The best Indie RPG to play right now
Indie role-playing games are plentiful these days, but it’s their execution that sets some apart and remains in our minds and hearts for years. From the brutally difficult Darkest Dungeon, to the forever playable Stardew Valley, this are my recommendations on indie RPG titles (and some that are kinda RPGs).
Stardew valley – timeless indie RPG, for everyone
Stardew Valley is a game for everyone. From the little kid looking to spend some time relaxing on the computer, to the grandma trying new things. It’s a simple game on the surface and that is key for bringing new players. The main mechanic is just managing and growing your farm, but as you progress you start getting really invested in the characters, their lives, relationships, and problems.
Every one is crafted with such love and care that it’s difficult not to care for them. As your relationships develop, their stories begin to unfold. A game to relax after a stressful day. There’s no grand purpose other than the ones you set at your own pace. That’s why it’s a game for everyone.
Undertale – a story that is just deeply special
Toby Fox made a masterpiece of an indie RPG with this one, at this point there’s nothing really new to add to the conversation. It’s a game everyone should play at least once in their life and it’s never too late to cry, laugh, and love with its characters. Undertale makes you feel weird.
I didn’t want the story to end. I wanted it to go on forever and I wanted to keep meeting new characters and know their stories and struggles. Just so I could help them. It really sticks with you.
Moonlighter – interesting take on dungeons
This is an odd one for me. I bought it on release after watching some streamers. Moonlighter looked very interesting as you play a shop owner fighting through multiple dungeons for loot to sell. I’m a sucker for good pixel art and loved the game’s aesthetics and mechanics.
Visually it’s gorgeous but it’s a little too short for my taste as I prefer much longer games. Still, it’s definitely a must-play despite its shortcomings if only to experience the incredible pixel art.
Bastion/Transistor – Deep characters and super compelling story
I decided to group these two games because of how similar they are, even though the stories are vastly different from one another the narrator aspect of the game is consistent in both, a very well-crafted one that reacts to your actions.
The first time I played Bastion I threw myself off a cliff and the narrator responded! It was incredible. The care the developers put in these two titles is amazing and really helps in investing you in the story and really care for the characters. It doesn’t feel like you’re just playing the story. It almost feels like you’re writing it yourself with every step and decision you make.
Bastian and transistor are both games about growing as a person, caring for others, and either letting go of the things that hold us back or embracing them to make us stronger.
Dwarf Fortress – Need I say more?
Described as one of the most complex RPGs ever made, it’s delightful, somewhat daunting, and quite rewarding once you get the hang of it. I have no problem sinking a day or two making a fortress from scratch and have it destroyed by some bizarre creature that came from nowhere.
While most players cannot stand the ASCII characters the game uses for everything, there is plenty of tilesets to replace the letters and symbols to make it a little easier on the eye. So give it a try and build the fortress of your dreams! There’s also an adventure mode that will satisfy most players looking for an almost infinite RPG that will keep evolving and changing for years.
Darkest dungeon – Eldritch horror made game
I have never really beaten this game. It’s brutal, it’s merciless and it’s beautiful in a very twisted way. I absolutely love it. This game takes the meaning of despair to another level. Just when you think you’re in a good run, something goes horribly wrong. Your party begins to spiral into insanity. The torch goes out and there is no hope. It’s in that dark moment where you either pull it off and everyone comes back alive (although probably scarred for life), or everyone dies and you try again the next day.
This game offers a challenge that calls to you to defeat it. Never holding your hands and leaving you alone to figure out the best solution, learn from your mistakes, and ultimately overcome them, just like life itself.
Disco Elysium – A callback to classic indie RPG
Disco Elysium reminds me a lot of the old text-based adventure RPGs that I love so much. It feels incredibly open, but the constant conversations with your own subconscious, as if it’s another character, keeps you focused. I even found myself talking to a corpse only to realize that it literally was just my imagination. It was like a weird coping mechanism trying to explain the world I now inhabit.
I just started playing this game, still, I cannot recommend it enough. From the cryptic story to the incredible art style, it’s sure to keep me hooked \while finding even more things to love about it.