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When I was young, I didn’t have much interest in video games. I had a Nintendo DS, but I only played classic games such as Nintendogs and Mario Kart. It wasn’t until three years ago when I saw a trailer for a video game called Horizon Zero Dawn that I actually started to develop an honest interest in video games. 

As a relatively new member of the gaming community, I’ve come to realize that I prefer narrative-driven RPGs (role-playing games) that are set in an open world, with amazing visuals and great voice acting. Having this in mind, indie games describe my preferences perfectly. 

For those of you that don’t know, “indie games” is a term that stands for independent video games. They’re made by a small group of developers and, compared to other games, they’re relatively affordable. 

Now, on to my top seven indie games:

A Plague Tale: Innocence (2019)

A Plague Tale: Innocence is a third-person, adventure game that takes place in France, circa 1348. You play as Amecia, a young noble that has to take care of her sickly younger brother after being chased out of their home. You have to avoid the Spanish Inquisition, find a cure for your brother’s illness, and discover a safe place away from the plague in which you and your sibling can survive. 

It’s a heartwarming story of two estranged siblingsーwhose relationship changes from one of distance and awkward conversations to one of caring and fondnessーas they come to lean on each other to survive in a world that they had been sheltered from all their lives. Because the game takes place during the cusp of one of the world’s most deadly plagues, it’s also a rather sad story, as you see them lose people along the way. The ending is not as satisfying as I would have hoped it would be, but it was considerably better than others. 

Also, be warned: if you have a phobia of rats, this game is not for you. This game features a rather disturbing amount of rats, so you might as well keep this in mind if you’re disgusted by these furry critters. 

Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons (2013)

Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons is an adventure game about two brothers that leave their home in search of a cure for their father’s illness. It takes place in a beautiful, fairytale-like world full of trolls and a myriad of other fantastical beasts. An interesting element of the game is that these creatures don’t speak a specific language (like The Sims). This essentially means that you have to guess what they’re saying; although it isn’t really that hard because they express themselves quite well.

Another aspect of the game I found interesting was the gameplay controls. It can be a bit of a struggle, as the game is designed for each joystick to control a specific brother. So, in the beginning, you’ll be moving one brother. While you do so, you’ll most likely realize you left the other one behind, or notice that one is running straight while the other one is zigzagging. This sort of gameplay is original and fun but hard to get used to. Each brother is designed with their own specific strengths and weaknesses. However, this feature allows them to interact throughout the game. You could call this a co-op game made for solo players. 

Overall, Brothers is a fun and heartwarming game revolving around the relationship of two brothers. Out of all the games I’ve played thus far, this is the only one that made me bawl my eyes out with its saddening yet inspiring twist. Please have a box of tissues ready while playing.

A Way Out (2018)

A Way Out is an action-adventure game that was made by the same team that made Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, and they’ve done a great job of making a wonderful game. 

In this indie game, you play as one of two prisoners as you meet and escape jail together, get revenge on the person that put you there, and reach your goal to live freely. The police will always be on your tail, though, so you have to be careful and move quickly. As the game progresses, you can see how these strangers that are using themselves, slowly come to trust and befriend one another. This adds more depth to the characters as, just like Brothers, it gives you an emotional ending. 

The developers once again gave the game a fun mechanic. Rather than dividing the controller in two, like in Brothers, the screen splits in two. As you play on one side of the screen, you can see your friend play on the other. Another gameplay mechanic that the developers gave A Way Out is that you can only play it with a friend. It is a full on co-op, meaning there is no solo option. The best part about the game is that the two of you don’t actually have to buy the full game. One of you needs to have the full game, while the other can just download the demo. Now, the problem lies in which of the two gamers will be the one willing to spend their money. 

Life Is Strange 2 (2018)

Life Is Strange 2 is a third-person, story-driven adventure game that’s divided into episodes, so it has a tendency to make you feel as if you’re watching a series rather than playing a game. 

You play the big brother of a boy with telekinetic powers as the two run away from home after a police officer kills their father. In the heat of the moment, the younger brother awakens his telekinetic powers, accidentally killing the officer. It deals with the very heavy topic of racism as you see it through the eyes of a Latino boy. And as a Latina myself, the struggles the two brothers experienced and the racism they faced throughout the episodes made the whole game all the more real and emotional for me. 

