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

top-ten-indie-games-of-2011

Best Indie Games of 2011 – Very Honorable Mentions: (con’t)

Gemini Rue

(Joshua Nuernberger)

It may be shorter than some, but when it comes to Adventure games, let alone point-and-click adventure games, which is a genre that strikes a balance between storytelling and interactivity at a degree of abstraction that still allows the imagination to fill in the blanks, this is as good as it gets in 2011.

“The puzzles are non-arbitrary and lend a tangible logic to exploring futuristic environments. Non-interactive cut scenes are spaced apart and concise, but each offers increasing complexity to the storyline that it feels rewarding. Gamers who enjoy seeing a story through to its solid conclusion will find that Gemini Rue has much for them to explore.” – from the review by Darklights (Tanya Kan)

Between Blackwell Deception, To the Moon and Gemini Rue, Wadjet Eye’s catalog was positively on fire in 2011.

Blocks That Matter

(Swing Swing Submarine)

From Swing Swing Submarine, BTM combines self-referential post-modern storyline, great platforming gameplay, and some wickedly challenging puzzles. A game made by gamers for gamers, it still allowed the casuals a fun time – a difficult balance to achieve.

“The level designs are nothing shy of ingenious. The BTMs scattered throughout the game will undoubtedly call out to any self-respecting puzzle enthusiast, and demand multiple playthroughs of some levels. The bonus levels will call upon puzzle-solving and platform gaming skills combined.

Though at times, Blocks that Matter can be frustrating, it is never at the fault of bad design. Mixing a combination of game play elements, from puzzler, to platformer and a post-modern self-referential storyline to boot, it is endearing enough to keep even less ambitious players engaged. There are more than forty stages to conquer, and bonus levels to unlock besides.” – from the review by Callabrantus

Solar 2

(Murudai)

Solar 2, the sequel to the inspired open-universe sandbox is bigger, better and more beautiful than the original.

“In Solar 2, space does go on and on forever. In this “open universe” sandbox game, you play one of a variety of celestial objects. The game strives to be relaxing by setting up a mellow ambiance but with time can become very dramatic.” – from the review by Michael Brune

Trauma

(Krystian Majewski)

Flash-based cinematic Trauma, from Polish developer Krystian Majewski was the standout among a series of avante-garde, cerebral titles (Retention) that blurred the line between photo journal, psychotherapy and interactive multimedia experiences. Only its abbreviated length ultimately notched it from a high position in our top ten.

“They say that films and games have a dreamlike quality, and this strikes potent and true with with Krystian Majewski’s indie “Trauma.” The interactive game emphasizes storytelling and visceral experiences that resonate through gradual interactive progression” – from the review by Darklights (Tanya Kan)

Blackwell Deception

(Wadjet Eye)

“It’s hard to find a good adventure game these days. Heck, it’s hard to find a bad adventure game anymore. I don’t mean these hopped-up action platformers the kids call adventure games, like “Tomb Raider”. I mean the good old-fashioned, click on everything, combine this comb with that iguana to make a puppet to give to the troll to escape the prison cell, pixelated games of the 1990s.

Luckily, Wadjet Eye felt the same way. “Blackwell Deception”, their latest entry in a series of classic adventure games, hearkens back to the days of classic Sierra adventure games, even down to the graphics.” – from the review by Bill Whorton

Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP (iOS)

(Capybara Games)

Indie games have always straddled the line between ubergeek and hipster, and S&S would be the kid who always gets to cut the line and cross the rope at any Silverlake venue.

The combined talents of pixel artist Craig D. Adams and evocative, stereo-aware music by the talented Jim Guthrie S&S raises the standard for multimedia interactive titles on the iOS. Beautiful settings, astounding sound design, a terrific use of the platform (turn the iDevice upright to enter combat for example), think of it as the indie gamer’s platformer in response to Bjork’s Biophilia.

Battleheart (iOS / Android)

(Mika Mobile, Inc.)

“This top seller in the iOS marketplace, developed on the Unity platform, is virtually the perfect game. Like a form of chess wherein each class contributes its own special moves at the cost of certain disadvantages, it gets all the makings of addictive gameplay right, from the incentive to level (by virtue of appropriately difficult bosses or procedurally generated monster encounters) to a quick and easy loot and trade, and even weapon upgrade system, from arena play to a skill training academy, Battleheart includes everything you need and nothing you don’t.

A testament to Battleheart’s replay value is the fact that I ran fully charged batteries out four consecutive nights in a row – it’s really that good. I was first turned onto it when I saw it top Angry Birds in the bestselling games marketplace on the App store – fortunately, my impulsive purchase paid off in spades, or screwed my RL productivity quotient, whichever way you want to look at it. If you have no life, then this is mana from on high. If you have important things to attend to, then stay the hell away from Battleheart.” – from the review by Indie Game Freak

Click Next for Even More Honorable Mentions / awesome games you need to play from 2011 – and Most Anticipated Games for 2012 and beyond

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

 

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

    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 😉

  1. 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.

  2. 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….”

  3. 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.

  4. 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!

  5. “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 ?

  6. 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…

  7. 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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