Dungeons of Dredmor

Indie games have been around forever, but in the past decade, as more and more videogames have become multimillion-dollar blockbusters, the term has come into its own. Indie has grown into a blanket term for anything that is not a shiny, billion-dollar spectacle. And while that’s reductive, indie studios do generally have more freedom (and more desire) to experiment with the medium, or else create the types of games the blockbuster market considers unthinkable.

This isn’t an attempt to create a canonical “best of” list of the greatest indie games ever made. Instead, these are the indie games the PC Gamer team cherish the most in 2017. Consider this the beginning of a conversation, rather than the final word. Each member of our team voted on their top 10 games, and the results below are what happened when we mashed those lists together. With science.

So without further ado, here are the 25 best indie games you can play right now. If you’re left wanting even more lists, here are the best PC games (in any genre) you can play right now, and here are the 50 most important.

25. Gone Home

Released: 2013 | Developer: Fullbright

Shaun: Video games aren’t always about mowing down aliens and nazis and trolls in fantasy/sci-fi/post-apocalyptic settings. But most of the time they are. Gone Home wasn’t the first meditative, narrative-driven game, but it arrived at a time when people were more receptive to their possibilities than ever before. Crucial to Gone Home’s success is that, rather than resting on the delivery tactics of film, Fullbright uses the more tactile nature of the videogame medium. Sure, it’s interactive in the sense that you’re wandering through a home and discovering its inhabitants’ stories, but it also asks of the player that they mull over the lives that they’re eavesdropping on. While there are plenty of “walking simulators” nowadays, Gone Home endures because the story it tells is enduringly affecting and important.

24. Proteus

Released: 2013 | Developer: David Kanaga

Jody: I like walking simulators, and I use the term affectionately, but sometimes I find it hard to get caught up in their stories. They can feel anticlimactic. Proteus doesn't because its story is one I tell myself. It dumps me on a procedurally generated island and lets me explore, climbing hills and chasing frogs. There is another story in it though, in the sense that there's a sequence of events that you can experience, but it's a subtle one. (I'll give you a hint: it involves the standing stones.) If you want it there's a build-up and climax there, but even without that the relaxing strolls over its islands gave me all the satisfaction I needed.

23. Papers, Please

Released: 2013 | Developer: Lucas Pope

Jody: Games are amazing at letting you experience someone else's life. To pick an extreme example, just like the wriggly controls of Snake Pass give you an insight into what it would be like to be a snake, the rubber stamps and bureaucracy of Papers, Please make you feel like a border guard under a totalitarian regime.Morality's a thing games don't often do well, but by letting you master increasingly complex regulations—Papers, Please has a great difficulty curve, which indie games sometimes struggle with—it gives you power over the hapless citizens who line up to present their documentation. It motivates you to judge them harshly because if you don't, the pay you need to support your family will be docked, but also because the detective work of uncovering fraud is shockingly fun. You discover a contradiction in someone's papers and feel great, then realize what that will mean for the human on the other side of the counter trying to get home and feel awful. Yeah, it's a game about paperwork, but it's so intense that when I was rewarded for my paper-pushing by being given the key to the gun cabinet I wanted to hand it back. I wanted to tell a video game I wasn't interested in its gun.

Austin: I still remember one of the many would-be citizens I turned away in Papers, Please—the old man who repeatedly submits ridiculously inaccurate papers. Sometimes his ID shows the wrong gender or expiration date, sometimes he even has a photo of someone else on ‘his’ passport. His errors get more and more obvious and egregious, but his cheery attitude never changes. Every time I turned him away, he’d just smile and say he’d be back, like I was a server at his favorite local restaurant. Papers, Please is a game about hard choices, but nothing in it made me feel guiltier than denying that old man so many times. 

22. N++

Released: 2016 | Developer: Metanet Software

Shaun: During my first ecstatic weeks spent with N++, I thought it might be the last platformer I’d ever need to play. The slippery, floaty physics are so expertly tuned, and the level design so varied (despite having upwards of 5,000) that I thought it could keep me busy forever. And while I’ve played probably dozens of different platformers since, N++ is the only one I feel compelled to regularly return to.

Even when you’re not winning, N++ just feels good, and its focus on precision and reflexes isn’t as potentially frustrating as it can be in, for example, Super Meat Boy. The whole game has a zen-like quality, from its austere minimalistic art style through to the experimental electronic soundtrack (one of the few, in a platformer, that I’ve never turned the volume down on). This is simply the best pure platformer you can get on PC, a museum-worthy distillation of the genre’s strengths.

21. West of Loathing

Released: 2017 | Developer: Asymmetric Publications

Chris: West of Loathing is just so wonderfully jam-packed with humor, clever writing, and charming characters that it's hard to stop playing even when you've finished the main story, solved all of the (sometimes quite devious) puzzles, and collected every hat (there are more than 50) in the game. Everywhere you turn there's some little bit of descriptive text that will make you smile, chuckle, or laugh, even the the settings menu. It's one of the only games that drove me to explore not for loot or experience, but for words.

