Road not Taken Articles RSS Feed | GameSkinny.com Road not Taken RSS Feed on GameSkinny.com https://www.gameskinny.com/ en Launch Media Network 8 Indies with Surprisingly Well-Crafted Stories https://www.gameskinny.com/r458g/8-indies-with-surprisingly-well-crafted-stories https://www.gameskinny.com/r458g/8-indies-with-surprisingly-well-crafted-stories Sat, 18 Nov 2017 07:00:01 -0500 bazookajo94

Look, I know what you're thinking. You see an article title with the word "Indie" next to "Well-Crafted Stories," and you suspect another writer praising the wonders of Undertale or LIMBO. And I am such trash for indie games that I'd probably be the one writing that article. 

But I'm also trash for the underdogs, for the stories and games that don't get noticed unless they're played by popular let's players who post two videos a day and need more to sustain their income than AAA games or featured Steam games. 

So here are just a few indie games with stories worth your time that might have gotten lost in the dark shadows of skeletons based on fonts or boys lost in the woods.

One Chance 

One Chance, released by Newgrounds in 2010, follows the story of John Pilgrim, a scientist who thought he created the cure for cancer but instead doomed all of humanity -- unless he could find a cure in six days. In this adventure-style pixelated game, walking, talking, and opening doors are about the extent of your control over the character, but these simple actions still have lasting effects, depending on where the player walks, who they talk to, and what door they open. 

At first glance, the story and concept might not seem that original. I Am Legend immediately comes to mind. And yet another game where our choices matter? Haven't faced the consequences of our actions enough?

But One Chance is different in that you only get just that: one chance. If you reload the browser, the website returns you to the point in the game you ended on. Whatever ending you got, you got. And this game, believe it or not, gets pretty sad. Because John Pilgrim is not alone in his life; he's got a wife and child, and his choices affect them, too. Even before the whole, you know, all-of-humanity-is-doomed ending. 

So good luck, because you've only got one shot to save everyone. 

That Dragon, Cancer

Following the vein of cancer and the tragedy it brings to life comes Numinous Games That Dragon, CancerWritten and created by Ryan and Amy Green, the point-and-click adventure game follows the true story of Ryan and Amy and their son Joel, who was diagnosed with cancer at twelve months old. The gameplay pairs exploration with the upsetting and uplifting moments the family experienced during the years Joel lived with his illness before his death in 2014. 

This is a sad story, but it's a good story, and one worth playing. Even for those who are not as religious as the Green's, whose faith seeped into some aspects of the game. The genuine emotional rawness of this story resonates with all players, even those who haven't personally experienced cancer in their lives.

You can buy That Dragon, Cancer on iTunes or the Google Play Store for $9.99.

OFF

Not all good stories have to be solely sad. They can be creepy and sad, like in the French RPG game OFFDeveloped by Mortis Ghost in 2008 and translated into English in 2011, this Unproductive Fun Time production follows the Batter as he makes his way through the Zones while defeating creatures on his "important mission." The gameplay follows standard RPG protocol: gaining experience after every battle and leveling up eventually, adding members to your party, and turn-based combat mechanics. 

As the player, The Puppeteer, guides The Batter on his quest alongside his cat guide, The Judge, The Puppeteer starts to question who's really evil, who really deserves to be "purified," and if they should be in charge of making that decision at all. 

You can download the game for free here and find out for yourself what's really going on in OFF. 

Calm Time

I've mentioned a pixelated game before and I'm going to do it again with free-to-play Calm Timedeveloped four years ago by GoosEntertainment. This short indie horror game introduces the player as someone who lives on their own in an isolated house with only the wind and stars as company. Tired of being lonely, they invite people to their house for a dinner party. 

And then people start dying. 

Though the game doesn't have an expansive story to captivate its players' hearts, there is just enough for players to start questioning their own morals. To make them sit back and think about their own life choices and whether or not they really think an isolated idea would be such a good idea after all. 

Download the game here and get ready for your peaceful night to get weird. 

