Best Indie Games of 2017

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2017 has been a pretty good year for games. There's no denying that fact. There's so many games that release within a year that it's hard to keep up -- I can barely keep up myself. With all there is to offer, triple-A titles take up the limelight, understandably. 

Now, I'm not saying the big-name stuff is bad. I'm just a fan of the little-known guys, so it's no secret that here at GameSkinny, I'm an indie/niche game aficionado. I feel that particular landscape tends to cover the path less traveled creatively. So to that end, here's my top ten list of indie/niche titles you shouldn't miss out on.

10. Battle Chasers: Nightwar

In a year where we've seen many RPGs, I found Battle Chasers: Nightwar to be pretty unique, which is saying a lot since RPGs tend to be more than a little homogeneous. 

Battle Chasers, in a nutshell, was built with modern sensibilities. It allows you to save anywhere. You can also tackle dungeons at higher difficulties for better treasure. These are but a few of the reasons why it stands out.  

The gameplay is challenging and in-depth to the point where you have to always plan accordingly. The title also features a unique story penned by the same man behind the comic series upon which it's based.

9. Egglia: Legend of the Red Cap

In my honest opinion, Egglia: Legend of the Red Cap may be the best JRPG you'll find on mobile released this year. It's a spiritual successor to Secret of Mana in all but name. So what that means is that it plays and feels like a classic.

The game is ridiculously cute and bright. It features a simple format; you'll explore stages and slowly expand the world. In battle, you'll fight off wild monsters with swords, magic, and/or whimsical spirits -- all while discovering the mysteries of the world. 

As a mobile game, you'll be rewarded with bonuses for playing daily. The game has a very cute and heartwarming story to boot. Egglia is available for iOS and Android.

8. Gundam Versus

Gundam Versus exists in a weird place. The franchise is popular, anime-wise; the games, however, aren't that popular here in the West. So with the release of this title, we have a game that celebrates the franchise's history and gives people robot-on-robot action.

Each unit plays differently and has their own set of abilities. Players can play a robust campaign and take part in online multiplayer matches with other players. The game may not blow you away, but it'll give you a competent robot-based action game. Gundam Versus is available on the PlayStation 4.

7. Toukiden 2

If you've never played a monster hunting title, you're missing out on quite the experience, and there's no better place to start than with Toukiden 2.

Your current circumstances ask that you help defeat demons to keep the land safe. Your quest isn't a lonely one, as you'll be joined by some very colorful characters.

You also have an array of weapons you can us to fight. Do you like big swords? Or maybe you want to punch things out with gauntlets? Whatever you like, you'll find them available. 

You'll find yourself regularly in strange lands and up against some larger-than-life enemies. You'll be driven by a narrative that'll continue to ask you why you and the demons are there. Toukiden 2 is available for PS3, PS4, PS Vita, and PC.

6. Beat The Game 

Beat The Game is perhaps one of the weirdest games I played all year. A music producer find himself in a strange alternate world after a small bike accident. What follows is a bit hard to describe.

Beat, essentially, is the video game form of what it's like to make a song. What does that mean? Well, an artist will often find the sounds he/she needs from interacting with the world at large. So, Beat will find tunes and songs from objects and people you bump into. Each discovery is meaningful and quite strange.

Ultimately, you are tasked with putting on a performance with the sounds you've collected within the surreal sandbox. Beat is a journey all fans of music should experience. Beat The Game is available for iOS and Android.

5. Nighthaw-X3000

Nighthaw-X3000 is, at its simplest, a shmup -- a shmup that is very much inspired by the 1980s. Much like that time period, the game is very set in its particular aesthetics.

You play as a reluctant pilot facing court-martial. Why? Well, aliens have invaded Earth and are threatening his downtime with liquor, so he's all too eager to risk losing his job to save the booze, er, the planet. 

The game features stages and visuals you'd swear were ripped from ads. Stages are pastel-colored, and the game's music sounds like it belongs in Miami Vice. 

You can collect power-ups to help you reach a new high score and stand a better chance. Also, did I mention that the soundtrack is awesome? Nighthaw-X3000 is available for PC.

4. Battle Chef Brigade

 An indie title that was slow cooking for years. The wait, however, was worth it. Battle Chef Brigade is a mix of genres that come together beautifully. It's part adventure, puzzle, RPG, and cooking game. 

What is most enjoyable about the game is the wealth of battle options. Well, I mean to say cooking battle options. You can focus on a variety of tactics, each with its own strength and weakness. It's great to know you can serve up defeat to a foe any way you see fit.

The title is presented as an episodic story of a young lady becoming a battle chef. The game's difficulty/story escalates naturally as the cooking competitions get higher stakes. Also, the cast of characters is so endearing and helps flesh out the story so well that you want everyone to have screentime. Battle Chef Brigade is available on PC and Nintendo Switch.

3. Cuphead

Retro-inspired games aren't dead, friends. In fact, the best place to find them is on the indie market. To that end, we have Cuphead, a game inspired by the animation of the 1930s and mostly old-time jazz music.

The game is also a callback to old-time games like Gunstar Heroes and Contra. Stages are pretty unforgiving, and bosses are ruthless. It's rewardingly difficult and a must-play for hardcore fans. More importantly, it's great to see a title that is so old-school in design be appreciated as this has. Cuphead is available for Xbox One and PC.

2. Drifting Lands

Is there such a thing as an RPG shmup? If one doesn't exist formally, I would like to present Drifting Lands. Drifting Lands is a title based upon a distant future and a new age of exploration. You are a pilot tasked with protecting a caravan through both known and unknown space.

Here, you'll find a fully fleshed-out narrative based upon the perils of futuristic exploration. You'll have a choice to use one of three ships; each focuses on a particular play style to suit any player.

Now, your performance is based on your ship's equipment as well as your skillset. Of course, this is all well and good, but you still have to survive bullet hell and blow up thousands to progress your story. Did I mention that the soundtrack couldn't be any better?

1. Danmaku Unlimited 3

So here we are: The number-one indie title is Danmaku Unlimited 3. Now, this isn't the only shmup mentioned on this list. It is, however, the best, based upon how pure it is. This game is one of the best-designed indie titles and examples of its genre.

The game takes place across five stages where you'll shoot down a large number of ships. The title features the smoothest of controls. There's a variety of difficulty modes to appease everyone of every skill level. The sprite work of your ship, enemies, bosses, and the stages themselves is highly detailed. Boss battles are nerve racking and demand your best. You can literally play this forever because you have your high score -- and the world's -- to beat.

The game features an amazing rock soundtrack. I could mention more, but it bears mentioning that this was made by one person. Danmaku Unlimited 3 is available for PC, Android, and iOS.

So here we are with my indie games of the year. Now, let me tell you that this year has seen a lot of game releases. These are but a few within that grand ocean. Also, there's nothing wrong with liking triple-A titles, but I feel that if you stick to them alone, you'll miss some real gems in the world of gaming.

Do you agree with this list? Do you not agree with this list? Let us know in the comments section below.

Published Dec. 29th 2017

Columnist

32. Haitian. Writer. Fan of niche arts/media. Health/fitness addict. Maybe fashionista, speedster, jjba fan music aficionado . Product of Miami, FL.


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