20. Crypt of the Necrodancer

Released: 2015 | Developer: Brace Yourself Games

Bo: Crypt of the Necrodancer is a rhythm-based roguelike—a DDR-dungeon crawler, if you will. A head-scratching combination, to be sure, but that's exactly what it is. Dance your way through pixelated depths to the beat of an awesome, rhythmically complex soundtrack. Stay on beat to slay the dungeon's dancing denizens, and don't forget to spend some time with the opera-singing shopkeeper. 

Evan: Definitely give the metal version of the soundtrack by YouTuber FamilyJules (composed by Danny Baranowsky) a listen. It's right up there with the Doom 2016 soundtrack. 

19. Bastion

Released: 2011 | Developer: Supergiant Games

Jody: There's no game I've had better luck recommending to people than Bastion. Everybody loves its narration and its music, which would be cool independently but become truly outstanding because of how they're integrated. You think you're hearing a beautiful soundtrack and then you discover the musician in the level you're exploring. You think the narrator is a guy with a deep voice telling a story and then he reacts to how you play.

Bastion is an action RPG about a ruined sky-city that rebuilds itself under your feet, nothing beyond the screen existing until you walk toward it. Instead of playing inventory Tetris you choose two weapons from a growing catalogue, and are rewarded for choosing strange pairings with narration snippets and radically altered play. And if you don't like the combat then go into the options and pick a different control scheme. I'm not normally the kind of critic to sing the praises of an options menu but you can turn Bastion into Diablo if you want. Come on, that's awesome.

18. Her Story

Released: 2015 | Developer: Sam Barlow

Jody: I used to watch an English cop show called The Bill. Back when it was good they'd sometimes dedicate half an episode to an interrogation, a guest star stamping their mark on the show. That's Her Story, only instead of cops it's you, years after the recorded interview, searching through video clips by entering keywords. Her Story plays out in those videos and that search bar, but it's also played on note paper you inevitably fill with conspiracy scribbles like Charlie from It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. I didn't bother making notes during Fez (I probably should have), but for Her Story I scrawled pages. 

It spread even further after that, into an argument with friends about what really happened which I remain convinced I'm right about. Maybe I got obsessed? It's one of a handful of games I 100-percented on Steam and I don't regret it.

Wes: In tech, skeuomorphic design—making your music player in the form of a cassette tape, for example—is now quaint and frowned upon. But it's a rarely used concept in games, and Her Story uses it to great effect. I'd go so far to say that its dusty CRT computer interface is the best marriage of aesthetic and game design in anything I've ever played. It's immersive in a subtle, well-earned way that makes Her Story enrapturing from its first few moments.

17. Dungeons of Dredmor

Released: 2011 | Developer: Gaslamp Games

Chris: I'm not typically one for turn-based games, and roguelike RPGs often break my heart when I'm forced to start over from scratch, but Dungeons of Dredmor immediately drew me in with its style and comedy. I've never won a game, never beat or even met Lord Dredmor, never even gotten more than a few levels deep. It's still a joy to play for its writing, humor and surprisingly deep and amusing lore.

Evan: The absurdity goes so far to soften the blows of its difficulty. You can build a Vampire Communist who wields Egyptian Magic, Fungal Arts, or Emomancy to fight hordes of weird robots, carrots, genies, and whatever the hell diggles are.

Austin: I keep coming back to Dungeons of Dredmor because it’s a gamble I don’t mind losing. I’ve never beaten Dredmor either, but generating a random character and pushing the usefulness of absurd skills like Fleshsmithing, Killer Vegan and Paranormal Investigator is always a thrill, even when I die on the first or second floor. It’s a system that rewards inventiveness. You can manually select your skills, but rolling the die and making the best of random skills is far more satisfying, and like the optional but actually totally necessary permadeath, makes every round feel genuinely different.

16. Lovely Planet

Released: 2014 | Developer: QuickTequila

Shaun: You don’t need blood and exploding heads in a first-person shooter. Case in point: Lovely Planet, a first-person shooter where you run increasingly complex gauntlets while shooting cute pastel shapes in a floating pastel land. But how, you ask. How can a game about shooting cute pastel shapes (that don’t bleed!) be fun? Because this is basically a platformer—a more-ish precision-oriented runner combining the fluidity of a Quake speedrun with the one-more-try quick respawn loop of Super Meat Boy. 

15. DEFCON

Released: 2006 | Developer: Introversion Software

Tyler: DEFCON is one of those games I could play forever. It's a simple, morbid real-time strategy game in which global nuclear war is inevitable and 'winning' means losing fewer people than everyone else. In the early stages it's about placing missile silos (which double as missile defense systems), airfields, radar stations, and fleets of submarines, battleships, and aircraft carriers. As the war turns hot, the only option is to manage losses and inflict your own genocide, to make paranoid alliances and break them with bombs—ignoring that the fallout will kill everyone anyway. The brutality is rendered with War Games-style vectors, turning cities to dots and people to casualty numbers, emulating the calculated viciousness of modern drone wars.

14. Oikospiel

Released: 2017 | Developer: David Kanaga

James: Oikospiel is a dog opera game about dogs making an opera game. I think. Here’s the plot synopsis according to developer, composer, everything-er David Kanaga: “The Oikospielen Opera is developing an epic global-gaming festival called THE GEOSPIEL, scheduled for the year 2100. The opera's employees, organized by the Union of Animal Workers, are trying to integrate the game dev dogs of Koch Games into their group, but these loyal pups love their jobs and boss Donkey Koch too much! Will there be Unity, or will Multiplicity prevail?” 

