Indie games rule. Some of the best games out there aren’t even by the titans – they’re quirky, fun, and (phew) available for your Mac. Best of all, many of them don’t require you to empty out your wallet.
Here’s a rundown of the indie games that we’re addicted to – all for (mostly) under $20. From exploring space to dodging giant killer bunnies to building subway lines, you’re bound to lose track of time with these awesome titles. Don’t say we didn’t warn you. Step up your indie game with our guide!
Faster Than Light
Release Date: September 12 2012
Price: $9.99 USD
If you ever dreamed of being a starship captain, Faster Than Light (FTL) is a must-have. While the 2D top-down style isn’t quite as flashy, few starship command titles capture the spirit of a sci-fi adventure like FTL. This indie game demands quick decision-making, dramatic combat, and resource management. It’s a micromanager’s dream come true.
You start off as the captain of a Federation ship outrunning the rebel armada following close by. Throughout the game, you travel from planet to planet using faster-than-light jumps with little idea of what awaits you. You may end up in an asteroid belt, a deadly plasma storm, or a friendly citizen in need. The journey is a treacherous one – it’s rare that a jump passes without a tough choice or a satisfying battle.
Aside from the thrill of constantly being a hair away from permadeath, what we love about FTL is the variation and replay value. Your ship can be upgraded with teleporters, drones, mind control, hacking, cloning bays, and more. You can enlist crew members from six different races, all with their own strengths and abilities (and name them too). Even the enemy rebel ships vary in race and faction, and they’re randomly equipped with weapons and systems.
This roguelike indie game is rounded out by charming pixel art and a perfectly atmospheric soundtrack. With three difficulty levels and a bunch of unlockables, getting FTL is a no-brainer!
Video credit: Ohmwrecker / Maskedgamer
Release Date: April 23 2013
Price: $14.99 USD
Don’t Starve is the latest unforgiving yet addictive wilderness indie game that puts your survival skills to the test. Its delightful visual design, endless replay value, and mammoth amount of content makes it one of our favorite for sandbox survival games.
You start off in a dynamically-created world as a young scientist equipped with nothing but your beard. You’ve got an endless amount of things to craft and a dangerous new world to explore, but you also have draining sanity, growing hunger, and fragile health. What will you do first? How will you survive? How will you, well, not starve?
Did we mention there’s about a kajillion ways to die? Giant bunnies, killer hornets, deer cyclops, fire hounds, the darkness, the winter, your hallucinations, starvation…the list goes on. Regardless of the frustration that comes from losing everything each time you die (which happens often by the way), we gotta warn you that you will quickly find yourself drawn to the rhythm of exploration, crafting, and survival.
With each new game of Don’t Starve, the world is dynamically generated, making for new dangerous surprises every time. Plus, there are over 10 characters to unlock, each with their own special abilities! Befriend spiders with Webber, charge up on lightning with WX-78, cast spells with Wickerbottom, and more.
Video credit: PartiallyRoyal
Release Date: May 16 2011
Price: $9.99 USD
Terraria is a charming indie sandbox adventure filled with magic and monsters. While it’s often dubbed the 2D Minecraft, this indie game stands on its own – there’s so much more to Terraria than just building.
In Terraria, you’re on a quest to do anything and everything. Ride a giant bee, explore a lava-filled underworld, summon dragons, fight giant eyeballs, shoot rainbows from your gun, need we say more? The indie game is filled to the brim with adventure, beautifully-crafted environments, LOTS of monsters and bosses, and an insane amount of horrible yet excellent content.
Terraria starts with your custom sprite character getting dropped into a randomly-generated pixel world with just a few tools. It’s not ultra clear what your goal is given that there aren’t any real story elements, but the open world suggests that you’re meant to build stuff, explore the terrain, and battle monsters. The learning curve is the biggest (and maybe only) pet peeve, but even then, it still manages to pull you into its fantasy world.
Here’s a taste of the world of Terraria:
- Endless exploration: wander through floating islands, granite caverns and lava underworlds.
- Extensive combat styles: get equipped with yoyos, swords, bows, spells, and chainsaws.
- Diverse monsters and bosses: battle swarms, piranhas, spellcasters, and zombies.
- In-depth construction: build labyrinth towers, castle courtyards, and spooky manors
Video credit: elementalfact0r
Release Date: Nov 6 2015
Price: $9.99 USD
Yes, managing a subway system can really be this awesome! Mini Metro will have you managing the hustle and bustle of a busy transportation network in no time.
The game is a top-down strategy game where you build subway lines to get passengers to different stations. Each subway station is shown as a different shape. Passengers will randomly appear at stations looking to get to a station of another shape. Sounds easy right? Not so much.
The game can be quite challenging with limited resources to get passengers to their destinations on time. We mean it – you have a time limit to get a passenger to where they want to go. The more passengers you transport, the more resources you gain,. so get used to moving more passengers if you wanna be the Bill Gates of subways.
Eventually the game ends when you can’t keep up with all of the passengers. But this is all part of what we really like about the game: you can easily sit down for 10 minutes between classes, or for a study break, and feel like you’ve played a whole adventure. Sounds like fun huh?
Video credit: Northernlion
Release Date: September 26 2012
Price: $14.99 USD
Ever have a night where you and your friends are getting ready to go out, but your motivation fades and everyone just wants to hang out at your place? Happens all the time. Welcome to our number one reason why: Castle Crashers.
The game is a co-op multiplayer, side-scrolling, bash ‘em game where you and your friends play together to defeat bosses and save a princess. Sure, that’s been done before, but this is better. Castle Crashers is a mix of Turtles in Time (such a classic) and, yes, Mario Brothers – all happening in medieval times.
Before you dive in, let us give you some advice. Get yourself a set of controllers. It makes the game playable with four people and even more fun playing solo.
As you progress through the game, you’ll be able to upgrade your character with new abilities, including combat, magic (YES MAGIC) and combos. Sick of your character? No problem, you can unlock new ones! Characters can also pick up new, more powerful weapons to keep things interesting.
Character development, speedy game play, and challenging bosses keeps us playing Castle Crashers. Check it out, you’ll like it.
Video credit: Stumpt
Kerbal Space Program
Release Date: April 27 2015
Price: $39.99 USD
“Kerbal is awesome!” Elon Musk gushed in his Reddit AMA. While this indie game is just over $20, we figured if the genius behind PayPal, Tesla Motors, and SpaceX plays the game, you probably should too.
So, what is Kerbal Space Program (KSP)? It’s a space exploration sandbox game where you build spaceships with the intention of leaving an Earth-like planet named Kerbin. In KSP you might be in charge, but not over humans! Instead, you’re commanding Kerbals, small green humanoids who desperately want to explore the cosmos. Their solar system very much mimics our own with multiple planets orbiting a star, each with different gravities and atmospheres.
To leave Kerbin, you’ll need to build a spaceship for the Kerbals. Once you have your spaceship off the ground, staying up is even harder. Be prepared to lose a few hairs and take some days off your life expectancy trying to get into orbit. But once you do, you’ll feel like the ultimate victor.
Kerbal Space Program is one of those games that you will lose track of time playing. It will force you to get those creative juices flowing to come up with spaceship designs that will take you further into the heavens. Want a game that will help you forget about school and the worries of the world? This is it.
Video credit: Scott Manley
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Let us know what you’re playing or what you’d add to our list in the comments below.
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