Hidden Gems - The Indie Games of 2017

Featured Stories, Indie Games

The indie game scene has seen an explosion over the years, and 2017 was no exception. Some great indie games came out last year, like Cuphead, Hollow Knight, and Dead Cells. All of them were critically acclaimed, and were extremely well-received by gamers, too, who bought copies in droves.

But there’s probably a bunch of indie games you haven’t heard of that you might enjoy. Games like Battle Chef Brigade, HOB, A Hat in Time, Sundered, Rock of Ages 2: Bigger and Boulder, and Tooth and Tail.

Unfamiliar with any of those games? If so, take a peek below to see why they’re worth your time and money.

Battle Chef Brigade

Battle Chef Brigade, from Trinket Studios, is a match three game mixed with hack and slash action and role playing elements.

But this is no simple match three game. It’s quite clever. It’s Iron Chef meets side scrolling action, where you kill monsters to gather ingredients and then use those ingredients to make elaborate dishes, all to join the eponymous Battle Chef Brigade.

You play as Mina Han, a girl longing for a more grandiose life. She lives in a small town and works in her family restaurant. But she dreams of joining the Battle Chef Brigade, so she runs away to Capital City to start her quest. The story progresses from there, offering up different challenges and quest items to add special ingredients and items to make Mina a better chef so she can fulfill her dream.

To compete in cooking challenges, players must gather ingredients, so they’ll leave Kitchen Coliseum to slay monsters and bring the ingredients back to the kitchen. Then they’ll add the ingredients to the dish, “stirring” the pot to create the different match three combinations. Match three combinations produce better ingredients, so the better ingredients used will increase your chance of winning the battle when presenting your dish to the judges.

Who would have thought a cooking game could be so fun?

Vive la Brigade!

HOB

Heavily influenced by games like Zelda and Journey, HOB is a 3D action adventure game from Torchlight developer Runic Games, set in a beautiful and vibrant fantasy world.

You play as a mysterious character who wakes up on what seems to be an unknown planet. You have to figure out why you're there and what you're doing. As you explore the world, you learn that the world is dying and that you must transform it in order to save it.

At the outset of the game, the silent protagonist is given a mechanical arm. The arm is the key to the game, as it’s what allows you to activate the ancient machinery throughout the world that allows you to enter new areas, etc.. Raising or lowering towers, rotating objects, unveiling ladders, or even punching through walls and cracks in the ground to unveil bonus items. The arm is upgradeable too, providing additional functionality to activate more machinery. With dozens of areas to explore, HOB should keep you busy for a good 10 or so hours.

A Hat in Time

A Hat in Time, from Gears for Breakfast, is a throwback to classic 3D platformers.

You play as Hat Kid, a young girl trying to return to her home world. After a run in with the goons from Mafia Town, Hat Kid loses the timepieces that power her ship, so she needs to collect them all in order to power her ship and return home.

Immediately you befriend Mustache Girl, a rebel of sorts who is trying to free the Island from the clutches of the Mafia. After Hat Girl defeats the Mafia boss, Mustache Girl takes the collected timepiece and drops it, and time travels backwards for a few seconds. This gives her an idea - she wants to join forces and become time traveling heroes, but Hat Girl declines her request. This angers Mustache Girl, and she has sworn to collect all of the time pieces before Hat Girl can.

A Hat in Time offers smooth gameplay and huge areas to explore. While the bad guys themselves offer little resistance, the boss battles can provide a challenge. There are 5 chapters in the game with 23 acts between the 5 chapters, offering up several hours of solid platformer fun.

Sundered

Sundered, by Thunder Lotus Games, is a Metroidvania game in a stunning sci-fi setting.

A cataclysmic event, known as the Terror, caused the undoing of society centuries ago, plunging the world into madness. You play Eshe, a scavenger who becomes trapped in a strange sandstorm which drags her into a mysterious cavern.

Just like Metroid, there are numerous areas within the cavern to explore and come back to later in the game as you progress. The hordes of enemies, while on their own are not too challenging to beat, can overwhelm you easily when battling throngs of them, so the game can present quite a challenge.

Two things stand out in Sundered. The beautiful hand drawn art and the deep skill tree. The art direction is just gorgeous, with very imaginative backgrounds and enemies. The skill tree, with dozens of items and skills to upgrade, really comes in handy as you dive deeper into the game.

Rock of Ages 2: Bigger and Boulder

Rock of Ages 2: Bigger and Boulder, from ACE Team, sequel to the 2011 hit Rock of Ages, is a part tower defense and racing game, with a little art history thrown in. It just might be the strangest game of 2017. But that’s a good thing!

You play as the greek titan Atlas, the man who’s responsible for bearing the weight of the world on his shoulders. Atlas has decided he’s had enough of carrying the load, so he decides to run off. God is none to pleased, so he chases after him. Along Atlas’ adventure, he runs into these historical figures and battle ensues. 

There are two phases to the game, setting up your defenses to defend your castle and racing through your opponent's defenses to attack their castle, where you race as a boulder. Yes, a boulder. You’ll “roll” through the Egyption period, Impression period, Medieval period, Greek period, and the Renaissance period. And you’ll face off from heroes from those periods too, heroes like Ramses, Vincent van Gogh, Joan of Arc, and more.  

With the Monty Python-esque humor and the pure absurdity of rolling through cows and elephants, the laughs are plentiful. Words can’t describe this game, it’s best you play it for yourself.

Tooth and Tail

Tooth and Tail, by Pocketwatch Games, is an arcade style RTS set in a world of animal revolution.

The world faces a food shortage, and animals have decided to eat meat in order to survive. When it was just the commonfolk being eaten, everything was fine. But when the leader of the Longcoat’s son is taken and turned into food, he realized the errors of their ways and decided it was time to take up arms. 

Tooth and Tail is very easy to pick up and play. The game controls are very intuitive, and the gameplay streamlined to make the action instantly accessible. While matches can have their own match goals, the basics are capturing a Grindmill and building farms, then building troop barracks and defenses. Farms are your economy and how you can hire more troops. Bellafide is the field general, and you’ll run around the map searching for enemy encampments and rallying troops to you to attack. To rally troops to your location, use either the Left or Right triggers. Allies automatically respawn from their barracks, so no need to manage unit creation, but you will still need to rally them to your location.

The action is fast paced, so staying on top or your economy, ensuring the survival of your Grindmills, and troop barracks is the key to victory. There’s also a fair amount of strategy involved, so knowing what units to build and rally to your location can make or break the match.

What, you’ve played the above games already?! Great! Then how about these other great indie game releases from recent months?

  1. Road Redemption
  2. Last Day of June
  3. Tacoma
  4. Ballistic Overkill
  5. Phantom Trigger
  6. Disc Jam
  7. Caveblazers
  8. Yonder the Catcher Chronicles
  9. Iron Crypticle
  10. Super Cloudbuilt
  11. Mutant Football League
  12. Perception
  13. Redeemer
  14. Nidhogg 2
  15. Children of the Zodiarcs
  16. Luna

All of these games have one thing in common - they are all part of the NVIDIA Indie Spotlight program. It’s challenging for indie devs to compete with big budget studios and publishers, and there are tons of great indie games out there, and that’s where NVIDIA Indie Spotlight comes into play. Our mission is to tell you, the GeForce gamer, about great indie games you might be interested in playing.

Hopefully you’ve heard of all of the games above, but if you haven’t take a look.

Happy gaming!
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