It’s as strange as it sounds, and it sounds strange—literally—too. With a soundtrack that mimics its frenzied landscapes, Oikospiel is a touching, psychedelic trip through videogame history with a meaningful message about labor.

13. The Stanley Parable

Released: 2011 / 2013 | Developer: Galactic Cafe, William Pugh, Davey Wreden

Shaun:  Are you playing the game, or is the game playing you? So much of our agency in modern games is illusory, or, more gratingly, reductive and binary. Are you going to go the nice path or the bad-arse path? The Stanley Parable is a meta-critique of gaming as a medium, but it’s also a trojan horse existential crisis (and we all love having those). When we don’t take the critical path, the one prescribed to us, what could possibly go wrong? And given the actual opportunity to do so—given the opportunity to deliberately stray from what a game (or The Stanley Parable’s narrator) is telling us to do, is there any point in playing the game at all? Hmmm. Makes you think.

Jody: First time I played The Stanley Parable I did everything I was told to. Knowing it would be meta-commentary, I rebelled by not rebelling. That’s a dumb way to experience The Stanley Parable for the first time. Don’t do that. Sabotage it, go the wrong way, hide in a closet and refuse to leave. It’s a better game if you break the rules other games have taught you rather than the first rule of The Stanley Parable, which is: don’t do what you’re told.

12. SOMA

Released: 2015 | Developer: Frictional Games

Shaun: Survival horror too often devolves into repetitive efforts to fend off undead with unwieldy weaponry, but Soma is different. There’s no combat on this underwater research facility, and enemy encounters are few and far between. Most of the time you’re just looking at stuff, but that’s ok in the hands of studio Frictional. They manage to wring an overwhelming sense of dread and despair from a mere dark corridor, not to mention the sprawling sub-aquatic outdoor areas peppered throughout. And the ending of Soma—even if you’re usually ambivalent towards low action horror—is worth the trip alone. It may be more contemplative and less jump scare-oriented than Amnesia, but it’s all the better for it.

James: I’d even recommend those typically averse to horror give SOMA a try. Install the teasingly named “Wuss Mode” mod from the Steam Workshop to make the monsters harmless without losing much horror in the process. Sure, you won’t have to hide, but that doesn’t make their appearance and origins any less terrifying. 

11. Thumper

Released: 2016 | Developer: Drool

Shaun: Thumper is like an ugly, loathsome, despair-inducing industrial techno song come to life. And that’s a very good thing. In our recent list of the best PC games you can play right now, Evan described it as “a documentary about the path you take to heaven or hell when you die” which is just about the most alluring description for a video game I’ve ever read. Yes, it’s a tough, precision-oriented rhythm game, but it’s a precision-oriented rhythm game that feels like a collaboration between Gaspar Noe and Laibach.

On the next page: the top 10.

10. Nidhogg 2

Released: 2017 | Developer: Messhof Games

Bo: I'm a sucker for local multiplayer games, and Nidhogg is one of the best. Somewhat of a cross between fencing and tug-of-war, Nidhogg's 1v1 matches play out over the course of many brief but violent clashes, resulting in a tense back-and-forth that's every bit a battle of wits as it is one of skill. And like all good local multiplayer games, it's easy to pick up and play but has a well of strategic depth that makes it difficult to master.

The recently-released Nidhogg 2 builds on its predecessor with a new grotesque claymation art style as well as a handful of new weapon types that mix combat up just enough to make things exciting without hampering the original's simplistic greatness. The result is a fantastic fighter we keep coming back to—especially if an office bet needs to be settled. 

9. Fez

Released: 2012 | Developer: Polytron Corp 

Shaun: Fez accumulates more poignancy with age. It’s a puzzle platformer tightly stuck between two dimensions, and harried by each of them. The protagonist is tasked with investigating and hopefully fixing the scourge of a newly arrived third dimension in a happily two-dimensional world, and this could read, from a fairly one-dimensional point of view, as an indictment on progress, a kind of luddite’s journey. 

But as time passes—as the world becomes more overtly hostile—Fez’s innocent take on the loss of innocence rings true. As time passes, each of us will realise that certain uncomfortable truths have always lingered just out of our sight, waiting to pounce. And others will persevere, dig deeper (whether wisely or otherwise), for conspiracies and better buried secrets (and boy does Fez have secrets). Fez is a game about the hidden regions of our world that are always there, always mysterious, usually forbidding. It’s a beautiful and serene and sad game, but also, as an aside, really fun to play too. Fez is timeless in the way it can convey a wealth of emotion and contemplation through its systems alone.

Wes: After its fairly simple introductory hours, every discovery and deduction I made in Fez felt like a hard earned victory, or the unraveling of an impossibly complex puzzle. I love the sensation of "this can't possibly be the solution" in a videogame, only to discover that my crazy hypothesis was correct. That's what Fez is all about. And I love how clearly you can feel the immense amount of thought and polish that went into it; it feels every bit the intricate, perfectly tuned puzzle someone spent half a decade slotting together, piece by piece, until everything was just so.

