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IGR’s Top 10 Best Indie Games of 2013 and Honorable Mentions

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Ironclad Tactics

Zachtronics
Windows PC, Mac, Linux, Steam

“The latest title from Zachtronics (creators of Spacechem) is a fantasy take on the early American Civil War era. In this particular iteration, the soldiers march alongside powerful battle robots known as Ironclads. Ironclad Tactics is a CCG styled strategy game that looks and plays a bit like Mojang’s Scrolls, but is fast-paced to the point of almost becoming an RTS.”

Ironclad Tactics screenshot

All in all the game is really solid. The comic art style is superb, the first-class American folk soundtrack that includes bugles, military snares, banjos and fifes is catchy (there is one tune in particular that I could not get out of my head all day). With the promise of more campaigns, cards and challenges promised in upcoming DLC expansions, there is hope that Ironclad Tactics will enjoy a very long life-cycle.”

– From the original review of Ironclad Tactics by HappyWulf

We only excluded it form our top ten because we were concerned by the challenge in getting online matches quickly enough. Though the solo campaign is excellent, there are aspects of the game that heavily encourage online pvp. If the community isn’t there, the game’s replayability and a large part of the package is in danger of obsolescence. Of course this is not exclusive to Ironclad – but any indie that has the courage to rely on the community being there to play with each other. AAA titles have huge marketing budgets, sometimes big enough to match the GDP of small countries. Indies, not so much, but we are here to help you out! be brave! And Ironclad Tactics is awesome.

IRONCLAD TACTICS – OFFICIAL SITE

The Bridge

By Ty Taylor and Mario Castaneda, this pencil-drawn puzzler uses simple left and right controls to rotate the screen and solve MC Escher inspired levels. Absolutely great mind-bender. Watch out for falling objects! ~ Indie-Game-Freak

THE BRIDGE – OFFICIAL SITE

Shelter

Might and Delight
Windows PC, Mac, Steam

“Oh, it all started innocently enough—my five cubs and I emerged from our cozy little cave to frolic through the forest with nothing but food on our mind. But less than an hour later four of my children were dead and I was terrified I would lose the fifth. My material instincts kicked into overdrive as everything I knew about being a badger was put to the test. Was I able to save the last of my offspring?”

Shelter by Might and Delight - screenshot

Read the full review of Shelter by Mark Hill

SHELTER – OFFICIAL SITE

Starseed Pilgrim

Droqen
Windows PC, Mac

“You could be forgiven for initially dismissing Starseed Pilgrim as little more than a curiosity. Droqen’s latest endeavor is a strange, abstract title that does little to endear itself to new players; spending ten minutes with the game might leave you with the vague impression that something is missing. Spend an hour with it and you may come to the conclusion that it was designed with the specific purpose to bewilder and confuse its audience…”

If you stay a little longer though, you’ll begin to see something compelling and altogether worthy of your time emerge from the blankness.”

Read the full review by Kit Goodliffe

STARSEED PILGRIM – OFFICIAL SITE

The Novelist

Kent Hudson
Windows PC, Mac, Steam

The Novelist is an intriguing heartfelt work by Kent Hudson who decided to go at game development alone after more than a decade working on AAA games like Deus Ex: Invisible War and BioShock 2. But The Novelist in not an interactive fiction – in fact it is as much a stealth game (wherein you avoid detection by the family and leap – by way of possession – from light source to light source), and a puzzler, as it is an examination of personal and moral quandaries.

The Novelist screenshot
Dan descends the stairs at the retreat house. “The Novelist” – screenshot

That said, it is a deeply touching and oftentimes unsettling treatise on how we balance and prioritize family life with work, solitude with sociability, and how we qualify success. A unique title. ~ Indie-Game-Freak

THE NOVELIST – OFFICIAL SITE

Kentucky Route Zero

Cardboard Computer
Windows PC, Mac, Linux, Steam

Cardboard Computer is the development studio populated by Jake Elliott and Tamas Kemenczy. Together they have created a flat-designed Lynchian ghost story that blurs the line between the present and the past, the living and the dead, the truth and misdirection as you are tasked with fining your way out of a black hole in the universe, the strange corridor they call Kentucky Route Zero.

