Top 5 Best Indie Games of 2018 So Far

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Best Indie Games of 2018 So Far


Celeste led the charge in what has been a sublime year for indie gaming. So good, in fact, that we had trouble keeping this list to just five Of course, in December we’ll give out our annual Best Indie Game of the Year award, but for now let’s dig into the best of the best so far in 2018.

What makes Celeste so special is the way it combines hardcore platforming action with a simple yet extraordinary narrative centered around mental health. The main character, Madeline, is constantly at odds with her own thoughts as she climbs Celeste Mountain, a place where negative thoughts are actually physically manifested. Her journey is brutal, and the punishing difficulty of the game does well to translate her mental condition.

You’ll not only need to guide Madeline through her own personal problems, but also, through eight increasingly challenging levels that will push your platforming skills to the absolute limit. There’s no big secret here. Celeste is just a really good platformer with an extremely well-written, and touching story to boot.

In the end, Celeste is not only is a big contender for the best indie game of 2018, it’s likely going to be an overall Game of the Year contender for many players and critics as well.

Into the Breach

Best Indie Games of 2018 So Far

Into the Breach, FTL

The running theme of this list is that there are a lot of indie games this year that aren’t just thriving relative to their funding versus AAA games. Indie games are thriving and also succeeding in ways that exceed even the biggest budget competition. Into the Breach falls into that category.

Into the Breach takes a unique, micro-battle approach infused with pure 100% strategy. There’s no luck to manage here. Everything is 100% accurate, and the enemy Vek show you exactly what they are going to do each and every turn. Meaning, the onus is entirely on you to develop the correct strategy to survive and succeed.

Unlike long drawn out affairs seen in other strategy games such as Valkyria Chronicles, Into the Breach battles are much quicker. The scale of the map and pace of each game makes trial and error all part of the experience. Here, you’re encouraged to change up your strategy, and failure doesn’t feel like a total disaster. This forms a fundamental part of learning the game’s systems, and it’s surely a major part of what has made Into the Breach popular such a success.

Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire

Best Indie Games of 2018 So Far

Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire

Yet another indie that is leading the way this year is Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire. In fact, it pretty much owns the entire isometric RPG genre these days thanks to the manner in which it harkens back to the oldschool era of role-playing while simultaneously iterating on and modernizing the formula. For many passionate RPG players, it would be dark times indeed without Pillars of Eternity.

Deadfire is a brilliant sequel, and it’s basically role-players dream. You have almost too much control over so many aspects of your character’s backstory, attributes, spells, strengths, weaknesses, relationships and more. It’s almost overwhelming at times, but hardcore fans of the genre wouldn’t want it any other way.

The game takes about 20-30 hours to complete, but re-rolling as a completely different character with a different personality, attributes, and way of handling situations, can create an experience that is almost unrecognizable from the first time through in so many ways. In this regard, few games this year, indie or otherwise, are able to match what Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire accomplished.

The Banner Saga 3

Best Indie Games of 2018 So Far

The Banner Saga 3

It’s very, very hard to create a satisfying trilogy that holds onto its quality over three games. Just ask Mass Effect and Dead Space how difficult being consistently amazing over a course of years can be.

Well, The Banner Saga 3 was able to pull it off. In a sea of failed Kickstarter experiments, The Banner Saga is arguably one of the most successful Kickstarted gaming projects of all time. Not only did it fulfill its original promise, it went out and delivered two more games that continued the series, and met the expectations of choice-driven, strategy RPG fans.

In our review of The Banner Saga 3, Twinfinite Senior Editor Hayes Madsen, a long-time fan of the series, praised the way the game was able to deliver a satisfying conclusion that took choices over the course of the series into account, and challenging battles that are the best the series has to offer. Kudos for pulling off a successful trilogy, and we’ll see what developers Stoic Studio decide to do with the series next.

Dead Cells

Best Indie Games of 2018 So Far

dead cells

Released just this week, Dead Cells has already captured the hearts of many Souls and roguelike fans. We’re still working on our review, but both our reviews editor Zhiqing Wan, and assistant editor Tom Hopkins have raved about Dead Cells and insisted that it make the cut for our list of the best indie games so far. Here’s what our reviewer, Tom Hopkins, had to say about it as he works through the game for a final score:

“Dead Cells is a great combination of elements from different genres, elevated by the phenomenal combat and traversal mechanics. As is the norm for roguelike games, you restart the game each time you die, with you being able to upgrade skills and unlock new weapons between each area. That loop is then combined with an emphasis on exploration. You can search every inch of an area for upgrades, or run through to avoid confrontation and get to a door that closes after a certain time. You need to work out which is more beneficial, and it changes for each run.

You’ll probably want to savor every second though, because Dead Cells feels better to play than any roguelike in recent memory. Enemies are formidable, but the rapid movements and precise platforming make you feel powerful. Battering your way through doors, slashing at enemies as you pass is incredibly satisfying, and it makes Dead Cells very difficult to put down.”

About the author

Ed McGlone

Ed McGlone was with Twinfinite from 2014 to 2022. Playing games since 1991, Ed loved writing about RPGs, MMOs, sports games and shooters.