8. Night in the Woods

Released: 2017 | Developer: Infinite Fall

Shaun: Some of the most noteworthy indies from the last decade have been adventure games, but it took until 2017 for one of the highlights, Night in the Woods, to emerge. As endearing feline Mae Borowski, you’re returning to the sleepy rural town of your childhood after an unsuccessful college stint. The town is on the decline, and so too, it seems, is Mae’s future. Things haven’t quite turned out the way she (or her family) had hoped, and much of Night in the Woods is about dealing with this mild disappointment. Exploring the township of Possum Springs is a joy in itself, but it’s the way Night in the Woods weaves a universal coming of age tale around an otherwise straightforward puzzle-laden adventure game that is remarkable. 

7. Kentucky Route Zero

Released: 2013-ongoing | Developer: Cardboard Computer

Jody: I wanted to wait. I wanted all five episodes of Kentucky Route Zero to be complete before I climbed into it and drove off. That's how I played The Walking Dead, and rumbling through that in one week contributed to its effect. I caved in and played Kentucky Route Zero though because a poet recommended it to me, and that's not something that happens every day. It’s obvious why she thought I had to try it, unfinished as it was (and still is). Kentucky Route Zero’s writing is gorgeous, ornamental but also able to get right at the meat of a thing. It's there when someone calls an office bureaucracy "the paperclip labyrinth" or describes topology as "the science of continuous space".

Kentucky Route Zero is an adventure game of the modern kind, where decisions and dialogue rather than puzzles pace your progress. It's about finding a lost highway, but it quickly buries you in a kind of American mythology where mystery roads are the least strange thing. I'd hate to spoil what you'll find, but if you get in an elevator, see a button that says "third floor (bears)" and aren't tempted to press it, then I don't even know you.

Though it feels like being in a novel, Kentucky Route Zero pays homage to games. That explanation of topology takes place in "a twisty maze of passages", a reference to the classic text game Colossal Cave Adventure. So is the fact that the first item you pick up is a lamp. Some of the earliest PC games were about manipulating words because that was all they had. Kentucky Route Zero is about manipulating words because that's a fascinating thing to do. It's hard to explain why encountering its word-hoard has such a potent effect, but I'm just a journalist. They should have sent a poet.

6. Stardew Valley

Released: 2016 | Developer: Eric Barone

Bo: There are few games that delight me in the way that Stardew Valley does. I grew up loving the Harvest Moon series, and Stardew takes that formula and applies it to the PC space. Stardew strips away many of Nintendo's puritanical hangups—same-sex marriage and sexual innuendo aren't taboo inclusions, for example—but maintains the charm of tilling fields, planting seeds, and growing crops. There's also a vibrant town to get to know, mines to explore, and tons and tons of fish to fish. I've spent more than 80 hours in Stardew Valley, and I'm looking forward to my next trip to the country. 

James: Do you see me now, dad? You didn’t think my mayonnaise dreams would get me anywhere and look at me now.

Jody: Thank goodness I am not the only person making bank off mayonnaise. The quality eggs provided by my hens, Chickity and Nug, are the secret of my success.

5. Undertale

Released: 2015 | Developer: Toby Fox

Wes: A friend and I played Undertale in a single sitting. It first inspires curiosity at its quirkiness, then determination to solve its challenging combat without taking the easy way out, then admiration for the delivery of its jokes and the tight meshing of themes and RPG mechanics twisted sideways. Comparisons to Super Nintendo RPG Earthbound, while apt, don't do Undertale justice: it's incredibly smart in how it thinks about the way we play videogames and challenges and surprises with new ideas at every step.

It's a game I genuinely think everyone should play. You'll either appreciate the humor, or the challenge, or the freedom to play through in many different ways, or the painstaking one-off moments, or the ways creator Toby Fox bent engine Game Maker to his will, or the prospect of a "true" ending to earn. It looks simple, but there's so much under the surface.

4. Kerbal Space Program

Released: 2015 | Developer: Squad

Chris: Whether you're seriously into the science and simulation, or just looking for some fun sending adorable astronauts into space (or watching their rockets explode before they get there), Kerbal is a near-perfect physics sandbox. One of the reasons it's such a joy to play is that there's immense satisfaction in the successes, like the first time you reach orbit, or land on the Mun, or safely bring your astronauts home from a mission, but there's also pleasure to be had (as well as lessons to be learned) from your failures.

KSP is both easy and immensely challenging: rockets can be snapped together quickly, and tweaked or rebuilt in mere moments, but conquering the solar system requires precision and know-how. Its charming looks and its detailed physics simulation make it a game for just about anyone, from casual rocket tinkerers to passionate rocket scientists.

3. Hollow Knight

Released: 2017 | Developer: Team Cherry

Wes: The best Metroidvania in years, perhaps because developers Team Cherry didn't explicitly set out to make a game in the image of Metroid. They were making a 2D action game, sure, set in a gorgeous hand-drawn decaying bug civilization, but they were mainly concerned with building out an intricate and interesting world, and the rest followed. "The rest," in this case, is a game that feels fantastic to play, with a character who moves exactly as you want and a weapon that hits with a fast and brutal crack. Combat and traversal stay rooted in the basics of jump, dodge, hit, never scaling too far beyond the capabilities you have from the very beginning. It always favors skill over power-ups.