Kentucky Route Zero
Kentucky Route Zero – screenshot

By the end of 2013, only the first two (of five) chapters were available. Having played them, we were delighted to see them called up for two IndieCade awards from the seats beside where we sat.

KENTUCKY ROUTE ZERO – OFFICIAL SITE

Camp Keepalive

Twofold Secret
Windows PC, Mac, Linux, Desura

“TwofoldSecret’s Camp Keepalive is turn-based tactics game in which overmatched teenage counselors attempt to shepherd delinquent campers to safety while monsters prowl the countryside searching for victims. It’s basically the setup to a bad slasher flick, although that’s where the parallels end.”

“Unlike its inspirations, Camp Keepalive is not a horror title. It’s instead a loving homage to a much broader genre, touching on everything from Twin Peaks to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The sheer variety – as well as the satirical undertones – hews closer to Cabin in the Woods than Friday the 13th.

Camp Keepalive screenshot

“It’s fantastically funny, and it places the game far enough outside genre convention to hint at more original potentialities

Unfortunately…glitches are severe enough to warrant a strong word of caution. Don’t buy the game right away. Download the demo and try to figure out whether or not it will play nicely with your toys.”

From the original review of Camp Keepalive by Eric Weiss

CAMP KEEPALIVE – OFFICIAL SITE

Outlast

Red Barrels
Windows PC, Steam

The only reason Outlast didn’t make our list (and it was in nearly every position of our top ten at one point or another) is that we ultimately felt that, though it does horror better than any other game this year, and it looks as good as Crysis, it just didn’t really add any completely risky new ideas to the existing catalog but instead relied on cat-jumping-off-a-ledge scare tactics and incredibly graphic gore to create its terror.

Sure it does Fatal Frame and Amnesia as a mashup really well, but we have definitely seen that before. That said, Outlast is really terrifying. Once you have made your way into the asylum and get knocked over the balcony where there is no way out but through, you are in for the wild ride of your life.

So, we hope you dare yourself to play this incredible indie title, and hope you will understand why we made room for something else in our top ten. But all told, what Outlast does, it does indelibly well. ~ Indie-Game-Freak

OUTLAST – OFFICIAL SITE


Thanks for reading, and remember that even if you don’t see your favorite game on this list, we may either have covered it in our writer’s lists or just wanted to spread the love to other games. Don’t hesitate to share the list out there in the wilds of the internets along with your thoughts and responses in the comments section below!

Indie-Game-Freak
Editor in Chief
IndieGameReviewer.com

Twitter @IndieGameReview

ps. if you really don’t care about what we have to say or why we liked these games, you can skip to the next page to see the list at a glance.

Top 10. 9. 8. 7. 6. 5. 4. 3. 2. 1. HMs HM2 LST

3 comments on “IGR’s Top 10 Best Indie Games of 2013 and Honorable Mentions

  1. “Gone Home accomplishes a remarkable feat – building up a series of narratives in the player’s mind through mere suggestion, but ultimately proving none of them to be true.”

    Gragh! Why would that be the first sentence?! And I can’t let myself read the rest to get any sort of context, so now I’ll be assuming everything goes to pot, and whenever I get around to playing GH, it’ll likely be a niggle in the back of my mind, not allowing me to attach to anything that seems to have gone on. sigh, It feels like single-player experiences are more important to play “day one” than multiplayer, in this digital age. So hard to keep myself away from spoilers (or what I take as spoilers), y’know?

      1. Not to play devils advocate to much here but the game has been out for months and making press every day like crazy AND this is a GOTY article all kinds of red flags flying around if you don’t want spoilers my man 😉

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