Layers of Fear

Who says scary games can't have plot? Maybe the same people who say they read certain magazines for their articles...

Layers of Fear stars a man traversing his own house while trying to survive his crumbling psyche as he struggles to solve the mystery of his past. While being yet another game that's following in P.T.'s footsteps, this 2016 title succeeds by having an original plot that can get pretty spooky. 

Games that have protagonists with hallucinations bring a unique kind of fear, one that has players questioning everything they explore. And in Layers of Fear, they're going to have questions. Why is this guy seeing things? And what's up with his painting? Actually, just what's up with that guy in general? His deterioration into madness is "fun" to experience, and scary to witness. There are also three unique endings to the game, so you get to try three different times to make sure he gets the ending he deserves. 

Paint this game into your heart and nightmares for only $19.99 on Steam, PlayStation, or Xbox. 

Road Not Taken

Not every game has to be dark and depressing. They can be light and depressing, too, like Spry Fox's Road Not Taken. In this puzzle adventure game, players enter the forest and save the town's lost children from the brisk winter storm. Each level that passes is another year closer to retirement. The player also has the option to woo a town's member in an attempt to start a family of your own. But, much like real life, things don't always turn out as planned. 

The charming art style of Road Not Taken serves as an interesting contrast to the underlying starkness of its story. I'd like to say that everything turns out alright, but the developers didn't use Robert Frost's poem as a promise to its players. 

You can find this game for $14.99 on PlayStation, Steam, or Xbox. 

The Swapper

Maybe cute and sad isn't your scene, as mine apparently is. Well, don't worry, because Facepalm Game's sci-fi adventure The Swapper is here to satisfy your futuristic story needs. 

The game opens in an abandoned research facility with the player finding a device that allows them to clone themselves and then swap between their clones, which can only mean that they must use their clones in puzzles that lead them across the facility and closer to the answers surrounding its doomed fate. 

The story feels reminiscent of some of the abandoned vaults in a Fallout game, ones where dead things are everywhere and you can only piece together what happened through journals written and rooms abandoned. Plus, the game is beautiful. Like, seriously gorgeous. 

The Swapper is available on Steam or PlayStation for $14.99. 

Presentable Liberty

That's right. I did it. I saved the best for last. Or, at least, my favorite for last. Presentable Libertydeveloped by Wertpol in 2014 and free to play, tells the story of a prisoner in a cell with sparse interaction from the outside world save for the ticking of a clock and letters from someone the prisoner knows, someone they don't know, and the staff from the prison itself. 

The game begins with the players resigning themselves to the fate of their cell, and then the letters start to reveal more of the secrets behind why the player is locked up and what their friends are doing on the outside, and suddenly they are invested, suddenly they care, suddenly the game start playing tricks on the players mind, giving them a real sense of isolation and despair. 

Perhaps the best place to see the psychological toll this game takes on a player is to commit yourself to the hour of Markiplier's let's play of this game. 

Or, you know, you could play the game and experience it for yourself. You do you. 

As you might have noticed, many of these stories are rather sad, but good stories can be more than sad. They can be cute and sad, or scary and sad, or not sad at all (and thus probably not very good). However, no matter the emotion someone gets when playing a game and experiencing its story, if they finish the game having felt something, then something must have gone right. And though these games may be hard to find or don't have the best quality around, they deserve a chance to have their good (ie sad) stories heard. 

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10 indie gems on Steam that are worth your time and hard-earned dosh https://www.gameskinny.com/2gxcd/10-indie-gems-on-steam-that-are-worth-your-time-and-hard-earned-dosh https://www.gameskinny.com/2gxcd/10-indie-gems-on-steam-that-are-worth-your-time-and-hard-earned-dosh Fri, 26 Feb 2016 06:17:36 -0500 Ashley Shankle

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Endless Legend

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Standard price: $29.99
Genre: 4X turn-based strategy
Demo: No
Steam Store link

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It's hard to say this one is a "hidden gem" considering how often it goes on sale, but when Civilization V is still the top 4X game on Steam, I can't help but bring this baby up in this list. It's fantastic.