Hollow Knight rarely tells you where to go or what to do, making palpable the satisfaction and wonder of discovering new parts of the world and new abilities. And it just keeps going. The world is huge, more detailed than you ever expect it to be, and suddenly you're two dozen hours deep and wondering how much you still have to find. The Super Nintendo had Super Metroid; PlayStation had Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. Hollow Knight may not be spoken of in the same breath, just yet, but before long I think its place in that lineage will be clear: the PC had Hollow Knight.

2. Darkest Dungeon

Released: 2016 | Developer: Red Hook Studios

Shaun: Ah, dread. It’s what you generally try to avoid in an RPG rogue-like: you want to try to mitigate dread, manage it out of existence. But dread is Darkest Dungeon’s default state. In vague terms it’s a dungeon crawler, but the dungeons aren’t miraculously swept chasms with the odd cobweb and exhumed grave—they’re dank and gross. Add to that, the need to manage your entourage’s sanity (not easy in a game that takes some small inspiration from Lovecraft) and you have an RPG that rarely offers respite. That could sound punishing, but Darkest Dungeon’s mood, and the way that you can invest your emotions in its variables, rather than just your brain and its ability to parse bigger and better numbers, makes for a gripping and bleak RPG.

Evan: I love how martial, not magical, most of the character archetypes are. Apart from the Vestal, there aren't true spellcasters—Darkest Dungeon is acted out in blood, iron, poison, bones, and crossbow bolts. That grounds the game as a whole and adds to its grittiness. The fights that play out, with the help of great 2D camera effects and sound design, feel physical and jarring as a result. It also creates good contrast with DD's monsters, a gang of blood-sucking, spore-sneezing, tentacle-having, spinal column-collecting abominations.

1. Spelunky

Released: 2008, 2013 | Developer: Mossmouth

Shaun: The first time I played Spelunky I deleted it off my hard drive within ten minutes. Then, later, at the behest of then-PC Gamer scribe Graham Smith’s review, I begrudgingly reinstalled it. I can still remember what hooked me this second time: I picked up a gold mask, a rumble filled the air, and then a massive boulder collapsed through the ceiling and crushed a nearby vendor to death. I laughed, it was funny, I woke my partner up. That’s when I became addicted to Spelunky. 

A lot has been written about the beauty of Spelunky’s interlocking systems, its propensity for creating stories, and its tough-but-fair difficulty. That’s all been said and written a hundred times before, and while Spelunky is still a relatively new game in the wide scheme of things, it feels like a classic. I often boot it up just to be inside of it, just to soak up its mood. It’s weird to seek the comfort of familiarity in a game that’s always throwing curveballs, but aside from the glory of its systems and stories, Spelunky is a really beautiful, heartwarming game. It also was the first to demonstrate to me, personally, that a small game that originated as freeware could contain so much: so many stories, so many events, so many countless, frankly embarrassing, hours.

Evan: I'm gonna use this opportunity to share this great cover of the Mines theme.

Wes: Even after four years, Spelunky's spot at the top of this list is well deserved. The way its hero and items and traps and enemies and random generation interact with one another is still peerless. Just as brilliant, though, is Spelunky's daily challenge, the perfect combination of old school arcade leaderboard and infinitely replayable randomized roguelike. The daily challenge added structure and permanence to a genre that prided itself on not having any, and it works; it's become a must-have feature in any similar roguelike ever since.

See our honorable mentions on the next page.

Honorable mentions

Listing 25 of the best indie games has not been an easy task. While the list isn’t designed to be exhaustive, there were dozens of games we’d have liked to include. So without further ado, here are an additional ten that we think you should play, and which failed to scrape into the top 25. 

Cave Story+ (2011): Cave Story, a beautiful pixel-art Metroidvania first released in 2004, can probably be blamed for the thousands of similarly retro-styled platformers still flooding storefronts. But this game, now available as Cave Story+, still endures as both an indie touchstone and a gorgeous game to boot.

Audiosurf (2008): Dylan Fitterer’s 2008 playable music visualizer (and its equally good 2013 sequel) take mp3s from your music collection and transform them into space rollercoasters. The song’s tempo and beat influence the track’s curves and speed, and the placement of blocks to dodge and collect as you race across it. Made us all play Kate Bush’s ‘Wuthering Heights’ too many times.

Mark of the Ninja (2012): This imaginative 2D stealth platformer endures because it rewards player creativity. It’s easy enough to be evasive in Mark of the Ninja, but being clever about it is much more fun. It’s a joy just to tease the foes in this game, helped by the fact that it’s a beautiful world to spend some time in.

Braid (2008): A timeless example of how a slight twist on an ancient formula—and a whole lot of heart—can create a classic. Jonathan Blow’s time manipulation system worked wonders in an otherwise basic 2D platformer, but it was the subtle yet affecting personal touches that made Braid great. 

