For PC gaming, 2017 was a year of excess—and so much then that fifty-fifty the best indie games could get lost in the shuffle. Early in the yr we witnessed the long-awaited demise of Steam Greenlight, and thus the last real bulwark to getting games on Steam. Information technology was replaced with “Steam Direct,” a organization where developers only paid $100 and
poof, any game could get onto Steam.
And I practise mean
game. In 2014 around 1,500 games were released on Steam. In 2015 that number rose to three,000 and final yr to iv,500. 2017? About 6,000 games in the last twelve months. That’due south approximately 16 new games per day, if y’all’re curious.
Information technology’s overwhelming, and but natural that more games than ever are falling through the cracks. That makes this list more important than e’er, I think. Sure, y’all’ve probably heard of most of the games on our Game of the Year listing—most of them achieved both critical and commercial success. Simply the games on
list are fantabulous, frequently-disregarded, and didn’t (for the well-nigh part) get the success they deserved.
Then take a expect. Stride out of Steam’due south well-trod halls for a bit to play a
successor, or a creepy visual novel, an arthouse game (literally), a medieval betoken-and-click, and more than. If you’re looking for even more than deep cuts, exist sure to check out PCWorld’due south roundup of the best indie games you missed in the first half of the twelvemonth.
Passpartout: The Starving Creative person
Passpartout ($ten on Steam) is likely the weirdest game on this list. Information technology’s, I estimate, an “artist simulator,” insofar as your role is to pigment and then sell those paintings to prospective clients. And I practice mean paint—you’re an aspiring creative person, and you have to churn out canvases to make rent every month and go along this dream live.
It’s only every bit serious as yous brand it, though. The tools bachelor to you are basically MS Paint quality, then adept luck laying annihilation astonishing on these canvases. I loved relaxing with
before bed—churning out a half-dozen bad paintings, so seeing what the residents of this pseudo-Paris had to say about it.
“It’due south too rushed,” said ane old man about my painting of the solar system. “This will assist me sell houses,” said another, referring to a painting of a pimply face. And maybe most appropriate: “God would be impressed,” a man of affairs said near my painting of a dollar beak with the give-and-take “Capitalism” written underneath.
It’s weird. It’due south wonderful. It’s fine art.
Robotron. I used to hate it. I’d get to the arcade, drop a quarter in, get annihilated on the second or third level. Then one day it clicked—mayhap I’d played enough dual-stick shooters at dwelling house, peradventure I’d only put in enough fourth dimension with
Robotron, only information technology suddenly became ane of my favorite arcade games.
Nex Machina ($20 on Steam) is
for 2017. And I don’t just say that because information technology’southward a dual-stick shooter—there are plenty of those around present.
has the soul of an arcade game. It’due south flashy, it’s fast, and information technology’south addictive. If you have even the slightest affinity for dual-stick shooters, this should be at the top of your list. And if y’all don’t? Well, this is one of the best the genre has to offer.
Pillars of the Earth
A caveat, up front:
Pillars of the Earth
($xxx on Steam) isn’t finished yet. By the time y’all read this, “Books” (read: episodes) 1 and 2 will exist bachelor, with the third due to drop early in 2022.
I feel pretty good almost information technology, though. Like Ken Follet’south original novel,
Pillars of the World
takes place in medieval England and tells a complex story from numerous viewpoints—a builder whose dream is to construct a cathedral, the prior of the local monastery, and so on.
It’due south good source textile, and with the game itself adult in-house by experienced adventure mavens Daedalic I don’t take many complaints on that forepart either. There are a few lackluster vocalization lines and a flake of breakneck pacing (the book was originally ane,000 pages long), only overall I’1000 enjoying information technology and excited for the decision in January.
Molar and Tail
Tooth and Tail ($xx on Steam) is a bit of an odd prospect for PC gamers, every bit a real-fourth dimension strategy game designed specifically effectually console limitations a.yard.a. the gamepad. It’d exist tempting and then to look at
Molar and Tail
on PC, retrieve “This is dumbed downwardly,” and leave it at that.
Just constraints lead to creative solutions, and
Molar and Tail’s story of animal-on-beast warfare succeeds in spite of its limited controls. Instead of clicking around the map, you control your faction commander directly—ordering your fellow animals into battle, running back to base to create buildings, and then on. It takes getting used to, just there’due south a surprising corporeality of depth to the system and the consequence is a fast-paced RTS that’southward satisfying despite matches lasting a brisk five to x minutes instead of the grueling 30+ minute matches you’d await from
or other games in that vein.