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Endless Legend is exactly the type of evolution I, as a regular 4X strategy player, would like to see in ground-based entries (as opposed to space titles like Sins of a Solar Empire) to the genre. Instead of taking pages from popular staple Civilization V, developer Amplitude Studios went in their own direction and created a basically triple-A quality 4X with more of a focus on unit management over city management.

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The game's Hero system, which has players customize Hero units' skills and equipment to better lead their squads to battle or oversee their cities, is fresh, fun, and adds an additional layer of strategy,

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The gameplay variety between factions (and your ability to customize your own faction) means you can play pretty much the way you want -- within reason.

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If you like 4X games, there's pretty much no reason to not pick up Endless Legend. Except maybe the $29.99 price tag with additional paid content DLC. But you expect to put that sort of investment in a high quality strategy game.

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Cook, Serve, Delicious!

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Standard price: $9.99
Genre: Cooking sim
Demo: Yes
Steam Store link

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I'd be willing to guess you probably haven't played a cooking simulation game before.

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Okay, you might have. They're not the rarest genre these days, but they are certainly not common.

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Cook, Serve, Delicious! is a particularly charming brand of cooking sim, with a heaping helping of muscle memory and stress with a side of nice-looking renders of food and a refreshingly appropriate (cheesy) music.

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While the sequel is on the horizon, the original game has more than enough content to keep the virtual cook busy for now.

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Climbing the restaurant ranks is quite the feat in the standard campaign mode -- don't let the "casual" tag on Steam fool you. You have to memorize dozens of recipes, rotate out menu items based on your recent menu choices and challenges, and excel at your craft when catering and when appearing on famous cooking shows.

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Did I mention there's a ton of muscle memory involved here? Remembering each recipe isn't easy, and every customer wants something different.

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The Battle Kitchen update released in 2014 brought new challenges, leaderboards, and a New Game+ mode for veteran chefs. It's a lot easier than actually running a restaurant, that's for sure.

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Wings of Vi

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Standard price: $14.99
Genre: Precision action platformer
Demo: Yes (On Steam Store page)
Steam Store link

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You may as well move onto the next slide if you don't like ramming yourself into one set of obstacles dozens of times -- Wings of Vi probably isn't for you even on Easy Mode.

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But hey, if you're cool with that you're in for one of the best precision platformers in a long time. Plus you get to play dress up, what's not to love?

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Don't let the angel protagonist fool you: Wings of Vi is an absolutely brutal platformer both in terms of combat and the platforming itself, and it is not about to let you finish the game without pulling your own hair out or breaking a few keyboards/controllers in the process.

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There's a lot of care put into the game's music and visuals, and it plays exactly the way you'd want -- except weapon swapping is sometimes a hindrance.  There are plenty of secrets to be found, specifically new weapons and cosmetic items for Vi. It's just a joy to play if precision platformers are your type of game.

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If you make it through Wings of Vi, you get some serious bragging rights. But good luck with that, grasshopper.

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SanctuaryRPG: Black Edition

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Standard price: $7.99
Genre: ASCII turn-based RPG roguelite
Demo: Yes (On the Steam Store link)
Steam Store link

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Stop, don't go! ASCII games need love too, even in this day and age. And SantuaryRPG: Black Edition may just be the one that fits perfectly in your Steam library.

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SanctuaryRPG is a curious game. Despite sticking to some seriously classic RPG traditions and visuals, it's a peculiarly modern game with an addictive battle system that requires the player to pay close attention to enemy states and chain ability usage.

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While it seems a serious, slow game, it couldn't be more the opposite. What we have here is a fairly silly procedurally-generated RPG with more charm and secrets than you can shake a stick at, not to mention combat is pretty quick once you've got it down. And let's not get into its great soundtrack.