Hotline Miami (2012): Easily one of the most stylish—and brutal—pixel-art action games on PC, Hotline Miami feels like a puzzle game, in the way it forces players to “solve” each of its grizzly encounters in the most expedient way possible. The soundtrack is untouchable, too.

Stephen's Sausage Roll (2016): It’s a game called Stephen’s Sausage Roll, and it’s about cooking sausages. But for some reason you must push sausages around blocky, psychedelic puzzle chambers in order to grill them. Don’t question it. If it’s a tough puzzle game you’re after, this should be high on your list.

Don’t Starve (2013): Klei’s 2013 survival game is still one of the genre’s best, and is also one of the best things to come out of early access. A playable Edward Gorey book where you might be eaten by dogs or starve during the long winter (the name should have warned you about that possibility), but will definitely have fun either way.

Devil Daggers (2016): A one-level first-person shooter where the level is a hellish arena, and the enemies are skulls and flying snakes and other escapees from heavy metal album art. Takes the speed and circle-strafing of Quake and distills it into 10 perfect seconds, or 20 if you’re good.

Life is Strange (2015): The first episode is rough and honestly so is the last one. But for three episodes in the middle, Life is Strange is a rare and poignant evocation of what it’s like to be a teenager, uncertain and brash all at once. Then it gives you time-rewinding powers that let you undo your mistakes, the supernatural equivalent of adult foresight letting you slowly realize which of your teenage ideas are bad. (All of them.)

Gravity Bone (2008): Games about spies are rare, and so are games that borrow from movies without coming off as pale imitations. In 20 minutes, Gravity Bone makes you feel like you’re in a spy movie without ever seeming second best. Blendo Games’ follow-ups, Thirty Flights of Loving (2012) and Quadrilateral Cowboy (2016) built on Gravity Bone’s, um, bones.

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Super Meat Boy - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alice O'Connor)

Super Meat Boy Forever [official site], the auto-running sequel to 2010’s super-rad deadly platformer, has reappeared after several years in that Team Meat ‘missing-presumed-cancelled’ limbo state. Team Meat last night announced it’ll hit in 2018. Forever is an auto-runner, sure, but just as deadly and tricky as ever. This time, Meat Boy and Bandage Girl do have the ability to fight back, biffing enemies as they dash around. Forever also brings the twist of procedurally-generated levels which regenerate into a more difficult variant each time you beat them. Peep the re-announcement trailer: (more…)

Braid

The Witness designer Jonathan Blow has shown off an early prototype of a new game. While not official in any capacity, the unveiling happened during his talk at the Reboot Develop conference in Croatia. Thankfully, it was livestreamed on Twitch, so we're able to get a look at it as well—it's been uploaded to YouTube by Daniel Bross, and you can see it in the embed above.

It looks like it's a puzzle game that consists of pushing blocks around. According to Blow, it's still very early on in development, as most of the work has been focused on creating the level editor and engine, which will be made available to other developers for free. He said that he "should make and ship" a game on this engine, so we could could end up seeing it come to fruition. And apparently, he's already thrown together more than 25 hours of single-player gameplay, but he noted that it's unpolished and the visuals aren't final.

It might be a while before we see or hear anything else about this untitled game, but we'll be sure to report back when something is revealed. Blow's last two games, Braid and The Witness, were both puzzle games that garnered many positive reviews. In fact, The Witness received glowing remarks from critic Edwin Evans-Thirlwell in PC Gamer's review

Super Meat Boy - Valve
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Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alice O'Connor)

Kentucky Route Zero, the game so good we declared it our game of the year back when only two of its episodes were out, is currently half-price. That’s always worth pointing out, that. Sales from this latest sale will go to the American Civil Liberties Union, joining similar fundraisers with other cracking games. Also joining in are the delightful Fez, frightful treasures from Kitty Horrorshow, and the next game from Tetrageddon dev Nathalie Lawhead. … [visit site to read more]

Announcement - Valve
Today's Deal: Save 90% on Super Meat Boy!*

Look for the deals each day on the front page of Steam. Or follow us on twitter or Facebook for instant notifications wherever you are!

*Offer ends Tuesday at 10AM Pacific Time
PC Gamer

We probably won't ever see Fez 2, but we can console ourselves, maybe, with this surprise, whopping patch for the original game, which has just been uploaded to Steam, three years after the game launched on PC. Update 1.12 whacks in a speedrun mode, better music streaming, and various other tweaks and fixes, as elaborated in this news post over on Steam.

To access that speedrunning mode, it appears you have to type in "--gotta-gomez-fast" after launching the game, although the post is a bit vague so I could be wrong.

Fez programmer Renaud Bedard began work on the patch over a year ago, an update he sees as the game's last:

" Since I shipped FEZ 1.11 I had little intention of making additional fixes or features to the game because I simply don t have the time with a kid and a fulltime job and working on FEZ is getting old after 9 years. So I did want to address problems that people have with the game, but I don t want to do it for the rest of my life. I had spent enough time away from the game that I was somewhat enthusiastic about coming back to it, especially if it s at my pace, and that it s my last time doing so."

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Jessica Famularo)

Hey, do you remember Fez [official site]? You know, the clever little platformer where you could rotate your 2D world on a 3D plane to solve puzzles? The PC version may have released all the way back in 2013, but Fez has just this week, quite secretly, gotten its final patch.

