Like the independent film explosion of the late 1990s, we are entering the era of the indie game. Super Meatboy is the Pulp Fiction or Clerks of indie games, serving as a group of games that take more chances both with content and commentary. Here we have an indie games 2013 roundup of five Oscar-worthy gaming efforts to get you started in the wonderful, wacky world of indie game offerings.

Indie Games 2013: Bastion

The best known title on this list, Bastion, allows me to vicariously live out a long-standing fantasy of mine: having voice over narration for my day-to-day activities. The voiceover is a deep, gravely affair, much like what you’d expect from a character in a Clint Eastwood spaghetti western. The graphics, for their part, are Amelie bright and fun. Bastion boasts an impressive story and a blend of hack and slash with RPG elements.

Indie Games 2013 Roundup: Bastion
If you don’t already own Bastion, what are you waiting for?

Indie Games 2013: Don’t Starve

Our second entry, Don’t Starve, takes the RPG elements from the first offering and adds an ultra-realistic challenging game system. I wouldn’t say it’s hardcore (because its my least favorite way to describe a game), but the game is difficult and does not offer much in the way of hints or hand-holding. As luck would have it, you play the role of a German scientist, so you have an edge against the wide wilderness into which you are thrown. You can craft, you can farm, and you can fight, but if you fail, you will die. Again, we have a game that balances grittier and more difficult elements with a playful visual art style that prevents things from becoming tedious — just glorious.

Indie Games 2013 Roundup: Don't Starve
Don’t Starve, ja?

These Games Will Make You Coolest Geek on the Block

Indie Games 2013: Home

From being dumped into a wild world by a demon, we arrive at Home, a game that is pure horror. Pure, individual horror. In an age where we are both confronted with endless possibilities for personalization and face the destruction of personal identity in the face of globalized culture comes a game to offer a new spin on bespoke entertainment. Home is like a choose your own adventure book in an 8 bit setting. The murder mystery at the heart of the plot changes and morphs based upon your choices. It’s a high-tech concept dressed in low-tech graphics that add just the right nostalgic flavor.

Indie Games 2013 Roundup: Home -- not for the graphics snobs.
Home: Not for the graphics snobs.

Indie Games 2013: Little Inferno

Little Inferno is a game about throwing toys into a fireplace. On a very literal level this is all the game is about. Watching different combinations of amusement devices go up in flames is what makes this puzzler fun. Judging from the multiple awards this 100% indie game has garnered, it looks like the fun comes out in spades. The game offers a variety of depth depending on how much you want to get out of it. For some it’s the sheer joy of fiery destruction, for others its the examination of play and our methods of amusements. Either way, things burn and amusement ensues.

Indie Games 2013 Roundup: Little Inferno
In Little Inferno, did I mention you get to burn things?

Indie Games 2013: Neocolonialism

I saved what may be the best for last. Neocolonialism isn’t even out yet and I am already telling you that you should buy it now. I have a feeling that fans of the Civilization series will enjoy the game for the ability to exploit and influence an entire world in this new strategy game. I have a feeling that Civilization anti-fans will love this game as well for the opportunity to exploit and ruin the same kind of world others have spent years of their lives creating. You can live out your fantasy of being a robber baron of old. Subjugate the masses! Ruin their lives!

I like the game for the Marxist social commentary you can either ignore or take to heart. This is the game you want to be seen playing in the coffee shop as it will elevate you to the status of the cultured, globally aware gamer. This one, it’s a winner, comrade.

Indie Games 2013 Roundup: Neocolonialism
Ruin everything in Neocolonialism? Don’t mind if I do!