As 2019 rapidly comes to a close, The Shacknews Awards intensify with games being honored all over the place. Today, for the second year in a row, we are counting down the Top 10 Indie Games of 2019. Our staff voted on our favorite indie games and the following list in the final tally of the ballots. Please take a look at the Shacknews Top 10 Indie Games of 2019.
10. Eagle Island
Eagle Island is an adventure in the vein of many enjoyable rogue-like experiences that have come before it. As the adventurer Quill who sails the seas with his loyal owl friends, Koji and Ichiro, you crashland on an island where the massive Guardian Eagle Armaura steals Ichiro away, forcing Quill and Koji on a journey to find their friend. With a falconer's glove, Quill can throw Koji to attack enemies, and each successful attack brings Koji back to immediately throw again for combo potential. Add to this a myriad of abilities such as electric attacks chaining between foes and temporary boosters like double jumps, and you can do a lot with Eagle Islands combat system.
What's more, every time you enter a level, it's fully randomized, making each journey a little bit luck, a little bit skill, and a whole lot of risk management as you track down the boss room and the multitude of chests that sit between. Eagle Island's system of level randomization made it an enjoyable and refreshing journey through the year even once the main quest was at an end, and its massive list of abilities and power-ups make finding the combo of boosts that suit you best an incredibly fun experience. -TJ Denzer, News Editor
9. Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night
When Koji Igarashi, the man behind Castlevania: Symphony of the Night parted ways with Konami and announced he’d be Kickstarting his spiritual successor to the series as Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, a lot of people were very excited. I mean, this was the man behind what many consider to be the pinnacle of Metroidvanias. While Bloodstained didn’t surpass SotN in quality it was still quite a remarkable experience in and of itself. The creature designs were quirky and amusing, such as the flying pigs and demonic cats and many of the mechanics that made Igarashi’s previous games shine so bright are clearly present in Bloodstained. I personally had a wonderful experience playing through the game and reminiscing of days gone by with SotN. Bloodstained really deserves some serious credit not only for being an enjoyable gaming experience, but also for reminding folks just how great the Metroidvania genre really is. -Blake Morse, Reviews Editor
8. My Friend Pedro
Being best friends with a magical talking banana seems to have it perks. Especially when you’re a remorseless killer who may just be hallucinating the talking, anthropomorphic piece of fruit. But regardless of whether or not Pedro is real, he’s still your friend and he’s here to show you a few new tricks and keep an eye out for danger. The plot of My Friend Pedro may have been what initially piqued people’s interest in the indie darling, but the unique puzzle-like action is what hooked folks. The game urges you to take out your enemies in the most stylistic, Matrix-inspired ways possible. Little nuances like being able to shoot a knife out of the air and into someone’s throat or do a spin dodge while spraying a flurry a bullets all around you are just a few of the reasons My Friend Pedro was such a stand-out indie title. -Blake Morse, Reviews Editor
Not only of the best games of 2019, but a product dreamed up and built by members of the Shacknews Chatty community, Astroneer provides a sense of wonder to anyone who steps foot on its colorful planets. It is equal parts planetary exploration, exploitation, and evacuation. Each of its celestial bodies offers something new to discover and challenges players to conquer. Cooperative multiplayer ramps up the fun exponentially and continuous development has produced a steady stream of quality post-release content. Great for kids and those who spent their childhood dreaming about the stars. -Chris Jarrard, Contributing Tech Editor
6. Cadence of Hyrule
Building off the simple “play to the beat” gameplay that Brace Yourself Games introduced in 2015’s Crypt of the NecroDancer, Cadence of Hyrule blends the world of the NecroDancer and The Legend of Zelda together seamlessly. The entire adventure is a collision of brilliant tunes and enemy choreography that feels great to take part in. While each enemy is one that players will recognize, the new patterns they follow help to bring them seamlessly into the rhythm-fueled world that Brace Yourself Games has put together. Cadence of Hyrule is the perfect combination of roguelike mechanics mixed into a beautiful and immersive world that Legend of Zelda fans will want to experience for themselves. -Josh Hawkins, Doer of Things
Check out Cadence of Hyrule on Nintendo Switch eShop.