… [visit site to read more]

Aug 18, 2016
Community Announcements - renaudbedard
Update : there have been additional, smaller updates to FEZ 1.12 since its original release, see changes here : https://github.com/renaudbedard/fez-1.12-issues/wiki/1.12-Update-Changelog

--------

A bit more than a year ago, work on FEZ 1.12 officially started.

The goal of this large update to the Windows PC/Mac/Linux version of FEZ was the following :
  • Cut dependencies to OpenTK, the platform framework used by FEZ on Windows. I have had problems with it from the start, from sound card detection issues to windowing problems, to VSync and fullscreen issues… I wanted to give SDL 2.0 a shot, to see if it fares better.
  • Have more efficient music streaming. PC + Mac versions of FEZ used a C# Ogg Vorbis decoder called NVorbis, which seemed like a good idea because it would run on all platforms. I also wrote the streaming code that uses NVorbis and OpenAL, and it made its way into the main MonoGame repository! But it’s also very slow, resource-intensive and heavy on disk access. So I wanted to look into a better solution that wouldn’t break music playback in areas like puzzle rooms and the industrial world.
  • Have a single codebase for all PC + Mac versions of FEZ. As it stood with 1.11, there was a slightly modified codebase for Mac and Linux that ran on a weird hybrid of MonoGame and what would become FNA, called MG-SDL2. The PC version ran on my fork of MonoGame ~3.0 which I did not do a great job of keeping up to date with upstream changes, because when I did it usually broke in mysterious ways. This is not great for maintenance, and centralizing everything on a clean FNA back-end, with as little platform-specific code as I could, seemed like a good idea.
  • Make it the Last Update. Since I shipped FEZ 1.11 I had little intention of making additional fixes or features to the game because I simply don’t have the time with a kid and a fulltime job… and working on FEZ is getting old after 9 years. So I did want to address problems that people have with the game, but I don’t want to do it for the rest of my life. I had spent enough time away from the game that I was somewhat enthusiastic about coming back to it, especially if it’s at my pace, and that it’s my last time doing so.
So I didn’t announce anything, I didn’t announce a date, and I slowly chipped away at making this humongous update to FEZ. It’s been in beta-testing with an army of fans, speedrunners and friends since late January 2016 and over 120 bugs have been reported and fixed.

Below is the full change log for the patch. If you want to read more about what went into it, you can read more about it here.

If you have any problem with the game, the most reliable way to make something happen is to log a bug on the GitHub page for it : https://github.com/renaudbedard/fez-1.12-issues/

Thanks for sticking around, and hope it addresses your issues and motivates you to try the game one more time!

Renaud (@renaudbedard)

-------------

Major Features

- Switched to FNA/SDL2 from MonoGame, which removes dependencies to OpenTK, and should result in better compatibility
- Switched to libvorbisfile (instead of NVorbis) for music decoding, which results in better CPU performance of music decoding
- Music files are precached in RAM instead of streamed from HDD, to avoid disk thrashing which caused cuts and skips
- Game controller remapping has been rehauled and consolidated, now uniquely using SDL2's GameController API
- Native support for any refresh rate, and lower CPU usage when using V-Sync, thereby removing the need for related launch options
- Fully smooth rendering for any refresh rate, by using a mixture of variable timestep (for the camera and some entities) and fixed timestep interpolation (for Gomez)
- Scale mode options (full aspect, pixel-perfect or supersampling from nearest multiple of 720p)
- No more letterboxing or pillarboxing (black bars), unless omitting them would cause an aspect ratio mismatch for the screen/internal resolution combo

Minor Features

- Map previews in save menu
- Speedrun mode (--gotta-gomez-fast)
- OpenGL calls are now done on a single thread to avoid driver-specific issues and crashes during loading
- Added support for hardware geometry instancing for better rendering performance
- Button icons match PS3 and PS4 controller face buttons when connected
- Added PS4 light bar support for Linux
- VSync, lighting, Steamworks support, single-threaded mode, controller deadzone and no-pause-on-lost-focus can be customized from in-game menu instead of launch options
- Clouds fade during rotations in industrial world instead of popping in/out
- Gomez walks to NPCs when talking to them instead of warping at their position
- Talk animation for NPCs does not restart on successive dialogue lines
- Some scenes of the 32-cube end cutscene have received minor polishing touches
- Alt+Enter toggles fullscreen
- MSAA (multisample anti-aliasing) is tentatively supported, but hidden behind the --msaa-option launch option (because it generates some artifacts and blurriness in-game)
- Logger creates a new file for each run of the game, archives day-old (or more) logs to a zip file and cleans up month-old logs
- Change to view rotation limits : there's a limit to how fast you can rotate after 2 successive rotations, but you don't have to wait until the last rotation is completely finished

