profits that come their way (if people like it) say a lot about having created something that is different from heavyweight titles of mass appeal; something which the crowd could hunger for. Introducing a different flavor of games always comes with a risk, but at least in doing so, the developers will not be tied down with stagnating game designs and regurgitated, recycled plots.
The Limitation of AAA Games
With AAA games, studios are weighed down with huge expectations from their customers; they cannot take the risk of too much creative liberty. Who knows if their experiments would work commercially? If the game they invested so much time in is not a commercial success, it could tarnish the reputation and the credibility of the studio, which could take years to rebuild.
Where Indie Games Thrive
But with indie games, the risk of failure is generally low. This gives developers the confidence to push the boundaries in various aspects of game design, like storytelling, world-building, graphic detailing, the type of characters they should feature, etc. They’re also able to insert quirky ideas. Take the example of Super Meat Boy. Here you have a cube of meat as the main character who wants to save his ‘made-of-bandages’ girlfriend.
Indie games can also have smart functions that do not require you to kill whoever is blocking your way every time. We can look at Undertale, a game that adds more options to make you a better negotiator who can proceed in the story without having to slaughter someone. Do you see? A developer put in this little thought to make the game as non-violent as possible, and there you have it. It is unconventional, but overall, it would make the player think of other ways they can deal with a character.
One other thing that works in favor of indie games is that they can be developed anywhere and with fewer people as compared to big gaming studios. This cuts down on finances (which is always a good thing), and if the quality of the game they have set out to make is not getting hampered with a small team, then who’s complaining?
Now that you know the basics of indie games, it’s time to check out some amazing indie titles. Here we have curated a list of the best indie games on PS4 that you should definitely try out!
Hollow Knight is a 2D side-scrolling platformer developed by Australian video game studio Team Cherry. In Hollow Knight, eponymously named after its main protagonist, you journey through an ancient world that’s hidden beneath the town of Dirtmouth.
As the titular character Hollow Knight, the exploration will lead you to various adventures, where you’ll meet interesting foes, uncover secrets, and new places (and secrets in new places!). The game offers a jolly good time if you love platformer game worlds that allow you to go from one adventure to the next.
Developer: Team Cherry
Publisher: Team Cherry
Release date: September 25, 2018
Inside is a 2D narrative-driven puzzle platformer with a dark storyline. The indie game is developed and published by Denmark-based video game studio Playdead, that’s also behind the game called Limbo. In Inside, you play as a child who is being hunted for a dark project.
Inside may not be suitable for all types of gamers owing to its dystopian world setting. In the game, you will come across humanoids who are not what they seem. There is pulse-pounding action, and you will need to keep your thinking skills sharp as puzzles form a major part of the game.
Release date: August 23, 2016
Stardew Valley should interest gamers who would like to settle down in a virtual countryside and do things like building their own farms, raising animals, crafting items, and even becoming pals with the local townsfolk. Since you will start a new life in Pelican Town — which is the place where the game is set — you’ll have more than 30 denizens to interact with, and yes, you might even find a date. There is some adventure in store too, as you can explore some caves where monsters dwell and treasures are hidden.
|Stardew Valley: Collector’s Edition – PlayStation 4||$47.10||Buy on Amazon|
This country-life RPG gives you plenty of customization options for both your character and home decoration. It is developed and published by American game developer Eric Barone, who is also known as ConcernedApe in the gaming circles.
Release date: December 13, 2016
Celeste is an action platformer where your goal is to climb to the top of a mountain that has the same name as the game title. You play as Madeline, who will go through numerous challenges in her arduous climb to the top. In your ascent to the top, you will be tested across over 600 screens of difficult-to-master platforming challenges.
Alongwith the secrets of the mountain, you’ll also have to show a lot of mental strength and keep encouraging yourself to get to the top. Celeste is developed by Maddy Makes Games Inc., the team that created Towerfall.
Developer: Maddy Makes Games Inc.
Publisher: Maddy Makes Games Inc.
Release date: January 25, 2018
Undertale is a role-playing game where you can refrain from killing if you want. In this game, violence is optional, and the game’s battle system allows you to negotiate out of a dangerous situation. There are two species the game features: Humans and Monsters.
As per the developers, instead of killing, you engage with other creatures by dancing with slimes, petting dogs, and telling your secrets to a knight. If you have to resort to combat, you can time your attacks to inflict more damage. The game features a storyline interlaced with humor.
Developer: 8-4, Ltd. (Toby Fox)
Publisher: 8-4, Ltd. (Toby Fox)
Release date: August 15, 2017
Kena: Bridge of Spirits
Kena: Bridge of Spirits is a third-person action-adventure game featuring a young girl named Kena as the protagonist. She is a Spirit Guide, and the story begins when she goes to an abandoned village on a quest to find the sacred mountain shrine. But the village is teeming with surprises for her.
|Kena: Bridge of Spirits – Deluxe Edition (PS4) – PlayStation 4||$19.45||Buy on Amazon|
An ancient curse lies upon it, and spirits are trapped there. Some of them have even gotten corrupted, which is a problem as they will try to stop Kena from achieving her objectives. But she will have some help in the form of spirit companions called the Rot, who will help her acquire powerful abilities. With their support, Kena can restore order in the village. The game features fast-paced combat, and Kena can use both ranged and melee weapons.