5. Outer Wilds
Outer Wilds is not The Outer Worlds, but it sure is fun in its own quirky way. The gist is that you're an alien getting ready for some space travel in a galaxy where the sun is set to explode and take the galaxy you live in with it. Now that would normally be that, but it turns out you are given a power to return to the start of your journey into space and replay the 22 minutes you have before the Sun destroys everything. And so you go on a recurring journey, discovering the warnings and mysteries of an ancient civilization which may allow you to save the galaxy. The Outer Worlds is a strange intergalactic Groundhog Day or Majora's Mask if you will, and its approach to puzzle-solving gameplay is quirky and enjoyable. What bit of information will you discover on each run that you can take back with you to the beginning? How will you make the most of each life? It's up to you, and Outer Wilds gives you a myriad of planets each with their own unique characteristics and timelines before the impending disaster to explore, making this game one of the most memorable puzzle adventure games in a long time. -TJ Denzer, News Editor
4. Baba Is You
Baba Is You ended up being one of the most challenging games that I played all year. Like any great puzzle game, Baba Is You challenges players with a solid array of various problems to solve. What made the game stand out this year is a beautiful simplicity to gameplay design. The game could easily be described as gamified object-oriented programming, and it definitely makes players feel smart when they succeed and very dumb when they fail. It is one of those games where you will sit there for an hour trying to figure out a level, only to clear it within minutes after taking a break to clear your mind. It reminds me of Semblance in that sense. Baba Is You already took home The Shacknews Award for Best Puzzle Game of 2019, and it definitely deserves to be mentioned among the best indie games to be released in 2019. -Asif Khan, Editor-in-chief
3. Ape Out
Ape Out sizzles with visual style, but what makes it special is the fusion of sound design and controls. The crash of cymbals when you throw or shove a guard or scientist against a wall and they splatter like a broken egg pumps me full of adrenaline and sends me surging forward. After my first time playing, I was surprised to realize just how white-knuckled my grip was on the controller. No matter how many times I play, that level of engagement, of sound reducing me to, fittingly, an infuriated ape intent on smashing everything and everyone standing between him and freedom, never fails to give me a rush. -David Craddock, Long Reads Editor
2. Disco Elysium
Disco Elysium is as close to perfection as isometric RPGs get. It may seem a bit too complex for some, but it's by far the most well-written and ultimately challenging you'll find on a list of 2019 indies. In what other game are you tasked with guiding an amnesiac, drunken detective to the truth behind a particularly heinous murder, all the while mumbling about the golden age of disco and being a hobo cop? Everything in this beautifully multilayered RPG fits together like a series of perfectly-manufactured cogs, including its quirky, sometimes mournful and oddly nostalgic soundtrack as well as its superb and surreal artwork. It's a rabbit hole filled with wonder and despair, and one RPG you should make it a point to check out even if you've grown weary of the genre. It will challenge every preconceived notion you entered with and then sing karaoke atop its corpse. -Brittany Vincent, Senior Editor
Check out Disco Elysium on Steam.
Before we unveil our top pick for Shacknews Indie Game of the Year 2019, we wanted to showcase even more awesome games. There were a lot of games that received votes. Please take a look at our honorable mentions:
- Remnant: From the Ashes
- Sayonara Wild Hearts
- Neo Cab
- After Party
- Slay the Spire
- Shovel Knight: King of Cards
- Hypnospace Outlaw
- Kind Words
- Cooking Simulator
- Muse Dash
- Toe Jam & Earl: Back in the Groove
- Risk of Rain 2
- Void Bastards
- What the Golf?
- Knights and Bikes
- Manifold Garden
- Gato Roboto
- Killer Queen Black
1. Untitled Goose Game
HONK! Read the Shacknews Indie Game of the Year 2019 article to find out more about Untitled Goose Game. HONK!
It was another great year for indie game releases, but there was room for only one goose at the top of 2019. Congratulations to Untitled Goose Game, our Shacknews Indie Game of the Year. Keep it locked on our website for the conclusion to The Shacknews Awards 2019 next week. HONK!
Shack Staff posted a new article, Shacknews Top 10 Indie Games of the Year 2019
Shovel Knight: house of cards deserved a whole lot more love this year. I think it's because it got treated like part of some "value pack" rather than the well crafted game it is.