Bug Fixes

- Scripting fixes in 3D village to avoid a possible soft-lock
- Fix to handling of the waterfall code entry, which should be a lot more consistent now
- Fixes to the behavior of grabbing corner ledges, which prevents Gomez from clipping out of interior rooms
- Finishing the game with all cubes found unlocks all abilities
- Geezer will stand at the right spot in the 2D village no matter how fast you find him
- Glow-bit planes fade out on secret passage doors instead of Gomez clipping through them
- Zoom-through-the-sky level transitions with water are a bit less jarring
- "Solved puzzle" jingle no longer cuts off in the crypt level
- Fixed boiler room double-trigger of the secret resolved sound effect, and the camera becoming unconstrained
- Fixed wall village floating planes, NPCs and art objects
- Fixed that quick pause-unpause stopped music
- Fixed secret passage doors checking for input in the pause menu
- Fixed velocity lingering on as you attach to ladders, which made you attach too high on them
- Fixed that vines made Gomez hug walls while moving (climbing)
- Fixed issues with "impassable vines" where Gomez would clamp to them while trying to jump through vines
- Fixed the DOT dialogue soft-lock when getting the achievement cube in Gomez's house
- Fixed single-frame ground alignment vs. camera follow issue when landing and rotating at the same time
- Ladder and vine grab behavior is now smoother, no more timer that prevented jump-grab-jump movement chains
- Fixed activation of small warpgates, where it would falsely trigger when collecting 8 cube-bits nearby
- Fixed one-frame disappearance of vertically looping levels when rotating
- Changed how NPC rotation is handled so that they can never moonwalk
- Fix to collision tiles for windmill level
- Fixed culling issue with rotating level elements that caused disappearing vines
- Fixed issues with yaw-rotating spinblocks and ledge-grab actions
- Block puzzles no longer auto-solve themselves after changing save slots
- Security question and unfold puzzles will detect the solution without having to rotate one more time
- Removed check to collect cubes while in a warp gate transition to prevent cube duplication
- Fixed that DOT speech doesn't lock the player when she speaks right as you come from a pan-down "continue game" transition
- Nullified horizontal velocity when starting the "lower to straight ledge" action so you can't slide to the side and hold to thin air
- Fixed Gomez alignment when coming out of the sewer pipe
- Fixed the achievement (or map QR) anti-cube from short-circuiting level scripts that spawn and detect collection of anti-cubes based on input codes
- Fixed boiler room out-of-bounds
- Fixed issue with vibrating moving platforms and spawn points which made Gomez fall sometimes in the weightswitch puzzle room
- Slowed down thumbstick movement in world map
- Fixed areas where Gomez could fall forever in looping level
- Removed explosive block that would reappear after reentering mine level
- Fix for visual issue in industrial city star layers
- Fix for crash in world map on Iris Pro GPUs
- Water-level-changing sound now triggers on the first rotation of a water-raising/lowering valve
- Allow stereoscopy on all saves if one save has it
- Fix for ghosts objects (e.g. duplicated moving platforms) when closing the map and after rotations
- Fixes to visual clarity in QUANTUM level (cleaner radius around Gomez)
- Fixed puzzle skip for the tombstone puzzle and the 4-side puzzle
- Fixed chest anticube duplication exploit
- Fixed water height inconsistencies
- Removed floating invisible block in QUANTUM level
- Fixed camera unlocking issue in zu school
- Fixed spacing around numbers in french localization text
- Fixed water first-person transition glitches
- Disabled achievement option if overlay is disabled
- Fixed possible soft-lock when changing to first-person view in front of a tombstone, valve or timeswitch
- Desktop display resolution used on first run instead of imposing 720p
- Sound muted when "pause on lost focus" option is on, and focus is lost
- Fixed alignment of Gomez's sprite when jumping with a bomb
- Fix for falling through platforms in background mode
- Grabbing to push crates no longer allowed when in background mode, since it causes weird visual issues
- Fixed clipping through bombs in background mode
- Entering "tunnels" by pressing up in a tunnel opening can no longer be triggered when Gomez is in background mode
- Fixed a bug on respawn where the player would be appear to float in mid-air after rotating
- Gomez's Z position is now more stable/predictable when he is sandwiched between two walls
- Fixed situtations where Gomez would end up in the background after being adjusted to a ground position when rotating while overlapping a wall in an alcove (that's a mouthful)
- Fixed situations where Gomez could wrap around ledges that weren't visible from the camera
- Fixed respawn glitch that occured when last safe position was a ledge grab, and could cause Gomez to warp behind objects

Known Issues

- Some Intel integrated GPU/drivers have an issue maintaining 60fps when VSync is enabled and might fall back to 30fps after moving from one area to another. The workaround is to disable VSync, or try updating to a newer driver (see : https://github.com/renaudbedard/fez-1.12-issues/issues/113 )
- Since the game now uses SDL 2.0's DESKTOP_FULLSCREEN mode, there is no exclusive fullscreen mode supported and the game always assumes a presentation buffer that matches the screen's native resolution. This means that screenshots and video capture will use the screen's native resolution, whichever internal resolution the game is set to with video settings. (this is more of a "heads-up" than an issue since it will not be addressed)
- PS3 controller not natively supported under Windows, unless you use 3rd party drivers and then you're on your own
Announcement - Valve
Today's Deal: Save 80% on FEZ!*

Look for the deals each day on the front page of Steam. Or follow us on twitter or Facebook for instant notifications wherever you are!

*Offer ends Thursday at 10AM Pacific Time
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