GamerTell’s 10 Best Indie Games of 2012

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We all know about the AAA, major games from big name studios released of 2012. Internet advertising, forums and sites are constantly drilling into our brains how awesome, mediocre or horrible they were. While they deserve the attention, other games get lost in the shuffle. So we’re remembering them here at GamerTell by saluting the 10 best indie games of 2012.

These are the games from independent developers, from fans from the unexpected sources that ended up being more fun than anyone could ever expect. Some were huge and received plenty of attention and love, while others were more subtle. Still, these 10 are the 10 best indie games of 2012 and are deserving of a little extra love before the year ends.

10. Katawa Shoujo (Windows, Mac, Linux)

Katawa Shoujo is pretty controversial. After all, it’s a freeware, indie dating sim visual novel from 4chan dwellers that takes place at a school for children and teenagers who are disabled. The hero, Hisao, comes there after he learns he has cardiac dysrhythmia and over his first year eventually has the opportunity to fall in love. While it can have adult scenes, it also has an option to censor those in the options. It isn’t for everyone, but it is a great drama and has surprisingly high production values.

9. Hotline Miami (Windows)

Hotline Miami is both weird and typical at once, which is pretty cool. Players go through this top down game, gunning down all enemies before them, in the opes of finding out what’s going on and why the player has to take on the whole underworld on its own. It’s ridiculous violent, but also smart, and is quite a challenge. Not to mention after beating it as Jacket, you get to go through it again as a whole different character!

8. Spelunky (Xbox 360)

You know, normally when there’s a freeware version of game and a paid version, I recommend the free version. In the case of Spelunky, I say go for the XBLA paid version. It’s just better. It looks great, plays well, has a few fun unlockables and there’s plenty of replay value since it areas are randomly generated. Not to mention you can also make your own levels.

7. Sine Mora (PS3, PS Vita, Windows, Xbox 360)

Sine Mora is a Grasshopper Manufacture game, which is one point in its favor. Another is that it looks fantastic. Still another is that it’s fun to play, with tons of gameplay modes to make it easy for players to get into the game, learn what they’re doing and excel. Plus it takes players into a gorgeous, steam-punk world filled. The story’s weird, but who cares when the rest of the game is so great.

6. Lone Survivor (Windows, Mac)

Lone Survivor is all about the ambiance. Players control a man in a post-apocolyptic scenario who appears to be the last person alive. Since his supplies are running low, players must help him search the wreckage for what he needs to live and to maybe find some other people. It’s a trippy, survival horror game and what you do determines what kind of ending you see. It’s definitely worth playing at least three times to find out all of the possible fates for the survivor.

5. Retro City Rampage (PS3, PS Vita, Wii, Windows, Xbox 360)

Retro City Rampage is the most widespread of the indie games on GamerTell’s 10 best indie games of 2012 and that’s a good thing because it’s just awesome. Imagine if Grand Theft Auto was on the NES, and you have an idea of what it is like. Even so, that’s an inadequate description because it’s about more than unlawful behavior in an open world. It’s about poking fun at and referencing our favorite video games, movies, TV shows and more. It’s a pop culture bonanza and if you’re a child of the 80’s and 90’s, you need it in your life.

4. FTL: Faster Than Light (Windows, Mac)

Given the prevalence of Kickstarter in the gaming world in 2012, it only seems fitting to have a success story from the crowdfunding site. Enter FTL: Faster Than Light. It’s an amazing simulation rogue-like that will chew you up, spit you out and leave you begging for more. It’s a demanding game, but yet also so perfectly structured. It makes you think. It makes you work for your success. Most importantly, it never gets old as each playthrough is different.

3. Hatoful Boyfriend (Windows, Mac)

Hatoful Boyfriend is a dating sim visual novel about a hunter-gatherer cavegirl who attends a high school filled with anthropomorphic birds, almost all of which are dateable. And the screenshot above depicts one of the bachelor birds.

2. Torchlight 2 (Windows)

For many people, Diablo III wasn’t the dungeon-crawling loot-fest they were waiting for, it was Torchlight 2. This mod-friendly, single or multiplayer RPG lets you create a character, fight through dungeons and find all kinds of awesome goodies. If you ever get tired of the game as is, find a new group of people to play with, grab some more mods and you’ll fall in love all over again.

1. Journey (PS3)

Journey has been on everyone’s lips in 2012 and it’s no wonder. This thatgamecompany experience is extraordinary. It’s beautiful, majestic and a slew of other flowery words that can’t properly describe the experience of wordlessly exploring a deserted world either alone or with one other person, piecing together what happened while searching for glowing glyphs in the hopes of becoming one with a white cloak. It’s moving and I can’t recommend it enough.

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