Developer: Ember Lab
Publisher: Ember Lab
Release date: September 21, 2021
Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons
Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons or just Brothers is a third-person action-adventure game developed by Starbreeze Studios. It is an emotionally-charged narrative-driven title where you will get to experience the dangerous and, at the same time, the exciting life journey of two brothers. The elder of the two is Naia, while the younger one is Naiee. Both have been given skill sets based on their age difference. For example, Naia, being older and stronger, can pull levers and hoist Naiee to higher grounds. On the other hand, Naiee can do things like squeeze himself through narrow bars.
You can manipulate the actions of both brothers on the controller to solve mysteries and complete quests. While traveling or spending time outdoors, they will have to fend off wolves at night. The brothers will also help other characters as the storyline progresses.
Developer: Starbreeze Studios
Publisher: 505 Games
Release date: August 12, 2015
Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove
Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove is developed by Yacht Club Games, an indie video game developer based out of the US. According to the developers, Treasure Trove is the “full and complete edition” of Shovel Knight, their action-adventure platformer. You play as Shovel Knight, who wields the Shovel Blade. The story is about him going on a search for his love interest, who’s gone missing.
In your path stand the knights of the Order of No Quarter and their leader, The Enchantress. The game comes with over 100 challenges, and you can add more than 100 achievements to your kitty. It also has more than 100 music tracks to keep you busy in its world.
Developer: Yacht Club Games
Publisher: Yacht Club Games
Release date: March 21, 2015
Monster Boy and The Cursed Kingdom
Monster Boy and The Cursed Kingdom is a side-scrolling action platformer based on the famous Wonder Boy in Monster World series by Ryuichi Nishizawa. In this game, there are 6 playable characters, and you can switch between each one of them to keep your journey fresh and interesting.
|Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom – PlayStation 4||$56.42||Buy on Amazon|
While you explore, your special equipment will help you find new paths and secrets. There will be puzzles and tricky ways which you must take in your stride if you are to keep moving ahead. The game also offers you character customization options.
Developer: Game Atelier
Publisher: FDG Entertainment
Release date: December 4, 2018
Rocket League is a pretty popular title. Developed by Psyonix, the game essentially lets you play traditional football (or soccer) with cars. You can play the game solo or go for 1v1, 2v2, and 3v3 game modes.
|Rocket League Collector’s Edition (PS Exclusive) (PS4)||$55.00||Buy on Amazon|
Drift and jump around in your colorful and customizable cars and try to score goals by hitting the large ball. We can say that when you play soccer in Rocket League, it actually becomes ‘soc-car’ (sorry, we had to). There are plenty of people to compete with online in this game, so if you are that adrenaline junkie who wants to end up on a winning high every time, this game offers you plenty of opportunities.
Developer: Psyonix Inc
Publisher: Psyonix Inc
Release date: July 7, 2015
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge is a beat ’em up game featuring the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles — Leonardo, Michelangelo, Donatello, and Raphael– who will fight in iconic TMNT locations like Manhattan and Coney Island.
|Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge – PlayStation 4||$34.99||Buy on Amazon|
The game allows up to six players to join in a match. Discover new moves as you progress through the game. The game, its characters, weapons, items, and general aesthetics are inspired by the 80’s show. The title features full-color pixel art graphics.
Developer: Tribute Games
Release date: June 16, 2022
Super Meat Boy
In the platformer Super Meat Boy, you play not as a person but as a cube of meat. Wait, there’s more. You also have a girlfriend who is made up of bandages. And to add to the weirdness, you have to save her from an evil fetus who wears a tuxedo. Your enemies? Buzz saws and needles! Don’t get shredded or pricked by them.
The game involves fast movement and could prove to be a tough one if you increase the difficulty level. There are bosses to fight, secrets to discover, and over 300 single-player levels to keep you occupied.
Developer: Team Meat LLC
Publisher: Team Meat LLC
Release date: October 6, 2015
On a Concluding Note
If you have been playing mainstream games for a long time, chances are that you may have gotten bored at some point in time due to the repetitive nature of the gameplay. This happens a lot with first-person shooters and some RPGs. After a few hundred hours in, the gameplay becomes repetitive (not saying that it necessarily loses its charm). Some of us start thinking of the elements that developers could add to the game to keep reinventing it.
If you are someone who likes to try out different types of gaming experiences or thinks that the long-established genres of FPS or RTS are not your type, indie games might just do the trick for you. They offer a variety of game worlds and themes, and considering there are so many of them, the novelty-seeker in you could be spoilt for choice.
Meanwhile, while we are on PS4 games, why don’t you check out our selections for the best PS4 racing games?
Utkarsh has been in the ‘serious’ business of gaming for a long time and especially loves FPS and tactical shooters, co-op adventures, story-rich RPGs and RTS titles. Armed with a degree in engineering, he is passionate about writing, music,… read more