Some days there just isn’t the time to sit and game your way through through the entirety of Fallout 4, The Witcher 3 or Final Fantasy XV.
Triple A titles despite all their splendour take effort. That’s not to say they aren’t worth the hours that are spent exploring the fast worlds, hidden passageways and beautiful scenery that they simulate, but there will be days where many of us just want to kill an hour or two on something simple.
The gameplay in Reigns is about as simple as it gets. Utilising the same “swipe right” and “swipe left” principles found commonly in smart phone dating apps the game takes place in a fictional medieval realm where the main goal is to reign over a kingdom of subjects for as many years as possible. Each swipe or decision you make impacts upon four major factors that need to be managed throughout your reign to keep position on the throne firmly rooted. Throw in a few wild cards to the deck of possible outcomes that lay before you and you have a decent little indie title.
There’s a feeling in life when everything comes up millhouse. Pulling off a seamless run in a few of the later levels of Doorkickers illustrates that feeling perfectly. Each level starts out by planning your route into and around the building before you. As a simple top-down indie game clearing out each room creates an incredibly satisfying experience. Each member of your carefully constructed team of infiltrators can specialise in different forms of combat opening a level of strategy into the five hour campaign.
The quirky level design, tropes and dialogue that run throughout Gunpoint makes it worth picking up on its own accord. Gunpoint’s gameplay encourages players to think outside the box. As the campaign progresses a whole host of gadgets become available, essentially allowing you to rewire each level and take down the various guards with an element of creative flair. Whether disabling video cameras or sealing enemies in their room Gunpoint is a game that rewards ingenuity and punishes laziness.
Broforce is probably the most ridiculous game on this list. Having said that there’s a decent chance you’ll have already heard of this one! The game which plays out quite literally like a platform action movie parodies some of the film industries most notable character. Included amongst its roster of heroes are Rambro, Brade and Bronan the Barbarian. Each death revives you as a new character from a beloved franchise encouraging players to vary their style as you shoot, slice or punch your way through each zone.
N++ is the sort of game you’d expect to find scrolling through free games websites back as a kid in school. That being said, its fast paced action and floating physic mechanics make for a fantastic way to kill half an hour. With over a thousand different levels to play through each with varying difficulties there are far worse titles to spend a few quid on. Just watch out for the mines!
So Spelunky isn’t the sort of game I’d play through if you’re trying to unwind for half an hour. Brutal enemies and a permadeath style of gameplay at times makes Spelunky one of the most infuriating games in existence. Snakes, spiders and traps all lay before you in an adventure based platformer that will test both your time management and keyboard skills. That being said, if you are up for a challenge, this Indiana Jones simulator might just be the gem in the haunted cavern you’re looking for.
4. Hotline Miami
Whilst every title here is decent, the next four personally, stand out not only as fantastic examples of simple indie titles, but as some of the best games in around to date. For that reason the next four titles are reasonably interchangeable.
Hotline Miami knocks the ball out of the park when it comes to top down shooters. Its fast paced, there’s a level of unpredictability throughout and the soundtrack fits the tone perfectly. What makes Hotline Miami so good though is its respawn rate. The game is fairly brutal, one shot from an enemy will stop you dead. Though jumping back into a level is instantaneous and its this lack of loading time between death and restarting a level that makes the game so addictive. Paired with an eighties art style which will result in you never being able to view a sunset in the same way again, Hotline Miami provides both a gripping narrative play-style throughout.
3. Grow Home
Grow Home, developed by Ubisoft Reflections is a fantastic game centred around B.U.D the robot who just wants to get back to his ship. The game can be finished to completion in about 7 hours, but encourages players to explore is bright and colourful landscape whilst guiding B.U.D on his journey out to space.
Grow Home is at its best when it comes to its movement mechanics. B.U.D stumbles around the world in the same way most people would after ten or twelve pints of lager. But the robots climbing mechanics, each controlled by a different button which allows players to manually move and grab onto terrain with pinpoint accuracy. Climbing higher into the sky opens up an array of beautiful scenery, wildlife and spectacles to enjoy whilst you take each vital step closer to the mothership above.
2. The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth
The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth is certainly one of the stranger games to make this list. Loosely based on the biblical tale of the same name, this dungeon crawler excels in replay value. Each run through of the game randomises level layout, encountered bosses and the power-ups that lay across the dark cellars, caves and rooms that are set to challenge your ability. With literally hundreds of combinations of power ups available within the game, The Binding of Isaac can either be brutally demanding or overgenerous. Either way, those tears aren’t going to shoot themselves!
Clustertruck provides a perfect example of a title that takes a simple mechanic and constructs an entire game around it. Each level of the physics led experience is an absolute Clustertruck of collisions, careful jumps and creative level design. The objective of each level is simple, make your way from the start point towards the end goal. Only, the floor acts as lava, and your only method of transport is to jump between the array of trucks that act as platforms to help navigate you through each course.