The game is very choice-based, so the selections you make will lead you to one of many multiple endings. One choice you make in a previous episode could determine the fate of a character in the future, so choose wisely. The visuals and the soundtrack are also amazing. Overall, it’s a very emotional game that just hits you at the end. I have to say, I cried and I wanted a better endingー but I also didn’t want to play through all of that and go through the same emotional rollercoaster all over again.

Inside (2016)

Inside is a strange game that I can’t really explain. Its story is pretty unclear in the beginning; you only know that you will fulfill the role of a lonely, little boy in a dark and eerie monochromatic world, where you have to avoid getting caught by adults, dogs, machines, and a creepy monster in the water. It is an interactive, environmental, and puzzle-adventure game. By environmental, I mean that you have to interact with things around you so you can continue with the game. 

As the game continues, the puzzles get much more difficult and you can find yourself spending about half-an-hour on just one puzzle (speaking from experience). This game has no dialogue, just noises such as machinery, dogs barking, or sometimes when the boy does specific movements, which adds to the creepy atmosphere. But that’s what makes this game hauntingly beautiful and entertaining. 

There’s not much that can be said about this game since it can be finished in one sitting, but it is a great way to pass the time. It manages to keep you on your toes and give you more questions than answers. What I can tell you about the ending is that you won’t expect it. You’ll be wondering about what you just played and go google for answers, but you’ll only find theories, not explanations. So rather than look for answers, just enjoy the ride. 

Concrete Genie (2019)

Concrete Genie is an adventure game where you play as an artistic boy in a gloomy town that’s lost all its color. The main gist of the game consists of the player traveling throughout the town with their magic paintbrush, using it freely to paint whatever they want. To pass each one of the levels, you need the help of various wise genies that appear along the game (spoiler alert: you also get to paint them however you like!). 

The game touches the theme of bullying by diving into the lives of the bullies, showing that there’s more to them than just anger and hatred. The animation and voice acting is amazing, and the fact that you get to paint a whole town is great. This game is pretty easy to manage since you mostly solve puzzles, and most of the cutscenes feature your character confronting his bullies. It’s all simple gaming until, at one point, the game changes its genre. I don’t want to tell you what genre because I think I’ve spoiled enough, but it was shocking how my perception of the game changed in a matter of seconds. It bothered me that the game was so short, but I’m also the type that just continues the main story without exploring too much, so maybe that’s why it was so short for me.  

To the Moon (2011)

Although it’s a 2D game made for PC, it doesn’t change the fact that To the Moon is a beautiful game with a wonderful storyline. It centers around two doctors that create artificial memories and an old man who hired them so they can fulfill his dying wish of going to the moon. Throughout the game, as you collect mementos and solve puzzles, you get cinematic representations of the old man’s memories; slowly piecing together why it is that his final wish consists of going to the moon. The game is a rollercoaster of emotions as you see the old man’s life unfold before your eyes, starting from his old age, all the way to his childhood. From his relationship with his wife to his friends and family, everything is connected to bring an emotional ending. I recommend this game for those that are new to gaming or are tired of combat games and want to try something slow-paced. If you haven’t played this game yet, please, have a box of tissues at hand.

Now, although some of these games have action, they don’t have a lot and are quite easy to play. Apart from To the Moon, which is basically just a story, I never died in a few others, and I’m a beginner at video games, which is saying something. These games are also emotional and carry a deeper meaning. They make you think about your own life and relationships. Some might even make you cry, as I did (except Inside, which is just plain weird, although it does make you question everything). If you are into a challenge and are not interested in emotional narratives, then these games might not be for you. But I still hope you guys liked this list; and, if you haven’t played at least one of them, I suggest you check one out. I’m sure you’ll enjoy them.

Pierucci Aponte is a graduate student at the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus. She is doing her M.A on English Linguistics and has a minor in Communications. When not studying, Pierucci either plays video games or watches movies on Netflix. Although her passion is writing, she hopes to become an educator one day.
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