Anyone who’s read our site for a few years knows I’m an unabashed fan of Zachtronics—the studio behind
SpaceChem, and this year’due south early on access title
Opus Magnum. They’re all puzzle games that sort of teach you programming skills and theory equally you play.
Silicon Zeroes ($15 on Steam) is a Zachtronics-style game made by a unlike developer, PleasingFungus. In information technology, you run a Silicon Valley startup in the 1960s, when computers were new and hardware was simple. Your job? Learning how to blueprint a functional CPU. And you can do it! I believe in you!
If you’ve ever had an interest in the core concepts behind the hardware you use daily, or just savour Zachtronics-style puzzle games, I actually can’t speak more than highly of
Silicon Zeroes. The game does accept a few difficulty spikes which could employ smoothing, and it’s non quite as polished equally
Shenzhen I/O, but it’southward yet an engaging idea replete with a fascinating toolbox.
A Hat in Time
is this year’southward spiritual successor toBanjo-Kazooie, then
A Hat in Time ($30 on Steam) is your
Mario 64. You play as Lid Kid, who as you might expect has a wide collection of super-powered hats, and the game very much plays out similar an N64-era 3D platformer with lots of items to collect, secrets to uncover, then on.
Where it feels more like
is the fact that levels have discrete goals to undertake. You’re not merely wandering around willy-nilly collecting items. Instead you lot’re inbound an expanse to attain a specific task—defeat a boss, for instance, or solve the Murder on the Owl Express. Doing and so nets you lot Time Pieces which help you unlock new parts of your spaceship, access new regions, and so on.
Hey, don’t get me wrong:
Super Mario Odyssey
is an excellent game. It’southward just…not a PC game, obviously.
A Hat in Fourth dimension
captures much of the same upbeat charm though (albeit on a smaller scale), and you can play it correct now on the PC you already own.
Doki Doki Literature Club
Doki Doki Literature Social club
is your standard visual novel/dating sim—group of girls, awkward main graphic symbol, bad poetry, lots of reading. And and so all of a sudden it’southward
so much more than
than your average visual novel, but saying anything more than that will spoil it.
The good news:
Doki Doki Literature Club
is free, so I don’t actually take to “sell” you lot on playing it—you lot tin just pop over to Steam and grab it for yourself.
Last Day of June
Last Day of June ($20 on Steam) isn’t the best
game—it’s very repetitive, and although there’s good reason for it I still found myself a chip annoyed at times. A few modest tweaks to the game’due south construction would’ve made for a more enjoyable feel.
If y’all can bear with its quirks though,
Last Mean solar day of June
presents one of 2017’s near poignant stories. A tragedy in the opening minutes leads to your character traveling back in fourth dimension to attempt and set up that day, reshape the events in his small town just enough to avoid a terrible effect. And trying. And trying.
It’south a short but first-class story, helped along by an amazing pseudo-Impressionist art style and a brilliant soundtrack. There are flaws, sure, only I loved
Terminal Day of June
Reigns: Her Majesty
Reigns: Her Majesty ($three on Steam) isn’t quite every bit novel as its predecessor, but if yous liked ruling your kingdom by manner of Tinder-way “Swipe Left/Swipe Right” decisions (“Let the Cardinal to preach in the castle” versus “Tell him to get lost”), and then
delivers quite a scrap more than of that. There’s a whole new stack of cards to flip through—new characters, new threats to yourself and your realm, and so on. Wait to die and die often as yous endeavour to balance your obligations to the church building and armed services with the royal finances and popular back up.
I caveat: The port of
Reigns: Her Majesty
is first-class, insofar every bit it runs well and looks pretty, but of all the mobile games to come to PC I retrieve
mobile game, meaning you’d probably be better served playing it on your telephone even if you unremarkably adopt gaming on the PC. The whole “Swipe” idea merely works better on that platform, equally does the game’s 5 to 10 minute, easy-to-consume structure.
Boxing Chef Brigade
Boxing Chef Brigade ($20 on Steam) is 1 of the smartest genre mashups I’ve ever seen. Styled as an
Iron Chef-way cooking show, the twist is that you take to hunt local wildlife for your ingredients. Each match starts as a side-scrolling brawler, every bit you take downward dragons, boars, and other fantastical creatures.
You and then rush back to the kitchen with your dragon ribs, boar haunches, then on and kickoff dumping ingredients into a pot—at which signal
Battle Chef Brigade
becomes a match-3 game, with you “stirring” the contents to match up gems and turn your jumble of ingredients into a effeminateness. A constant stream of gear keeps subsequent matches fresh, adding twists similar “A cutting board that lets y’all remove unwanted gems” and “An oven that slowly upgrades gems without matches.”
Join the newsletter!