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This is one ASCII game that any PC RPG player can chow down on, even if they're unfamiliar with ASCII graphics. Definitely try the demo if you're even remotely curious.

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Vagante

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Early Access price: $14.99
Genre: Action RPG roguelite
Demo: Yes
Steam Store link

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Wary of Early Access games? Me, too. But this is definitely not one to worry about. It's been in Early Access since late 2014, but developer Nuke Nine has packed to the brim with content and quality of life updates since the beginning.

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Vagante is like Spelunky with far more RPG elements, action, and sheer ruthlessness in design. It's slower than Spelunky, more complicated than Spelunky, and may just be the better game for you if you'd like a more serious RPG tint to your dungeon and cave-diving.

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This game is not even remotely for the casual gamer.

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Of all the roguelites on this list, Vagante is the one that took me the longest to get the hang of and progress in, thanks to the random unidentified drops (thanks cursed equipment) and RPG stat/skill leveling. It's worth it, though: Just about everything in this game is stellar, and at the current rate of updates the full release version is shaping up to be amazing.

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If you like roguelites and are comfortable with being even worse at the start than usual in these types of games, you have nothing to lose but hours of your life with Vagante. Especially once online multiplayer is released.

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LISA

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Standard price: $9.99
Genre: Side-scrolling turn-based RPG
Demo: No
Steam Store link

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I know, RPG Maker games don't have the best reputation and LISA certainly was an RPG Maker game, as you can see in the trailer -- though developer Dingaling did port it out of the engine not too long after release.

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What a boring way to start a description of what may be one of the strangest RPGs to see release, and what is certainly one of my favorite games of all time.

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LISA puts you in the shoes of Brad Armstrong, and you're out to save the last girl in the world -- whether it's the right thing to do or not.

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It's difficult to describe this game even as someone who has played it several times. It's dark and uncomfortable, a stark contrast to a certain other indie RPG (you know what it is). The music is catchy and weird, sometimes grating. The battle system is basic but has its merits.

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The story and characters are where it's at in LISA, but the game is not for everyone. It's not for the sensitive or squeamish, but it is for the adventurous gamer with a twisted streak. And if you want a game that utterly confounds you and ultimately makes you feel like trash, this is the way to go.

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Spoilers: You do want a game that utterly confounds you and ultimately makes you feel like trash, you just don't know it yet.

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Risk of Rain

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Standard price: $9.99
Genre: Action platformer roguelite
Demo: Yes
Steam Store link

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I don't think I could put into words how great Risk of Rain is if you're the type who prefers games that are tough as nails.

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I also don't think I could put into words how upset I am the PC version's netcode is so awful while the upcoming PS4 and Vita version is getting dedicated servers. My butthurt on that point is very real. But that isn't what this article is for.

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Risk of Rain is still an amazing game on Steam if you don't have a PlayStation 4/Vita, even if you have to jump through portforwarding hoops to make online multiplayer work.

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Things start out soft in a Risk of Rain run, but don't worry: there's plenty waiting to kill even the most seasoned player. Pushing through, your enemies become more wall than beast or machine -- and you, with luck, will become more weapon than man and escape the planet.

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The controls are tight, the music is amazing, and the variations between characters and their synergies with particular items is a delight.

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I can't think of a single bad thing about Risk of Rain outside of its janky multiplayer, and that is something I'm going to complain about until I'm on my deathbed trying to get in one more round with Acrid with Spite, Enigma, Glass, and Spirit activated.

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Road Not Taken

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Standard price: $14.99
Genre: Turn-based puzzle roguelite
Demo: No
Steam Store link

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The trailer in the header may not make Road Not Taken seem like a stellar puzzle game, but there's so much potential gameplay here for puzzle fans it's hard not to recommend.

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Road Not Taken has you wander into the cold, unforgiving wilderness to save lost children -- which, as you may expect, is not as simple as it seems.

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Players must pick up items they come across and toss them to open doors or combine them to make new items. Saving children is done much in the same way, as you unceremoniously toss them at their parents.

