5 PC Indie Games of 2013 You Should Play ASAP

Five hearty recommendations from 2013's indie game crop.
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Having talked about where the indie genre will potentially go in the future, with 2013 coming to a close I thought it would be great to look back at some of the best indie games of this year.

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Kentucky Route Zero

This masterpiece of narrative experimentation is absolutely haunting, getting a near perfect score from me back in August. Providing the player with several unique and inventive ways of story-telling aurally, visually, and textually, the game also boasts some wonderfully beguiling artwork and a haunting musical score. It’s a shame that since January we’ve only seen two of the five planned acts get released. But right now, these two parts alone provide plenty of top-notch playtime.

Despite technically being incomplete, it’s well worth the price-tag, especially if you pay upfront to automatically receive the remaining acts. Don’t forget to also take in the standalone demo, Limits & Demonstrations, too.

Papers, Please

This 8-bit style game is one of the most surprising concepts for a simulation yet: you play border guard in a Soviet-esque country in the 1980s. It involves checking visas and documents to approve people to enter the fictional country of Arstotzka in order to make a wage and support your family. But monotony quickly turns to mania as the process gets more and more complicated as the country’s foreign politics deteriorate, and you’re forced to consider bureaucratic corruption as a viable income source. One of most stressful but addictive games I’ve ever played, earning it 9/10 from me.

Sir, You Are Being Hunted

Survival horror games have become so numerous that they’re almost banal. Gothic supernatural settings have lost their creep-factor, and zombies just aren’t scary as they shamble about in the same manner they always do.

Cue Big Robot’s antidote and fresh injection of sheer terror into the tired genre, as you’re faced with surviving being chased by merciless British tweed-clad killer robots. The concept may certainly be more than a little left-of-centre, but it doesn’t take long before you find yourself in a cold sweat with your heartbeat racing every time you hear the digital chirping of your nearby enemies.

Having almost no weapons to fight back with, bar the odd and often ineffectual dropped pistol, it’s duck, cover, and run like f*** through a procedurally generated environment, which means you’re always being kept on your toes. Indeed, it shredded my nerves so much that we awarded it “Best Indie Game” of the Eurogamer Expo 2013!

The game is still undergoing its paid playable alpha, but even in its current state it’s a fiendish and terrifying game that flies in the face of the unoriginal. People with heart-conditions should definitely avoid it, though.

The Stanley Parable

Whilst Kentucky Route Zero excels in exploring in-game narrative techniques, misanthropic developer Davey Wreden is hell-bent on tearing these apart. Extremely metaphysical, intelligent, and depressing, it hits you in the face like a conceptual concrete breeze block, making you completely reconsider everything you thought you knew about gaming.

But that doesn’t mean you won’t have fun along the way. The game’s sense of humour is as hilarious as its message is devastating. British voice-over artist, Kevan Brighting, also gives a spectacular and cult-worthy performance as the game’s narrator, complimenting the game’s maniacal and unsettling tone down to a T. All in all, it got rated 8/10 by me.

Be sure to also download and play the free stand-alone demo too for a further incredibly funny send-up of the game’s industry.

Surgeon Simulator 2013

This year saw another straight out of left field concept that worked wonders. Imagine you had a stupid-hand. Now imagine you’re tasked with using said hand to do a heart, brain, or kidney transplant. Now, expect mayhem.

Born out of Global Game Jam-induced insomnia, this messy, colourful, and ridiculous game has become a runaway success that even the developers themselves couldn’t quite fathom when we spoke to them at Eurogamer Expo 2013. Sitting somewhere between classic board-game Operation and Qwop, it’s a rib-tickling and rib-smashing frenzy like no other.

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Bearded British game-bear. Likes his JRPGs accompanied with a G&T. Lives in London, UK. Also writes a lot about theatre and film. *jazz hands*