Top 10 Indie Games You Can Beat In Under 5 Hours

Split image of Hue, Journey and Limbo

A lot of times big blockbuster games such as Halo, Assassin’s Creed, and Call of Duty get plenty of spotlight, but it’s important to note that there are smaller games that are just as fun. The indie scene has been growing in popularity over the last decade, and with it comes plenty of bite-sized titles that are perfect for satisfying that immediate itch. 

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Now more than ever, with the advent of online indie stores, smaller games are able to find an even larger audience for their works. These games might be relatively short, but they pack a great experience into a relatively limited amount of play time.

10) Yoku’s Island Express (2018)

Pinball-style gameplay in ‘Yoku’s Island Express’ (2018), Villa Gorilla

Judging by its graphics, Yoku might seem like a kids game, but it can actually get quite hard. It also requires an extreme amount of focus to traverse its levels and beat its bosses. The art style is definitely worth mentioning, but that’s nothing compared to the gameplay.

The gamer essentially plays as a bug that acts as a mail carrier on an island along with other strange creatures. The gameplay is very pinball-like, but it incorporates the fast-paced style of play into the landscape for a very fun experience.

9) Blair Witch (2019)

A player holds a camcorder in ‘Blair Witch’ (2019), Bloober Team

At first, seeing a game named after a low budget horror movie seems like a bit of a shameless cash grab. A few short minutes into Blair Witch, however, and things start taking on a much more ominous and atmospheric tone.

The game utilizes just a camcorder and a dog in order to create a truly terrifying experience. There are creatures after the player, and multiple endings that make for a chilling experience that might even be better than the movie.

8) What Remains of Edith Finch (2017)

A wide shot of a house with a tower in ‘What Remains of Edith Finch’ (2017), Giant Sparrow

Some games are created with such care for its world and characters that it’s hard to describe it as anything but art. That’s where What Remains of Edith Finch falls; an indie passion project that focuses on the atmosphere more than even some larger big budget titles.

The story follows a woman who returns to her ancestral home that is filled with memories of her crazy family members who all died tragically. She remembers each one by reliving their lives in various fantastical ways. The game is both bizarre and quirky, which makes it more of a interactive story.

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7) Fez (2012)

Pixel graphics abound in ‘Fez’ (2012), Polytron Corporation

At first glance, Fez might seem like an extremely low budget platform game. However, it actually utilizes a 3D world of play to make it an extremely challenging title. It does this by forcing the player to shift the world’s perspective by rotating it back and forth.

What’s equally impressive is that the game was pretty much made by just one person. When taking into account just how expansive this low budget title is, it’s a very unique and engaging game with a classic art style, and inventive gameplay to back it up.

6) GoNNER (2016)

For those who are able to handle the intensity of the gameplay and the wacky art style, GoNNER offers up one of the most insanely rewarding – and difficult – indie experiences of all time. It takes its cues from the 2D side scrolling shooters of old, and mixes in elements from other 2D platformers like Super Mario Bros. to create a hybrid game experience.

A player battles a giant monster in 'GoNNER' (2016), Art in Heart

A player battles a giant monster in ‘GoNNER’ (2016), Art in Heart

The difficulty curve is astonishing, but that’s part of GoNNER’s design. It’s meant to be played over and over again to better one’s skill level, while progressing to each new area. It’s certainly one of the quirkiest and most engaging indie titles, and skilled players can plow through it in no time flat. 

5) Black Future ’88 (2019)

A player destroys an enemy unit in 'Black Future '88' (2019), Super Scary Snakes

A player destroys an enemy unit in ‘Black Future ’88’ (2019), Super Scary Snakes

Fans of synthwave and 80s retro colors and pixel graphics will adore Black Future ’88. It’s one of the shortest indie games on the market, by design, which is part of the fun. The game centers around the player having to make their way to the top of a procedurally generated tower to eliminate its owner before the timer runs out.

Said time is an actual commodity in Black Future ’88. Literally every second counts, and when the countdown reaches zero, the player’s heart explodes. Each new attempt to make it to the top of the tower is an exercise in bettering one’s tactics, chosen upgrades and skill level. It’s a hyper-kinetic 2D platformer that must be played to be appreciated.

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4) Hue (2016)

A player’s character navigates a colorful abstract world in ‘Hue’ (2016), Fiddlesticks Games

It might seem very basic, but Hue’s clever mechanic is to have the player control the color of the screen. It might not seem like much, but it allows for a lot of different platform and puzzle situations that can be quite tense and difficult.

To make it even more of a rounded experience, Hue also has a pretty interesting story. It might not be extremely fleshed out, but it has to do with the science of color and the protagonist searching for his mother.

3) Braid (2008)

A character walks across an open field in ‘Braid’ (2008), Number None

Some of the best games are those that play around with various mechanics of reality. In terms of Braid, this means messing around with the nature of time. At its core, Braid is a platform game. However, it has a mechanism that allows the player to control time in a multitude of different ways that makes it stand out as something special.

Like so many others, it also utilizes adventure and puzzles to be a lot of fun. The art style is colorful and attractive, which has helped make Braid one of the most recognizable indie games of all time, with plenty of cross-platform exposure.

2) Limbo (2010)

A player’s character finds a boy in a cage in ‘Limbo’ (2010), Playdead

At a time when indie developers were just starting to realize their reach through online marketplaces, Limbo stood out as the benchmark for what these types of games could be capable of. At its most basic, Limbo is a simple platformer. However, it’s impressive are design and difficult gameplay made it a very engaging and atmosphere game that is still impressive to this day.

The game is considered an instant classic due to the signature black and white art style, the eerie use of sound, and the chilling use of silhouettes and shadows to create tension. Limbo is both charming and terrifying at the same time; a macabre 2D platformer with atmosphere for days.

1) Journey (2012)

A robed character stands in the middle of a desert in ‘Journey’ (2012), Thatgamecompany

Some games are so profound that they transcend gaming and become a spiritual experience. With top-notch music and art, that’s what Journey can be. The game’s art style captivated players upon first release, and the way it mingled with the game mechanics was something special.

Multiplayer is absolutely incredible, with players dropping in to join on a harrowing journey where bonds are formed without the use of voice or text chat mechanisms. It cannot be explained, and must be experienced.

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