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As Road Not Taken is a roguelite, it has infinite replayability and there really is no getting tired of befriending or wooing townsfolk, especially since things often do not turn out the way you expect.

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Truly a fantastic puzzler from Spry Fox and worth every penny.

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Valdis Story: Abyssal City

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Standard price: $14.99
Genre: Metroidvania action platformer
Demo: Yes
Steam Store link

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Like Metroid? Castlevania? Devil May Cry? Why the hell haven't you played Valdis Story yet?

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This little gem was a surprise Greenlight in 2013, and despite the late release of the third and fourth characters last year, it remains one of the best games of the genre on Steam at the time of writing.

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Valdis Story: Abyssal City's plagued with absolutely awful things like:

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  • Great music
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  • Beautiful semi-3D visuals
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  • Responsive and flexible combat
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  • Secret areas and items
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  • Cool bosses
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  • Weapons, armor, and skill points to fit most playstyles
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...All right, so those things are actually pretty great and so is Valdis Story.

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The controls definitely take some getting used to, and wall-jumping can be pretty awful at times. But if you can get over those points, you're in for one fun ride no matter the character you choose. A great buy for any action platformer or Metroidvania fan.

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Desktop Dungeons

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Standard price: $14.99
Genre: Turn-based roguelike
Demo: No, but you can try a prototype from 2010
Steam Store link

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Do you like math? No? Me neither, but man I love me some Desktop Dungeons.

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The game may seem like your typical roguelike at first glance, but it quickly becomes apparent it's not like its brutal brethren in one key way: it requires the player scope out a floor, check out enemy numbers and available resources. Once you've done so, you plan your strategy based on your level and enemy levels, your HP, MP,  and spells.

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Desktop Dungeons is definitely one of the more planning-intensive roguelikes I've delved into over the years and I'm not ashamed to say I've whipped out a calculator on multiple occasions to plan my strategy.

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If you like roguelikes and want something a little different, this may be one of the best options out there. The gameplay depth paired with unlockable races, classes, and other goodies makes it a well-rounded and excellent addition to any roguelike library.

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It's basically raining indie games on Steam, all the time. You can't go a day without looking at the New Releases section of the Steam Store and seeing a list of indie games. They're everywhere! But if you've dipped your feet into the indie pool before, you know they can be a gamble without some research.

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What's the best way to find indie games on Steam you'd like? Well, going to a game's Store page, checking out the similar titles at the bottom of the listing, and checking their reviews and discussion forums are technically the best way.

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But man, that takes effort.

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More often than not, I just buy my indie games based off recommendations from other similarly-minded individuals. Most of my friends also make their purchases based off word of mouth. You can make a bad purchase even when going off recommendations -- but that's what refunds are for. Sweet, sweet refunds.

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There's a lot out there to wade through, and you mostly base your indie buys off word of mouth anyway. Don't lie, I know you do. Why not take a look at some of mu suggestions? You (probably) won't be disappointed. I think. Maybe.

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Only one of these games is an early access title, and many have demos. What's there to lose? Aside from your future.

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Road Not Taken https://www.gameskinny.com/91lmz/road-not-taken https://www.gameskinny.com/91lmz/road-not-taken Tue, 03 Sep 2013 17:25:42 -0400 CaptainBaams

Spry Fox is coming out with the game Road Not Taken for the PS4 and PS Vita in 2014. Road Not Taken is a rogue like puzzle game about life's good choices and bad choices. In this game you will have to solve puzzles, fight dangerous creatures and find lost children. This game looks nice but it is not easy!

With this game you can play seasons over and over and experience it differently every time. There are lots of different dangerous creatures and puzzles and you must figure the best way to beat them or die trying. It's ok to die though because dying will help you learn what you did wrong and then you will know how to deal with that creature for the future. As you play the game it will get harder, but don't worry because you will get lots of new boosts that will help you through the game. 

This game looks like it could be interesting and if anyone is familiar with Spry Fox's other games, like Triple Town, should think about getting this game!

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