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Best Indie Games of 2018

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Best Indie Games of 2018

Best Indie Games of 2018

It’s award season here at Twinfinite! Let’s look back at the best indie games of 2018. Voted on by our editors, these were the best and most standout independent efforts that our team felt really helped to provide some much-needed freshness and variety to the video game releases of this year.

Let’s start with some honorable mentions, and then our top vote-getting runner-ups, and finally, of course, our overall winner!

Honorable Mention: Frostpunk

frostpunk

Reviews Editor Zhiqing Wan: After the gut-wrenching experience that was This War of Mine, it was exciting to see what 11-bit Studio might do next. Enter Frostpunk: a completely different genre of game, but with that same signature bleakness that’s sure to put your morality to the test.

Frostpunk is the perfect blend of city-builder and morality checker. The premise involves you leading a group of London refugees to a large generator that can provide enough heat to keep you warm from the deathly cold. Your task, then, is to build a city from the ground up and restore some sense of hope to your people.

Things aren’t always that simple, however, as you’re also forced to pass laws that will determine the morale of the citizens. Some of the more harrowing decisions involve sending children to coal mines, implementing euthanasia for your frostbitten workers, or putting out guards on nightly patrol to quell any signs of rebellion. All the while, you’ll be focusing on developing your city further as you explore tech trees and get new equipment to improve your city’s output and efficiency.

Frostpunk’s campaign puts you through several weeks of tough winter days, as you’ll need to stockpile food and make sure you’ve got enough coal to keep the heat running. For a city-builder game, Frostpunk is extremely atmospheric. The violins swell up to a dramatic crescendo as the temperature drops, really instilling that sense of fear in you as you start to think that all hope might be lost. While the campaign was a bit on the shorter side, Frostpunk is an extremely well-polished title, and it stands out as one of the best indie games of 2018.

Best Indie Games of 2018

Honorable Mention: Into the Breach

into the breach

Staff Writer Keenan McCall: A key part of what makes indie games enticing is how they do more with less, focusing on what makes the game fun to play. Into the Breach, a turn-based strategy title from Subset Games, exemplifies this, taking the core components of a strategy title and refining them to a fine point.

Where other titles use high fidelity graphics or window dressings to improve their appeal, Into the Breach delivers top of the line gameplay. Battles between the player’s mech forces and the giant monster Vek are decided by careful planning, quick thinking under pressure, and understanding the tools at one’s disposal.

It’s all the better for this, and thanks to its permadeath mechanic, it makes it more gratifying when players see their team to victory and all the more heartbreaking when they don’t. It’s gaming at its most pure, and a must-see for fans of gaming in general.

Best Indie Games of 2018

Second Runner-Up: Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire

Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire, Pillars of Eternity II, Pillars of Eternity 2

Editor-in-Chief Ed McGlone: It’s crazy that Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire was a Kickstarter game. If you didn’t follow its development, and just jumped it at launch it’s totally possible that you didn’t pick up on that. Both it, and its predecessor were indie titles that were funded in part by backers.

Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire isn’t just impressive by lower budget indie standards, like other indie games we’re honoring, it’s a genre-leading title.

Granted, it lacks competition in the CRPG space, but it’s still one of the best CRPGs ever made, up there with the greats like Baldur’s Gate and Neverwinter. It features unprecedented levels of control over every aspect of your created character.

You’ll be investing so much time into developing your character over the course of the game, and because of that, every choice and plot turn carries so much more weight than if you were just some generic hero.

We might not see another Pillars of Eternity for a while, but Obsidian’s accomplishments over the years will not be easily forgotten.

Best Indie Games of 2018

First Runner-Up: Dead Cells

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Reviews Editor Zhiqing Wan: Dead Cells started to make waves even when it was still in its Early Access phase. Early adopters saw the potential of this unique rogue-lite, and it certainly met and surpassed all our expectations when it properly launched.

It’s also worth noting that Dead Cells marks the debut of developing team Motion Twin, and what a debut it was. Dead Cells is one of the most fast-paced rogue-lite games we’ve ever played, complete with an incredibly varied suite of weapons and equipment you can use in your runs. Progression is fairly forgiving as well, as you’ll always be unlocking new blueprints and support items to assist you in future runs.

The combat in Dead Cells is extremely polished, and the traversal is snappy and fluid —one of the game’s absolute strongest points. With more content (both free and paid) on the way, there’s a lot for Dead Cells fans to look forward to. We can’t wait to see what else is in store for this already packed rogue-lite title.

Best Indie Games of 2018

Winner: Celeste

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Staff Writer Irwyn Diaz: Celeste, in all its pixelated glory, has surged the indie scene this past year. While it might seem like another indie platformer, it houses a challenging adventure bundled with a tale about self-understanding and acceptance.

The game follows the story of a young woman named Madeline who sets off on a dangerous journey to climb the fabled Celeste Mountain. The mountain lives up to its terrifying tales, as players are expected to die. A lot.

What would normally feel like a frustrating experience is balanced with precise controls and interesting level designs. However, those steep ledges and bottomless pits aren’t the only traps that threaten her mountain-climbing trek.

It’s when Madeline is alone and locked up in her own thoughts when she struggles the most, haunted by her questionable past and fears of anxiety and dread. Her enemies are far from supernatural creatures, but rather, the manifestations of everything she hates about herself.

While Celeste is a game about moving forward, Madeline spends the first few hours running. It’s only later when she learns to accept herself does she finally strive to move past her issues instead of avoiding them. For all that it has to offer, the game definitely feels like one of the pinnacles of indie gaming.

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