5 Trippiest Indie Games on Steam

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The game industry can be a very serious place. Too often it concentrates on sweeping space operas or photo-realistic graphics at the expense of slowing down and really interacting with the cogs that make us tick.

Sometimes we need to just sit back, relax, and rethink the way we view existence. The games on this list will make you rethink the way you view yourself and the world, or at the very least they will make you glad that you do not have a Father-Mother. And for that, we can all be thankful.

Without further ado, here are the 5 Trippiest Games on Steam.

Father-Mother

Ultraworld Exodus

Ultraworld Exodus is actually the continuation of Ultraworld and seems to include the entire original game along with this newer second part which finished the story.

The premise of the game, as seen above, centers around a sentient video game NPC asking for help. However, it's only once you reach it that you realize that what it needs help with is larger than saving the princess. He has an existential crisis on his hands. Don't worry this isn't getting into spoiler territory; you figure all this out in the first 5 minutes.

Throughout the game, you explore the world by delving into philosophical problems, like the nature of truth, why we exist, or whether or not we can even tell simulation and reality apart. The game can be a slow bloomer, but its free price tag should help reduce that.

Ultraworld Exodus is available on Steam for PC for FREE!

Everything

When a game is literally named Everything, you know you are either in for something really mind blowing or something completely devoid of meaning. But who am I to confirm that human thoughts actually have meaning? No one; that is who.

Anyhow, Everything is based on the philosophy taught by Alan Watts. It also features narration from his old recordings, some of which can be heard below in the launch trailer:

According to Wikipedia, Alan Watts' philosophy was largely based on various Eastern philosophies, such as Buddhism, Hinduism, and various Chinese philosophies.

Watts put forward a worldview, drawing on Hinduism, Chinese philosophy, pantheism or panentheism, and modern science, in which he maintains that the whole universe consists of a cosmic Self playing hide-and-seek (Lila); hiding from itself (Maya) by becoming all the living and non-living things in the universe and forgetting what it really is – the upshot being that we are all IT in disguise.

As such, Everything tries to grapple with many of the predominant themes that are present in Watts' writings. For instance, Watts proposes-- as much of eastern religion does-- that we are actually all just part of one larger whole. The grass, the bees, the bears, the rocks, the lamps, us humans too. Everything; hence the name. The game accomplishes this primarily by having you play as various things on all sorts of scales, from the microscopic to the cosmos.

Everything is available on Steam for PC & Mac for $14.99. It is also available for PS4 and Linux.

Scanner Sombre

Scanner Sombre is actually a relatively new release and really succeeds in messing with your head by playing around with such odd visuals.

In the game, you do not actually have any way to see things because you are in a pitch black cave system. Instead, you must use a LIDAR gun to place rainbow colored dots around the environment. The dots vary along a spectrum depending on how close you are; red is very close, while violet is far away.

This makes the game mentally trippy and strenuous because your brain must comprehend and create its own mental structure of the cave while you literally map it out in the game. Moreover, the way the dots work plays with your brain. 

For instance, you can see dots on only one side; once you pass them you can no longer see them. This means you can create a path through a tunnel only to turn around and see nothing but the black, open void. To make it even more mentally strenuous, you can see dots you placed through walls. Meaning your mind must parse between the dots and the way they move in relation to your movements for it to fully understand the actual placement of those dots.

To make it even more mentally strenuous, you can see dots you placed through walls. Meaning your mind must parse between the dots and the way they move in relation to your movements for it to fully understand the actual placement of those dots.

The cave system also has some dark (not literally, figuratively) hidden secrets which make it ominous, but I don't want to spoil any of that.

In short, the game really tests your brain's ability to mentally remember and map out a 3D environment all while being extremely beautiful. What a treat!

Scanner Sombre is available on Steam for both PC & Mac for $11.99.

Antichamber

Antichamber is hard to explain to someone because it is hard to explain the non-Euclidean geometry the game is based on.

While games like Everything and Ultraworld make you think about the nature of existence in abstract ways, Antichamber makes you live through an abstract existence in practical ways.

For instance, in the above trailer, the player is shown red stairs leading down on their left and blue stairs leading up on their right. However, both somehow loop back around onto the room you start in.

Looking at different sides of the same cube can lead to completely different rooms. A glass pane can show different colors from different sides. Pressing your face up against it so that you only see the represented color changes the whole world to be that color.

These are both early puzzles that set the tone for the Alice in Wonderland-esque puzzles seen throughout the game.

Antichamber is available via Steam for PC, Mac, and Linux for $19.99.

Zeno Clash 1 & 2

It should take you approximately 15 seconds into the above trailer for you to say to yourself, "Okay. This is a little weird." The Zeno Clash series feel like something right out of Tim Burton's imagination.

Character designs prominently feature odd human-animal hybrids, like boar people that squeal like an injured pig when attacked. Even the more humanoid characters, such as your main character, have odd proportions and unsettling features. Seriously, what the heck is up with the protagonist's haircut?

The below is from Zeno Clash 1's Wikipedia page:

The game commences with Ghat, the game's protagonist, regaining consciousness after setting off an explosion which kills Father-Mother, an ostensibly hermaphroditic creature, which has raised a large and influential family.

The beginning of the game really helps set the tone for the game to come.

Zeno Clash 1 & Zeno Clash 2 are both available on Steam for PC for $9.99 and $14.99 respectively.

Each of the games I listed should, hopefully, scratch a slightly different itch.

Broadly speaking, Ultraworld begs the question who am I? While Everything says, "There is no I, just a bunch of separate parts of we."

Scanner Sombre implicitly asks you to mentally map out an area in your head. While Antichamber explicitly forces you to understand the world in new, interesting, and impractical ways.

Rounding up the bunch we have Zeno Clash. Mechanically this game is a first person brawler. While this is much more traditional compared to the other games, which lean toward the puzzle genre or the walking simulator genre, it also has the most overtly insane world on the list.

So what do you think? I know I must have missed some (or possibly many) games. Let me know of some games you would have featured in this listicle in the comments below.

Published May. 3rd 2017

Featured Contributor

Graduated from Full-Sail with a BS in Game Design (Speaking of BS, how about that student loan debt, eh?).

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