Top Ten ‘Indie’ Game Experiences/Purchases in 2010

I’m not going to argue over what ‘Indie’ means, nor am I claiming all these were released in 2010. This is just what I’ve seen or played in the last year that’s been good. Nor are these in any particular order. I haven’t necessarily played them all, but they’ve interested me, provided me with interesting ideas or have otherwise interested me a great deal.

  1. Barbarians of Lemuria: I’ve not gotten to play it yet but this seems to be a game that combines simplicity with relative longevity – which is a failing of a lot of Indie games. It doesn’t quite do what I want with a barbarian setting but the career system is a thing of beauty.
  2. Barbarians of the Aftermath: A bit of an odd duck but as an inspirational tool it has a lot of things going for it. It’s a hard thing to use by itself but as a tool to help you think out other games or for brainstorming for other post-apocalyptic games, lovely. It’s nice to see some inspirational tools like that and that’s something I might explore.
  3. Legends of Anglerre: Does for fantasy what Starblazer did for freewheeling SF. A great toolkit game that I can see being adapted to play all sorts of different settings. Chock full of meaty goodness and yet not quite as deadly a melee weapon as Starblazer.
  4. Dresden Files: I’m not, actually, a huge fan of the books like a lot of people are. I tend to find the whole schtick a little bit tired now there’s been so many interpretations of the same sort of thing and Dresden is towards the Simon R Green level of silliness. As a game, however, it works pretty great though it’s about as complicated an iteration of FATE as I ever want to see, losing a lot of the simplicity and flexibility that makes FATE so awesome.
  5. Hot War: If my gushing review didn’t make it clear enough, Hot War is a fucking awesome game, deeply evocative of the experience of growing up in Cold War Britain, something I understand to be very different to the same experience in the US. It’s very much an artefact of my generation, but that makes it something special and personal which is where I think Indie games really shine.
  6. Cthulhutech: I was deeply, deeply, deeply skeptical of this game reading through the books. Cthulhupunk I get, but mixing anime tropes with Cthulhu just doesn’t do it for me. Especially when you can wrestle Cthulhu in an Evangelion. Strip the game back and remove some of the sillier elements and it can make for a good, street level, Tech Noir game though.
  7. Shotgun Diaries: Tapped into some ideas I’ve had about narrative XP systems nicely and showed that you can still get a great effect even if you strip a game down to almost nothing, provided you have a solid hook that everyone can ‘get’.
  8. Eclipse Phase: A successful Transhuman RPG where you actually have shit to do! Yay! Plus the guys deserve kudos for having both balls and principles and trying new ways to reach people, worthy of their subject matter.
  9. Minecraft: OK, it’s a computer game and not really an RPG but it is Indie and it seems to have been informing a lot of people’s RP thoughts – mine included. Great sandboxy stuff.
  10. The Laundry: Everything new editions of Cthulhu should have been.