Top 10 Best Indie Games of 2011 – Indie Game Reviewer’s Favorite Game Picks of the Year


1. Bastion

(Supergiant Games)

Just like Bethesda innovated with its Radiant Quest Engine, Supergiant made a big splash with its seemingly telepathic narrator whose Whiskey-soaked drawl commented not only on the path we took, but the subtleties therein, as if we had an old compadre keeping us company along this amazing ride.

There were very few who did not at the very least mention Bastion in their adventures through the 2011 gaming experience, let alone include it among their very best. But beyond the surrealistic board pattern that manifested beneath our feet and the bona fide indie cred, Bastion told an amazing story whilst hearkening back to the platforming titles from our youth.

In the time it that has elapsed since we began to assemble this list (back in August) Bastion has already won Spike VGA awards for Best Downloadable Game, Best Indie Game, and Best Original Score, and noted in as best of the year in Paste and TIME magazine, Bastion definitely resonated with the not only the indie gaming world but the mainstream. Here is an excerpt from our review, way back when:

“It’s charming, it’s fairly original, and it works. It’ll keep you interested in the story just enough to complement the action until the very end, where instead of simply complementing the game, it becomes the focal point. I really don’t want to spoil it, but what happens at the end simply blew me away.” – HappyWulf

But I feel, as editor, and gamer, I must append to this initial reaction. Bastion is much more than a three-dimensional platforming experience. It is not only beautifully executed, and a refresh on how to display a game level, with its cascading reveals of the landscape before you (that in itself becomes an aspect of gameplay that keeps you on your toes as you ponder what paths will reveal solid ground), but it becomes a surrealist dreamscape, a post-modern fable that highlights the intrinsic experimentation that can arise from an independent developer.

While Catherine or Psychonauts attempted such metaphysical abstractions, Bastion handles it in a way that permeates on not only a philosophical, but dare I say spiritual level. It is what a collaborative interactive media effort might be wherein Manet provides the artwork, Tom Waits the narrative, Luis Bunuel the direction, Carlos Castaneda the higher esoteric ponderance and Beaudelaire the premise.

If all that sounds way too high-brow and FoS, then just know that this game is all that Braid ever brought to the table, it’s as challenging as Super Mario Bros. ever was, and it’s really fun to play.

Bastion provided a perfect encapsulation and proof of concept for the possibilities of what a game, indie or otherwise, can provide that nothing else can. We should be so lucky to get another Bastion any time soon (and to our benefit, our 2012 list of looksees may just keep that party rolling).

Even more amazing games to check out…Click Next to see the list of Very Honorable Mentions!

Top 10. 9. 8. 7. 6. 5. 4. 3. 2. 1. HM1 HM2 HM3 MA


17 thoughts on “Top 10 Best Indie Games of 2011 – Indie Game Reviewer’s Favorite Game Picks of the Year

  1. This has been a fantastic year for Indie games. My congrats to unepic, is really an AAA game.

    1. Thank you for posting 🙂 Not sure that Unepic is anything like a AAA title in the contemporary sense, but it sure it as worthy of attention and your money 😉

  2. Wow! This is an incredibly comprehensive list. Though I may not agree fully with the top 10, you’ve done a wonderful job mentioning all these fantastic indie games (some of which I haven’t heard of). I’ll definitely go through this list later to check out any awesome indie game I may have missed. Thanks for putting this list together.

    1. Thank you for your kind acknowledgement. It was a spectacular year and it sure kept us very busy. 🙂 2012 will not slow this trend down one bit.

  3. Man, the Binding of Issac, to me, was the game of the year. I pumped more hours into that game than any other indie game I’ve ever played (we’re talking 40+ here). Plus, I don’t know if you guys heard this, but they’re working on DLC for it that is said to “nearly double the size of the game”, to which my free time responds “Ah crap….”

  4. Thanks for compiling such an extensive list! I missed out on quite a few of these games, unfortunately, but at least now I have a great reference point. One game I am very happy to see included is Rock of Ages. I don’t think that title got nearly enough press, considering how much fun it was.

  5. Great article, and nice to see some titles get acknowledged that didn’t get the press deserved in 2011 by the mainstream media 🙂 Couple of other titles to watch for in 2012 are StarDrive, Kenshi and Airmech, all look really nice, and we have to plug our own title Star Prospector that will be released very soon!

  6. “When we saw the first trailer for Hawken, we thought it was an April Fool’s joke. There was no way the gameplay could look as good as what we were seeing. And yet as further gameplay clips emerge, it seems to hold to its promise. With a fast growing user base who play the beta, it seems it is more than just smoke and mirrors”

    What beta ? Does hawken have a beta running ?

  7. what no machinarium? it’s a great game and deserves to be here! i couldn’t help but not to fall in love in that game and i usually don’t like puzzle games and it was a lot better than tiny bang story

    1. Thanks for commenting. We loved it too. Machinarium, however, was release Friday 16 October 2009…

  8. At first I was disappointed with your list. Especially when I saw Bastion as number one. An average game with a good voiceover seems to have stunned everyone…

    But the rest of your list and the sheer number of Honourable Mentions has really made this a great reference for anyone casually looking around the indie scene. Great range from things like Spacechem and Solar 2 through to odd little gems like To the Moon. Great list, thanks for the (no doubt) many hours that must have gone into putting this together.

    1. It’s always interesting when, in disagreeing with a carefully thought-out and presented opinion, one’s only argument is “no way.”

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