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

top-ten-indie-games-of-2011

Most Anticipated Indie Games for 2012 and beyond…

Hawken

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. Where Hard Reset and Trine 2 blew our minds, graphically speaking, in 2011, Hawken could undoubtedly be the breakout hit of 2012 in the indie spectrum.

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h4><a href=”http://thebridge.hypercubegames.net/” title=”The Bridge – an indie game from HyperCube Games” target=”_blank” rel=””nofollow”>The Bridge
(HyperCube Games)

MC Escher + puzzle platformer = The Bridge, one of the standouts we got to spend some time with at the 2011 IndieCade festival at which this title was a finalist. Slated for release in 2013.

Owlboy

While the demo for the much and long-anticipated Owlboy became available in 2010, we an;t wait to get our grubby hands-on and playthrough the damned thing once and for all.

Developer summary:
“Owlboy is an adventure game where you use the power of flight to explore large dungeons, roam freely in the skies, and fight dangerous opponents. You control Otus, a wee little owl from the floating village of Vellie, which has come under attack by sky pirates! It falls to Otus to protect his village.”

Journey (PSN)

(ThatGameCompany)

“Experience the wonder. Discover the journey.”

From the creative minds behind such notable titles as Flow and Flower comes a title that drops you into a barren desert, distant peaks on the horizon, with no tutorial, guide or even established context, you derive meaning as you venture through this foreign landscape to find answers. As has become their standard, beautiful graphical treatment and intriguing environments demand intuition and introspection to create a wholly unique experience.

Monaco

We have been monitoring Monaco closely, listening to development podcast interviews and hanging on every update posted at the official site.

Per the site’s description:
“Monaco is a heist game, like the movie Ocean’s 11. Play by yourself or with up to 4 people on the same screen or online. Each player must take advantage of their own unique character class – the Hacker can shut down the security systems while the Muscle blows a hole through the wall.”

Having already been called “the best co-op ever implemented into a game…” this lone developer, for better or worse, has a lot to live up to. We hope he kills it.

Fez

Whose developer is one of the stars of the upcoming documentary Indie Game the Movie that also chronicles the work of Ed McMillen and Jonathon Blow (see The Witness below), Fez is a composite of all the games the dev loved growing up, but the result is something utterly unique and glorious to behold.

Skulls of the Shogun

We got a chance to preview this multiplayer at IndieCade 2011, that is when we could get to the front of the crowd surrounding it. Available on XBLA in 2012.

Retro City Rampage

Oh yes, too many are relying on the retro gaming gimmick to not only draw attention but perhaps beyond pay tribute, compensate for more advanced graphical treatment, but RCR makes sense in this regard and gets the business of mashing pixels up quite right.

The Witness

Jonathan Blow (thus far best known for his groundbreaking Super Mario Bros dream sequence “Braid”) returns with a three dimensional exploratory puzzle game.

Battleblock Theater

From the people who brought Castle Crashers to XBLA (along with copious DLCs) and set the bar for multiplayer, hilarious and smooth Flash style graphics, comes Battleblock Theater – a compendium of freakish characters ready to duke it out in the arena. Much fun will be had.

Spelunky

for XBLA – Even though Derek Yu’s Spelunky has been around since the dawn of, well the new indie game revolution, it will be released with copious updates on XBOX Live Arcade in 2012 and thus be exposed to a huge new audience. It will be quite something to play this randomly generated platformer on a console!

Well, we hope this list helped you find something new and awesome. Thanks to the IGR crew for months of hard work.

What do you think of the games on this list? What did we overlook? Please post your thoughts in the comments below!

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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